Next

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With the season of change upon us, I think “Next” is appropriate for such a time. Literally the season is changing and we are anxiously awaiting the new and more beautiful growth of Spring. And it is also Easter, as we celebrate the Rising of our Lord Jesus from the tomb and what that selfless act of His brings next.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

They were discussing on the radio the other day about the in between time. The days between when Jesus was hung on that cross and the day He rose. And how those days were about mourning the loss and fear of not knowing what was coming next.

Even though I was not there on that fateful day of my Savior’s death or on the day He rose. I have been in those in between days. Days when I was wondering where He was and what was going to happen next. The days in between a loss or hurt so great that I mourned aloud to Him and asked Him to rise up and save me. I’ve been in many of those days. And what I found is I must be still and know that he is God. Know that He will rise again in my life and it will be made beautiful.

So I wait!

MEASURE

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We use a form or another of measure each day. We start it off by deciding what time to rise in the mornings so we get where we need to go that day. And we end it by deciding what time to go to bed so we get enough sleep to rise when that alarm goes off! Measure is part of our day whether we want it or not.

We frequently use measuring as a way to measure our worth. Here are a few.

The measurement of others approval

How I feel I look measures how I feel

How does what I’m good at measure up to what someone else is good at

Does my family love me to the full measurement of what I want

Am I at the same level as others around me – do I measure up

The impact that my post had is measured by how many likes and emojis it got

The problem with these forms of measuring ourselves is that it can be deeply skewed. It can be skewed by our past experiences whether good or bad. Over many years of how others talked to us and how they treated us. Our measurement of ourselves is determined ultimately due to how others measured us.

I am not to measure myself by my measurement of others or by their measurement of me. God is the only ONE that has the only true measurement.

“I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love — not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Romans 8:38-39

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

It would not matter who approved, how we looked, others love, whether I can keep up or who likes me, God’s love for me will never go away. We can not be separated from him. We can leave him but he will not leave us. We will never be perfect but Christ died for us anyway. So stop looking to your outward appearance and search your heart because that is God’s measure of us.

Reward

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When I was growing up, my first real memory of getting a reward involved making money. Tooth fairy, cleaning my room or making A’s on my report card. That is generally where we start teaching our children about reward. What can “I” do to get rewarded? Reward is financial.

Then as I aged, the reward seemed to move from just doing simple things that didn’t really take much effort to having to be the BEST at something. My reward was based on performance.

Sometime after that it moved to, who I married, how my children behaved, what I drove or where I lived. Appearance gave me the reward I was seeking.

But are the earthly rewards what my Lord is about? It seemed that the rewards became harder and harder to achieve. That the struggles became greater and the rewards disappeared. At least that was until I met Jesus on a more personal level. I had called myself “Christian” for many years at this point but I hadn’t allowed the gift, the reward, of the Holy Spirit to fill my soul. I had unknowingly shrugged my shoulders at His guidance in pursuit of the earthly rewards I found so valuable. Missing out on the true reward of God.

Philippians 1:19-24 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ,which is better by far;  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

So even though my time here on earth my come with pain and hardship, as long as I have the Holy Spirit living in me and guiding my steps, my reward will be eternal and not limited to things of this earth. And prayerfully my reward on earth will be showing others the rewards of Christ.

I have lived at least half my life on earth already. And I plan to spend what time I have finishing well for the glory of God.

2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.

As a friend shared this verse below with me, I am reminded that through the struggles Jesus is there. He has given us a great reward of eternity as long as we ……..

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 Rejoice always,  pray continually,

And when it comes to the end of this earthly life, I know that I will be rejoicing and my reward will be for eternity. As CS Lewis says…. “Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

Place

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When my husband and I moved to Kentucky 6.5 years ago, I was moving from my home of 28 years and from our kids. I was heavily tied into a church family and had many people there that I loved. I was actively involved in church and our community. Then we moved to Winchester. New place, new job, new church and new people. For an introvert at 51 years old that is a hard place to be.

We had found a place to call home and after about 3 months, I had decided on a church and found a job. But the people, I hadn’t found my place with the people yet.

I dove in head first. I was looking for that place where I fit. That place where I was invited. That place that was comfortable.

Was I trying to hard to find my place? Probably! Was I trying to make this place the place that I came from? Maybe! Was I trying to create the “circle of people” that I so longed for? Yep!

I needed that place. I longed for that place. The place of belonging!

And then I found it! It didn’t look like what I was expecting. It wasn’t the place of a home, job, church or people. It was the place where God was. Right there with me. Inside me. Guiding me. Holding me. Comforting me.

The Lord settled my need for place by showing me my place was with Him. And if I am content in Him then I am content anywhere.

Psalm 37:23 The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
Matthew 22:37 “Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

My Love and Comfort comes from a place within.

More

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As a child we see the world as a big play ground. There is more and more to see and learn. We’re eager to do more. And as good parents should, we are encouraged. Our parents hold our hand, take each step with us and they spring with excitement when we do more.

As an adult, our eagerness for more grows intensely and our desires to do and have more is encouraged by the world. The world tells us more is expected. Pressures of providing more are strong. No one walks with us, we now have to step alone, dependent of self. We do more.

When is more enough? When will we allow our Lord to be our more? When will we let Him hold our hand, take each step with us and stop depending on self and start depending on Him?

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

When will be stop striving and start resting in HIS more?

Search

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To search is to find for self

To search is to strive to acheive

To search is to provide greatness in one’s life

To search is to obtain satisfaction that’s self serving

But that is not the search that I desire

Psalm 139:1-3 

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.

To search is to strive to give

To search is to provide hope to other’s life

To search is to obtain satisfaction in serving

And to search to to open one’s self up to HIM

Jeremiah 17:9-11 

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

10 “I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.”

11 Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay
    are those who gain riches by unjust means.
When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them,
    and in the end they will prove to be fools.

To search is to be honest

To search is to be aware of one’s weaknesses

To search is to find gain only through the Lord

Revelation 2:22-24 

22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

Just

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Whose the judge of what is just?

Psalm 9:16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.

We each have a standard that we live by. A standard that drive us. A standard that direct our decisions. Were we born with that standard or were we taught it? Whose standard are we living by?

2 Chronicles 12:6The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is just.”

And even if we were taught the standard and the standard was from the Lord, we find ourselves abandoning that teaching. Reducing our standard to the standard of the world just as the people did in 2nd Chronicles but when they were faced and became aware of what they had done they became humble and the “just” Lord forgave them and delivered them “so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands” as it says in 12:8.

Proverbs 21:3  To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

There are many things that people do in the name of being “just” that are not right. What is motivating their actions? Anger, selfishness, pride, guilt or any number of other things. Are we living right and just?

James 4:12 There is only one law giver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

I have seen many things that people do to each other that I do not believe is just. And I have been drawn to act and react in ways that I have to question. I have to search the scripture, God’s word, to confirm that my standard is being lead by God’s standard. I may have to make choices, hard decisions and set boundaries to protect myself and those I love from what I believe to be unjust but it is not up to me to seek justice. The Lord is the only one who has that power.

Isaiah 30:18  Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

I may not ever see the justice that will come. But because I trust in the Lord who sets my standard, I will wait, I will love and I will forgive. Just as He has for me.

Acts 15:11No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Where

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Where do you go when………………….?

you’re a child of alcoholic or drug addicted parents

the person you trusted most sexually abuses you

your family is torn apart by deception

physical violence starts showing marks on the inside not just the outside

you aren’t protected by those who are supposed to protect you

words being spoken are better at tearing you down than building you up

the one you love proves that your love isn’t enough

your child suffers by the hands of another

a sickness or accident takes a loved one and drops you in a mist of tears

your plan leaves you stranded

disappointment and sorrow seems to be your most faithful company

homes are destroyed

wealth is lost

homelessness continues

hatred grows

sin has a stronghold

the bottle looks more promising than the bible

sounds in your head are louder than whispers of forgiveness

trust is a fairy tale when real life shows it’s true color

you search for a soft shoulder and all you find is a hard knock

pain bears down

the end is drawing near

tears flow

sorrows strong

you’re at a cross road with no signs

family leaves you

friends turn away

there seems to be no one to catch you as you fall

a smile is forced but a frown is simple

Where do you go when………………….?

Romans 10:13 

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Better

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1 Samuel 15:22 

 But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices  as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice,  and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Back in the days before Jesus it was customary to do burnt offerings and sacrifices. This was a ritual of killing the “best” of what you had to show your love for God. And you didn’t do it just half way! You had to give your best. And then Jesus came and everything changed. Now we have a real person in the flesh to be in relationship with and to help us see the need to change our ways. So no more burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Today we vary in our ways and we justify our sacrifices (services) as being enough rather than getting real with Jesus. We make ourselves believe that is our best (our works) because if we got down and dirty with our Lord about who we are, being honest, it might look our “best”initially but in reality, it will be grimy and stained. It will be covered in sin. It will be riddled with shame and smothered in regrets.

But there is a way to give to the Lord BETTER than our best. We can obey and give HIM our whole being. Don’t put on a fake front and only give until it start hurting……give BETTER…. give until HE washes away the hurt, grime, sin , shame and regret. Obey is BETTER.

One

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One God!   That is what I can come up with. Because He is the only One that counts.  He is the only One that matters.  He is the only One that is forever. He is the only One!

But in the full realm of my life One God is not all that makes impressions on my world.  There are many impressions, some good some bad, some joyous some sorrowful, some bring fullness some bring breaking down but the One, the One God, can and will handle them all.

John 8:25-30  “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.  So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The ONE who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

He is the ONE and Only One

We are constantly faced with decisions to make. With each new day there is a new decision.  New choices. New actions. New reactions. New people. New problems. New joys.  And with each of those things we sometimes have to bear the burdens of the others.  Sometimes painful choices that dig deep within our souls.  Sometimes those souls just can’t handle it any longer.

Mark 4:21-25  He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?  For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.  If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”  “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.  Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

Sometimes we have to….

  • Be the one who bears that burden
  • Be the one who puts on a brave face
  • Be the one who prays and cries alone
  • Be the one who seeks wise counsel
  • Be the one who turns to the word
  • Be the one who shares the load
  • Be the one who allows HIM to strengthen us
  • Be the one who turns it over

So

The only ONE who can carry everything is able to be seen.

He is the only One, just believe.