I have often made statements like, “I’m ready to go as soon as God calls me home,” or “I wish I could go to heaven right now.” However, the result of a recent doctor visit brought home the reality that life as I know it could end. The vague idea that life will end came crashing down on the certainty that life will end. I saw the above statements as flippant and poorly thought out utterances. A new perspective has inundated my soul. This life is precious and should be cherished.
God gave me life, and I have experienced the delights of his natural world. Yes, there is both good and evil here, but I have never failed to explore and enjoy this world’s beauty. My wife, children, extended family, and friends have afforded me a life full of joy and love. Tragedies and losses have come my way, but they serve to round out the experience. This world is all I know. Everything that defines life to me has happened here in this temporal existence.
When I die, I will leave all of this and go to a new place that is beyond my experience. Someday, I will leave here to go to a new place – I can only imagine. Life as I know it will be over.
Faith now comes to the foreground. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Even though I will be going to an unknown place, I can trust God with the unknown.
So I will not take this life for granted, or belie its importance, but I will cherish it as a precious gift from God himself.
During this time of giving and receiving gifts, we should remember the importance of gratitude. Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation. “I feel gratitude in my heart”. It is a learned way of handling what we receive. We teach our little ones to say thank you, but gratitude is not our natural bent. We have to develop and exercise gratitude.
Being grateful is very important. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Giving thanks is a part of God’s will for us. Recent studies by psychologists can tell you why this is God’s will. Here are some of the results they’ve found:
It helps build relationships
Improves physical health
Improves mental health
Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
Increases mental strength
(Consult the below reference for more details.)
7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round, http://www.Forbes.com, Amy Morin, 11-23-2014
Living our lives as people of gratitude not only fulfills God’s will for us, but as he intended, it affords us a happier, healthier way of living. So let us be encouraged. Develop and exercise this all important trait.
We all have troubles that come our way; they are a part of life in this fallen world. I tend to draw into myself when troubles arise. I focus on solving the problem; I worry over the problem, and I lose sleep thinking about the problem. If the problem is long term, I eventually fall into despair. Then I enter into that dark cavern of self-pity. Once again, I have succumbed to the trap of inward focus.
You’d think I’d know better, but alas I find myself caught again. In this state, I don’t pray for others, I’m not very kind, and I don’t have time for others. Inward focus makes me useless to those I love and not very pleasant to be around. When I finally come to the end of myself, I cry out to the Lord, “Save me!”
The lord, in his patient and kind way, reminds me that I need to trust my troubles to him. He redirects my focus to the needs of others, and I begin to look outward. To my amazement, life becomes brighter, and my troubles become less important. By putting my troubles in the hands of the only one who can do anything about them, the burden is lifted. I can actually become a nice guy.
Will I fall into this trap again? I hope not. The “pit of despair” is not a nice place.
Why are you down cast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
I found out that Praising God is the first step out of the trap.
Webster’s Dictionary defines meek:
1 Enduring injury with patience and without resentment – submissive – humble
2 Deficient in spirit and courage
The first definition doesn’t convey the characteristics of weakness but of Christ likeness. This definition speaks of the qualities Jesus displayed on the cross. It is a Godly perspective. The second definition imparts thoughts of weakness, timidity, and cowardice. This is a worldly perspective. Which of these will inherit the earth?
In 2 Corinthians chapter 10 the Apostle Paul responds to the to the Corinthians’ worldly interpretation of his meekness. He uses a little sarcasm in verse 1 when he states: “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away!” They had obviously accused him of being cowardly. He goes on to let them know that his meek/humble approach to them was not out of weakness but out of caring for them. He was trying to change their viewpoint from worldly to Godly.
I believe that the ones who endure the injuries of this world with patience and without resentment, who are submissive to Christ, and who humble themselves before their God will inherit the earth. These are not weak people. They are the ones who have been overwhelmed by the love of Christ, and from their humble thankfulness give that love to others regardless of the cost. This takes strength and courage.
Over the last two weeks I’ve shared these thoughts:
When Jesus came to earth, he brought the Kingdom of God with him.
Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, he gave us access to the Kingdom of God.
To enter the Kingdom of God, we must surrender our will to God’s will and receive Jesus as our savior.
As soon as we enter the Kingdom of God, we gain eternal life.
Before we entered God’s Kingdom, we were simply dissipating life. One of the blessings of living in God’s Kingdom is his will now guides our lives. God’s will can be explained by these two commands. Jesus told us in Matthew 22:37-39, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” God’s will is to help us step beyond our self-centeredness and live a life of purpose.
What I have observed, over the years of living in God’s kingdom, is that every one of God’s children has a unique and specific purpose to fulfill. Bonnie calls this our passion. For her and me the passion has been for children in need. Our lives together have always been directed toward serving children. The seed of this passion was planted very early in our lives and satisfied as we walked with the Lord. What is your passion?
The Kingdom of God is a glorious place, even now, for those who love him. We look forward to Jesus’ return and the final defeat of evil, but for now, we have a purpose to fulfill. “Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).”
Psalm 116:8-11 reads: For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
When I was young I learned about the Lord in Sunday school. I even went to church. However, my daily life was on me, and I didn’t think much about the Lord during the week. Then divorce came into my life. On my own, I tried to fix the emotional distress of this tragedy. I floundered in a cavern of unsuccessfulness. Finally, I came to the end of myself and called on the name of the Lord. He was right there to help.
Jesus delivered my soul from anguish, my eyes from tears, and he gave me direction for my life. Jesus gave my life purpose, and I stopped randomly stumbling through life. Overnight, life completely changed. I felt alive again as I started my new life walking with him. In his mercy and grace, Jesus was very good to me.
“How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?” asked the Psalmist in verse 12. He shared his answer in verses 13 and 14. “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of his people.” To me this means I will praise the Lord for the salvation he purchased for me. And, as I have vowed, I will continue to serve the Lord for the rest of my life. This I will do in the presence of his people. Gratitude and faithfulness will be the hallmark of my existence.
If you haven’t found the mercy and grace of Jesus just call on the name of the Lord. He will answer you.
Repost from August of 2016.
I’m sitting here in my study looking at the weather station that shows it’s 105 degrees on the north side of my house in deep shade. Yes, it’s hot! In the back yard it’s 109. My refrigerator died earlier this month, so I had to buy a new one. My not very old washing machine quit working, but woo, I was able to fix it. The espresso machine went on the fritz. All this is happening when we’ve recently lost a fair portion of our monthly income. Life has its difficulties.
In addition, I live in drought ridden California, so we’re trying to be very careful with our water usage. A sprinkler valve stuck in my front yard sending a great wash of water down the street. I replaced the valve, but not very well, so it broke loose and flooded the front yard. Yes, and I forgot a hose I left running that flooded my back yard. Really, I’m trying to be good! The August water bill will reflect that I’m not being very successful. Life has its difficulties.
As I reflect on these difficulties, I’m suddenly embarrassed. A vision of the suffering across the earth passes through my mind. I see the pictures of starvation, famine and war suffered by my fellow humans. My difficulties pale in comparison. I live a very comfortable and blessed life.
Even though it’s hot outside, my air conditioned house is a comfortable 80 degrees. I love my new refrigerator, and it’ll be paid off in a few months. I have the convenience of a washer and dryer right here in my house. The espresso machine is working again! And though we’ve had a financial set back, all our bills are paid. Life has its blessings.
About now you’re wondering where the scriptures and the adaption of a spiritual message are. Well here it is. When living in God’s world, trust him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (See Proverbs 3:5) Both difficulties and blessings are covered by this verse. It is his world. We can trust him with the outcome. He worked out our salvation. He can handle all the rest. He loves us through the difficulties and the blessings.
Reposted from July of 2015