Service That Demands A Reason

It’s not long after children learn to speak that they begin asking questions. I think the favorite of all time is ‘why’. It’s natural for them to wonder why birds fly, why trees are called trees and why they can’t stand in shopping carts. They desire to understand their world; and reasons help them make sense of things. We’re the same way.

I ask myself the ‘why question’ at times when it comes to my faith and service. Much of what we are called to do by faith doesn’t make sense when we walk by sight. A re-visiting of Jesus’ story puts things back into perspective and service makes sense for me once again. I hope this re-telling of His story will do that for you as well.

A Sacrificial Death

crucified-cross-578217_960_720-pixabayThe day was long and dismal; the haters many. Evil enjoyed its finest hour as the Savior of the World hung dying on a cross. Darkness seized the day. Mockers shouted blasphemous cruelty at the One who came to seek and save that which was lost. While gamblers parted His garments, the Son-of-Man made provision for His mother and gave eternal hope to a dying thief.

The moment had come. Death took his best shot. With three short words, “It Is Finished”, Jesus commended His Spirit into the hands of His Father and Life breathed His last. The earth shook. The rocks were split. The thick veil of the temple was rent; torn from top to bottom by hands far greater than the ones that nailed His Son to the tree. His mother was grieved, his disciples fearful and confused as the Hope of Nations was laid in a borrowed tomb. Was there ever so palpable a darkness?

Hope Resurrected

empty-cave-1642215_960_720-pixabay-crerative-commonsIt was the third day. Morning came and the last vestige of night rolled away with the stone. The Son of God rose with power, conquering the very death that once slew Him. Women came to anoint His body for a proper burial but He wasn’t there. The tomb lay empty, housing nothing more than a linen napkin and the empty shell of grave cloths. Life and Light conquered death and darkness; and every hope once buried with Christ rose with Him. And so we live.

The Reason that Demands Our Service

Every bit of brutality Jesus endured on the cross was payment for a debt He didn’t owe. The debt was ours. Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. This wasn’t something that just happened. It was for this very reason He came into the world. Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” He chose this!

We serve Him because He is worthy. We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19.  His death is our payment.His resurrection is our hope. His word is our message. His love is our proof and His promise is our future.sunrise-1460243_960_720-pixabay-creative-commons 1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” We serve Him so that others may know; until the last battle, on the last day. And then, in peace we will serve Him still.

How About You

Still asking yourself the ‘why question’? Wondering if this Jesus is really all that He’s professed to be? You’re in good company. One of His disciples had the same question. John 1:46 And Nathanael said to him “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” And so I extend the invitation to you.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Pictures: Compliments of Pixabay Creative Commons CC0.

 

 

 

About Those Lemons

pink-lemonade-795029__180 Pixabay Creative Commons CC0Make lemonade. That’s the solution-part of the adage, ‘when life gives you lemons’. Those proverbial lemons refer to life’s trials; bumps that pop up on an otherwise pretty smooth road. Those trials take many forms, i.e. car problems, illness, trials of faith, etc. It could be ‘that one person’ that comes at just the right time with just ‘the wrong’ thing to say that sets your teeth on edge. In any case, the advice is the making of lemonade. In other words, make something good out of a bad situation.

Purposeful Trials

I searched ‘uses for lemons’ and found everything from recipes to remedies. It’s amazing how many wonderful things can come from such bitter fruit. Trials are much the same way. As bitter and uncomfortable as they can be, trials (like lemons) do serve a purpose. In the hand of God, they are as versatile and even needful in the making of a beautiful life as lemons can be in the hands of a culinary artist.

This past year has been a bit problematic for me and walking was not the carefree activity it had always been. I was able to hide the pain for quite a while until a knee injury sealed the deal and left me with a leg brace, crutches, surgery and a rather ‘lovely’ Quasimodo-esque posture and gate. Everything about me cried, “This woman is hurting and needs help.”  Doctor’s orders rendered me unable to drive for six weeks, leaving me completely dependent on other people. That in itself is trying for a self-reliant gal like me.

Knowing that God has a purpose in this and that good will come from it helps. It also helps to know that this is not only purposeful but temporary.  2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Beauty in the PainLemon Wreath Ever Blooming Originals

I wanted so much to keep my struggles to myself. That wasn’t possible. My difficulty, in all its lemony glory, was out there for all to see. While I knew beauty would come sometime after the trial, I didn’t expect to find it in the midst. Help and gestures of kindness came from everywhere; family, friends, co-workers. Even strangers became my benefactors.

I may not know this side of heaven what God has planned for this but I know that He has something and it will beautiful.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.  God has not given me the ‘what’ or the ‘why’ in this but He has given me the ‘wow’. I have been surrounded by such love and beauty that, while I can’t count it all fun, I can count it all joy. I’ve also learned that it is not only important to let others see what God brings from our trials, it’s valuable to allow them see what He’s doing in them.

How About You

Are you in the midst of a tough situation? Health failing? Faith tested? Job on the line? God has not forgotten you. Please know that He’s got this, He is doing something and it will be beautiful.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Lemonade photo: Pixabay Creative Commons CC0

Wreath Photo used with permission: www.EverBloomingOriginals.com

Defeated Foes

Brass Mousetrap il_570xN_524461584_4w11While watching a movie one evening, I saw something move behind the television. It was a mouse. To say that I was disturbed by this sighting is entirely true. It is also entirely understated. I ran to the kitchen. Standing by the counter talking to my sister, I saw it again creeping out from behind the china hutch. That mouse was running amuck in my house and terrorizing me. I screamed. My sister screamed too, though not just in sympathy for me. My scream startled her and she cut her finger, quite badly. Blood was pouring all over the place due to blood thinners she was taking so she had to get off the phone. Realizing that a shotgun would be overkill and a broom insufficient, I did what any red-blooded American girl raised in the suburbs would do. With tears in my eyes, I grabbed my jacket and purse and went shopping.

Hubby to the Rescue

My husband was home when I returned and laying traps for the furry intruder. My hero had arrived and I could relax, or at least try. The next morning, we found the mouse stuck to the glue board. Running around my house, that mouse seemed gargantuan. So when I saw it, I was surprised that it was so small and pitiful. Though squeaking madly and trying desperately hard to unstick itself from the board, its fate was sealed and he would be destroyed. His reign of terror had ended and the furry, squeaky-voiced marauder would be no more.

Greater Enemy

We have an enemy, the enemy of our souls. He is running amuck in this world and terrorizing whoever he can and by whatever means he can (health, finances, children, ministry, etc.). He is not squeaking though. Our adversary goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. So we must be sober & vigilant and we must utilize the special weapons that we have been given for this fight, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4. While it is good to have people to turn to for help, we must not forget to call on God for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

How About You

Are you struggling with battles of your own? Are you exhausted, worn, fearful that you can’t take much more? Don’t quit, you’re not alone. Consider these words of encouragement “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Remember, though Satan may be running amuck in this world and roaring like crazy, he is a defeated foe. His reign of terror will soon end and the enemy of our God and our souls will be no more. Praise the Lord!

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mousetrap photo compliments of: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StylishPiggy

Tough Stains

Laundry PicI spent this morning battling stains. Ok, not the whole morning but more of the morning than I would have preferred. One was an ink stain that resided on my husband’s finest dress shirt. He wore it for a couple hours and hung it up as soon as he got home, never seeing the ink. It would be a couple of weeks before he’d wear it again. When he saw the stain he thought to throw the shirt away, figuring it for a goner. I thought otherwise.

The other was a blood stain. A wound on his arm tore open in the middle of the night leaving a good sized spot on our brand new sheets. Our uneven work schedules left him still in bed when I left for work so it would be a few days before I saw that stain.

If you know anything about stains, you know that the sooner you deal with them the more likely they are to come out. The ink came out just fine but I was not as successful with the blood stain. The residual stain would become part of the fabric. Fortunately I could flip the sheet and the stain would be hidden from view.

Stains of the Heart

Our lives have and do get similarly stained. Weak moments and poor choices leave us spotted. We are given the opportunity to keep short accounts with God, bringing our faults and failures to Him as often as we need. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. When we do, we find the cleansing we seek.

Like stains, we need to deal with our issues before they set in. Left unchecked our poor choices can become habits and our habits lifestyles. We may come to the place where we try to change and clean things up but the residual effects are there. The guilt, the regret and shame become part of the fabric of our lives.

Stain Fighters

While we seem fine to those looking on, the hidden heartache we dare not allow to be seen is still there. But we need not despair. There’s grace. David, the mighty king of Israel and man after God’s own heart committed adultery then murder but eventually cried out to God, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. We can do as David did as find forgiveness and restoration as well.

How About You

Do you think you’ve done too much? That your situation is hopeless?  That God wants to cast you aside like some old shirt? God invites you, Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18. It’s a great offer, don’t you think?

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Seeing Clearly

20160209_141431I got new glasses a couple months ago. At 50 blah-blah-blah years old, it was about time. This new pair was a double whammy for me; bi-focal & progressive lenses. They made me dizzy and nauseous. The ‘vision specialist’ said it was normal and would soon pass. This swanky pair of spectacles came with instructions; I’d have to find the sweet spot. I must say, there is something almost magical about the ‘sweet spot’. In this case, I could see clearly and didn’t require Dramamine®.

I remember my first pair of prescription glasses. I don’t mean the ones I pretended to need in Junior High (sorry mom) but the ones I needed as an adult. Putting those glasses on for the first time was amazing! I was shocked at how much and how far I could see. We drove to Santa Barbara that afternoon and I was like a child in the car. I kept taking the glasses off and putting them on, comparing my vision with and without glasses. What clarity. What beauty. What a difference! It’s as if I had been blind.

20160209_204414Clearer Vision

There’s another day that I will never forget; a day far better than when I picked up my glasses. It’s the day I began seeing with eyes of faith. All of life became clearer and more purposeful. Whereas I once saw only the masterpiece, I now perceive the hand of the Master. With broad strokes and tiny brushes He paints the detailed picture of my life. His blessed word is both a wounding and a comfort to my soul. By it I am assured that any discomfort, any crucible of pain or suffering at His hand, is as needful as a chisel in the hand of a sculptor. So, whether the colors are bright and beautiful or dark and defining, I yield to the touch of the Master’s hand. I can see clearly in the dim valley of vision because “I walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians. 5:7.

Perfect Sight

One thing remained unclear for so long; how to reconcile a perfect God with an imperfect person as myself. I stood in my own way, hindering my own view. It became clear when I found the ‘sweet spot’, the one place where justice meets mercy. It was at the cross. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9.

Someday I will lay my glasses aside, never to need them again. I can’t understand it all this side of heaven but I know this “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2. Then I will at last say, “I once was blind but now I see.” -John Newton-

How About You?

Are you having trouble seeing things clearly? Need help making sense of things, of life, of loss or pain?  You might need a ‘vision specialist’. The Psalmist made a simple request of God that might be helpful for you as well, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” Psalm 119:18. 

God bless you and keep you,

R. Marie

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Predator-Proof

20160125_092158[1]Strange tracks ran from the driveway straight to the chicken coop. I couldn’t recognize them from the house but got a better look when I opened Penny’s cage in the morning. The tracks encircled the entire coop and within them were paw prints. Claw marks were on the side of the coop and on the nest box. I’m not sure if the marks and prints were from a dog, a coyote or what but something had a hankering for a chicken dinner. “Better luck next time dog-breath, this coop is predator-proof!” I’m sure that’s what Penny was thinking. She was safely perched in her condo waiting for me to release her.

This was not the first time. Out in the country where we live, dogs roam freely sometimes and more than one has made its way to Penny’s coop. They bark and scratch and make Penny nervous but they can’t get to her. In fear, she flies squawking into her condo and is safe. Seeing the paw prints around the coop this morning, I was reminded of the account of Daniel in the lions’ den.

Trapped

Conspired against by jealous princes, Daniel was forced to obey a temporary ordinance designed to trap him or to remain faithful to his God. Daniel knew the decree mandated that no one but the king could be worshipped for 30 days, yet he chose to pray to his God as he had always done. Daniel was caught. Displeased with himself for signing the decree that could not be altered, Darius had no choice but to command that Daniel be thrown into the den of lions.

So Close and Yet So Far

Daniel was facing the lions. Were they circling him and licking their chops? Were they roaring and swiping at him with their paws? As near to them as he was, Daniel was quite out of the lions’ reach. The king rose early the next morning, ran to the lions’ den and called for Daniel. Daniel responded, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not  hurt me.” Daniel. 6:22. Though unseen to Daniel, God was as real to him as the lions that stood before him; and far more powerful.

We are all faced with troubles in this world. Sometimes the danger is very real and right before our eyes. Sometimes the enemy is unseen and working in ways we are unaware of. Many times the fear is of our own making. God has not left us unprotected and alone. He has provided a means of safety and rest if we will but trust Him. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1.

What about You?

Have you ever been so distressed and scared and felt you had nowhere to hide? Maybe you have forgotten all of the times God has provided for or protected you in the past. Whatever the lions may be for you, remember as Daniel did, you do have a place to run. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Read more about Daniel in the lions’ den in Daniel, chapter 6.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.