“Unwrapping Your Gifts!”

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Christmas time is the most wonderful time of the year.  There’s a special peace and happiness in the air as we come together with friends, family, and loved ones to celebrate the birth of Christ, our Savior.  We get together to laugh, eat and enjoy one another’s company.  Then, we have the privilege to exchange gifts that show the love we carry for each other all throughout the year.

Gifts, by definition, are something given voluntarily.  I love you, and because I love you, you don’t have to twist my arm to make me show adoration towards you.  I do it of my own will, without prompting, because you mean that much to me.

That’s what makes this time of year so special.  (After all, it was God’s biggest gift to humanity that gives us cause for celebrating in the first place.)  It’s not the big dinners, twinkling lights, or the carols (though we enjoy it all).  It’s the love and adoration shown when gifts are given and opened with a rejoicing heart.

We go through much trouble to find and carefully select that perfect gift for that special someone.  I mean, you just know in your heart that they are going to love it and you can’t wait for them to rip off that wrapping paper, rejoice with gladness over the special way you thought about them, and immediately start using that gift you gave.

Now, consider this.  What if, when you gave your gift of love, they toss it to the side in disregard saying, “I’ll get to it when I get to it?”  You would be so crushed, hurt, and disappointed over their uncaring way of receiving your gift.

What if God feels the same way?  Not only did He give us THE BEST GIFT that we could never live without (His Son, JESUS), but in our relationship with Him, we have been freely given many other gifts.  Not only is a gift something given voluntarily, but it is also a special ability or capacity; a special talent to be used for the edifying of Himself through you.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus told the parable of the talents.  One man was given five, one was called to receive two and another received one.  What is ironic is that the two to whom the most talents were given increased and prospered one hundred percent.  Now, we would think their master was unfair in expecting so much from them.  After all, he did give them more responsibilities than the other.

Through perseverance and diligent work, not only did they gain a little but they doubled what they started with.  Sadly, the one who was only given one responsibility, only one job, one talent let fear stop him from increasing and prosperity.  He said, “I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine,” (Matthew 25:25).  Instead of being made a ruler, he was made a disgrace.  Instead of living with abundance, he was deemed unprofitable and cast into outer darkness (vs. 30).

Living a life of unprofitableness is living a life of darkness.  There’s no joy or peace, only weeping.  This is not the life that God intended for us to live.  The special stuff that God put on the inside of you and me was never meant to be buried and hidden from the world.  We are meant to shine as a beacon of light into this dim, dark world and show them who God is and what He wants to do for all mankind through the abilities, gifts, and talents He has put in us.

What you have in you is too good to hide.  Don’t keep it to yourself.  “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath,” (vs. 29).  To some, this may seem like an unfair statement, thinking, Why do they get more when they already have some?  And, why are they going to take his little bit of stuff away?

Instead of questioning and overanalyzing the story, perhaps our time would be better spent if we were to pull out our own shovels and start digging.  Dig for your talent.  Unearth it from deep within and don’t give up until you have pulled out every treasure that God has put in you.  If when you pull your treasure up, it turns out to be only one thing, then, you work that one thing with hard-pressing diligence until it has increased and doubled to two.  Then, you work some more until that two doubles to four and so on.

‘Tis the season for opening gifts.  God has already given them to you.  Don’t let fear stop you from unwrapping them.  God took great care in picking out the perfect gift for you and He can’t wait for you to rip off the wrapping paper and begin to use it.  God gave it to you because you mean a lot to Him and He knows that you would be great in using it.

Don’t toss it aside.  Whether your gift is humble or outrageous, open it and bring it to the Savior!  You may be surprised at what you find.

We have just a little ways to go before we celebrate the best gift ever: JESUS!  Soon after that, we will be bringing in a New Year.  What better time to unwrap all that good stuff God has placed in you?

Have a very blessed and Merry Christmas, always thanking God in advance for the greatest gift of His Son, our Savior, JESUS CHRIST!

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“Wisdom is Better!”

“Wisdom is better,” is what I read twice during my devotional reading.  In Ecclesiastes 9:16, 18.  In verse 16 it states that “wisdom is better than strength” and in verse 18 it states that “wisdom is better than weapons of war.”  This had me thinking, how often do we resort to strength and weapons before choosing wisdom to fight the struggles in life?

Strength and weapons are carnal devices that depend on fleshly know-how and might.  Often these are the first resources that man runs to in times of difficulty and adversity.  Wisdom is dependent upon God.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction,” Proverbs 1:7.

Would it not be more prudent in the days of trials to follow the path of wisdom whose author is God?  Many of life’s mistakes are made from rash human impulses instead of the patient endurance of wisdom that God provides.  Christians especially are admonished to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Wisdom is better!”  James 1:5 gives us the key to finding this wisdom to help with life’s choices.  He said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be give him.”  God will freely supply for the heart that seeks wisdom rather than the harried messes of one’s own way.

Today, choose wisdom.  It’s always the better option.

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God, Our Shield | Psalms of Encouragement

“For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12

Defended.  Protected.  Covered.  God is our shield.

Held.  Watched for.  Wrapped in His love.  God is our shield.

Under His safety, we hide.  The umbrella of His grace is over us.  God is our shield.

He is over us as a mother hen is over her chicks.  He surrounds us with a hedge impenetrable.  God is our shield.

He stands at the ready, guarding.  He rebukes enemies relentlessly.  God is our shield.

He is our trust in the midst of the storm.  Our comfort when life hurts.  God is our shield.

It is to Him we run in times of chaos.  In Him, we are concealed from harm.  For, God is our shield.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:1-4

God, Our Shield Encouragement from the Psalms:

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” – Psalm 3:3

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” – Psalm 18:2

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” – Psalm 28:7

“Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.” – Psalm 33:20

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11

“Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.” – Psalm 115:11

“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.” – Psalm 119:114

“My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.” – Psalm 144:2

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“Your Hearts Shall Live!”

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“And you who seek God, your hearts shall live,” Psalm 69:32

How many go through their day complacent in the status quo?  No passion for life.  No zeal for better.  Just run the ordinary course of the ordinary life jogger, following the crowd, content with a heart that’s just beating but not alive.

A heart that is alive thrills at the unknown.  A heart that is alive craves to pump its life source throughout every crevice of its being.  Those who seek for God are not content with just the rhythmic beat of every other man.  It wants to thump against the chest wall to express the life that lives in it.

When one seeks God it stirs up something on the inside of them.  It stirs a wanting of more.  Kind of like a first love.  You seek to be near that person or to simply hear their voice.  When contact is made it makes the heart beat a little faster and you feel alive!  God promises those that look for Him with that same passion your hearts shall live.  Your heart will tell a story all its own about the love that dwells in it for the one you seek.

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10).  He wants hearts alive; hearts that live for seeking Him more and more.  From that they will reap not the status quo rather an abundance of life that flows from Him.  If the beat of your heart is a little slower these days, or your faith is not getting as excited as it used at the first, check to see who or what you have been seeking after.  It may be that you have been looking for love, acceptance and passion everywhere but the right place.  But, we have this promise, “you who seek God, your hearts shall live!”

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“Stop the Madness!”

“. . . And bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5

“I cannot get this thought out of my mind!” That is the howl of frustration that has come from many persons I know. It has probably come from you, too. The relentless, almost like water dripping from the faucet thoughts, that drip, drip, drip their way into your mind. Sometimes making your head spin with a bothersome problem. If those thoughts were pleasant to us, then we would not mind it so much. It would cause us to feel as though we were walking through a field of flowers all day long. It’s when the invasion of unpleasant thoughts comes and messes with our peaceful reverie that we have a problem. These things continually bounce off the mind, not allowing rest for the soul.

The apostle Paul taught, “Take every thought captive.” The Christian must make a conscious effort to have a fly trap mentality. There is a barrier that every individual is to put up to guard their precious mind. That barrier is the Word of God. Whatever does not fall in line with Him and His Word is supposed to be trapped and discarded as refuse like that old, dirty fly trap. There is some bothersome stuff that people put up with every day. They are buzzing around your head and just plain ole getting on your nerves. I mean, you really wish you could tear it out of there and throw it away. Guess what? I have good news for you you can. Today, you can stop the madness because the Word of God declares, “You will keep him perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You!” (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV).

When you are dealing with all that annoying stuff, it is robbing you of the peace that God wants you to have in Him. As I am writing this, I am looking at my cats stretched out on the floor, sleeping. Outside there is some stonework cutting going on using a loud machine not far from my window. When the work first began, it caused their ears to perk up, and I think they were wondering what is going on out there. As time went on, they stopped wondering and started sleeping. I guess they figured, hey, whatever is going on out there does not affect me in here. I am in my safety. I am in my shelter. I am in my place of trust.

That is what God wants each of us to experience in Him. This kind of rest and peace only comes with first, trusting Him, and secondly, taking every thought captive. These two working together will give you the peace you so desire. After all, who does not want more peace? One can have all the money in the world and be miserable because there is no peace of mind.

Stop the madness. “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” I once heard this described as a wrestling match. I forget who I heard it from, but the idea is taking hold of that thought, pinning it to the ground, and making it obey Christ. If that thought does not profit my spiritual growth in God or my relationship with people or any of the good stuff God wants for me, then it is to be pinned down. It is not allowed to get the victory today. It is not even allowed in the ring with me.

How do I do that? “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” (Phil. 4:8). That is how you do it. I know from personal experience how easy it is to focus on all the negative stuff that tries to rob you of peace. But if you will change, on purpose, the focus of your thought life, you will begin to experience what God said you can have. I have heard it said that if you keep doing the same thing then you will keep getting the same results. No truer is that than here, in dealing with what you think throughout the day.

So, instead of letting all that madness of wrong thoughts overrun you – today, stand up against it. Take control of it and capture it. It is not allowed to have access. Today, declare, it is time to “Stop the madness!”

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I AM THE LORD!

I AM THE LORD - pagemodo pic

Reading in Leviticus chapter 22, in the middle of what seems to be a bunch of rules, regulations, and requirements for offerings, these four words stand out in the midst of them all: I AM THE LORD. Looking further, you will see these words appear in this exact order seven times in this one chapter alone.

Many shy away from reading through books such as Leviticus because they can be lengthy and somewhat boring to read for some. In a book that is filled with details and sacrifice, commandments and consecrations, what to eat and what not to eat, cleanness and uncleanness, relationships and feasts, laws and penalties – all was laid out with this purpose in mind: worshipping God in the holiness He deserves, because, as He said, “I AM THE LORD!”

If you do a deeper study, you will see that these four words appear throughout this entire book, not just chapter 22, many, many more times.

The gist of it all is what I think most, even in our modern churches and lives, forget that everything we do, we do for the Lord. Our lives, our worship, are not our own. We are to be dedicated to Him and give Him what is due to His holy name.

When we come before God, we are to have a devoted mindset and heart. Our worship is to be as pure as any sacrifices offered unblemished before the Lord in the Old Testament. Our lives are to be pure and open vessels ready to receive what His Spirit pours into us, and in turn, we are to pour out His blessings into the lives of others.

What are we giving to God daily? What are we offering to Him in our times of worship?

God wants the best of us!

He wants holy lives that recognize and live for Him because of who He is: the LORD! He is God, the Author and Creator of the universe and beyond. He is as supreme as supreme can get, and He deserves to be reverenced as such. The Bible states, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Other parts of Leviticus tell us, “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God” (20:7).

God wants holiness in our lives and our worship. I love a message that pronounces blessings just as much as the next person, but without holiness, it means absolutely nothing in His sight. As a whole, we need to come back to the central theme of true holiness because the LORD requires nothing less.

I am not talking about rules and regulations, but rather hearts fully dedicated to Him because they recognize that He is the LORD, and they want to give Him the best of themselves. And, that is a holy life.
We must never lose sight of, diminish, or bring down to our level the glory and honor God deserves. He is the LORD! He is Sovereign overall! He is Master! He is Savior! He is King! “I AM THE LORD!” He exclaimed, and holiness before Him is what He desires.

Amen!

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“God is for the Unloved!”

People can live without a lot of things in this world but love is not one of them.  True love holds you in good times and bad.  Love is there for you when the storms of chaotic mess are ravaging your life.  Love shelters when you feel as though your house is being blown in by the big bad wolf.

Love.

The strongest of all of God’s attributes is love.  In fact, the Bible tells us, “God is love,” (1 John 4:8).  With that in mind, it is no wonder He is a defender of the unloved.  God knows the inner man needs the nourishment of love to help him through the struggles of this life.  He goes to bat for them filling the gap where man seems to lack.

In Genesis 29:31 we see someone who is struggling with feelings of being unloved.  It seems no matter what she does she can’t get a break or find favor with those whom she is seeking it from.  Her attempts have gone unrewarded.  Her heart lays empty from unfulfilled desire.  “Oh, to be truly loved,” must have been her silent, lamenting plea that soaked her pillow with tears as she lay her head down at night.

Man ignored her and left her feeling hated.  In such a condition, where would her life end up if not for the intervention of the Lord?

But, God stepped in.

He pays attention to those silent pleas.  God sees the heart that is rent from the lack of human compassion and kindness.  God sees the emptiness and He stands up to fight for her cause.  “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated (other versions use the word “unloved”), he opened her womb…,” (Genesis 29:31).

This really gives us a clear view of how much God wants us to be loved.  It shows that no matter what others may or may not be doing to you or for you, God is for the unloved and the hated.  God doesn’t like to see people in a hurt condition, and if no one else will alleviate the silent suffering of this woman, then He would.

Powerful!

God’s love is no joke and how He is concerned about people who are lacking love in their lives is no joke.  God is for them.  God is for you.  Others may not always see the hurt that goes on inside, but God does.  People will not always pay attention to your tears, but God has every one of them recorded.  The psalmist said, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” (Psalm 56:8).

God knows it all.  Your hurts, your pain, your silent sufferings have not escaped His eyes of compassion.  If you are feeling unloved, turn to God today.  Unload every burdensome feeling on Him: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you,” (1 Peter 5:7).

God loves you and He wants you to feel loved.  He stepped in for Leah and satisfied her need for love and He can do the same for you too.  Let Him be your ultimate source of love.  His love is like no other.

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Devotional – “Jesus Questions Trust”

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8b

What would it be like to sit across from Jesus, face to face, and have Him question your trust? Would we be able to look Him in the eye as we pondered our answer? Would our heads be bowed, feeling unworthy to lift it and look into the eyes of love pleading with us to believe? What would be like? I imagine it would be self-revealing because in those questions we find where our hearts and our true belief lies. It reveals where we stand in our faith.

I have never read or heard of anyone, anywhere who tries so hard to get people to believe in Him, for their good, outside of Christ. He, who had pleaded with mankind through these pages of history to trust Him with their life and everything it entails. He, who has welcomed the problems and prayers of others into His person to carry so that we don’t have to.

Face to face. Pleading eyes. Questioning trust.

In Luke 18, that is what I see playing out. Jesus is telling a parable of a widow woman who just will not give up seeking justice. Day after day she sought the judge and became a downright pest about it. In her perseverance, she basically wore the man down until she was avenged.

Jesus used this parable to get the point of persistent prayer across. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not faint,” (Luke 18:1, KJV). Jesus knew that men and women everywhere would have to believe that if they continually seek the Father, He hears them. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” (John 16:24, KJV).

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Jesus questions trust. He questions whether or not anyone will believe in the promise and power of prayer. He questions if there is real, alive faith working in mankind somewhere. He questions.

One’s faith lies at the center of this questioning, for if we believed wholeheartedly, there would be no hindrance in bringing every request and problem before God in prayer. This is what Jesus is getting at. True faith unencumbered. True faith takes the shackles off of God’s promises and allows one to run freely forth, believing He hears, He knows and He will answer.

Bringing out the faith of people was a key in Jesus’ ministry. How often had He declared that it was by faith one was healed? In the story of the Ten Lepers, to the one who came back to “give glory to God,” (Luke 17:18, KJV), He said, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole,” (Luke 17:19, KJV).

How much are we missing out on through our lack of faith? Jesus is questioning us, will we have the faith to respond? Do we trust Him enough to bring all our cares, problems, and issues before Him, laying them at His feet?

The Bible says, “Thou shalt call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am . . .,” (Is. 58:9, KJV). “Here I am.” God is not far off. When we venture to trust Him enough to cry out in the midst of our mess, He responds, “Here I am.” The word “here” indicates a present closeness. “I Am” is the name God gave Moses to assure those in Egypt, Ex. 3:14. Whatever they needed God to be, “I AM” has got it all under control because He is God all by Himself. He does not exist because of another. He does not depend upon another. His power is not contingent upon another. He is “I AM!” And, the Great “I AM” says, “Here I am!” Can’t we trust Him?

Faith and prayer go hand in hand. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Heb. 11:6, KJV). Without established trust in Him and His promises, we are unable to effectively move God with our prayers. We are unable to please Him. Why? Because without that leading trust, the basic requirements of faith cannot be filled. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” They must believe in His existence (previous paragraph) and they must believe that He is concerned enough to hear the call of them that cry out to Him and answer them. Trust.

“Shall he find faith on earth?” Our faith and trust in Him is the key that unlocks the door to victory. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4, KJV).

The persistence of the widow woman encourages us to keep coming and not give up. Hold on to your faith and trust in God and keep praying – keep laying it before our great God who hears and will take action. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7, KJV). Jesus said, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Will there be some that really believe? The reason for this parable was to teach men not to give up – to keep praying and believing that God hears and that He is able to take care of it all. Do we trust Him enough to let it go and give it to God today? You may have to come every day and lay it on the altar of prayer – so be it. That’s how the widow got her case heard.

In this questioning of trust, Jesus is also demonstrating an open invitation for us to lay every hindrance down before God in prayer. Prayer works! Persistent prayer works! Persistent prayer plus faith works!

The pleading Savior is asking us to trust.

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“Rabbi, is it I?”

“Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, ‘Rabbi, is it I?'” Matthew 26:25, NKJV

Love betrayed. The betrayed and the betrayer locked in questioning gaze. A tension of certainty and doubt filling the air of what was to be a beautiful last dinner spent with His disciples.

On the one hand, is Christ. He has done nothing but show love, concern, and compassion toward all who met Him. From the miracles to the teachings, He has treasured each life that came across His path enough to compel Him to know that the cross was the only way to save them all. Love was His motto.

Then, there is Judas Iscariot. The betrayer. The sell-out. The one who was close to Christ but now has become an enemy of Christ. Selfishness is what compelled him to give it all up for thirty pieces of silver. Gain and greed were his mottoes. Love didn’t matter anymore.

The two together at dinner with the question in the air:

“Rabbi, is it I?”

Have you ever felt the sting of betrayal by someone to whom you have poured out love? It doesn’t feel good. Our Lord amazes me! He knew all things and yet subjected Himself to all things. He carried it all to the cross with the burgeoning of love in His very being. He suffered affliction, ridicule, and torment. Yet, those He loved and walked with these three and half years of His earthly ministry are nowhere to be found. One sold Him out and the others fled or denied Him altogether.

“Rabbi, is it I?”

Love causes us to do some crazy things. Love makes us suffer long with people who have worked our last nerve. Love keeps us from giving up and giving in. Love centers us back to the real mission at hand: which is to love some more.

Love caused Christ to look into the face of His betrayer and say, “You have said it.” Love put the plan in motion that will pay the price for it all. Love gave the okay for the process to start, redeeming man from themselves and the sin that had them bound.

Have you ever wished you could save someone you love from the mistakes they are making? Has the love you shown over the years not reaped the rewards you were hoping for? Has the one you loved turned their back on you?

Feelings that come from these questions don’t feel good. No more for us than they did for Christ. But, when we view His life and all that He dealt with in light of our questions, it breathes a new life of appreciation in all that He has done for us.

“Rabbi, is it I?”

We have not always been our best. We have not always crossed every T or dotted every I, yet, He continues to love. We have not always followed every command or taken every stand that we ought to, yet, He continues to love.

The next time when the love we shed for another seems to be all for naught, remember Christ. Remember how His love was betrayed. Remember how His love was afflicted. Remember how His love compelled Him to continue.

Remember all He did for every one of us despite us not being at our best. Let the knowledge of His love cover us today. Yup, it hurts sometimes but let that knowing what He did for us compel us to act as He did – with Love!

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“Focus Shift!”

 

“It’s all in how you look at it.”  At least, that’s what I hear some say.  Perspective, if you will, changes one’s outlook on a lot of things in life.

How do you view the position you are in now?  Is everything going okay for you or are you finding yourself fighting through, just trying to make it to the other side of adversity?

Perspective.

It’s rather hard to see the glass as half full when you feel half empty.  To imagine a silver lining when in all honesty all I see is dark clouds.  And, somebody must have put a rock at the end of my tunnel blocking out all light because I just don’t see it.

Perspective.

How we feel matters, but then again, it doesn’t matter.

When we feel positive and optimistic it is easy for us to shower others with attention and be pressed into service for their needs.  But, when we are in the midst of trials and travail, the negative and pessimistic seem to take up residence in our being, hindering us from bothering with anyone else other than ourselves and our own needs.

As I was pondering this I thought about Jesus on the cross.  It dawned on me, in the midst of the worse thing He would ever have to endure, how much He had a focus shift.  How much He paid attention to the needs of others despite what He was going through.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” (Luke 23:34, NKJV).

Focus shift.  Instead of ranting and raving, Jesus, in His agony and pain sought the betterment of the very ones who were killing Him.  He knew He would die.  He knew the pain would not cease until He did.  This plan was going to go forth.  Yet, He focused on the needs of others rather than Himself.

How awesome is that?  Often, we hear these words during a Seven Last Words service on Good Friday, but can we even begin to imagine the strength and willpower it took for Jesus not to focus on Himself during that time?  For Him to look beyond what He was currently going through to care for and about others?  I don’t think we have a clue.  He immediately pleaded with the Father for their forgiveness.

“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’   And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home,” (John 19:26-27, NKJV).

This is a blessed Son indeed.  Women in biblical times had no authority or protection if it were not for certain members of the family establishing care for them.  This is what we see Jesus doing here.  What did His mother have to endure?  Any mother out there knows and can sympathize with the sheer agony of heartbreak that Mary must have been going through.

He had to go.  He had to die.  But that didn’t make it any easier for her to comprehend.  It didn’t soothe the heartbreak at all!  A mother’s love doesn’t work like that.  It’s a special connection of heart that starts at the time of conception and never leaves her.  Jesus knew she needed special care.  This woman who had raised Him and loved Him through it all needed to be looked after in a special way.

In His time of desperation, it is a blessing that He shifted the focus and thought about Momma!

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” (Luke 23:43, NKJV).

Sinner.  Thief.  Criminal.  Yet, on the cross, he got the attention of Jesus.  How?  He had a repentant heart.  No matter what Jesus was going through He could never turn a blind eye to the one who wants to get right with God.  To the one who bears true, sincere, godly sorrow for all that he has done.

At that point in time, Jesus had been on the cross for a while.  How hard would it have even been for Him to push the air out of His lungs to form the words, “You . . . will . . . be . . . with . . . Me . . . in . . . Paradise?”  His body was fighting against Him in the battle between death and life, yet it was as if He couldn’t be bothered with the demands of His personal pain.  Somebody was seeking salvation, even in this late hour, Jesus stepped up the plate to care for the other man’s needs.  Focus shift.

Jesus knew what He was going through.  He wasn’t blind to the fact that He was in pain.  It’s what He CHOSE to do in spite of it all.  He CHOSE to focus on others!

You know what you are going through.  And, I’m sure you are not blind to the trouble you may face today.  But, what about others?  I observe people very closely.  Sometimes I wonder why does that man have sad eyes?  What thoughts are going through the one sitting on the steps over there?  That lady wrestling with a stroller, shopping bags, and kids on the bus stop, what does she have to face when she gets home?  I try to think about the “behind the scenes” of a person’s life.

Am I always successful?  No, but I do try very hard to be compassionate toward the people I come across.  We never know what someone is going through.  We never know when someone needs us to pay a little attention to them.  Jesus showed us that we can do that even in the hardest of times.

A tall order to fill?  Yes!  But one that will make a great impact in the lives we come across today.  You can even start right in your own home.  How can we pay more attention to the needs of those around us?

“It’s all in how you look at it.”

Copyright © Word For Life Says.com (Sharing any posts or lessons can only be done through the share buttons provided on this site from the original posts, lessons, and articles only. You can reblog from the original posts only using the reblog button provided, or share using the share buttons provided from these social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, etc., and they must be shared from the original posts only. All other repostings are prohibited. Posts and other items of interest found on this site MAY NOT BE COPIED AND PASTED, downloaded, uploaded, etc to another website or entity not listed (physical or electronic).  See COPYRIGHT PAGE for more details.