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Building Upon The Rock

Last night, I ran into an old friend of mine from school. We locked eyes and were genuinely happy to see each other. We embraced each other and talked about how quickly time passes and she nodded toward her daughter when I asked if she had grandchildren yet. Her daughter was pregnant with her first grandchild who would be arriving in a few months. She spoke briefly of struggles she had been dealing with but that she was doing better. The new baby gave her renewed hope and direction for her life. I encouraged her and told her that she could continue to come out of her struggles. Hope is often something that seems lost in the moment of struggle. At least it does briefly, until you refocus on the goal at hand, but more importantly hope is found in God.

Our community has been hit lately with some tough weather. We’ve had two weeks of snow and slick roads. Then it warmed up, which was great, but then yesterday morning the rivers and streams began to overflow. Many areas are dealing with flooding and being trapped once again in their homes by weather. Today it is sleeting, so the roads are very icy. The weather is affecting business. It’s also affecting others paychecks because they can’t get to work. But, we can’t let it get us down. We have to still live and do. I started thinking of the much quoted scripture in Jeremiah. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That verse has often reminded me that God’s hand is on my life and that He wants the best for me. But, I decided this morning to explore the whole chapter. I think we should really remember to look at the whole context of the passage. Jeremiah wrote a letter to the exiles in Babylon, this is what Jeremiah 29 is about. He reminds the people that God knows where they are and why there are there. It makes no sense to the people why they are captive and dealing with trouble, but God knows the full picture. Jeremiah reminds them that God hasn’t abandoned them. He also warns them about listening to false prophets. These false prophets were telling them that their captivity would be brief. That wasn’t the case; their captivity would be for seventy years. Jeremiah tells the people that in this time period continue to build homes, plant gardens, and marry their sons and daughters. It’s hard sometimes to continue living even when the circumstances aren’t good, but we have to continue on. If we just sit down and do nothing when things are bad, we would not do ourselves or our future any good. Why does Jeremiah encourage them to keep building, planting and marrying? They needed to continue doing so because they are readying the future generation to come into the Promised Land. When we are struggling, we have to look past ourselves and look toward those who will benefit in our struggling. We have to teach the next generation that hope comes from God. We have to endure, so that we will survive, but more importantly so that the future generation will survive.
Think about your life and tough moments in your life. It was tough to go through those things, but have they helped you to be compassionate to others who’ve went through similar circumstances? Have they given you the ability to feed into someone else who is going through what you have already overcome? I know that through tough moments in the past and even current ones, I question God and ask why. But, we have to be ok with the fact that He knows and that His plans aren’t to harm us. He wants us to call upon Him and seek Him. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to rely fully on Him. He wants us not to be selfish but to think of others. He wants us to build our future through people, our offspring and our community. We need to keep building and planting. Our relationships with mankind need to be reaching and lifting. Our arms need to embrace each other. We need to encourage one another. We need to pray for one another. We need to love one another.

“For the Lord says, ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My promise to you. I will bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will look for Me and find Me, when you look for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will bring you back and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have made you go,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you away.” Jeremiah 29:10-14

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Choose your own Adventure

chooseadventureI used to read the “Choose your own Adventure” stories from the library when I was a kid. I liked the fact that I could read along the same storyline and see how one decision could tailspin the story into another path or series of adventures. Sometimes, I would get aggravated if I chose something that would end drastically or abruptly. But, I was satisfied that I could return to the page before the decision and change the outcome with the other choice. There are times in my own life that I wish that I could’ve done the same with my personal story. Are there particular chapters in your journey that you would’ve chosen to erase if you could?

I imagine the author of the adventure series has the perfect plot laid out first before he adds the side stories. He probably ultimately hopes the reader will pick the right storyline that makes the greatest adventure. But instead, he gives the reader the free will to decide which path to take.

When I used to read the series, I often picked what I knew would bring a bad outcome. I did it because I wanted to push the limits of the story. Sometimes, I was just ready for the story to end because of boredom. I’ve done the same thing in my own life. I’ve come upon decisions and picked the wrong one, fully knowing it would be a bad choice. I did it out of curiosity, rebellion, or selfishness. I did it to see if I somehow could change the outcome, even though the Author already knew where the outcome would lead.

Thinking through all of this, I’m reminded of this passage, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

There are other times in my life that I let fear of the unknown stall me on a page in life. I’d lay the book down and sit down on the journey. I wanted to choose the safe path when Jesus wanted me to pursue His adventure. He reminds me that He is the author of my faith to step into those unknown pages. I need to hang onto the next word as he writes it and trust him to make it all end with an outcome that I could never do on my own. Why? Because he is also the finisher of that faith. He already knows where the path leads and he’s excited for me to follow that path instead of me choosing my own. He knows the beauty at the end of the story. And those chapters I messed up, no longer matter because of his grace and love. He uses them to remind me of where I came from and to be cautious with veering from his lead. Ultimately, if I want the best story, then I need to I look to Him to lead me through it.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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A Matter of Trust

We live in a world of instant answers from Google, fast food and streaming videos. Just about everything is available within a click of a button. So, when things take time and are slow to being seen, we get antsy. We wonder if something is broken or if we aren’t being heard. We get impatient and wonder where our quick result is.

We in turn get aggravated at God when things don’t get answered when we want them to. We wonder if He hears us or even cares. I’ve been studying the life of Abraham with the youth group. I see this faithful man of God had his times of doubt as well. His faith wavered because his promise wasn’t filled by when he expected it to be. His wife Sarah didn’t see the promise come in enough time, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She thought that she would solve the problem by finding someone else to carry the seed of blessing. But, it wasn’t intended for anyone else to carry it. It was intended for Sarah to carry it, but she didn’t believe that God was going to do what He promised. I see myself doing that a lot, I get very impatient with God and try to solve the problem myself. Boy, do I end up making a mess of things.

If only we would trust God and believe Him. It’s when Abraham and Sarah trusted God that He fulfilled His promise. It was when they least expected it. They were old and worn out, having a child late in life was simply laughable to them. I think God likes to reveal His promises in moments that seem ridiculous or miraculous. Why? Because it shows that it wasn’t anything we did and shows that it had to be God. It’s when we let loose of control and let God do things His way and in His time, that we see results. It’s when we trust Him to take care of things, that He shows up and does. It’s when we believe what He says is true and not doubt Him.

“And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” James 2:23-24 (NLV)

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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