We Are Made Right

Driving along the highway, I approached a drawbridge that was raised.

The red stop lights were on, so any car that approached had to come to a halt.

Some type of boat was surely making a safe passage under the raised bridge.

Unless the obstruction of steel and concrete could be moved, the boat would not be able to pass to the other side.

Jesus did something for us when He died on the cross.

He made it possible for the obstruction of sin to be removed.

Our sin created a barrier between us and a safe passage to Heaven when we die.

The Bible says that all have sinned.

When Jesus took on that sin for us, He then lifted the penalty for it.

With the penalty of sin taken away, there is now an open passage for those who accept Him as their Savior.

Romans 3:21-24

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.

made right

Cleanse Us

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

The old garage door near the church was surrounded by smooth, nicely painted walls.

Looking at the photograph I took of it, I wonder—why hadn’t the door been painted nicely and repaired?

It looked tattered and worn out—like many desperate people in this world.

They feel dirty and guilty, used up and torn up, stripped and faded, hopeless and lost.

With an outlook tinted with shame, they see what looks like a clean, smooth surface on others’ lives.

No one could accept them in their broken condition, they think.

Family couldn’t.

Friends couldn’t.

Certainly God couldn’t.

After all, they’ve messed things up.

There’s nowhere left to go to escape the mirror of accusation that hangs on every wall they encounter…

In the last two weeks, I have learned of two people I know—both in very different walks of life—who have taken their own lives.

They lived hundreds of miles from one another, but they both shared hopelessness.

For a crucial moment, they failed to look at God’s unlimited power and grace and instead, looked at their own lack of ability to repair and restore.

God can accept anyone in any condition.

Broken.

Dirty.

Guilty.

Used up.

Torn up.

Stripped.

Faded.

Hopeless.

Lost.

Friends may not accept us.

Family may not.

But, God?

He is ALWAYS ready to heal and to forgive!

To CLEANSE us from ALL unrighteousness!

If we cry out to God from our brokenness, confessing our sin and our mistakes, we will be forgiven.

We can start over.

We can begin again.

It’s not too late for any of us, ever.

 

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In Every Situation

 

 

 

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

—2 Thessalonians 3:16

 

What can we do when bad news arrives?

Last week, we found out that the young son of someone we know has leukemia.

About the same time, some new friends of ours had a baby very prematurely and the baby died.

What could be said at times like these?

I am not a doctor, so I would not have been able to advise either couple on medical issues, even though I really do care.

Nor am I able to heal a broken heart, even though I hope for that healing.

Jesus is the Lord of peace, however, and He can carry any of us through any and every situation—even illness and death.

How does He do that?

I don’t know.

I just know that He knows all things and He is able to do all things.

Even when it seems impossible, He can comfort and heal.

His peace

 

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

God never leaves us.

He truly does comfort us. 

As my family and I began driving back home from the funeral of a loved one, I decided to get my Bible and read. Looking around, I did not see it, as it was probably placed in the back of the vehicle. 

I carry a New Testament in my bag all the time, so I decided to get it out to read instead. 

Not having anything in mind particularly to read, I just opened the testament randomly. 

My eyes fell on the 14th chapter of John. 

I began to read:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

—John 14:1-3

Coincidence?

I don’t think so. 

God led me to this passage to comfort me in this time of grief. 

He understands our sadness, but He doesn’t want our hearts to be troubled. 

  

Your Brother

My husband’s brother died today.

Having lived with a diagnosis of cancer for the last several months, this was an expected event.

Even though it was expected, our family could not really prepare for what it would feel like when that moment came.

Sadness.

Grief.

Thankfulness.

Love.

At dusk this evening, my husband wanted to drive to a nearby area and take a walk.

As we did, we noticed the tall cross that stands on the property of a local church.

I stopped for a moment to photograph it.

A flood of emotions comes bursting forth when the finality of death is before us.

Yet, there is hope.

Hope brought to us by Jesus.

In the eleventh chapter of John, there is the account of Jesus’ conversation with a woman named Martha, who had just experienced the death of her brother, Lazarus.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

–John 11-21-27

My husband’s brother will rise again.

He continues to live by having believed in Jesus.

Do you believe?

 

 

 

brother

For You Are With Me

It’s a perfect day, really. 

The sky is clear and the temperature is mild. 

Even though it is cold and wintry in many places at this time of year, in my own yard wild flowers are blooming and new, green leaves are sprouting from plants. 

It was a very good day for a funeral, and that is where I have been this morning. The father of a very good friend passed away. 

The service was encouraging as the pastor spoke of my friend’s father and the importance of having a relationship with God, our Heavenly Father. 

After arriving home, I went about my day as usual. While pausing to look out my front door, I noticed the shadow of a small, barren tree on the walkway. 

Immediately, I thought of this verse from the Bible:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

—Psalm 23:4

God will never leave us. 

He removes fear from our hearts. 

He comforts us. 

Even through the valley….

 

So Death Spread

Walking near a park area in the early morning hours, I noticed some trees—well, they used to be trees, or maybe they still were–but they hardly resembled trees anymore.

Having been absolutely overtaken by a growing vine, the trees were almost unrecognizable.

Instead, the tightly intertwining vines had taken over, creating a lush, green shroud.

The trunks and branches beneath this blanket are probably in danger of dying from the vines that hold them in bondage.

People are kind of like those trees.

Once sin came into the world, it brought death with it.

Sin and death have spread, covering humanity.

Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of sin that entangles us.

He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.

Because of Him, those who believe are rescued from its heavy blanket of death, restored to new life, forever.

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Sin came into the world through one person, and death came through sin. So death spread to everyone, because everyone sinned.

–Romans 5:12

 

 

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To Number

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It has been a night to speak about important matters.

I have a family member who has a terminal illness.

While speaking with him, he mentioned this quote by Winston Churchill:

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

It is difficult for our loved one to communicate, but I think I understood why these words were spoken.
As a Christian, the life he has lived here is only the beginning of his eternal life.
His passing from this earth is not the end for him.
It’s not even the beginning of the end.
The Bible says,
“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”
—Psalm 90:12
While some people live to be 100 years old and a little beyond while in their mortal state, we all know that the time will come for all people to die.
Understanding that our time is limited–even if we were to live to be 100–we come to the realization that our our days are numbered and they are precious.
With wisdom that can only come from God, we can choose wisely how to spend our time.
Our lives here may be long or they may be short by human standards.
Even so, when we die, it is not the end….
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Let Not Your Hearts

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It’s hard to say goodbye.

When someone that you love has left this world, there is a pain that is unlike any other.

An empty chair at the table.

An empty bed.

A photograph of times gone by.

For those who love the Lord, the pain and grief of loved ones left behind will be replaced one day in Heaven with rejoicing as they are reunited.

Knowing this deep within our hearts is a testimony of faith and God’s Spirit within us.

Jesus said,

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled.

Believe in God;

believe also in Me.

In My Father’s house are many rooms.

If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.

And you know the way to where I am going.”

—John 14:1-4

 

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To Be With Me

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It really needed to be done.

It was definitely time to throw some things away, straighten up, clean and rearrange.

The “office” room is where my computer lives, along with two bookshelves that are packed and a host of other important (to me) items.

Things like old photo albums, camera boxes and a microphone stand.

A hard hat that I wore while on a tree logging tour. (What????)

A wooden back scratcher given to me while staying at a cottage on the Gulf of Mexico.

Even a hand made (but not functional) shofar used in one of the musicals I directed years ago.

You know…..stuff like that.

While going through a stack of papers, I found a little Polaroid photograph of our second son as a young child.

As I recall, there was an event at church where children were supposed to dress up as animals.

One of the men at the church dressed as Noah.

Each child could have their portrait made with Noah.

According to the sign on the wall in the picture, portraits were available for 50 cents each.

Years later, our son was killed in a car accident as a teenager…..

As I picked up the old photo of our son and the “pretend” Noah, there was a split second of grief shooting into my heart.

Following right behind it with lightning speed, these words came to my mind:

“He’s with the “real” Noah, now.”

Yes.

That’s right.

My son knew Jesus while here on Earth, and God has given me assurance that he is in Heaven right now.

I don’t think I’ve ever considered that my son is able to see Noah and talk to him.

It just hadn’t crossed my mind.

What was the cost to be with Noah in Heaven?

Much more than all the money in world.

It cost the death of Jesus on the cross.

My son is with Jesus today, along with Noah and countless others.

Now, when I look at that picture, joy springs forth.

Thank You, God, for bringing comfort out of pain. Thank You for salvation and the promise of Heaven for those who believe.

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Jesus said,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

—John 14:1-4

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