Tag Archives: eternity

I Samuel 20; Goodbyes

We knew our mom was dying. She’d been diagnosed with cancer 18 months earlier, and that awful disease had done its worse. I’d spent the weekend at Mom and Dad’s, and hadn’t wanted to leave Mom’s side. We’d finally gotten a hospital bed, and set it up in the living room so she could be close to us all.

I sat next to her and held her tiny hand. She told me she wanted to die, she was so tired of being sick. She wanted to go home. I wanted her to stay.

I lived and worked about 60 miles from my parents’ home. So that Sunday evening I packed up and got ready to leave. I stopped at Mom’s bed, and put my cheek next to her’s, and whispered,”Gotta go. See you next weekend.”

She hesitated as though there was something she wanted to say. Then, “Ok. Be careful.”

I stood up fighting tears and said, “Love you” as cheerfully as I could manage. Then I walked away, not knowing if I’d ever see her again in this lifetime.

I drove down the road a short way, pulled into an empty parking lot, and cried and cried. I loved her so much.

She died two days later.

You hear people say, “I hate goodbyes” all the time. I’ve never heard anyone say they love them! Especially if the one you are leaving is someone you love deeply, and someone you know you may never see again.

Like David and Jonathan’s goodbye here in I Samuel. I imagine Jonathan’s heart was heavy as he picked up his bow and arrow and headed to the field that morning. I imagine he fought tears so as not to show the boy with him his sorrow. I can almost feel the burning lump in his throat as he shot that arrow, the signal to David that Saul wanted him dead. And I bet he knew he had to get that boy out of there before the dam broke.

At that moment, Jonathan disregarded any fear of danger at being seen with David. He had to have one last moment with his best friend, no matter the cost. And I imagine that as the two men hugged each other tightly, their tears flowed from their deepest pain.

As I write this, thinking about my last moments with my mom, and Jonathan and David’s goodbye, I am weeping. Twenty-one years have passed since Mom went to live with Jesus. But remembering that goodbye still touches the sorrow as though it was yesterday. I can hardly wait to see her again!

So I’m sitting here thinking about goodbyes and wondering what God would say to me about that today. Then I remembered something David said in verse 3:

…Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.

The same can be said of all of us.

I didn’t get to say goodbye to my sweet nephew that Sunday afternoon he lost control of his truck and slammed into a tree. He was gone in an instant, without saying goodbye even to his parents and sister. Without giving them the opportunity to say goodbye to him, either.

One step.

Now I’m certainly not advocating tearful goodbyes every time someone runs to the corner store for milk. But maybe God is prompting us to consider if there is someone in our lives with whom we have things yet unsaid. Anger or jealousy we need to confess, forgiveness we need to seek, Jesus we need to share.

Maybe God is bringing to mind someone you’ve stopped talking to for reasons you don’t even remember, or reasons so trivial in the light of eternity.

The truth is we are all one step away from death. Is there someone on your heart? Ask God what He wants you to do about that. Then do it.

You never get a second chance at a last goodbye.

Ruth 1-4; The Master Weaver

This book is a beautiful picture of how God can use the circumstances of life to weave a tapestry more glorious than we can imagine. I was thinking about that as I read Ruth’s story and began to see some of the individual stitches that combine to make her tapestry, or the picture of her life:

Because of a famine, Ruth met and married her Jewish husband. She accepted, and was accepted by, her mother-in-law, Naomi, and their love for one another is legendary. The deaths of her husband and father-in-law led her to leave her home and family, and move to a country where people of her nationality were not welcome. Ruth thought that caring for her mother-in-law was more important than what people might think about her.

Through Naomi’s influence, Ruth turned from the pretend gods she was raised worshiping, and accepted the God of Israel for her own. A poor woman with nothing she could call her own, she immediately went to work to support herself and Naomi, and ended up working in the fields of the one man who could redeem her and Naomi, who would marry her, love her, and give her children.

And the finishing touch on Ruth’s story is the fact that Jesus Himself is a direct descendant of this Moabite woman and her kinsman redeemer.

I love how God presented opportunities for Ruth, and how she followed His lead. I love how God was able to take tragedy and weave that into a life that effects me here in 2017. Are you as blown away by that as I am?

We can’t always see how God is working to bring good out of things Satan might intend for evil. We might not see how a choice we make leads to another and another that ends up effecting people down the road.

But I am reminded, as I read the book of Ruth, that God is working in my life today, weaving a tapestry of my life, giving me opportunities to obey Him that will result in something really beautiful. Someone has said that we are only allowed to see the underside of the tapestries of our lives. But I think occasionally God gives us a glimpse at the final product.

Like when someone comes to the Lord because of our influence. Or when we hold that newborn baby in our arms, or realize we were in the right place at the right time to represent Jesus to someone. It’s when we are told that, at the lowest point of our lives, our example spoke to someone about God’s love, or His strength, or His assurance.

We see a glimpse at the final product when we can see that God uses even the most difficult circumstances to produce something beautiful in us.

I want to recognize Gods leading and, like Ruth, take those steps in faith. I want to be obedient to the Master Weaver, and one day lay the tapestry of my life at His feet. I believe, when at last I take a look at the entirety of my life, I will praise my God who made something beautiful out of even me.

Judges 9; What Will People Say?

Abimelech was not a nice guy. Not only did he weasel his way into become king, he hired some low-lifes to be his muscle. I guess he gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Then to top it off, he killed his seventy brothers, one at a time, gruesomely, and very publicly. You didn’t mess with Abimelech. Violence accompanied his “reign.” They were into idol worship, leaving God entirely out of their lives.

Now here’s what spoke to me today: When Abimelech was dying, his only thought was, “What will people say about me?” The most important thing to him as he entered eternity was that no one could say he’d been killed by a girl. No regret for an evil life. No repentance. Just what will people say?

Sometimes I think we give too much thought about what people think about us. We have to be politically correct, we want to blend in, we don’t point out sin for fear someone won’t like us. And there are some who live like Abimelech, as though they have no eternal souls, as though there is no God to whom they will be accountable.

Abimelech’s story is tragic. And right this minute, he is living a horrible consequence for his choices made thousands of years ago. He now knows that living a sinful, ego driven life isn’t worth it. Oh, he believes in a Holy God right now. But it’s too late.

Friend, where are your priorities? Are they made with an eye on people, or position, or lifestyle? Or are they made with an eye on eternity?

Because in eternity it won’t matter what people are saying about you. It will only matter what God says about your relationship with Him.

Genesis 24-25 Living Life

Isaac, the son through whom God chose to reveal Himself to the nations and ultimately to be born into his family, loved Rebekah. Their meeting is a sweet story and filled with lessons about faith and obedience.

They had twin sons, who were as opposite as night and day. Esau, the rough and tumbled hunter. Jacob, the deceiving home-body. Esau, who lived for the moment. Jacob, who began to fashion a future to his liking.

I would suggest that neither extreme is pleasing to God. I think the young Rebekah’s story is a better example of how we should live. She, while still living with her father, had been given expensive jewelry and honor by Abraham’s servant. She enjoyed her new-found riches, but she didn’t just stay there. She got on her camel and moved ahead toward  a life she couldn’t have been real sure about.

Sometimes, I admit, I don’t live in the moment enough. I don’t allow myself to smell roses or enjoy a sunrise on the beach. I don’t talk to a friend about God every time I feel Him nudging me toward that. Sometimes I miss recognizing a blessing because I’m not paying attention.

And sometimes I find myself making decision, or living as though there is no tomorrow, so caught up in the “now” I don’t pay attention to God’s promptings about what He has in store for me up ahead.

I think the Bible teaches us to keep our eye on the sky, watching for Christ’s return, preparing to meet Him, while making every day count. A little Esau, a little Jacob, and a bit of Rebekah.

Dear God, I want to soak in everything You have given me and are doing in me today. I want to live my life with eternity my focus. I don’t want to miss a blessing or a challenge that comes from You. Thank you for walking with me today. May I be intentional about walking with You. 

December 31 – Worship

Revelation 19-22

I can hardly wait. John’s description of the last and best eternal worship service has my soul eagerly looking forward to being a part of it all. God, sitting on His throne right there in front of me. Me, a sinner in this lifetime, clothed in Jesus’ righteousness and bowing before my Holy God, holy myself because of His Son.

Angels and saints and hymns and psalms and joy and light and perfect love. Forever. No more tears. No more disease or heartache. Just me and Jesus (and a few million other souls washed by the blood of the Lamb) hanging out with the Father.

Holy! Holy! Holy! Worthy is the Lamb!

As I look forward to 2017, I want my life to be an act of worship. I don’t have to wait until I get to heaven. This same Jesus is worthy of my worship today. God is on His throne in all His majesty. And even though I can’t see them at the moment, they are as real as they’ll be when I get there.

I want my eternal worship of God to be a seamless transition from this life to the next, because I’ve learned to worship Him the way He deserves. He is Holy. He is Powerful, Almighty, Sovereign, Perfect, and full of love. I, who cannot look on His face in and of myself, can go boldly to Him because I have accepted His gift of grace through Jesus’ work on the cross. I can stand before Him, without any good thing in me, yet dressed in Jesus’ righteousness, holy because of Jesus, acceptable because of Jesus.

Holy God, I worship You. I adore You. I bow before You unworthy, yet made worthy, sinful, yet made sinless because of Jesus. I want to worship You today and every day in a way that pleases You, because You deserve it. Thank You for preparing a place for me to be with You forever. I worship You. I adore You.

_____________

Thank you for visiting my blog this past year. I hope that I was able to encourage you to read God’s Word every day, to cherish it, and learn from it. I hope your walk with the Lord is closer today than it was a year ago.

I have been reading through the Bible every year for several years now. But this year I found myself frustrated a bit with having to read so fast through these precious verses in order to finish Revelation by today. So I’m going to do things a bit differently next year.

I’ll begin tomorrow with Genesis 1:1. But I’m going to let God dictate how much I read of His Word every day. I want to devour each verse, to pray over it, meditate on it, learn from every sentence. My goal will not be to get through the whole book in a year, but to make this precious book more a part of me than it is today.

I don’t plan to share a post every day. I’ll let God nudge me in that area, too. But I will let you know what I’m learning and how I’m doing as I read the Bible slowly, intentionally, and carefully this year.

I hope you’ll open its pages every day, too. Let’s determine together to be children of God’s Word, and continue to let it guide and strengthen us to maturity.

God bless you in 2017, my friend.

Because He love us,

Connie

December 30 – Doomed

Revelation 12-18

The Book of Revelation is a book of hope for Christians. In His revelation to John, God tells us to hold on to Him. Life will be hard. But if we remain on God’s side – we win.

But reading these chapters also makes me sad for those who reject Him. Oh, they might appear to have some victories here and there during this lifetime. But they are doomed.

It makes me sad that, as I read the imagery of the seven bowls of wrath, people continue to reject God, even when His power and authority are demonstrated in undeniable ways. Read chapter 16 and see them scorched with fierce heat, and blaspheming God. Or gnawing their tongues because of pain, and refusing to repent. Or blaspheming God even when hundred pound hailstones are falling on their heads.

Over and over God reveals Himself: nature declares His glory, Jesus reveals God in the flesh, changed lives, strength in weakness, joy in sorrow.

God nudges, and woos lost people. He also disciplines and pours out His wrath to get their attention. I see a God who is not willing that anyone die without Him, and who will go to any lengths to win each and every one while they still draw breath.

But, hear me. Those who take that last breath without accepting what God offers through His Son are doomed. There are no do-overs, no second chances in eternity. What you choose in this lifetime makes all the difference.

Christian, as you read the book of Revelation with me, let’s rejoice in the truth that God is the ultimate authority. That Satan’s defeat is inevitable. And that God is preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him in more glory and splendor than we can imagine.

But if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, I pray that you will begin the new year on the winning side. God is going to be true to His Word. One day, at the name of Jesus EVERY knee will bow.. That means you, dear one. EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is who He says He is. Like it or not, you will recognize that you are doomed without Him. Please don’t let that happen.

Holy God, thank You for giving this revelation to John. We can see that the war between You and Satan is played out here on planet Earth. And we can see that You are the victor! God, I am so glad I am counted as Yours, that You are fighting my battles right this minute, and that one day I am going to heaven to be with You. Father, I pray for those who don’t yet call You Lord. May they humble themselves, repent of sin, and accept your gift of Grace through Your Son, Jesus. I pray that no one reading this blog will meet you in eternity doomed.

November 17 – We Must… I Did

Acts 4-6

Last night my pastor shared some thoughts from Paul’s letter to Titus. He pointed out that the grace of God starts at salvation, but doesn’t end there. God’s grace instructs us to live godly lives and to look for Christ’s return. God’s grace reveals Jesus who redeems and purifies His children, who then become “zealous for good deeds.”

Then Paul says in Titus 2:15:

These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

The pastor challenged us to be zealous in talking about Jesus. If we really believe what Peter said in Acts 4:12, that there is no other salvation than in the name of Jesus, that our family and friends will go to hell without Him, then how can we remain silent?

The high priest warned Peter and John to stop talking about Jesus or bad things would happen to them. Peter answered:

We must obey God rather than man. (5:29)

Then Peter proceeded to talk to the high priest about Jesus. That’s zeal!

There are some people in our world today who continue to name the name of Jesus with a black hood over their heads, and machetes at their necks. We don’t face that threat yet in this country. But I wonder if we’re allowing ourselves to be bullied into silence, anyway.

God is asking me, and maybe asking you, who it is we are obeying. I don’t face a threat on my life if I talk about Jesus. But do I let public opinion handcuff me, am I afraid of stepping on toes, do I allow Satan’s voice to stop me from talking about Jesus because he’s convinced me my friend isn’t interested, or that I won’t know what to say?

Who cares? If I really believe that Jesus is the only salvation, and that anyone who doesn’t know Him as Savior will spend ETERNITY IN HELL…

then I must be zealously sharing Him every chance I get. I must make opportunities to talk about Jesus. I must ask the hard questions of my unsaved loved ones.

I must obey God and forget what man thinks about me.  Because in the end, I won’t be accountable to the United States government on that day. I will be accountable to God, however.

And when I look Jesus in the eye, I want… because of God’s grace… to be able to say that Paul’s “We must…” became my “I did.”