Ouch before Ahhh

Change is painful, but pleasantness will come.
We can become tired, irritable, edgy, frustrated, and the list of negatives goes on and on while letting God change our lives. Why would anyone put themselves through such an ordeal? Faith that something better will replace it.
This is what the writer of Hebrews expressed in 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God and rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
Yet, if we thought God was cruel, we wouldn’t come to Him, let alone want to please Him. And, if we didn’t think He’d reward us with a better life tomorrow, we’d certainly not bother listening to and following Him today. Instead, we’d just white-knuckle this ride called life all the way home/heaven.
Yes, the process of allowing God to change your life (unless He steps in and does a miracle) is painful. It’s like stepping on stickers with your bare feet. Ouch! But know this, He promises that the ahh will come on the other side of the process; and, God always keeps His promises.
If you’re in the middle of the “ouch” keep going. Becoming like Jesus will happen with all its increased fruit. And rejoice and be thankful if you’re in the “ahh” phase. Either way, you will be ready for His return.

Found Faithful

Shadows are not real.
As I was taking this picture of a mountain’s shadow, it hit me. I’m standing right next to the real mountain that caused that shadow, but I’m admiring the shadow instead! How often do I focus on living, the shadow, and not admire the giver of life, Jesus, who is standing right next to me?
Jesus is returning, are we letting the shadow of time lull us into laxness? We will not be found ready and a faithful servant when He returns if we let the shadow of time get in the way of Jesus.
Admire the reality, not the shadow, and you will be found faithful on His return.

Say What?!

Hardships come with living on this planet, doubly so for Jesus followers.
Philip Yancey, author of Finding God in Unexpected Places, states, “According to some estimates, Christians in developed Western countries now represent only 37 percent of believers worldwide. As I travel and also read church history, I have observed a pattern, a strange historical phenomenon of God ‘moving’ geographically from place to place: from the Middle East to Europe to North America to the developing world. My theory is this: God goes where He’s wanted.”
Could the reason lie in another of the author’s observations? “When difficulties come, Christians in affluent countries tend to pray, ‘Lord, take this trial away from us!’ I’ve heard persecuted Christians and some who live in very poor countries pray instead, ‘Lord, give us the strength to bear this trial.’”
Even troublesome trials have a purpose. Jesus said we’re blessed when they come in His name. Paul states believers should actually expect such trails. James writes they mature our faith. And not because we’ve done anything particularly wrong either; but, because they can be used to make us holy is the insight given from the Hebrews author.
Las Vegas, Nevada. Houston, Texas. Southern Florida. Puerto Rico. The Caribbean. Mexico. Israel. These people, let alone believers, are facing tremendous hardship at the moment. And what about how it’s affecting those who don’t even live there?
Merely living on this planet brings its challenges…some extremely more so than others. Yet when they come, and they will, the question for Jesus followers is, “Will we pray to be delivered from or to be given strength to go through them?” Your answer will lie in the following, “How bad do I need or want to get to know Jesus?”

Trust God to Act Consistently

God will always act consistent with His Word.
The following quote struck a deep chord within me. “I sometimes wonder how hard it’s been for God not to act in history. How must it feel to see the glories of creation—the rain forests, the whales, the elephants—obliterated one by one? How must it feel to see the Jews themselves nearly annihilated?”
While shedding tears from both compassion and anger, God holds back from stomping perpetrators out, if only for the reason His love gives them another chance to turn back to Him.
Then I thought, “How must it feel when He sees me make less than stellar choices that He knows will only hurt me and those around me?” His so slow reaction time should lead to two responses.
One, we should give praise to God for His tremendous love and be thankful for the truth that He’ll always react consistently with His Word. And two, we should give grace and mercy to those whose bad choices affect us. Let’s give them the same room God give us to turn back to Him.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

You show who you love by whom you listen and follow.
“The sheep of Mine the voice of Me listen I know them and follow Me” is the literal translation of John 10:27. The word order is quite revealing.
First of all it reveals who belongs to Jesus. Those who both listen to and follow Him are His sheep. Stated another way, those who listen to every other voice under the sun, including their own, rather than His, are not His sheep. Actions speak louder than words – are you listening to Him?
And then it shows why you’d want to listen to Him. He knows you intimately, inside and out. He’s aware of your existence and gets you. He knows what you’re thinking, feeling and experiencing. He also knows the future! Therefore, when He speaks, He knows what’s best and can guide you through life’s situations the best as He is the best.
As a Jesus sheep, you will practice listening to Him in His Word as well as in your heart/head. (Ya know, He lives inside you. Right?) As a Jesus sheep, you will practice putting what He says into your daily action steps. As you do both, your life will be changed for the better, even though your circumstances may not.
The Word Christian means follower of Christ. Right now, the world sure needs to see followers of Christ, true Jesus sheep, listening to and following Him. He’s worth following, as well, as He really does know you better than you know yourself.