Hopeful Saints

This past Sunday I was on vacation visiting my younger daughter and her husband in South Carolina, so I got to attend a different church and hear a different pastor preach.  I always enjoy this — seeing what other saints are doing and how they are thinking.  The message was a good one, a reminder that as saints we can be hopeful.

Many people today are fearful — they are afraid of their own death, and they are afraid that the world will end through some man-created catastrophe — global warming, nuclear war, an unstoppable plague etc..  These fears have always been around, and so far it hasn’t happened.  The Bible actually tells us that although the world as we know it will come to an end, it’s not our job to predict or worry about how it will happen. When that day comes, it will be like a thief in the night — something we probably aren’t expecting at all.

The best news that as Christians, we know that the end of our life or even the end of  the world will actually be a blessing.  Why?  Well, when that happens all God’s saints will be:

  • Raised
  • Reunited
  • Restored
  • Rewarded

The Bible tells us that our bodies will be resurrected.  We will be ourselves, but without the aches and pains, the sinful desires, the anxiety and depression that we experience now.  We will be reunited, with Christian friends and family members who have gone before us.  We will get a chance to meet some of the great cloud of witnesses–saints of the Bible or from history that we admire.  What would you like to ask Martin Luther?  or Mother Teresa?  or the apostle Paul?  The world itself will be restored to it’s pre-fall condition.  I guess that means no disease, no destructive weather, no failed crops.  The most beautiful scenery we have ever seen will be surpassed by the beauty of God’s world in that day.  Finally, we’ll be rewarded by the continuing presence of our Lord.  What could be better than that?

As saints, we have nothing to fear.  We can be hopeful.  God will never leave us or forsake us.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

 

 

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Book Review — Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors

A friend gave me this book for my birthday.  It’s an easy read and difficult to put down. I read it in a day. Katie lives in Uganda where she founded Amazima Ministries and became the adoptive mother of thirteen girls.  She has the gift of hospitality and relates her many experiences opening her home and life to those who are ill, dying or needy.  Her life isn’t typical, but many of her thoughts about faith and hope resonate deeply with me, and are easily applied to anyone’s daily life.  For example, in her musings about the story of Abraham and Isaac she says:

“It is a bold claim, to look up your mountain, to look out over the dry, cracked places and the barren places and the broken places, outcomes yet unknown, and call the place The Lord Will Provide, to believe that He will when you cannot yet see how.”

As she walks through many difficult circumstances she begins to call each one, The Lord Will Provide:  and He does, although not always in the way she imagined.

Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful

Katie brings to life many of my favorite Scriptures — the road to Emmaus, the resurrection of Lazarus, Mary of Bethany and more.  She learns to hope because “God Himself is our reward,” to see people through His eyes and to cope with the unwanted and unexpected consequences of life.

I give it 5 stars and I’m sure I will be passing it on.  It may show up in our Little Free Library of Leitersburg!

 

My Own Little World

I know that I’m guilty of living in my own world.  Something is going on in my life and I pull all the sensors in, so to speak.  I don’t look out into the world and see the pain and suffering that is out there.  If I don’t see it, I can’t do anything about it.  Not even pray.  I’m centered on MY pain and suffering.

When this song came out in 2010 I was starting to look out of my own little world.  Starting to pray for others and ask how they were doing.  Asking about that medical problem that’s worrying the family.  Their problems that I knew about.  I would start a prayer list and I would pray for them.  It’s too easy to say that you’ll keep them in prayer and then forget.

One thing that needs remedied in my own little world is shown in this video.  I don’t DO something.  Sometimes the only thing that you can do is pray but many times you can actually do something.

Listen to this song by Matthew West.  It reminds us that there is a larger world out there.

Is this Spiritual Direction?

I found this quote which led me to wonder, “Is the Lutheran Ladies blog actually a form of spiritual direction?”  In sharing our experiences, insights, reading and more are we becoming to spiritual directors to our readers and to one another? I certainly think sharing my feelings in my posts has led me to confront my own sin, and the frequent lack of purity in my motives.  It makes me think and read deeply about each month’s theme. Hopefully,  this means it has led to some changes as well.  I would love to hear what others (authors and followers) have to say on this subject.

“When we speak with others about our experience in Christ, it sharpens our attentiveness to the voice and will of the Father. Sharing our stories helps us clarify the intentions of our hearts toward the fulfillment of his divine will. A small circle of friends also reminds us of the presence, power and protection of the Holy Spirit. Confiding in one another instills a sense of hope for the future as children who are dearly loved by their Father.”
Stephen A. Macchia, Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way

Spending Time with “God Questions”

Good morning! Sorry about not posting the last two days but when you have severe wind and hail damage to your roof and it is leaking, it becomes priority! LOL! On to today’s post and the conclusion of our blog study on Ecclesiastes 3… today we will take a look at verses 16-22…

I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.” I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals. For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust. For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.

Wow! There is a lot going on in this passage of Scripture! Solomon is a writer who writes about what he observes and the experiences he has. I am very much like that. I, like Solomon, see such corruption in the world in places there ought not be. You probably do as well. The corruption ranges from the highest levels of government down to local magistrates. We see it in our homes, on our T.V.’s, on the internet, at school, while shopping… we even see it in the church.

You can tell Solomon is upset about his observations, rightly so. But he reminds himself that in due time everyone will be judged when they come before the throne of Grace. He is also reminding himself that he can’t right every wrong in the world, that is God’s job. Continuing his observation of destructive and evil behaviors, he reflects on our human condition, and concludes that we are not that different than the animals. We are born, we breathe, and then we die. Then he asks a question… How do we really know that humans go to heaven when they die and animals return to the earth? Solomon ponders this question, and comes to the conclusion… We only get one life so we might as well make the most of it, and enjoy it, while we are here.

I wonder if he realized he had answered his own question in one of the previous verses! Verse 11 says…

Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

We differ from animals because we have the hope of eternity… God has planted it in our hearts! To really grasp the magnitude of this we have to understand that we were put on this earth for a purpose. We (humans) are instruments of God to carry out His divine plan for life. We have to understand that the only way to know God’s plan for our life is to continually seek His face. We can’t do it by ourselves. We have to be in an intimate relationship with God, through Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to be our compass. It takes building a relationship and openness with the Triune God to figure out our purpose in life.

Spend time asking yourself… Do I grasp the immensity of the hope I have in eternity?  Am I in communion with the Triune God, building an intimate relationship? Am I living the life that God wants me to live? Do I see my life as a gift from God?

Then ask God…Why on earth did you create me for such a time as this? What can I do with my life to bring more of you to the world?

God loves you and so do I?

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of mycongregationalchurch.com

 

Remembering Those We’ve Lost

“But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as those who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

The most recent issue of The Ambassador, our denomination’s magazine, contained an article by a pastor who remembered his grandfather, and all the things he had done for him and meant to him.  One of the best things about being a Christian is, we believe the friends and loved ones we have lost through death are not lost to us forever.

My grandfather is also one of the people I remember and know I will see again in Heaven.  He is the person in my childhood who loved me, helped me go to college, and had confidence in my ability to do whatever I wanted to do in life.  That’s a great gift, and one day I didn’t fully appreciate as a young person.  I’ll be able to thank him for that one day.

Then there are the two Christian women who joined our church.  One was ill when she began attending, the other became ill shortly after.  I know if circumstances had been different, we would have become fast friends.  We would have worked hard for the Lord together.  We would have spent joyful times in fellowship, if only we had had more time.  One day we will have that time.  Our friendship will blossom as it should have.

There are so many things I now wish I had taken the time to ask older relatives about.  What were there lives of my grandparents and great grandparents like?  Who did they love?  What did they like to do?  I’ll still be able to ask those things some day (that is, if they are still important to me).

The list could go on.  The point is, life is not over for those who are in the Lord.  We don’t have to have regrets about all the things we didn’t say or do with them or for them.  Who wouldn’t want that comfort?

Who do you remember?

 

 

Thankful for Spiritual Blessings

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3

Our sermon last Sunday was about giving thanks for our spiritual blessings.  When we give thanks, we most often think of how God has provided for our material and emotional needs.  Things like food, shelter, health, family and friends are definitely on our “thank you” list.

But what about spiritual blessings?  Too often we take them for granted, we forget that they are even greater gifts from God.  So take a minute to read the first chapter of Ephesians, giving thanks for each of the spiritual blessings the apostle Paul enumerates.

  1. God chose us before the foundation of the world
  2. God adopted us
  3. God redeemed us through the blood of Christ
  4. God forgives our sins through his grace
  5. God makes His will known to us
  6. God gives us hope
  7. God sends us the Holy Spirit

You might close your thank you devotional time with the doxology, which was written by Thomas Ken, “England’s first hymnist.”

“Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;  Praise Him, all creatures here below;  Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;  Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”