Finding Beauty in Your Season of Life

My eyes can’t get enough of their beauty; if I could only capture it in my mind before winter comes. Yellow, red, and gold autumn leaves have come to the mountains, but they stay only a short time. Seasons come and go; things never stay the same. But there is always beauty in the changes. We may have to look for it though and always remember it.

In the past few months our family has gone through seasons of change. The ending of the season of college years with a graduation and the beginning of a new season with a wonderful new family member through our son’s wedding. Now I move on after the celebrations and joyous memories are tucked away into photo albums.

Our lives are all full of changing seasons – new jobs, new friends, and new locations. Yet, other seasons may bring loss of a job, people, or even our home. Some seasons seem to last forever feeling stuck applying for jobs, taking care of children or a sick family member, or longing to be married instead of single. As a nation, we are going through a season of leadership changes that may affect our very lives and families. During these times, we feel like we are riding an emotional roller coaster. Joy, fear, grief, sadness, happiness, anger, peace and excitement grip our hearts.

Thankfully, each season has its own beauty, even in the darkest suffering. That beauty lies in God, the Designer and Master of all seasons – “He changes times and seasons…” Daniel 2:21. Yet, HE is NEVER changing. He does not change with the seasons but orchestrates them remaining in control and at peace.

“God who is enthroned from of old, who does not change…” Psalm 55:19

“I the LORD do not change…” Malachi 3:6

King Solomon, one of the wisest kings in history understood seasons of life:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,…a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away…a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace… He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

God has made everything beautiful. Everything! How? Because He is God and He is good. He is in control of time, circumstances, kings and kingdoms.

God is All-Knowing, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.” Hebrews 4:13

God is All-Powerful, “All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases…among the people of the earth. No one can stop him…” Daniel 4:35

God is Love and is Faithful, “Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens, your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” Psalm 36:5

God is Good, “The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.” Psalm 145:9

God is Sovereign, “He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; He alone is God.” 1 Timothy 1:17

God is Holy, “No one is holy like the LORD! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2:2

Every season comes from God for a purpose – to accept His salvation personally through His Son Jesus, to trust His word, to make Him a refuge, to rejoice in Him, to grow in faith, or to be quiet and enjoy His presence.

Do you see the beauty in your season? Look. God is there with you and will make “everything beautiful in its time”. You can trust in His loving plans and abide in His love. Through the seasons He produces beautiful fruit through our lives as believers for His glory. What fruit do you see?

 

 

Advertisements

One Man, One Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the debates continue. Not the current political debates or the debates over social reform or world order. But the debates focused on one man in history. This man caused uproar over 2 thousand years ago. And that battle continues today– in the market place, the center of governments, among religious leaders of various faiths and among worldly scholars and educators.

One defining day in history has changed the world and it’s thinking forever– “Good Friday”, the day that Jesus’ died on a cross. His followers understood the purpose of the cross. Paul, a follower of Jesus, wrote to the first Christians:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…the world through its wisdom did not know him…but we preach Christ crucified” 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22, 23

Why is the cross so important?  It was the moment in time when Almighty God in all of His love, grace, and justice allowed the death of His Son Jesus to be the payment for the world’s sins. Jesus said he came “to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Colossians 1:21-22

But His death then led to the most miraculous event in history– His resurrection from the dead. Yet, without the power of His resurrection from death, those who believe in Him would not know this resurrected new life. Peter wrote to the believers about this death and resurrection:

“Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  1 Peter 1:3

And Jesus defined himself to his followers:

 “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live even after dying.” John 11:25

That is why on this day, a sad day of death and evil crucifixion on a cross, we can say it is “good”. It was and still is “good” for every person who will trust in God’s love and forgiveness through his Son Jesus. Jesus suffered for our good.

Thankfully, someday the debates will end and every person will have to acknowledge the truth:

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:8-11

But until that day we who know Jesus Christ as the risen Lord and Savior of the world, will continue to “preach Christ crucified”. We who follow the True Vine, Jesus, may continue to debate with others, be persecuted for our faith in the cross, and even die through beheadings. The message is still the same for each generation, and I for one, will continue to write about this message with joy.

Have a blessed Good Friday! It is a good day!

Withering But Awakened to New Life

rose bud

A bright yellow bud is finally appearing on the rose bush. After clearing a bank of weeds and dead plants in front of our house, I needed to fill it with other plants, so I went to our local garden shop. I always look in the back for plants that are half dead, the ones that no one wants but are ridiculously inexpensive, and I found a few plants plus an unrecognizable “Royal Golden” rose bush.

Taking them home, I took special care to plant the rose bush where it would get a lot of sun. Green started showing on the bush but no rose. Finally last week, nearing the end of summer, I saw a beautiful yellow bud on one end of a green stem. I just wanted to see one rose before the end of summer. A sigh of relief and joy, I was glad it was true to its name on the tag – a “Royal Golden” Rose. If there were no roses on the bush it would just be another green plant with thorns. I would have to throw it away because a rose defines a rose bush.

Like the shriveled up rose bush, many people who call themselves Christian don’t have fruit that looks like Christ at all. Their thoughts, actions, and speech are nothing like Jesus, even though the “tag” says “Christian”. There is little or no fruit in their lives, no buds on the branches. Just a green plant with thorns. From years of not talking with God, not reading His word, and not fellowshipping with other believers they have withered. And they need new life. The soil has become dry. Maybe just living in a sinful world, they have allowed themselves to become bitter, discouraged or apathetic by hurt and rejection. They just quit and no longer trust God and His nourishment for their lives.

Yet God sees them and wants to renew their lives, to bring fruit to the unrecognizable branches. God is extremely patient and longs for those who know His love and forgiveness to return to Him and be renewed. God wants those who know Him to abide with Him and seek Him. Then He will produce fruit, rose buds in their lives.

God shared this message with His people centuries ago through Hosea:

“…stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Hosea 14:8

“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”  Hosea 6:3

God cares for those who know Him. He produces the fruit as we love only Him and not the idols in our lives. He wants to shower His rain into our hardened dry hearts. He says:

“Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD.” Zech 1:3

Right now there are too many defeated, apathetic, and lifeless believers in Jesus who need to return to their God. Seeing God work in my own life, just like the rose bush, I wrote a book to encourage others, Christians and non-Christians, to seek God and let Him renew their lives. Wake Up! Return to God will be out on Amazon in a few weeks. God always longs for His people to return to Him and be made whole, to live fruitful lives that reflect His glory to the world. As we seek God and only Him in our daily lives, He alone can create a vibrant life, full of hope, joy, peace and goodness. He gives us a life full of abundant rose buds bursting into radiant fragrant roses.

Are you like the rose bush in the corner needful of new fresh blossoms, a restored relationship to the Creator who loves you and wants to care for you? Go to Him, He knows exactly what to do and will plant you in such fertile soil you will be amazed at the abundant fruit in your life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and a witness of Jesus in your life.

Connected to the Vine

SONY DSC

I laughed. My daughter had called to tell me her story. She lives on the East Side of Manhattan in New York City and was walking home late the night before. Her phone had died. Not a great thing for walking home late by herself. She usually calls me to chat if she is out late so that she can be on the phone with someone. Her phone becomes a clever ploy to keep others from bothering her as she walks. But this time, since her phone had died, we couldn’t talk. So that night, with her phone next to her ear, she pretended to carry on a conversation with me -laughing, responding, and asking questions. I wish I could have heard what we “talked about”.

The next day, I began to wonder how many people are pretending to have a conversation with God. These people may be in a “pinch” and need God to help them out. They have a one sided conversation, but sad to say, their phone is dead so there is no real connection. They don’t know the danger they are in!

But good news! God has made the connection to people to know Him and have a personal conversation with Him through Jesus. Through Jesus we have a live connection to the living God.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

John, a disciple of Jesus wrote, “But to all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12

We can’t abide with Jesus and bear fruit if we are not truly connected to the Vine, Jesus Himself. We may pretend to know God and go through religious motions, saying religious words, trying to live a good life. But only through Jesus can someone know God personally. Religion is a dead connection. Jesus gives life. He said, “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 He gives an abundant fruitful life.

Are you connected to the Vine, Jesus, or are you, like some people, just pretending? God wants to be connected to you. He said, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3

Check out this link for more information:

Would You like to Know God Personally? http://www.cru.org/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally.html

 

New Life

It was amazing. Last year the young tree in our front yard had seemingly died. There were no leaves on the branches all summer and twigs were falling off. We had planned to have it cut down this year. As spring arrived this year I looked at the “dying” tree and saw something green. There were small buds on the twigs! It’s like it came back to life. The leaves have all come out now and the birds are making their nests in its branches.

There is something amazing about seeing new life from something that was dying or dead. Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus had died. Lazarus’ family was mourning when Jesus arrived. Out of love and compassion, Jesus miraculously brought Lazarus back to life from the dead. He then told His followers:

“”I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” John 11: 25-26

Jesus also said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

New life is found in One person, Jesus. That is the Easter celebration! He, the Son of God, died so we wouldn’t have to die and pay the penalty for our disobedience to a holy God. He came back to life, conquering death so we can live again also. Rejoice!! Celebrate!! We can have new life through Jesus!

“God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”. 1 John 5:11-12

I look at the tree from our window and rejoice in new life. Rejoice that we didn’t have to cut down the tree after all. But most of all I am thankful that I can know and experience new life because of Jesus. Do you know and believe in Jesus? Then rejoice – you have new life.