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Posts Tagged ‘vision’

Getting ready for Home Group I noticed the kitchen window needed cleaning.  It was the last task I got to, but I still had plenty of time.  It was probably good that I didn’t rush through it or I may have missed the simple message I share today.

I began by cleaning the inside.  As I cleaned I easily saw the dirt specs on the outside.  I almost convinced myself to stop working on the inside because it seemed like all the specs were on the outside.  I didn’t stop, although I was probably not as meticulous in “finishing” the inside before moving to the outside.  Oddly, my rag was pretty dirty from cleaning the inside even though I perceived all the dirt to be outside.

So I attacked the cleaning outside.  Once I was outside though, the dirt specs were suddenly not so obvious.  Oh, there was still grime to remove which I did.  Interestingly the more I cleaned the outside, the more obvious the remaining specs on the inside became.  After one final cleaning on the inside I was satisfied the windows were clean enough.  As I looked through I was surprised at how much clearer the view was.  While I was focused upon removing individual little specs, I had not realized how much cleaner the whole window had become.

That I could always see the dirt and grime on the opposite side of the glass better than what was on my side struck me as important.  Life is like that.  It is so easy to see someone else’s faults, but often we are blind to our own warped motivations and short-comings.  Jesus spoke on this in Matthew 7:1-5.  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

When I cleaned the inside of the window, I didn’t realize how dirty it was.  However, after the first cleaning I was in a much better position to see and clean the outside.  And carrying the metaphor a little farther, when I put myself on the outside, akin to putting myself in another person’s shoes, I could see that there was still more cleaning necessary on the inside.

Jesus begins with an admonition about judging others.  Yet He ends by describing how we position ourselves to help others remove the stuff that hinders their vision.  These things that hinder are what the bible calls sin – ways we fall short of God’s plan for His children.  So there is a progression here.  We have sin in our lives.  We must deal with our sin first.  Then we are in a position to help our brother’s (that would mean other believers) deal with sin in their life.  And we are to do this without judgement.

Jesus specifically used the word brother meaning a person who shared the faith.  I believe this was intentional.  With the unbeliever, our focus should be upon introducing them to Jesus.  It is not to be about cleaning them up, getting sin out of their life.  It is pure and simple, to arrange for them to meet the One Who loves them more than us and Who can do exactly what they need.  With the believer though, we have a responsibility to encourage and strengthen one another in love.  Jesus helps in this, but He does so from within the believer.  We are simply to cooperate with Him in the work.  And it follows the progression mentioned above.

I hope this lesson I gleaned while I cleaned has given you a clearer view of God’s grace.

Lord, thank You for the work of Your Holy Spirit.  Thank You for salvation through Your Son – Jesus.  Thank You for the transformation that You are bringing about in us as we trust in You, as we read Your Word, as we obey Your commands, as we seek to know You better.  And thank You that we are joined together with other believers as Your Body, growing evermore into the people of God, fashioned for the good works You have prepared for us to walk in.  We love You Lord.  We pray in Jesus’ Name.

Be blessed and be a blessing today!

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Recently I heard some guys reminiscing about our high school days and one of them commented with a sigh, “Those were the best of times.”  I’ve pondered that a good bit since then wondering is that true in any sense of the phrase.  While this becomes a reality for some this absolutely does not have to be true.  One of our slogans at church is “The Best is Yet to Come.”  I believe that.  Not because I am locked into a positive-thinking mindset.  (Although I do see this is better than a negative-thinking mindset.)  But because God’s Word promises this.  Also I have seen what happens to people who are fixated upon the past.  They usually have a wreck in their immediate future.  It’s like trying to drive while constantly looking in the rear view mirror.  It doesn’t work for very long before you are piled up into a tree.

Sadly for some, perhaps many, the high school days are the high point of life.  The freedoms most of us enjoy during high school are significant and growing.  The responsibilities most of us have are generally much less than what we will encounter a little later in life.  Finally, there’s the “small pond” effect.  You do not have to be really big to be the biggest fish in the pond.  In a similar manner, in high school it is easier to be the “star” because of the small population.  I experienced that.  In high school I had my accolades, but when I got to college I disappeared into the mass of humanity just trying to figure things out.  Until I connected with a small group that helped give me an identity, I was invisible.

While I am ready to move on to the wonderful promises the Lord for His children, I’m reminded that there are many variations on the theme “those were the best of times”.  The marriage that started strong and somehow lost its way and ended… the promising career that crashed… the health and vitality that drained away in sickness and ill-health…  the era of raising a family that gives way to scattered family in distant reaches with infrequent contact.  The reality is life changes and it ebbs and flows over time.  Not every experience is a mountain top.  And every mountain top does not have to be big and dramatic.  Our two year old grandson loves his grandpa.  At the moment we get to see him a lot.  When he hears me come in he charges to me with his arms raised and a big grin to give me a hug.  I realize I am very fortunate that I get small “Best of Times” reminders like that pretty often right now.  Don’t miss this though.  I could miss them.  If I did not respond with the same warmth and love that Jasper shows to me, I am pretty sure I would lose this wonderful gift.

There is a reason I recognize this small “Best of Times” gift.  I know my Father loves me and He wants the best for me.  Actually He wants the best for every one of His children.  In fact His offer of adoption is available to everyone and He wants to shower us all with His love.  Some of His love and grace already falls upon those who have not yet come to Him.  The country we live in enjoys freedoms and prosperity perhaps greater than any country ever has.  And it goes back to the grand experiment of our founding fathers who built this nation upon Judeo-Christian beliefs.  If we have eyes to see, if we take time to really see, we can perceive many ways that small blessings come our way.  Why is this important?  If you are in a valley time, and they happen to all of us, you are not meant to remain there.  An important step in getting out of the valley is to keep looking up, keep seeking a way up, keep praying for a path up.  God wants us to go forward, to come on up.  If we get stuck wallowing in regret, self-pity, and blaming, we look down and back rather than forward and upward.   God’s desire is to bring us through the valley to even higher ground than we were on before.  The world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to keep us stuck in the valley.  Choose the higher ground and keep striving.

Fortunately God has given us a guidebook, the Bible, which has numerous passages that affirm this desire for us to keep progressing unto more Best of Times.  Jeremiah 29:11 was written to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, but the Lord also had it written for us.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  The prophet Isaiah was also God’s mouthpiece to the Jews 2700 years ago and to us today.  In one of the valleys that the Lord brought me through, Isaiah 41:10 became a life verse.  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  If we keep our focus looking back or looking at what we have lost we will miss the good things that God has ahead of us.  How do I know God has good things ahead?  Well I take Jesus at His word.  In John 10:10 He tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they (that is His followers) may have life, and have it to the full.”  Another translation says it “that they may have abundant life.”  Either way it fits my description of the “Best of Times”.

The final reason I am certain that as good as it gets here it still falls short of what the future holds, is because this is not my home.  Our final destination is with God in heaven.  Now I won’t claim to know what it is totally like, but occasionally I believe the Lord has given me hints.  On the gorgeous late spring day when everything conspires to be absolutely beautiful, the Lord whispers, “It’s better than this.”  When I have gotten to some breath-taking vista and I am admiring the view thinking how absolutely amazing it is, I hear Him say, “This is just a foretaste…”  When my heart is light and bubbly because of the love one of my children or wife has blessed me with, I sense the Lord say, “I love you more than this.”  WOW!

I am thrilled to be on this journey of life.  The hope, anticipation, and excitement of what lies ahead is truly bubbling inside me at this very moment.  I look out the window to the grey threatening sky of an unusually brisk spring morning and my heart is thrilled because there are sunny days, beautiful vistas, and a heavenly home filled with God’s unfathomable love ahead.  Truly the Best is Yet to Come!

I pray that wherever you are, whatever you are going through, that the Father will give you a foretaste of the “Best is Yet to Come” He has in store for you.  I know of some family and friends who are walking through challenging times.  I pray that you will be encouraged as God provides tangible support to you through this time.  For others who may be in the doldrums, which constitute a fair amount of our life, I encourage you to see and enjoy the little glimpses of the “The Best” He puts in your path.  Be encouraged.  He has no forgotten you or forsaken you.

Final thought.  The way Jasper responds to me and to his daddy is a picture of how we can respond to our heavenly Father if we want to bless Him.  My heart soars when this little guy comes running to me with joy on his face just wanting to be in my arms.  I think our heavenly Father’s heart desires the same from us.

Have a wonderful day.  Be blessed and be a blessing!

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