Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cloudy Days




I woke up to a beautiful sunrise. Deciding to sit in the warm rays, I opened the blinds of my office window and let the light pour onto my desk. Within moments, a large cloud came from behind the house and blocked the sun completely.

The strange thing was, as the cloud began to move in front of the sun, my heart began to feel heavy.  I wanted to feel the warm of the sun but only felt dreary and dark. Disappointed by the unexpected change in weather, I had given away my joy.

Has that ever happened to you? You expect things to turn out one way but when they don’t, you allow the situation to steal your joy? The odd thing is it can happen without us even realizing it.

When we spend our time focusing on the cloud, we fail to remember that the sun is still there. The sun remains steadfast and consistent, even when we can’t see it. Somewhere in our minds we think if the clouds are all we see, that must be all there is. What a flawed perspective!  

Believer, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The sun will rise and set every day without fail, but God is even greater. Unlike the sun, God doesn’t leave us alone in the dark. Yes, there will be times when our sin separates us from feeling His presence. Yes, there are times when God chooses to be silent. And yes, there are things that happen in our lives that even break HIS heart. But He never leaves us.

Are you having a cloudy day? Do you feel separated from God? Believer, He is there above your current situation. Trust that He has not left you and allow that truth to bring you joy.  As I wrote these last few lines, the sun peeked out from behind the cloud just for a moment. What a sweet reminder of a faithful God.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Bigger Picture




I’ve heard a lot of stories lately about families who are standing at a fork in the road. They are considering new jobs, investment opportunities, and even new places to live. Although each situation and crossroad is unique, the question they are asking is the same, “What's the bigger picture?”

Our personal thoughts, dreams and goals are similar to a basic sketch…it’s black and white. We usually have a general idea of what we’d like to accomplish and who we want to be. Then we add in the thoughts, dreams and goals of our spouse bringing more dimension to the picture. But it's not until we consider God’s thoughts, dreams and goals for us that the bigger picture begins to take form. While He doesn't reveal the whole picture at once, God will certainly show us the parameters He wants us to work within.

The amazing thing about the masterpiece that God is creating us to be is that it continues to evolve over time. The simple black and white sketch we have in our mind today can become the next great work by Monet years from now. God can do that! The hopes and dreams that we have for our lives are not there by chance, they are there by design. What we fail to realize is that our lives are a journey, not a destination. We live in the process and are only made perfect when we see Jesus face to face in heaven.

So what does all of this have to do with forks in the road? Simply this: we have to consider the bigger picture. Opportunities present themselves every day but if they are not in the right season of your life they can become more of a curse than a blessing. By looking at your life in the mindset of God’s masterpiece, you will be able to more clearly see the choice that is right for you. 

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths” Psalm 25:4

Thursday, February 14, 2013

No greater love




Happy Valentine’s Day! To some of you, that stirs up feelings of excitement and anticipation. For others, today may be just another day. Either way, I want to take the opportunity to share the greatest love story I have ever heard.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

I know you've heard this verse before. In fact, it may have been one of the first verses you ever learned. But have you ever read it as a love story?

“For God so loved the world…”
That’s you and me! The whole story began because of His love for us. We weren’t even born yet, and He already loved us.

“…He gave His one and only Son…”
I love several people in my life, but I’ll be honest – I wouldn’t sacrifice my children for them. God’s love for us is so deep that He was willing to let His own Son die for our benefit.

“…that whoever believes in Him…”
Believe. That is all in the world God is asking of us, that we believe in Him.

“…shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God’s love for us was so strong that He couldn’t bear to spend eternity without us. He allowed Jesus, His blameless Son, to take the punishment for our sin so that we could be with God in Heaven. 

John 3:16 is not just a verse to mindlessly ratter off in a memorization exercise or sing along in a cute little jingle. It’s the heart of the story. It’s the reason why we’re here. We love Him because He first loved us. No amount of Valentine’s candy, cards or flowers will ever compare to the love we have every day from our Heavenly Father. He loved us into existence and, if we allow Him, He will love us into eternity. Is there any greater love?

Be blessed,

Jennifer

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beaten down




Ever had one of those days? You know, the kind that feels like only the bad stuff happens? Has it ever lasted a week? A month? Are you going through it now? There’s hope for your hurting heart!

My husband, Greg, has been working on a difficult transition at work for months now. At the end of the day he is mentally drained, emotionally fried, and physically worn out. Because of his relationship with God, he has learned healthy ways to deal with stress. But that was not always the case. When times got tough, his response didn’t always align with God’s response. Can you relate?

Our response                                     God’s response
Run away                                            Run to Him - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28

Suffer in silence                                  Confide in a trusted friend - “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Fix it ourselves                                    Give the problem to God – “Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Go it alone                                          Be in fellowship with others – “A friend loves at all times…” Proverbs 17:17

Jesus came to bring us victory in this world. So why do we keep responding to problems our own way? God’s ways are clearly not our ways, they are so much better! God designed us to be in fellowship with Him and with others, but when times get tough we pull away. Paul describes the struggle in Romans 7 as he shares that he doesn’t do the things that are good for him and instead does the things he hates. As a result, we’re overwhelmed and feel completely defeated.

Bad days will come but we can choose how we respond to them. Are we sticking to our old habits or are we seeing the problem God’s way? He came to set us free, so why do we stay beaten down?

Be blessed,
Jennifer 

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” John 16:33