Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Best Days are Ahead

At times in my life I have looked back on what used to be and longed for those days.  Recently I was thinking of the house where I spent a good part of my childhood.  Those were great years, riding my bicycle all around town, exploring in the woods, going to my best friend’s house for sleepovers.  Those were the simple, carefree childhood days.  But those don’t have to be the best days.  The best days are ahead.

God wants us to have hope for the future, and, of course, joy for today. 

Someday I hope to take my wife back to the place of my childhood.  I want her to see where I grew up and be able to share those memories with her.  But I doubt I will ever live in that town again.  I can’t turn back the clock and relive those days.  And that’s okay. 

There have been times in recent years where I've struggled significantly with the direction of my life.  I felt stuck in my job, it seemed I couldn’t leave if I wanted to.  I think, at times, I was a bit frantic, thinking I had to figure out something to do with my life.  I wanted to do something of significance.  I felt like Joseph in the prison, the Lord was with me, but it seemed like little was changing for the good.  My discouragement, at times, and sense of disappointment was deep and debilitating.  It has clouded my whole view of life. 

But today is a new day.  God has brought about changes in my life in this last year that have given me a fresh hope for the future.  About a year ago I was promoted in my job.  The pay, though not super-great, is better than I’ve ever made.  I met my beautiful wife, Leslie, and now I have hope that we will start a family, that I will be a father, and that our family will serve God in ministry.  God has also given me a fresh sense of direction regarding my career and my calling.  Things are not perfect, but, things are better.    

The oft-quoted verse in Jeremiah says, “‘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.’” (vs. 11)  No matter how good things were in the past, or how bad things may have been, we can believe that the best days are ahead.  My prayer for you today is that God will give you fresh vision for the future.  I pray that God will “give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Ephesians 1:17-18)  

The best days are ahead!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Every Good and Perfect Gift

Thinking back on many Christmases, can you think of a gift that was especially meaningful to you?  As I’m thinking about this, I know I’ve received some nice gifts over the years, but, looking back, it’s much less about the gifts received and more about the memories shared with loved ones.  I’m thinking of the times around the holidays at the dining room table or in the living room playing games with the family.  Or how about the times spent singing carols and reading the Christmas story from Luke Chapter 2 on Christmas Eve?  You probably have similar memories.  Those memories are a gift.

Last night my wife and I spent the evening with my sister, Becky, and my brother-in-law Jason.  I read a book and relaxed while Leslie and Becky baked in the kitchen.  Then we sat at the dining room table and played a board game.  Later that night, at home, Leslie and I read from the Scriptures and then prayed as we took Christmas communion together as a couple.  I wrapped a couple of gifts, we tidied up around the house, and we got to bed about 4:30 in the morning.

I woke up today excited about watching my wife open the gifts I bought for her and about opening mine as well.  Before opening the gifts we read the Christmas story from Luke and Matthew.  We opened the gifts and then, for the the remainder of the day I’ve been able to just relax.  The day has been a gift that I’ve been able to share with my lovely wife.   

The Scripture says that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)  God brings perfect gifts into our imperfect lives, and in the midst of our own imperfections, He blesses us.  I realize how much I don't deserve God's gifts, yet, as I write this, I look over in the kitchen, and there my wife is, a great blessing in my life.    

Though we did not deserve him, God gave us His Son, Jesus, His good and perfect gift from above.  He came into our lives and blesses us, though we are imperfect.  Through Him we can sense how greatly blessed we are.

This Christmas I am thankful for the gifts God has given me and how much He has blessed me.  And, I am thankful that He sent His Son, Jesus, as a baby in a manger, to ultimately die on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
II Corinthians 9:15  

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...