Monday, May 26, 2014

I’ll Be Back!


[Photo of a little girls looking out a window]

 “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’”
 —Acts 1:11

I must have had an undo fear of abandonment as a child. Certainly, I should have felt as secure as any little girl could possibly feel. Yet, I often had a difficult time with separation anxiety.

I can remember riding the school bus to my piano teacher’s house after school on Tuesdays for my lesson. My mom always picked me up at the teacher’s house after I finished. But, I can remember times when she got delayed, for one reason or another, and I had to stand in my teacher’s dining room and watch the road for her. Sometimes I thought she’d never come for me.

I also remember crying to my first grade teacher when she lined us up for the bus at the end of the day. “Would my mother remember to walk to the bus stop for me?” I blubbered. But, my mom always came.

Jesus assured His disciples of His eventual return. He never told them when, but we know from His promise that He will return in the clouds to get His faithful servants.

In John 14:1-2, Jesus promised:

“‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me.’”

Do you watch for Jesus as eagerly as a child waits for a parent? Maybe your parent never returned to you like my mom always did, and you have a very good reason to feel separation anxiety! Not so with your Heavenly Parent. What He says He will do.

We can be confident that Jesus will come back for us and that He has a beautiful place designed for us where we will dwell with Him for all eternity. He expects us not only to eagerly watch for Him, but to be ready.

As He told us in Luke 12:40:

“You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

In the busyness of our lives, we need to remember to keep our eyes open for all that God wants to do in us and through us, while we watch for His final appearing. This we know for certain: He’ll be back!



Monday, May 19, 2014



[Photo of an overturned coffee cup with a coffee stain]

 “Pure and undefiled religion before God
and the Father is this…to keep oneself
unspotted from the world.”
 —James 1:27 NKJV

The principal of the newly renovated school where I taught liked to use my spacious music classroom for faculty meetings after school because I didn’t have student desks, and had plenty of room for adult size folding chairs. In the spirit of Christian hospitality, I enjoyed allowing my fellow teachers to use my room for such a purpose.

However, I cringed to see fellow faculty members balancing coffee cups and stacks of papers as they entered the room. Worse yet were those who would set their cups willy-nilly on the floor near their chairs.

I knew that if coffee spilled and stained my carpet, I would have to wait until the next summer before custodians would thoroughly clean the carpet. By then, the stain might have become so deeply set that it would not completely come out.

For 20 years I had taught in an old building with a room of mixed and matched items. I had an orange-painted desk, a collection of old chairs painted various colors, and a bright green bulletin board. Now, with the recent renovation, I really enjoyed having a newly remodeled room with freshly painted walls and a spiffy new look. I treasured my unspotted carpet.

According to the Scripture, God wants us “unspotted” by the world around us. How easily stains appear when we try to balance too many things and lose our focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. How often we let down our guard and allow the culture around us to get too close and become ever-deeply ingrained in the core of our being.

We need a spiritual vigilance to remain unspotted. We need the Holy Spirit to examine us and to warn us when our thoughts or actions cause us to stray from the pathway God has laid out for us. We also need Jesus, our Advocate with the Father, to cleanse us from all “spots” as soon as they appear and well before they work their way into the fabric of our lives making them difficult to remove.

Stains seem to become more permanent the longer they stay in the fabric of our lives. Not only do we see these stains, but others do, as well. The stains blemish our example and blemish our testimony for Christ.

I urge you to make the most of every opportunity to do some scrubbing in the Lord’s presence. Confess your sins. Repent of your sins. Fall back into the life-transforming grace that God offers us through His Son.

Jesus stands ready to cleanse us, as the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 5:25b-27:

…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Just think how God will approve when He sees your life “unspotted” through the cleansing power of Jesus.



Monday, May 12, 2014

The Mirror


[Photo of a young woman looking into a mirror]

 “We, who with unveiled faces reflect the
Lord’s glory…are being transformed into
his likeness with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit.”
 —2 Corinthians 3:18

I’ve been thinking about mirrors lately. Mirrors reflect what we put in front of them.

If we consider what Christ sees when He looks into the “mirror” of our life, does He see His reflection there? Think of Moses. When he came down from Mount Sinai, after being in the presence of God for 40 days, the Scripture tells us that his face shown with the glory of God.

Because Moses revealed God in his countenance, those who saw him became uncomfortable around him. Too much light compared to the darkness of their hearts. Responding to their discomfort, Moses put a veil over his face, so the people didn’t have to be confronted with the glory of God.

Learn from Moses. Don’t be surprised if, when you reflect Christ well, others around you become uncomfortable.

I’ve been thinking about mirrors lately. They need cleaning regularly in order to reflect the clearest image. Our lives need the cleansing that comes when we bring our sinful behaviors and thoughts before the purity of Christ. He waits to cleanse us—to wipe the mirror of our lives thoroughly clean.

In 1 John 1:9 the Apostle says:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

That’s a cleansing even better than Windex® clean!

“But,” you say, “my mirror has not just gotten dirty, it has become broken from a lifetime of misuse and filth. And, some of that filth isn’t even mine! How can a broken mirror like mine ever give an untarnished image and become useful again?”

Remember, we have a Master artist who created you in the first place. He really knows all about you. He has the unique ability to take the broken pieces of the mirror of your life and make something new for His glory. Think of all the light those broken pieces, now mended and made whole, will reflect for Him!

I’ve been thinking about mirrors lately. Did you know that Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear?

When the temptation comes to think God is just too far away to concern Himself with you and your life, remember that He is closer than you can even imagine. He has known you from before the foundation of the world. He desires to draw you close to Himself, to fellowship with you, and to enjoy you.

I’ve been thinking about mirrors lately. Don’t be afraid to look in the mirror. Whatever you see, God has already seen you and made a way for you to reflect Him and His glory to the world around you!



Monday, May 5, 2014

Behind Enemy Lines


[Photo of soldiers praying]

 “Endure hardship like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
 —2 Timothy 2:3

Most Christians don’t often consider the spiritual battle waged against them. Yes, they would say that Satan exists and prompts evil in the world. But, when it comes to understanding the ceaseless battle he wages against their lives, they usually don’t see it.

Here’s how Joni Eareckson Tada explains it:

The King’s most trusted officer turns renegade and gathers a powerful army around him to lead a rebellion. Through treachery and deceit, the rebel leader usurps the authority of the King and sets up his own rival government, enslaving the citizens of the kingdom. In order to free the captives, the King sends His own Son into the heart of enemy territory with a battle plan more shocking than anyone could imagine. 1

Not only does the “rebel leader”—Satan—want to tempt you to sin, he also works hard to defeat you in your Christian walk and work on behalf of God’s Kingdom here on earth. Satan endeavors to discourage you and tempt you to turn back. He generally does everything he can to disrupt your life in any way that he can. When we pray in Jesus’ name against the weapons Satan uses, we can successfully upset his battle plan.

Jesus took on this enemy at the cross. As Colossians 2:15 tells us:

“…having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

And with the overcoming power that Jesus gives to us, we can fight against the war that Satan will continue to instigate until Jesus comes back.

God has not left us alone to live defeated lives. Instead, He has armed His people with the weapons we need: prayer and His Word. Here’s how 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 puts it:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

When we pray in Jesus’ name, we join with Him in defeating the powers and authorities of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil. He already disarmed them on the cross, but we appropriate that power into our own lives when we pray.

When we see evil around us and feel it coming at us from every side, we have Christ and His power as our strong defense. He gives us the opportunity to win the skirmishes. And one day, our Captain—Christ Jesus—will return to end the battle completely.

Praise His name!


1 Tada, Joni Eareckson. Diamonds in the Dust. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company, ©2010. Devotional for April 9th.