I have a 5x7 card which pictures Akiane Kramarik’s famous painting of Jesus titled Prince of Peace that sits on the shelf just above my desk. Every time I look up from my computer screen (which is many times a day) I find myself staring into the face of Jesus. It serves to remind me of His constant presence. Along with Jesus, there are several pieces of sentimental memorabilia. An angel with a broken wing that had to be repaired with a little Elmer’s glue after it slid off another shelf a while back stares at me with a puzzled look of “what in the world are you doing?” Next to the angel is a “friendship” box from the Willow Tree Collectibles that reminds me a friend is only as far away as the phone. A little further down the shelf, two stuffed lambs with silly looking grins, sit arm in arm decked out in red and turquoise rain hats and polka dot goulashes. With legs crossed and hanging over the edge of the shelf, they make a bold fashion statement but the best thing is the wonderful message they share. “Even when the rain comes down the Shepherd is making blessings bloom just for you! We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” I read this message and look back into the face of Jesus; thankful for the many, many blessings He has made bloom just for me. No, I’m not going to list them all – I’d still be typing this time tomorrow. When I last looked, my blessing garden was full of tiny little buds. I don’t know what they will be until they get to full bloom, but I know they will be good. What do I mean? The Shepherd gives us little buds that bloom into open doors of opportunity. They may blossom into new relationships or turn into exciting adventures. They may bloom into new careers, new ministries, or just a new and better outlook toward life and inward peace and contentment. Close your eyes and imagine yourself looking into the face of the great Shepherd. Thank Him for the blessings that have bloomed in your life and ask Him to show you the buds in your blessing garden. But, most of all remember “Jesus Loves YOU!”
Every day as I scroll through the postings on Facebook I see evidence that some person has been offended by something another person has said or done. Why is that? The word “offense” comes from the Greek word skandalon which as two meanings. The first meaning refers to stone or an obstacle that causes one to trip, stumble, or fall down. The second meaning is quite different. It is actually a small piece of wood that keeps the door propped open on an animal trap. Some kind of aromatic food is placed inside the trap to entice the animal to enter the trap. As he goes after the tasty morsel, he bumps into the skandalon; it collapses, the door slams shut, and the animal is caught with no way of escape. But what does that have to do with being offended? Okay, think about this! The enemy of your soul will set a trap for you.. He will bait the trap with something he knows will offend you. You are just going through your normal day to day stuff. You don’t see the skandalon but you walk right into it; that unexpected, unpleasant moment when you fall for the enemy’s bait and get tripped up, stumble, and fall. You’re so shocked and surprised by something you’ve seen, heard, or experienced that you completely lose your emotional footing. You’re overwhelmed by a behavior or response that is so unlike what you expected all you can do is stand there speechless. Shock overtakes you and then erupts into disappointment. The more you think about what happened or what was said; the greater the disappointment grows until it transforms into full blown episode of being offended. Everyone I know has experienced this kind of disappointment at some time or another. According to Jesus, in Luke 17:1, it is a pipedream for any of us to think we can live without encountering these kinds of traps. It’s just impossible; no matter what you do you can’t keep them from happening. You must fight diligently against this enemy and not allow offense to get a foothold in your mind or your heart. It will only result in bitterness and anguish. Sadly, each and every one of us has at some time been the source of offense to someone. It was probably not intentional but more than likely occurred because of misunderstanding and miscommunication. As followers of Jesus we must do our best to bring healing and reconciliation where misunderstanding and offense has taken place. If you know someone has taken offense toward you over something they think you said or did, why not take the road less traveled and go ask them to forgive you? Allow the love of Jesus in you, to work through you to help them overcome the hard feelings toward you. And just as important, don’t forget to let His love work in you to overcome those ugly-bugly feelings you feel toward others. Avoid the enemy’s traps that will rob you of your peace and remember, “Jesus Loves YOU!
Do you realize that God knows all about you and He has a wonderful plan for your life? He developed the plan even before you were born. He knows exactly what activities you should participate in, where you should live and worship, and who should be in your life to fulfill every spiritual, emotional, or physical need. Not only does He have a plan for your life, His Word also says that He will “perfect that which pertains to you.” In other words, He will bring into reality the good things, the blessings, and the purpose for which He created you. But, to get this accomplished it often requires significant change; change in attitude, change in activities, change in scenery, change in relationships, etc. Change and transition are hard! It means you have to leave the familiar behind and move into the unknown. The most difficult are those times when God moves you into a new place that doesn’t include particular relationships; He requires you to leave these behind and go by yourself. A situation will arise that you may not understand but it will bring about the separation and affect the change God will use to bring you to a new place in your relationship with Him. At first, you may find yourself feeling somewhat lost, without purpose, wondering what God is doing. You may experience an unprecedented degree of sadness as your spirit gives in to grief and the enemy tries to envelope you with loneliness. Depression may try to take over your spirit and rob you of your joy. Don’t allow yourself to stay in this place. Jesus understands your pain but He has a greater purpose for your life that will bring greater fulfillment and blessing than you’ve ever experienced. Get up and get moving. Involve yourself in new activities. Go places you haven’t been before. Meet new people that God puts in your path. Embrace the new things God wants to do in your life. Break the chains of oppression and isolation. Find some good praise music and be like David; shout to the Lord and dance before Him with all your might. This will bring release from the pressure of the things that are weighing you down and rekindle the fires of joy in your heart. Be encouraged! Recognize the changes as new “opportunities” in your life. Jesus says, “Come and follow me.” This is the road that leads to fulfilling your destiny. Yes, you will experience some bumps along the way; transitions that may require some activities, relationships, or comfortable places be left behind. Look back at these and enjoy the wonderful memories but don’t allow them to paralyze you from moving into your future. It may be forever or it may be the separation will only last for a season; to allow time for you to come into the fullness of what God wants for you. He knows which relationships should continue, which ones need to be transitioned to a lesser degree of dependency, and those that were only intended to be part of your life for a specific season. Either way, God knows what is best for your life and He has good things for you. Either way, what lies ahead of you is much greater than what lies behind. As you travel this new road, making new friends, enjoying new activities, and growing in Him; embrace this new season in your life wholeheartedly and remember it is all because “Jesus Loves YOU!”
Thanks for checking out my website and coming to my blog page. I pray you will be blessed and encouraged by the things I share. Have a great day! Deb