God is a TAKER!

The last few years and especially the last year has brought a lot of changes in my life. I have had some good things and some bad things happen. I have lost loved ones which, while a part of life, is always difficult. I have had things happen I never expected. But as I was dealing with these things and feeling lost and alone I started talking with God and He answered my prayers.

As I reflect on all He has done for me I realize that even though I always thought He was a giver but I was SO WRONG! God is a taker! God took so much from me that it is hard to imagine. He took pain of loss. He took bitterness. He took anger. He took sorrow and grief. He took my sins. Oh, there are times that I feel sad about losses and that I get upset and angry about things but those things are very infrequent and the sadness over losses is less. There are times I think about my parents and others I have lost and I miss them. But, I am better about thinking about the happier moments.

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Yes, God took and took and took. But, He gave too. He gave me peace, joy, comfort, and most importantly He gave me forgiveness and salvation. He took all the things I had earned and gave me more than I deserved. What an AMAZING GOD!!!

Lord, I thank You for taking so much from me. Taking all the things I needed out of my life and leaving room for the good things You offer. I praise Your name and ask in the name of Jesus that You continue to take from me, that You continue to work on me and help me become the servant Christ wants me to be for His glory. I ask that You draw loved ones closer to You, take from them all the things You took from me and teach us all the truths You want us to know.

Amen

 

Thank You all for taking a moment to read my blog. I hope something I wrote was a blessing to someone and that you can all find a way to be a blessing to someone else today as well.

 

 

The auction is almost over.

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The online auction is ending today and people are supposed to pick the items that they purchased Saturday. I got a message from the auctioneer saying he has had some people requesting to pick up items from the estate auction Sunday, a day later than initially planned. That wasn’t an issue for me and I let him know it was fine. We exchanged a few texts and then it sort of hit me that my parents things would be gone. I had a multitude of emotions sort of hit me but the biggest things were relief to finally get that part over and a sadness that the physical items that they had collected and accumulated over the years would no longer be there which caused some sadness. In some regards it will be like losing them all over again, definitely mixture of bitter and sweet. Of course, there were some things that held more sentimental value for me, so those things I kept, little things that bring back memories of certain holidays, special events, vacations and some things just reminders of day to day life. Some of my father’s knives and sharpening equipment, tools of his trade. He was a meat cutter for almost his entire life and holding the steel that he used brings back more memories than I can begin to list. A few of my mother’s instruments, books, knickknacks do the same with her. So, those were things that were far too precious to let go. Those are some of the things I kept. But, they are only items, the memories, those are the real treasures.

Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy, but while they are alive, one always assumes they will see them again. But, the final good bye is hard. But, regardless of seeing the things go, even though the items are going to be gone the memories will last forever. Sometimes more in the forefront of my mind and other times less so but I will forever and always have them with me in my heart.

After this weekend, rather than going to a house that is filled with their things, I will be going to an empty structure. Then, time to try and decide the best way to deal with the house. Fix it and sell it? Sell it as is? Deal with it another way? Lots of further decisions to be made.

Through all of this I have had some very emotional times. Obviously some sadness, but the happy thoughts tied to some of the items, the joy in finding things I remember from early childhood as well as later in life. Then, sadness again as reality of the losses hits again. But, through the ups, the downs, the happy and the sad Christ has been there with me. He undoubtedly made sure that I came across some of the things that brought happy thoughts when I was feeling down. He was with me giving comfort during the challenging times. Some periods of loneliness when those I thought cared for me, and would be there to support and help me, failed to do so. Times when many loved ones would inquire, but not help with what was a pretty overwhelming task. Essentially being abandoned by those who had promised to always be there.

Yet, no matter how I was treated by those I expected more support from, God never failed me. He was there, ALWAYS. There were Bibles, some my mother’s, some my grandmother’s, grandfather’s and a few, I don’t know whose they were or how there got there. I would always take a moment when I found one of the Bibles, hold them, flip through the pages and find passages my mother or grandmother had underlined, highlighted or some other way annotated that obviously carried special meaning for them and many, many times the verses I stumbled on had a message that I needed at that particular moment; messages of comfort, peace, joy, reassurance, mercy, grace, forgiveness and many other types of messages that spoke to me and where what I needed to hear at that time. There were some very dark times emotionally, hurt from losing them, anger and hurt by those who I never expected to do so abandoned me, bitterness about that, and a variety of other things, very dark times indeed. Feeling overwhelmed, betrayed, abandoned, alone and during those dark times is when God reached out to me and reminded me that regardless of what I had done wrong, He had never left me. He was always there, waiting patiently until I called to Him.

I don’t write these things about feeling so hurt, angry, bitter, and sad during that time looking for sympathy or to try to cause guilt in others. No, I write about it to glorify my Heavenly Father that was there, my comforter, my peace giver, my salvation. I write to say that despite all the despair I felt, He was ready to take all those negative feelings from me and carry them for me. Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace!

3 Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.   Psalms 119:76

 

Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.  Isaiah 49:13

 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.     Psalms 23:4

 

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

 

This next verse means a lot, it was one that was marked in my grandmother’s and my mother’s Bibles. It is a message that we ALL need to hear at one time or another. I would say that all of John chapter 14 is a great message. But, there are so many great messages of comfort, peace and hope in the Bible.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:16-18

 

Yes, despite my failures, my hurting, my anger and bitterness, Christ never left me. He was there, waiting for me to let Him comfort me. What an awesome God we serve.

 

Lord, I praise You and glorify Your Holy Name. I thank You for the comfort and peace that You give me and how You mercifully forgave me my sins. I thank Jesus for the sacrifice and suffering He endured to redeem me. I thank You for taking the burdens I was carrying and replacing them with Your peace and joy. I thank You for giving me the ability to forgive those who treated me wrong. I ask that You give those I have wronged over the years the ability to forgive me as well. I pray in the name of Jesus that You continue to work in my life, to help me better learn how to seek You and know You and the heart of Christ. That You give me the ability to reach others and be a proper vessel for You. Please draw all loved ones to You that they know the peace, comfort, joy and forgiveness that awaits them. Teach us all Your will and way that we follow You as You wish us to follow.

Amen

 

Thanks so much for Your time today. I hope all have a blessed weekend and have a chance to be a blessing to someone else.

 

 

The conditional Christian and his cloak of righteousness.

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I was driving today, saw a truck that reminded me of a man I worked for years ago. Hard, physical labor, didn’t pay great, but I was young and didn’t worry too much on that. I thought I was learning a good trade and could use the skills later in life. Fortunately, I did gain some skills, but the trade, well, not one I wished to continue. Now, this man was a Christian. Everyone knew it, because he told them. No problem there, but he was near boisterous and pushy with it. We all know folks like that, trying too hard to show everybody something. Well, I figured that was his way, so again, no worries. He would witness to a lot of people and lead people to the Lord, so GREAT. He was somewhat of a lay minister and would preach sometimes as well. The conditional part was that to most that saw him, on the surface he was a great Christian. But, that only went so far with him. He didn’t run around at the bars, he didn’t rob banks, he didn’t beat up on anyone or any other ways that some do that profess to be Christians. No, what he did, was in many ways worse. Most of those that are really bad during the week, but are in church every Sunday don’t gloat about their Christianity. What he would do, if someone slighted him, even a tiny bit, or if he thought they may have, just suspected but did not know, he would chastise them directly if he knew them well enough and if he knew them really well, he would be verbally abusive. I saw him say some vile things to people, family, close friends (who did not remain friends long after seeing his behavior,) or employees. If no one was around to see him behave like that. If others were around, he would hold his tongue and when in a less public area, he would then berate whoever he felt deserved his wrath. If, because of business, he did not feel he could confront the person, he would just talk terrible about them any chance he could. If he had an overdue outstanding bill and he was contacted about payment he would often try to browbeat the creditor and if he was not able to do that, as soon as he was off the phone he would swear he will never do business with that person again. If a client, customer, however you refer to those he had contracted a project with (and collected 50% down when contract signed) called and asked when he was going to start or finish a job, he would start to treat them the same way. Either directly, or would complain and complain afterwards. Then, when he had been able to have his say and try to shame the other person, he would then start talking about Christ again. Now, it doesn’t take many times seeing this behavior to realize that he was only willing to live part way for God. Oh, he made some pretty big donations to the church, and made sure many people knew about it when he did so. He would make sure everyone was aware of any good thing he did for others. Definitely doing works for the benefit of himself. If he didn’t like something the pastor said, something that made him feel conviction,  he would shake the pastors hand and tell them good sermon and then talk all week about how the pastor was a terrible person, a horrible preacher and he was never going to donate to that church again. But, the next Sunday, there he was, dressed up and making sure to glad hand the preacher, saying he sure hoped this sermon was as good as the last one. Again, becoming Christian with conditions, wearing his cloak of righteousness when it benefited him in some manner. Unfortunately, people eventually saw through his actions, words and behavior. His testimony lost credibility, he lost family and friends due to his actions. Still, he never admitted to any fault. He criticized those that called him out for his behavior, after he either hung up the phone or walked away, at the first hint of any criticism. The same behavior he used with others was not acceptable to him.

I see a similar pattern of behavior in a lot of Christians, nice to one’s face, but talks behind their back or, berates them, while claiming it is chastising them to help them grow spiritually. But, seeing the actions, the words, the attitude behind the actions and words, it is simply anger and hate that they are spewing and not truly any good intent behind the actions. They want to get things off their chest, wear their cloaks of self-righteousness and tell the person all about how terrible they are to do whatever it is that they feel was a slight, real or perceived. They have no hesitation not only talking about another, but often exaggerating circumstances, just to make themselves feel better. But the worst part of when they do it, many, many of them actually believe themselves and feel that they are being righteous. But, if one does these things, especially when they only do such when in limited company?

I wish I could say I have never been like that at all. In the past I have talked behind others backs and was nice to their faces to an extent but no where near to the extent that this man did. Still, it is wrong. I have apologized and been forgiven by Jesus and I am no longer that man. Praise the Lord for that.

For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Romans 3:7-18

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Matthew 23:28

We are ALL SINNERS, we are all, as part of that sin, full of ourselves, we think in some way, that we are better than others, but to God, none are better. He sent His Son to die for us to deliver us from our sin and make us better people. But, those that flip back and forth, Christian when conditions are right, vile and hateful when it suits them, are like those that are neither hot nor cold.

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Revelations 3:15-16

We all need to realize that conditional Christianity, going from hot to cold, back and forth, produces a luke warm Christian, it damages one as a witness for Christ and impunes not only the character of the one behaving that way, but to non-Christians it destroys the credibility of ALL Christians.

Lord, I know in the past I was harsh, critical, unkind. I thank You for taking that out of me. I praise You for Your majesty and glory. I ask You continue to work on my heart that not only do I not speak and act out in those ways, but that I not even harbor any of those feelings in my heart. I pray You work with loved ones and others that they see the truth of Your words and know if they need to change and that they seek You to change. I ask You to draw us all closer to You, guide us in Your path for our lives and that we all live to glorify and worship Christ.

 

Thanks again. I hope this helps someone, helped me thinking on ways I do not want to be, I don’t want to be luke warm, hot then cold, but on fire for Christ. Have a great day and be a blessing to others as you go about your days.