A New Beginning

Sunrise of a New Day

Sunrise of a new day

“If only I had been more loving … spent more time.” These are words I have heard over and over from people grieving over the death of someone in their family. It is especially difficult when the death was self-inflicted. We all wish at times to be able to go back and change something we said or did. But, unfortunately, erasing and changing the past is not possible … or is it? The key to this miracle is found in the word forgiveness.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  2 Corinthians 7:10

This verse is about confessing our wrongs before God and receiving forgiveness.

How can God’s forgiveness leave no regret, especially when the person we have wronged is gone? Because the grace of God brings with it the “hope of the glory of God.”

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Romans 5:1-2

In other words, in the end the glory of God wins. It wins over our regrets, our shame, our sins — it wins out over death. God’s grace replaces all our regrets with peace and hope in Him. I still struggle with my feelings of regret; constantly reminding myself that I stand covered by God’s grace. How God resolves all the messes in life is His miracle not mine. I just know that through forgiveness and following Jesus, I will someday see the glory of God cover the land … like the sunrise of a new day.

An Invitation from Heaven

Heavenly Initation

The sun breaking through storm clouds at Yosemite National Park

In the final summation of life, there is only one true blessing, also only one horrible tragedy. The blessing is eating at the great banquet with God, the tragedy is choosing anything else. Both of these final outcomes transform all that has happened to us. For those who choose to trust in God, all life’s happenings (including tragedies) will become blessings that brought us to sit at His table. We will look back and see how God used all to lead us to Himself. On the opposite side all the events of life (including what we thought of as good) become tragic if we allowed them to lead us away from God.

Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God. (Read Luke 14:15-24 for the entire parable)

Jesus tells us in this parable of invited guests, who had good things happen that kept them from attending the banquet. So the poor, crippled, blind and lame were brought into the the great feast. Those who let other things interfere were excluded. Blessings become tragedies and tragedies become blessings.

Trust the Lord in all things, and He will make them a blessed invitation to sit with Him.

Do Not Be Afraid

Do not be afraid for He has risen

Do not be afraid for He has risen

These words are said to us from God over and over. Starting with Moses and the Children of Israel:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6

On and on through the prophets:

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.               Jeremiah 1:18

And to the final completion in Immanuel:

Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1:17-18

So whatever you face today, walk humbly with our risen Lord and “Do not be afraid.”

The 23rd Psalm?

Bryce-1588

Two crows looking for lunch

How can this picture of two scavengers looking for carrion be connected to the 23rd Psalm? A pastoral scene is what usually comes to mind with “The Lord is my shepherd…” But, if you read down to verse 5 of the Psalm the words are a bit unsettling.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:5

It strikes me as strange that God would prepare a feast for me not with good friends as company, but with my enemies. What kind of meal is it when you are sitting across from those who wish you harm? Who wants to sit and eat before fear, depression, pain, and evil (to name just a few)? God surely must know a feast is better with joy, blessing, and goodness. But maybe there are certain heavenly foods that can only be served under the severe circumstances of our enemies. Literally, only when we are face to face with danger. It is here with our Good Shepherd that He serves character building food like courage, self-denial, humble dependence on God, mercy, and forgiveness. What my enemy intends for my destruction, God turns into a feast of nourishment and growth that can be had in no other way. Who are your enemies? Please, sit down with the Lord and say grace, for there is a banquet waiting to be eaten.