Life is a Jigsaw Puzzle
Are you struggling to see how your life fits? It’s probably because you want to understand it. What if I told you: life was more about acceptance than understanding? It’s more about rhyme than reason. More a jigsaw puzzle of one-of-a-kind pieces, than uniformed Legos. In our linear naivetes, we’re hoping it will all make sense, and soon. But, it’s really a waste of time, and the improper way to process life with a God Who is infinitely beyond our comprehension. The only real connection with this season of your life and the next is . . . God. The Bible says, “He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” (Colossians 1:17, NLT) So, how can you make sense of life? Let God guide you, moment by moment, piece by piece, for He alone knows where you are going, and your greatest responsibility is to trust Him.
Older Married Couples Laugh More
If you believe older married couples are grumpier and more dissatisfied, you probably should think again. An extensive study shows that those married longer than 35 years are more tender than younger couples. They demonstrate more positive emotional behaviors as they age, and fewer negative ones. In particular, these spouses had more humor and affection and cut back on the amount of criticism and defensiveness they showed during their earlier years together. These results show that as we age, we become more focused on the positives in our lives and are far happier with one another in old age. It’s all the more reason to stick with your marriage partner during the tough times. Experiencing your senior years with a spouse may be your key to a happy future.
Wanting More is a Slippery Slope
Have you ever watched someone make a foolish mistake and it reminded you of yourself, at a low point in your own life? I was watching a TV show and saw a man, in front of his mother and millions of viewers, go from being guaranteed to win over $300,000 to winning $5. It was crushing to watch! Everyone in the room was yelling, “Take the $300,000!” but he just couldn’t stop himself from wanting more. “Wanting more!” What a slippery slope! Being grateful for what you already have is really the only way to ever experience the contentment that leads to God’s peace. I don’t have to experience the pain of foolish decisions I’ve seen others make, if I can just learn from them. “Jesus, teach me to love more… and want less!”
A Little Rough Going In
As my wife and I were on a plane, a flight attendant said over the P.A., “We’re going to tidy up the cabin a few minutes early tonight, because it’s going to be a little rough going in.” Hmm? “Tidy up…it’s going to be a little rough going in.” Immediately, God’s Spirit reminded me of the season we are in. It seems everything in the world around us that can be shaken, is being shaken. Though we can lose sight of it, we are also speeding closer to the challenging end of the age. And so, taking that sentence from the flight attendant as a prophetic encouragement, “Tidy up your heart, Francis; it’s going to be a little rough going in.” Perhaps, you should take this encouragement to heart as well?
Pray Without Ceasing
When the Bible says, “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV) is it perhaps overstating the goal, or should we take this biblical admonition literally? How could anyone “Pray without ceasing”? The Passion Translation phrases this verse in a different way. It says, “Make your life a prayer.” WOW! “Pray without ceasing” morphs into “Make your life a prayer.” I like that! It reminds me that God intended prayer to be a way for me to have an intimate relationship with Him; a constant communion, not a periodic S.O.S. Prayer is not meant for when I’m in trouble, but to keep me continually in touch with my Creator. God’s saying, “Make prayer your first response, not your last resort.” It’s really the best and, frankly, only, way to truly live.
My wife was driving the two of us in traffic when my phone’s GPS recommended we turn off onto a highway going in the opposite direction. Since I’d followed my GPS on this route before during rush hour, I had complete faith that doing what seemed crazy was actually the right thing to do. Trusting my past experience, my wife turned off and we soon found ourselves sailing all the way home without traffic. “Trust” had been the difference maker. Many times, in life, God’s leadings are counterintuitive. He tells us to do something that may even seem illogical. At that moment, we should remember the scripture, “Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, TPT)
Don’t Go “Blank” in My Yard
My wife and I were walking our dog in a new, nearby housing complex. As we walked past one particular house, the owner poked his head out of his 2nd story window and yelled, “Don’t let your dog go ‘blank’ in my yard.” We looked up and waved, but thought, “We had no intention of our dog going ‘blank’ in your yard.” Walking on, we laughed that someone would be that paranoid. Now, months later, his front yard has no animal waste in it, but his visible back yard is loaded. Jesus said, “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5, NLT) One of the greatest ironies in life is how easily we can be filled with judgment for someone else but want only mercy for ourselves.
Five Loaf Faith or 5000 People Faith
In the Gospels, Jesus challenged His disciples to feed a hungry multitude of many thousands of people. At first, Christ’s followers responded with cynical unbelief, saying, “With what?” But as He guided the faith process, five loaves multiplied to feed five thousand. It made me think, do I have “five loaf faith” or “five thousand people faith”? The disciples had finite, limited, restricted, fixed faith. Jesus had boundless, unlimited, never-ending, infinite faith. The disciples had their eyes on what they could do, saying, “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!” (Mark 6:37, NLT) Jesus had His eyes on what His Father could do. It made me think, what do I have? Faith limited to what I see or faith unlimited and connected to what I believe?
What Amazes God?
Not many things amazed Jesus when He was on this Earth. Not many! But, one thing stood out, and frankly still amazes me today. The Bible says, “…because of their unbelief, (Jesus) couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them…he was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5, NLT) Wow! “Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.” On Earth, we can easily understand why it would be hard to believe for a supernatural miracle. But, in Heaven, beyond the blindness of Earth, unbelief is the most ridiculous thought imaginable. So, what thoughts am I thinking? Thoughts that believe God is powerless to do what He’s promised to do, or faith-filled, eternal thoughts that believe God for every miracle He ever intended to take place on Earth?
Who Are You Looking To?
One day, every one we are looking to will be gone, except One. On the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples were enamored when Moses and Elijah appeared to them. (Mark 9) But sooner than they had hoped for, these two giant patriarchs were gone, and all they were left with was…Jesus. Sooner than we know, everyone we are looking to on Earth will be gone. Everyone, except Jesus. So, build your life centered on a relationship with the only One who will be left standing, the God of the Universe, the Lord Jesus Christ. For, in the end, your relationship with Him will be all that matters. As the Bible says, “For in him we live and move and exist.” (Acts 17:28, NLT) “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22, NKJV)
Luis Palau and Heaven
Recently, I had the privilege of hearing the great evangelist Luis Palau give a sermon on “Heaven”. He has been battling stage four lung cancer for over a year. With much effort and discomfort, he shared so beautifully about Heaven, as he and each of us who have allowed Jesus to be the Lord of our lives are preparing for our eventual home. At one point, as he was nearing the close of the message, he said, “I’ve got to go on. My time is short.” How true…for all of us. Wherever we are, whatever challenges we are facing, we’ve got to go on, because our time on Earth is short. Eternity is in our hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Heaven is calling us. As Luis went on to say, “I’ve got my ticket. I just don’t know when the plane is leaving.”
I’m Too Big a Sinner
Do you feel like you are too big a sinner for Jesus to accept you? That’s understandable. He’s God—perfect, holy, you know, not like you and me. Well, the Apostle Peter felt the same way. In Luke 5, after Jesus did a miracle, Peter “…fell to his knees before Jesus and said, ‘Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.’” We can all feel that way: unworthy and unholy. But we can also be so fixated on our sinfulness, that we lose sight of His willingness to forgive and accept us. The Bible assures those who have received what Jesus accomplished when He died and rose again, “you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 6:11, AMP)