Thank You, Father, for the winter. Thank You, Father, for the cold. The cold drives me to snuggle in bed, cradling the Word of Life in needy hands. The cold drives me to stay warm inside with my family, bundled in blankets, drinking steaming cups of hot chocolate. Without the cold, I wouldn’t appreciate the warmth of the spring. Without the cold, I couldn’t enjoy the beauty of fresh, white snow. Without the cold, the tulips wouldn’t bloom and the wheat wouldn’t grow. Thank You, Father, for the winter. Thank You, Father, for the cold.
Dear Lord, Your Word tells me to give thanks in all circumstances, but some circumstances are easier to give thanks in than others. It’s easier to give thanks for prancing through fields of blooming flowers, than slogging through snow-soaked soil. I’m beginning to see, Father, that I’d never have the spring flowers without the winter cold.
It’s like some kind of crazy, divine geometry proof: If X, then Y. If not X, then not Y. If I hadn’t broken it off with Eric, I wouldn’t have married Bill. If Tommy hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have Nick. If Bill hadn’t lost his job, I wouldn’t have moved to Memphis. I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today were it not for the times of bitter cold. I am who I am exactly because of the hard things I’ve gone through. You’re teaching me faith and grace and perseverance and forgiveness and humility through those refining trials.
So, today, I say, “Thank You, Father, for the winter. Thank You, Father, for the cold.”
“IF you confess with your MOUTH that Jesus is Lord -and- believe in your HEART that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one BELIEVES and is JUSTIFIED, and with the mouth one CONFESSES and is SAVED.”
Romans 10:9?-?10 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/rom.10.9-10.ESV
God wants us to BOTH believe with our heart AND confess with our mouth. Too often American Christians have a half-hearted “believe in their heads” which never travels to their heart, or their mouth.
If you truly believe that Jesus is God’s own Son, very GOD in flesh, who walked this lowly earth and died for your sins — it WILL change you! God’s love compels you to tell others that they, too, can be saved from eternal separation from God in hell.
Heart-check: When was the last time you told someone about your faith in Jesus? Where does your faith dwell – in your mind, or in your heart?
I’d love to help you move the gospel to your heart and mouth. Leave me a comment or send me an email.
This is part 2 in a series titled “Follow the Leader.” You can read Part 1 HERE.
In part 1, I shared the story of my giant puppy who insists on pulling himself back to the house – and I just let him go.
Check out this video clip of an exasperated mom who allows her son to have what it is that he THINKS he wants, despite all her warnings.
Do YOU have children, or pets, or employees, that simply refuse to follow your lead? What do YOU do when that happens?
As a parent and pet-owner, when I am not obeyed, I have two choices: (1) I can “let it go” and just allow the person (or animal) to go their own way (like I do with my dog who’s ready to go inside) -or- (2) I can actively give some kind of reward or punishment in an attempt to encourage obedience.
God, our good and faithful Father, also uses both methods to encourage His children to trust, follow and obey.
Sometimes, God lets His children have what it is that they think they want. In Romans 1:14-32, Paul writes three times, “God gave them up.” Each situation grows more dire as the people pursue more and more the lusts of their flesh, and God allows them to fulfill their passions. Finally, “They were FILLED with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are FULL of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:29-32 ESV)
Twice in the Proverbs, we’re told, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 16:25) This is not a way that SEEMS deadly. No, it’s a way that SEEMS right — but the end of that path is death. We’re pulling our own leash right to our own destruction.
Last month I read through the book of Numbers. In Numbers 14, the Israelites decided they didn’t want to go into the Promised Land because they were afraid. How did God respond? He let them get what they wanted. It’s as though He said, “Oh, you don’t want to go into this wonderful land that I have prepared for you? Fine, you can stay here in the desert.” (And in the desert they did stay — for 40 years!)
Is this punishment? Yes, I guess it is … But, it’s also God giving His children what they THINK they want.
Shortly thereafter, though, like most naughty children, the Israelites changed their minds. They decided they did want to go to the Promised Land after all … and to the Promised Land they headed, but against God’s commands. And do you know what happened next? Those who headed into the Promised Land against God’s commands all died at the hands of the people living in the land, just like the Israelites had feared would happen. If they had obeyed God, He would have protected them, but they didn’t, and He didn’t. You can read it here: Numbers 14. (Who says the Old Testament isn’t applicable for today?)
God (our good Father) desires His children to pursue Him, to seek Him, to love Him, to trust and obey Him. But when we choose to go our own way, turning our back on Him, refusing to trust and obey, then God oftentimes allows us to go astray. He gives us over to what it is we THINK we want.
Sadly, “the wages of sin is death.” The consequences of a lifetime of disobedience are more severe than a nasty taste in our mouth. Beware of where your path is leading. God loves you so much. He wants to bring you into His Promised Land – the eternal life available to you through faith in Jesus Christ. Choose to follow Him today by faith in His Son, Jesus. As Romans 6:23 reads, “For the wages of sin is death, BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Heart-check: In what ways are you going your own way, instead of following God’s plans? How has God given you what you “wanted” in the past? What lessons did you learn?
Have you ever played the game called “Follow the Leader?”
In this game, one person is the leader, and the other participants have to follow the leader wherever he goes. No matter what that leader does, the followers have to copy them.
Well, I have a dog who refuses to “Follow the Leader.” Rather than following my lead, he prefers to lead himself. He’ll follow me when I’m going out, BECAUSE HE WANTS TO GO OUT. But when he’s ready to go back into the house, he grabs the leash in his big mouth and starts pulling.
And, I must admit, I let him pull me back. I figure, if he’s ready to go back in, then so am I! This walk is over.
Jesus repeatedly told His disciples to follow Him. Jesus’s disciples were expected to leave their homes, their families, their stuff, their livelihoods, whatever they were attached to … and follow Him. God expects us to choose to follow His plans, rather than our own. “Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”” (Matthew 16:24)
As modern-day Christians (“Christ-followers”), Jesus is still calling us to Follow Him. He is supposed to be the leader, and we are supposed to follow Him.
Heart check: Are you following Jesus – or yourself? In what ways do you need to change the path that you’re on, letting go of pulling your own leash, and choosing instead to faithfully follow your good Leader, Jesus?