Longing for Heaven

I love life. I love to experience nature, connect with friends and watch my kids grow.

I love to discover God through His Word and by spending time with Him.

I love to live and see miracles daily.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says, “So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”

God wants us to enjoy our lives. He gave them to us after all.

Yet, scripture also tells us to have a longing for Heaven and to make sure that eternity remains our ultimate focus.

Colossians 3:1-3 says, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Don’t ever feel guilty for enjoying your life. Life is good. Life is a gift. But in that enjoying, never forget that this life is only preparation for eternity. Life here may be good, but eternal life is better!

DISCUSSION: How do you enjoy life here while keeping your gaze on eternity?

Sunday Reflections – Stumbling Blocks

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My kids have often heard me say, “Be aware of how what you’re doing affects others.” My point in telling them this begins with simply having good manners in public places. But I also want them to understand that their every attitudes, actions and words always impact others in some way.

We also talk about preferring others and being willing to do what another wants for the sake of the relationship. They are beginning to realize that putting aside personal preference is often one of the most powerful ways to build a relationship.

I wish I could say that these talks come from me simply wanting to share biblical truth with my boys. But, my purpose really goes much deeper and gets more personal.

You see, I too struggle with being aware of how I impact others with my moods, preferences and habits. I too have comfort zones that cause me to overlook some people. And, yes, I also let my feelings and preferences determine my actions at the cost of relationship sometimes.

In 1 Corinthians 8:9, Paul speaks to setting aside preferences in order to not be a barrier to others seeing Christ. And Romans 14:13 speaks to a determination to constantly monitor the affect of your behavior on others. What both of these scriptures get at is that we must do what we can to not place a stumbling block in another’s path.

We don’t actually cause another person to stumble since every person has a free will. Yet, we sure can trip someone up, which can take their focus off of Jesus just long enough for them to stumble. In doing so, we can certainly make their walk more difficult.

For me, application of this scripture involves making sure I am approachable while at the same time realizing I must sometimes do the approaching. It means getting outside of my comfort zone and talking to those outside my circle of favorites. And, it also means getting over my own feelings of inadequacy and not fitting in and instead helping others to feel like they are adequate and fit in.

Avoiding placing a stumbling block in another’s path requires having a strong faith that trusts God with every step. At the same time, it means being sensitive to the needs of others and doing our best to meet those needs. In other words, it means following Jesus’ example of humbleness and obedience (Philippians 2:5-8).

DISCUSSION: What changes might you need to make so as to not put a stumbling block in another’s path?

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How to… Take Action

Throughout my healing journey, which has really been taking place my whole adult life, there were days when my persistence was rock solid, and knowledge and wisdom seemed like ever-flowing springs. On these days, growth seemed to happen before my very eyes, and I felt like I was finally on my way to victory.

But most days weren’t like that. Most days, I felt like Elijah when he “sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.” On most days, I also often did what Elijah did next. He “lay down and slept under the broom tree.”

Following this, God takes Elijah through a long process (found in 1 Kings 19) that eventually leads to action. This is a process with which I definitely can relate.

Let’s look this process and how it prepares us for taking action.

  1. Have quiet time. Elijah may have left because he was afraid and felt like the world was against him, but getting quiet time with God was what he needed. So many times, I just needed quiet. Sometimes, I ran away like Elijah did. But always, God used quiet times to heal me and prepare me for action.
  2. Get some nourishment. When we have too much stress, our bodies need more nourishment. Unfortunately, we tend to either eat less or eat the wrong foods instead. But getting the proper nourishment is necessary for us to start moving again, just like it was for Elijah.
  3. Start moving. God eventually got Elijah going again. Notice that He didn’t have him go anywhere in particular. We know this because when Elijah was ready to go back into civilization, God told him to “go back the way you came.” Sometimes, we just need to put one foot in front of the other and start moving. Doing this led Elijah to a place where he was ready and able to deal with the problem. My times of rest and nourishment always do the same for me too.
  4. Identify the problem. Elijah was then finally ready to talk, so he vented to God. So often, our first reaction is to vent to someone who will agree with us. But God didn’t do that. He just listened and then moved on to the next step. One of the greatest lessons God has taught me through this process is to talk to Him before going to anyone else and sometimes only to Him. I learned that doing so gets me ready to take action more quickly anyway.
  5. Make a list. After Elijah vented, God gave him a list of action items that basically addressed Elijah’s needs. On my toughest days, having a “to do” list helped me at least accomplish something and feel productive. Having a list gives me focus. I don’t have to figure out over and over again what to do. I just move through the list.
  6. Take action. Elijah didn’t question God; he just got to work on the list. After having the time he needed to rest & recuperate, Elijah was ready to get back into action with God.

One more significant point to note is illustrated by the fact that this particular time away for Elijah came after his overwhelming victory on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). Isn’t it interesting how our biggest struggles come after some of our biggest successes?

Chris Patton talked about this in Don’t Relax After Victory!, and his suggestions there compliment our discussion here quite well. We need to remain vigilant and come up with ways to protect ourselves from the enemy’s attacks, which often come right after a victory. This happened both with Joshua and with Elijah, but their reactions were quite different.

I find great comfort in knowing that the God who led Elijah through his struggle with fear and loneliness is the same God who today will do the same for each of us. I know this because he did it during one of the toughest times in my life, and he continues to do so whenever I need it still today.

DISCUSSION: What suggestions do you have for taking action?

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