Monday, June 25, 2007

Catching a glimpse of God

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Job 42; Psalms 100, 101

Job 42:10 (NIV)
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.

Malachi 3:6-7 (NIV)
6 “I, the Lord, do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Good morning!

Have you ever struggled to focus on the task at hand? When our son Benjamin started kindergarten, he was ready academically. Benjamin could recite and write the alphabet. He loved to count and write numbers from 1-20, and he could spell and read simple words from our homemade flash cards. Ben was an active boy, and was hard to corral. At our very first parent-teacher conference, I was not surprised when the teacher explained how she was working with Ben. He had trouble sitting still; yet, seemed to know the answers. If she let him test orally, during recess, Ben could answer all of her questions correctly, but only while jumping and down on one foot, or skipping around her desk. He was full of constant motion, and it was a challenge to keep him focused on the task at hand. I think Ben may have inherited that trait from me.

I confess that I get distracted pretty easily. I was participating in a staff meeting last week, when I noticed two of my co-workers arriving with their newborn babies. The gift of new life is such a miracle, and of course, I was much more interested in getting a look at their new children than I was in the discussion around the table. The General Counsel noticed my wayward look, and graciously allowed the team a five minute break so that we could venture out and see the babies. Meeting in a glass-walled conference room can be very distracting to those of us who are trying to focus and stay on point, especially when there is so much happening on the outside.

There are times when we lose our way because we are distracted by some of our friends who may not know what they are talking about. Job’s friends thought they had God all figured out. They believed that Job was suffering because of some hidden sin in his life. It must have been a true surprise when they realized that Job had been faithful to the Lord all along. God was not able to restore Job completely until he offered a sincere prayer of forgiveness for his friends. The Lord expects us to forgive the people who hurt us. It is easy to love someone who loves me; yet, when my family and friends set out to hurt and deceive me, I’ve always found it much easier to turn away, write them off, or mutter about them under my breath. When I ask the Lord to help me truly forgive them, I must be willing to let go of the pain they’ve caused in my life. Without His intervention, my feeble attempts at forgiveness will fail every time.

I have found it is easier to open my heart to forgiveness and grace, when I focus my entire attention upon the Lord and keep it there. I know there are lots of things outside that can distract me from what is most important. There is only one thing worth having, and that is the forgiveness and mercy of my Savior, Jesus Christ. It is His love that I long for; His mercy that I need. Anything else is simply a bonus. Knowing what it feels like to be truly forgiven leaves me with a grateful heart and a desire to emulate His love with the people I encounter in my life. It gives me an opportunity to imitate the kind of love my Jesus has for the whole world.

God told Job to pray for his friends. Job needed to forgive them for their harsh, judgmental words. There are times when I would rather hold a grudge than forgive. Yet, I know I need to obey the Lord in all things, and that includes forgiving those who hurt me. When Job prayed, not only were his friends restored before the Lord; Job’s heart was renewed. His body was healed, and he received the double blessing – his life was restored to more than he could ever imagine! When we learn how to focus completely upon the Lord, desiring nothing more than to emulate Him in our life, we can live within the blessing of His mercy and grace, and find His peace, that is richer than the greatest wealth the earth may offer. Are you ready to focus your eyes completely upon God? Would you like to catch a glimpse of His glory today? It all begins and ends with forgiveness.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: forgiveness! Ask the Lord to forgive you for the times you focused your attention on everything but Him. God does not change - we need the Lord to change our hearts. Have you asked Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life today?
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