What My Dog Taught Me About Satisfaction

Photo by C. Lutke

Our dog, Titus, has a few favorite humans in his world. My husband and I, and two of my close girlfriends. This weekend, we were scheduled to take our morning walk with one of them.

We headed out the garage door and made our way across the open field. As we neared the sidewalk, I mistakenly told Titus that Karen, one of those FAVORITE humans, would be joining us. From the moment he heard “Karen,” the pull was on!

For the next mile, he tugged and lunged, eyes searching the roadside to find his friend. Until we rounded the corner and he caught a glimpse of her crossing the street. He could not contain himself – the moans and grunts erupted and the pulling would not stop until he was at Karen’s feet.

Doggy kisses and paw hugs ensued and if tails could talk, Titus’ would scream – “I MISSED you SO much!”

As we walked, Titus investigated every scent left by animal and man. Occasionally he looked back in our direction just to confirm we were following, keeping pace. He moved from one side of the path to the other until eventually, we made our way to the end of the trail. We stopped where path meets road to say our goodbyes.

Titus danced excitedly at Karen’s feet and as we parted, he kept looking back until we turned the corner and she disappeared from his view. He looked up at me, his brown eyes fixed and steady, and if dogs could talk, I am certain he would say, “I’m satisfied.” I encouraged him, “Let’s go home,” he turned, made a left at the top of the hill, and took us home.

I have been thinking about Titus’ interaction with Karen. From the moment I mentioned her name, he made every possible effort to get to her, he was focused. Once he saw her, his efforts intensified. He was determined. And once he made it to her feet and walked with her along the path, he was satisfied.

Focused.

Determined.

 Satisfied.

I think I do focused and determined pretty well. The start of a new project, a new job, a new adventure – I’m focused. Making certain no detail is missed, organizing, coordinating, and checking each item off the list. If I run into challenges or roadblocks, I find ways to push through – I guess you can say I’m determined, but satisfied…

Satisfied is complicated.

Focused and determined are both things I can influence. Things I have the power to improve.

However, satisfaction is something received – the contentment that comes after the need has been met. And the assumption is that when you’ve obtained satisfaction, you don’t need anything more.

I seem to achieve satisfaction only to lose it again. My insecurities, perceived inadequacies, my wants, and desires all build and I become anxious, start striving, tugging, pulling – a frustrating cycle that moves me from satisfied to wanting more.

So perhaps being truly satisfied, is not about what I do (being in control) and more about what I don’t do.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 11, the author writes,

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

New Living Translation (NLT)

I think this verse is telling me to bring all that striving, my need to be more and do more, my insecurities, and inadequacies to Jesus and He will give me rest – satisfaction. Perhaps, as I think about it, He is the only true source of contentment.

Each time Titus hears the name of one of his favorite humans, or sees a car that looks like theirs, or hears their voices, that focused determined behavior repeats.

Until…

He sees them, touches them, and then he can rest.

I want that same focused determination to drive me to my heavenly Father in anticipation of the rest He will provide. And once there, I want to let go. Let go of my striving. Let go of my need for more, and instead rest.

I pray dear BeLOVED, that you do the same. That you find lasting satisfaction in the only One that can provide it – Jesus.

Be Blessed,

Be Thankful – Grateful

Photo by P. du Preez

I was so proud of myself. My Thanksgiving blog was written, edited, and scheduled to post – two weeks early! It was a sweet piece about all the things I love most about the holiday.

Then, last week, life happened.

All that I wrote seemed trite, out of place in contrast to the week’s circumstances.

Our dear friends lost their son, unexpectedly, so needlessly.

A friend’s daughter was diagnosed with COVID, the family, extended family, friends all exposed.

A 16-year-old killed on the expressway.

A father of four heading home from work, gone, instantly.

So no, my original blog post no longer worked. It didn’t address the burden my heart felt. It doesn’t answer the hard question,

How can I be thankful (how can you be thankful), even grateful, in the midst of the pain that fills our world, our lives, the lives of those we love?

I wonder if you have ever experienced those moments when being grateful is out of reach. Times when you want to trust but trusting feels awkward and if you’re honest disingenuous. Thankful and grateful are great aspirations but today, today you just want to wake up and have the pain gone.

I’m not going to try to provide a formula for transforming your aching into gratefulness or offer a series of clichés to encourage you to be strong. Instead, I want you to imagine that I’m sitting across the table from you, cups of warm tea sit between us, your hands rest in mine. I lean forward and as clearly as I can express I remind you,

Life on earth is hard, often unfair, even unkind. But our lives are not confined to this earthly realm. I am confident that pain, suffering, brokenness will be replaced. Replaced with unimaginable joy, a peace beyond understanding, an awareness that you are loved beyond reason. Today we live in the hard. Yet this is exactly where we find God. It is in our brokenness, a contrite humble place, that He molds, shapes, transforms us into His image.

And as I sit back in my chair, I recognize that this reminder may not be enough to comfort you. But it is the only thing that has ever provided reassurance for my pain.

Tim Keller, in his book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, offers this insight,

One of the main ways we move from abstract knowledge about God to a personal encounter with him as a living reality is through the furnace of affliction.

Every event in my life that dragged me through life’s furnace, lead me to greater intimacy with God.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reminds us,

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. 17 These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! 18 So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

Living Bible (TLB)

My prayer for you this Thanksgiving is that you come to understand that this world’s hard can realign your perspective and lead you to the feet of Jesus. And as you look into His eyes, my hope is that you realize you are cherished and loved. You have so much to be thankful for, so much to be grateful for.

Be Blessed His BeLOVED,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Take a few minutes to enjoy Thank You by Maverick City

Do I Have Anything To Be Thankful For?

Photo by G. de Germain

Some say 2020 has been the worst year ever! If I am completely honest, I’ve had moments when I share that sentiment. It’s been challenging on so many levels, and the funny thing is, we don’t know if 2021 will be any better.

And now, Thanksgiving is 11 days away. The day we set aside to remember, to give thanks, to appreciate those special people in our lives. But what will the holiday look like when we are again quarantined, isolated, and that little anxious twitch is knocking at the door. I don’t know about you but I’m searching for the thankful – do I have anything to be thankful, grateful for?

Take a few minutes and watch this short video.

What a beautiful reminder, regardless of how hard the year has been or how uncertain the future may be, we are blessed beyond our temporal understanding. We can walk through our lives missing all the blessings or we can choose to open our hearts, turn our gaze away from ourselves, and look up. When we take time to refocus, we will find,  

God loves us,

We are His children,

We have eternity to look forward to.

Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us,

God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.” The Message (MSG)

Be thankful, grateful His BeLOVED,

I want to challenge you, take a few minutes this week and list all the things you are thankful for. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Seasons of Change

Photo by C. Fonte

I spent a few hours this week cleaning the garden shed, a neat little space in the stairwell under our deck, and putting the raised garden beds to rest for the winter.

I always have mixed emotions about ending the gardening season but the first snow has already fallen, the ground is freezing – it’s time to let the earth rest. Time to shift activities inside where paints and yarn, good books and pen and ink are waiting.

It’s always interesting to me how every season has an end. A season of doubt succumbs to the truth. A time of pain and suffering gives way to healing. Broken dreams die only to be renewed by future promises. Abundance is replaced by want and need, life’s cycles ebb and flow allowing space for us to grow our faith, mature our character, and learn to lean more fully on God’s steadfastness.

As a country, we are entering a season of change. For some anger and fear are consuming emotions. For others, there is hope and excitement for the future. Regardless of where you stand on the continuum of feelings, we all must remember that God remains in control.

He causes the sun to rise and set, allows the waters to flow toward their shores, causes the rain and snow to grace the ground, and guides the wind’s current. It is with this same power that he guides our lives and directs the affairs of this nation.

We may not understand what He is doing. If we’re honest, we may not even agree with His decisions. Why would He make changes, why didn’t He respond sooner/later, why didn’t He … But I suggest we have a very limited, earth-bound perspective that doesn’t allow us to fully understand or appreciate His actions.

Until

We see them in hindsight.

Looking back, remembering, and reflecting all help us see God’s work and appreciate how closely He orchestrates circumstance.

Theologian and Pastor John Piper shared,

We look at life from the backside of the tapestry. And most of the time, what we see is loose threads, tangled knots and the like. But occasionally, God’s light shines through the tapestry, and we get a glimpse of the larger design with God weaving together the darks and lights of existence.

We can’t stop God’s inevitable changes. We can’t demand, manipulate, or fret to influence God’s plan but we can find the faith to trust Him, muster the courage to patiently pray, and anticipate seeing Him weave beauty from what we perceive is brokenness and failure.

Romans 8:26-28, encourages us that God is with us regardless of the circumstances.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

The Message (MSG)

Sisters, please know that it’s okay not to understand the “whys” of life – it’s human to doubt and question. But please know that God is working, orchestrating, coordinating, each aspect of your life working them collectively into something good.

Be Blessed,

Small Things

Photo by A. McCormick

It’s the little things in life that touch me the most -a smile from a precocious 2-year old, the purple and orange of a newly rising sun, that gentle sigh my husband makes at the end of the day. Small things, reminding me that our lives are precious, a daily blessing.

This week my husband, Mac, and I were met with one of those small amazing unexpectedthings, a reminder of human kindness.

We’ve been shopping at our local grocery store since it opened, 13-years ago. The store is filled with a group of amazing people, all more than willing to engage in conversation, share a favorite recipe, or help a newbie navigate the aisles.

This week we gathered our shopping cart and entered the store just as we’ve done for 13-years. As we made our way to the vegetable aisle, we were met with a team of store personnel, the store manager, team leader, and cashiers. They encircled our cart and once all were gathered, the manager announced they had a surprise for us. He graced our shopping cart with a custom-made sign, “This cart is reserved for VIP Mac and Allison.” He went on to say, “We appreciate you being consistent customers and we love seeing you each week.”

To say we were shocked would be a complete understatement! I fought back the tears and Mac was speechless, not an easy thing for this extremely extroverted man. We took pictures, offered socially distant hugs, and then tried to finish our shopping.

The shopping part proved to be harder than anticipated. As we navigated the aisles, people read our little sign and smiled. They stopped to ask for an explanation and wanted to know how they could obtain a reserved cart. Was it a raffle? Had we won a store contest? What would we do with the sign?

We tried to navigate the stares and comments, questions, and repeated questions but feeling all the while a little self-conscious –undeserving of all the attention.

We finally turned the corner and headed toward the checkout stand when the manager and team leader approached. They lifted the sign from the cart and explained that it would be hangingnear the front door waiting for our return.

We thanked the team repeatedly as we walked out the doors. Turning to the manager, we let him know how much we appreciated the gesture. He said it was nothing, really “Just a small thing.” As we turned to exit the store, he reminded us to place the sign on our cart each time we shopped. He added, “We hope it reminds you just how specialyou are.

How “special” we are, such an undeserved gift.

Our world has become so complicated.

Racial division.

Political divisiveness.

A pandemic that rages on, interrupting the flow of everyday life. Carrying in its wake human, economic, and emotional devastation.

Yet, this grocery store team took the time to do the small thing. A sweet gesture that profoundly affected our lives.

I wonder what would happen if each of us would commit to doing one small thing this week for a loved one, co-worker, or stranger.

I wonder if that act of unexpected kindness would help the person remember they are special, they are loved, they are seen.

I wonder if it would say to them, you are valuable!

Sisters, I encourage you to take time to see the little things, the small events in your lives that tell you,

You are precious,

You are loved,

You BeLOVED are valuable.

And then, I challenge you to tell those you love, in some small way, how much they are valued, that they are special, they are loved.

1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:1-4 New International version (NIV)

Be blessed,

Inattentional blindness…

Photo by M. Helin

The sun was casting a shadow through the canopy of leaves. Slivers of light falling onto the path in front of my feet. The leaves were brilliant -red, orange, and a hint of yellow that shouted, “look at me!”

 I‘ve walked this path many times over the years. But this year, this year the leaves – I don’t remember them being this beautiful. I don’t remember them feeling this warm and comforting.

Had I missed it in prior years? Perhaps I had moved too quickly along the trail. Or maybe, this year was different. Maybe this year I was different

Priscilla Shirer, in her Bible study, Breathe – Making Room for Sabbath, discusses a condition called inattentional blindness, sometimes called perceptual blindness. She shares,

Inattentional blindness is the trick our own brains play on us – keeping us preoccupied with one thing while rendering us unaware and oblivious to another. So while we are concentrating somewhere else, another more critical action could be occurring within view, but without our conscious knowledge. Then, shocked and bewildered, we realize we missed something-or someone- who really deserved our full attention.

That was me.

I suffered from blindness that kept my mind focused on things that seemed important, that occupied my time, kept me driven and distracted. But all the while, I failed to look up and see the beauty, the spectacular beauty that lined the trail – that enveloped my life. 

I think we can experience this same blindness, this same lack of attention when it comes to our relationship with Jesus. We keep Him at the fringe of our visual field, just close enough to check the box – faithful Christian. Yet, far enough out of sight to maintain our control.

In the book of John, Jesus heals a man that had been blind from birth. You may remember the story; Jesus spits on the ground, makes mud, and wipes it across the man’s eyes. He then instructs the man to go wash and the man returns – his vision restored. When questioned about his healing, the man said,

(24) So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.” (25) “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

John 9:24-25 New Living Translation (NLT)

This man was physically blind; we suffer from spiritual blindness.

But Jesus offers healing for both.

Inattentional blindness, taking our eyes off the most important, keeps us tripping, bumping into God’s will and our wants. It keeps us from fully enjoying the beauty of our journey and appreciate the richness of true intimacy with God.

Priscilla again reminds us,

… bring to the center stage of our minds and hearts the Person (Jesus) who we have placed at the periphery for too long.

Breathe– Making Room for Sabbath

Jesus brings healing. He restores our sight, allowing us to experience the full beauty of His love, His grace, His creation.

Dear Sisters, don’t allow your attention to be diverted from the One who brings clarity of sight. The One who heals our blindness, aligns our priorities, and restores our purpose.

I once was blind but now –

I am forgiven,

I am healed,

I am free.

Blessing BeLOVED,

A Divine Encounter

Photo by A. McCormick

On the edge of town, bordered by cliff face and surrounded by suburbia, is a beautiful hiking trail. A stream runs through pastureland, flowing under wood bridges, over rocks, and lapping against creek beds graced with irises, aspen trees, and pines.

It is a sanctuary tucked in the midst of the business of our community.

This week I had the opportunity to walk the trail with a friend. It had been far too long since we carved out time to connect, share stories, and soak up the majesty of our surroundings.

As we hiked, we shared updates about family, discussed dreams realized and those in the waiting, paused to admire love declared in sticks and pinecones – birds sang, squirrels darted in and out of their burrows, and those we met on the trail were enthusiastic to share the path.

Photo by A. McCormick

We took a short pause at the edge of the overlook, pine trees growing directly out of lava rock, an eagle gliding across the blue sky, canyon floor below.

God’s creative work on grand display.

Then as quickly as we had started this adventure, our time together was over. A blink, a much-needed pause in a string of minutes and hours that make up a week.

It’s good to stop time, if only briefly, and reset our perspective, refocus our attention.

As I drove away from the parking lot, I watched the sanctuary fade in my rearview mirror. And as I navigated the twist and turns of the road ahead, I couldn’t help but wonder if there isn’t some way to hold on to the peace I found hidden in the woods. It allowed my breathing to slow, the tension in my shoulders to relax, and calm replaced the usual clamor that goes on in my brain.

I started my day meeting a friend to catch up on lost time and ended the time together finding the comfort of my Father – a divine encounter.

He was alive in the rushing of the stream, the magnitude of the rock face, the gentleness of the birds’ song, the display of love with twigs and cones. I was surrounded by His beauty and experienced His touch.

God uses the ordinary, the every day, the things on the edge of our lives to speak to us. He reminds us that no matter what is going on, He provides a sanctuary. We just need to slow down long enough to see Him, take a step forward, and rest.

Dear Sisters, I want to encourage you to take a perspective-reset moment. Take a walk alone or with a friend, listen to music that moves you, read God’s word, sit patiently, and wait to hear God’s voice encouraging you, consoling you, loving you.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13, New International Version (NIV)

Be blessed His BeLOVED,

Holy Moments

Photo by A. Burden

A stillness fell over the room. The type of quiet that forces you to take notice.

The music played gently in the background and the early morning light cut through the window leaving a shadow across the small wooden table and her favorite cup of tea.

The children were clinging to the last remnants of their dreams, the dog was curled at her feet, and her husband was buried under his grandmother’s quilt.

She sat motionless, fixed on an indescribable peace. A sweetness, a warmth that enveloped her.

A holy moment; a moment where she could feel Jesus’ presence.

A moment she knew that she was loved like a father loves his daughter – loved unconditionally, effortlessly, intentionally.

Our lives can get so complicated. They can become busier than we plan, out of control; keeping us from the most important thing, time alone with Jesus. Sitting in His presence, lounging at His feet, spending time getting to know Him, loving Him, surrendering to Him.

Holy moments are found in the stillness of our minds, in the quieting of our hearts, in the intentional discipline of seeking God.

Tim Hansel shares,

God has spoken very boldly about his desire to be a presence in our lives. If I want to heal the ache and loneliness in my own life, one of the things I need to do is get away, alone with God. . . In the silence, God will speak to you most powerfully. Too often his words to us get muffled, lost, or covered by the crowd of many noises both inside and outside of us. We must have a quiet heart in order to hear God’s distinctive message to us.

Seeking God in a busy world requires some intentionality, a little planning, and focused perseverance. But Jesus honors our efforts and faithfully meets us in those quiet spaces we carve out of our busy days.

Please don’t get lost in the distractions of this world. Spend time with the One that can meet your inner longings, your deep loneliness, and your unimaginable losses.

Nestle into your favorite chair, settle into the corner of a coffee shop or a bookstore, walk a quiet path – spend time with your creator.

In return, He will reveal Himself, His passions, His purpose for your life and you will find yourself resting in a holy moment.

For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 New Life Translation (NLV)

Blessings His BeLOVED,

Change

Photo by T. Johnson

I sat reading a magazine in the lobby of our local hospital, waiting to have my labs drawn. Over the intercom, a page rang out “Code blue emergency room. Pediatrics. Room 1.”

I didn’t pay much attention the first time it aired but the second and then the third announcement made me stop.

Code blue indicates a person stopped breathing. In this case, a child. Something was seriously wrong.

A child was not breathing.

What came to mind next, lives were about to change – the child, their parents, family, friends.

If the child survives, life continues and there is a memory of the time spent in the emergency room. Stories will be crafted about the day and for a time the family will hold each other a little longer, take more time saying goodnight, and keep a closer eye.

But if…

If this little one slips away then life temporarily halts. The memories bring with them questions: did I do enough, should I have done things differently, why didn’t I say more – share more – love more?

In time, the stories will bring joy and laughter. But, the journey to get to a place of peace will be hard and paved with blame, regret, and shame.

Our lives can change in an instant.

A young woman attends a party. She dances in celebration with her friends, consumes a little too much alcohol, and then starts her drive home. At the bottom of the hill, she loses control and wraps her car around a large oak tree. Life shifts for her, the two girlfriends riding in the car, and their families.

Recently married, the young couple was excited to find out they were expecting. They shared the news with family and friends and started preparing for their daughter. Contractions started far too early. Their baby was stillborn. Their dreams distorted forever.

A small lump – no breast cancer. An asthma attack – no heart disease. A missed event – God’s divine intervention. Who we are, how we see ourselves, how we see the world – all changed by the situations we encounter.

Our lives are filled with moments that alter us. Some are devastating, others filled with joy, but all have the ability to transform.

The question is what do you do after – after the achievement, after the loss, after the change?

 We have two options.

Option one – we blame our circumstances on Jesus. We know in our heads that Jesus loves us but if we are honest, we question if He really likes us. Because if He really liked us, cared for us – our children wouldn’t suffer, our lives wouldn’t be so difficult, our bodies wouldn’t fail. We become hardened, bitter, and our faith is clouded by our inability to see God’s grace enveloping our disappointments.

Our second option – surrender. Surrender to God’s plan, regardless of the outcome for our children, our situations, our health. Choose to trust God with all of it.

Cody Carnes, in his song Run to the Father, writes,

I run to the Father, I fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding, no reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend
So I’ll run to the Father again and again and again and again

What a wonderful reminder, we can run straight to God. We can fall into His open arms of love and grace. We can let him change our hearts, feed our souls, and use the situation to make us more like Him.

We can choose to believe, God intends everything we encounter will be used for our good.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

Do you find yourself dealing with change? Are you facing a mountain you aren’t certain you can climb? Are transitions, challenges, doubts knocking on your door?

Sisters, don’t lose heart.

Resist the urge to blame God.

Run to your Father.

Rest in His truth.

He has a plan to prosper you and give you a future.

Blessings,

BREATH OF LIFE

By guest writer Jim Lyons

Photo by J. Earle

Her name was Mirah.  She was four months old.  I met her and her family inside a dimly lit bedroom on the second floor of an apartment building on the east side of town.  What brought us together that evening was a cry for help – Mirah had stopped breathing.  With lights and siren, I arrived within a minute.

Inside her crib, Mirah laid still.  Her skin was blue. 

No sound. 

No breath. 

No life.

I quickly picked her up, and with my mouth to hers, I began to breathe life into her body.  “Careful, Jim!  Don’t breathe too hard!  Remember, she’s little!”  After administering some breaths and small chest compressions, Mirah’s eyes began to blink.  With a few more breaths, her eyes suddenly opened, and so did her lungs!  Out of that tiny body came the loudest cry I had ever heard. 

Mirah was alive!

Suddenly, that dimly lit room became brighter.  And it was because, for a brief moment, God made His presence known.  It was His presence, His mercy, and the casting out of death that lit up that room and the hearts of all who were present.  It was by God’s grace Mirah went from death to life.

Three years later, this scene would unfold differently – I too would find myself crying out for help in a dimly lit room – “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” And by God’s grace and His gospel message, He revived me that day by breathing spiritual life within my soul (Ezekiel 36:25-27, 37:5, 1 Peter 1:3, 23). 

What a glorious day that was – going from death to life!

As I look back on that day, I’m reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus.  In Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul describes the life of those who come to Jesus Christ by faith and repentance.

In verses 1 through 3, Paul clarifies our life BEFORE CHRIST.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)

In verses 4 through 9, Paul clarifies our life IN CHRIST.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:4-9 (ESV)

And in verse 10, Paul clarifies our life FOR CHRIST.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

Let those verses sink in. 

The believer going from death to life! 

What mercy! 

What grace!  

Our Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to breathe life into lost sinners who were dead in trespasses and sins (John 3:16-17).  And by His life, His sacrificial death upon a cross, and His resurrection from the grave, Jesus reconciled us to God, cleansing us of our sins, and giving us a living hope and an eternal inheritance in heaven that will never perish (1 John 4:9-10, 1 Peter 1:4).

Let us rejoice!  Jesus Christ has brought us from death to life!  We are alive in Him!  Let us praise Him for His finished work!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4 (ESV)

Blessings to you,

JIM      

2 Corinthians 5:17