Mission Field

The ones I work with cheat.  They speak ill of others.  They don’t respect authority.  They speak with crude words.  They lie.  They steal time from the company.  They look out only for themselves.

I wonder why I have anything to do with them.  Then I remember.  I’m one of them.  I’m no better than them.  Oh.  I work hard.  I do my best.

They are my mission field.  The ones I am called to serve.  To love them as Jesus does.  To care for them.  This is my battlefield.  To fight off Satan’s advances in a place where his ways are popular.  If I don’t fight Satan there, who will.  If I don’t share God’s love with them, who will.

I’ve worked with this type throughout the years.  It’s nothing new.  But I find that I must stay close to my Heavenly Father so I don’t become one of them.  Oh.  I’m not better than them.  I’m just like them.  But I’ve found the One in whom my soul delights.  I want to please Him rather than myself.  I want to serve Him rather than myself.

They’re lost to the truth.  They don’t know that God loves them.  They don’t know he’s the one true relationship they’ve been searching for all this time.  But I know it.  I know the truth.  I know the One they seek.  I can lead them to him.  I can help them find him.

After all.  Jesus didn’t turn away from those who weren’t like him.  He loved the unlovable.  He had dinner at the cheating tax collector’s house.  He struck up a conversation with a woman who was shunned by her community.  He stood with a woman caught in adultery.

Jesus didn’t spend time only with those who followed him.  He sought out others who needed what he had to offer.  He made himself available to those who didn’t know they needed him.


You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  Matthew 5:14


He saw the tax collector sitting in a tree.  Jesus knew this man had gotten rich by cheating others of out large sums of money.  But he still invited himself to the man’s house for dinner.  This man turned his life around and gave half his wealth to the poor and returned money to those he had cheated.  All because Jesus took time for him and showed him the way of  love and forgiveness.

Jesus started a conversation with the woman with the questionable past.  He spoke first, asking for a drink of water.  He told her things about herself he shouldn’t have known.  He loved her in spite of the fact that she had had five husbands and was living with another man.  This woman who was shunned by her community ran to tell them about this man who knew everything about her.  She and her village were changed because of the simple message of love and forgiveness.

The woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus.  Her accusers were trying to trick him, but he didn’t play their game.  They wanted her stoned to death.  So Jesus suggested the one in the group who had never sinned should throw the first stone.  One by one they quietly walked away.  The woman’s accusers were guilty of sins, just as she was.  But Jesus didn’t condemn her.  Instead, in love he told her to leave her life of sin.  He showed her love and forgiveness.

So.  Who do I think I am that I shouldn’t spend time with those who don’t believe as I do?  Why should I surround myself only with those like me?  Why do I think I can ignore those I come in contact with who have sin written all over their face?  For I’m just like them.  I have sin written all over my face, but it’s been washed clean in Jesus’ blood.   I’m no better than them, but I’ve accepted the gift of eternal life.

Yes.  I must be Jesus to those I work with.  Perhaps they can turn from cheating.  From their gossip.  From self-centeredness.  But not only them.  I think of the one who delivers my groceries every week.  Does he need Jesus in his life?  I think of the one who cuts my hair.  My massage therapist.  What about my neighbors?  The people at the dog park.  Who can I be Jesus to today?

A Life Cut Short

She stopped by the office on Monday to bring lunch to her husband.  She ran into the building with his salad, paying no attention to the burning car in the parking lot.  She didn’t even notice the fire trucks.  She had one thing on her mind.  Her busy husband needed his lunch.

Less than two days later, she was surrounded by another fire.  This time the fire was at her home.  Her husband was out of town on business.  Home alone.  Sleeping alone.  She wasn’t even aware of the fire.  Smoke inhalation was the cause of death.  She died in her bed.  Asleep and alone.

She was busy with family and work and charity events.  She was always smiling and friendly with everyone.  She didn’t know a stranger.  She made time for her daughters and grandchildren.  She was loved by many.  Best friends to her inner circle.

Her life was cut short.  She was in the prime of her life.  But what is the prime of life when you don’t know how long your life will be?  Shouldn’t every day be the prime of life?  Especially when we don’t know our last day?

I didn’t know her.  I knew of her.  Oh.  I had met her a few times.  I had seen the joy of life radiating from her.  I had seen her happiness bubbling as she showed off her grandson.  I knew of her love for her husband.  But I didn’t know her.


Each of us will give a personal account to God.  Romans 14:12


I wonder if she knew her Creator.  I wonder if she had a personal relationship with God.  Because now she has come face to face with him.  Oh.  She was involved in volunteer work.  She was kind.  She was good.  But was she ready, without notice, to meet her final reward.  Was it a reward or was it a punishment?  Where is her soul spending eternity?

The thing is.  Life is not certain for anyone.  No one knows when their last day will come.    Maybe there will be a warning.  A diagnosis.  An accident.  Medical treatments.  Prolonged illness.  Or death could come as a thief in the night.  Maybe there will be time to accept Christ as Savior and experience forgiveness. But maybe not.  One never knows.

The one thing we do know is that all will die.  Each of us will breathe our last breath at the appointed time.  Unless Jesus comes back in our lifetime and takes his faithful to heaven, we will all die.  Will we be ready to stand face to face with God?  Will we hear the words we want to hear?  Welcome home, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your master.  Let’s celebrate.

Some will hear those words.  Many won’t.  Many will be cast to the depths of hell.  Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior will not face an eternity in heaven.   Oh.  There are those who don’t believe in hell.  There are some who believe if God is a loving God, why would he send good people to hell.

The thing is.  God loves everyone and wants everyone to meet him in heaven.  He gave us the ability to choose for ourselves how we live our lives.  With him or without him.  That choice determines where we spend eternity.  We choose.

I saw it happen just three days ago.  I was driving along a busy road, running errands at lunch time.  The squirrel was running fast and ran into the street.  I noticed it and had plenty of time to slow down.  The driver in the other lane didn’t.  Next thing I knew, the squirrel was not moving.  Oh.  It was in such a hurry to get somewhere, but time stood still for that little one.  Perhaps, he was rushing to store up for the winter months that are upon us.  No need.

Oh.  I know the squirrel doesn’t have a soul.  I know that squirrel will never have to answer for its actions.  I know that squirrel will never stand before his maker.  But I do know that his life was cut far short.

It can happen to anyone at any time.  Ready or not.  Time is running out for each of us.  The countdown has begun, and we never know when our time will come.  Are you ready?

 

The God I Know

Oh.  Heavenly Father, God and Creator of the Universe.  You knew me before I was born.  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  You numbered my days before I breathed my first breath.  You alone decided I would be born, and you alone will decide when my days are complete.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made by You.

You alone planned my days.  You know my accomplishments.  You know my failures.  You love me in my most lovely days, and you love me when I’m less than lovely.

You go before me and you follow me.  You surround me with your presence.  You work for me.  You fight for me.  Your heavenly armies follow me.  I can never escape from your Spirit.  Your hand guides me.  Your strength supports me.  You equip me for your work.  I am never far from your thoughts.

You search me.  You know my thoughts.  You read my mind.  You hear my words.  You test me.  You know my anxious thoughts.  Yet you still love me.  You won’t turn away when I call.

You are the first and the last.  The alpha and the omega.  The beginning and the end.  You never had a beginning and you’ll never end.  You are always.  You are eternal.  You are everlasting.

Oh.  You are three in one.  God, you are the Father.  Jesus Christ, you are the Son.  Holy Spirit, you are my Guide.  All of you complete the never-ending circle of the one and only God.  There are no limits to what you can do.  You are powerful.  You are able to do anything and everything.   At any time.

You are the God of peace.  You are kind.  Compassionate.  Loving.  Generous.  You meet all my needs and provide me with blessings.  Your grace is free and undeserved.  Your mercies are new every day.


I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Revelation 22:13


Your ways are beyond understanding. You are a good good Father. You know best.  You love unconditionally.  You love the lovely and the unlovely.  You are merciful and yet you’re just. You will repay and you will punish.  But oh.  Your blessings are unfathomable. Your love is endless.  Your grace is unearned.

You love everyone. Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in your sight.  The lame. The blind. The sick.  The homeless.  The rich.  The poor.  The thief.  The artist.  The CEO.  The hourly worker.  You love those who are hurting. You love those who have hurt others.  You love the honest.  You love the liar.  You do not discriminate.

You allow Satan to tempt and trick your people.  You allow wars and disease and famine.  You allow untimely deaths and accidents.  Job loss.  Destruction.  Horrible crimes.  You could stop these, yet you don’t.  You allow nature to take its course.  You allow the sun to rise and set every single day.  You allow mankind to choose you or not to choose you.  You’ve given us a free will to live our lives as we see fit.  With you.  or without you.  And through it all, you love us.  No matter what we choose.

You offer forgiveness.  No questions asked.  You stand waiting for us to choose you over everything else we hold dear.  You offer eternal life.  You offer a heavenly reward.  You gave your Son.  For everyone.

Your work is never left undone. You finish everything you start.  You work thoroughly and perfectly.  You are the Master Creator, creating works of art for your pleasure and purpose.  You are the Master Carpenter, building an eternal home for those who follow your ways.

Through everything, you never change. The good. The bad. The ugly. You’re constant. You speak only the truth. You don’t lie. You keep your promises. In your own time.  Because for you a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day.  Time is nothing to you. Yet you created time.  In those 7 days, you created day and night.  Dark and light. Sun and moon.  Sea and land.  Food and flower.  Creature and man.

You are the final Judge.  You will have the last say about how I’ve lived my life.  You alone will decide if I am worthy to enter heaven’s gates.  Oh.  I’m unworthy.  But you alone, God, will determine my eternity.

You correct me when I’m wrong.  You counsel me when I need guidance.  You challenge me to trust you when I’m out of my comfort zone.  You carry me through the most difficult of times.

God, you are fair.  You judge and punish as you see fit.   You are impartial.  You decide who will rise and who will fall.  You allow rain to fall on the just and on the unjust.  You have enemies, but you fight cleanly and fairly.

God, you never change.  You’re always right.  You have the final say in all matters.  No one is better than you.  You alone determine the outcome of all events.  You alone are God.  You are the only God.  The one and only God.  All knees will bow to you at some unknown time.  All lips will confess you as Lord at the appointed time.

Bless your holy name.  Amen.

 

God Sees All

She asked me to help.  As I stood at her desk, I happened to see an email that was not for my eyes.  I saw words I shouldn’t have seen.  What was I to do now?  I couldn’t unsee what I shouldn’t have seen.  It wasn’t my information to see.  It wasn’t my news to share.  I couldn’t erase it.  I had to keep quiet.

It wasn’t a place I wanted to be.  Knowing information that I shouldn’t know.  Once known, it’s always known.  Now the waiting begins.  Until someone else shares the news.  I wasn’t going to spread gossip.  Even if the information was true.  I was keeping quiet.

I recently overheard one side of a conversation.  She was on the phone in the ladies room.  First thing in the morning.  I overheard words she spoke in private.  I took a pregnancy test this morning.  It was positive.  It was a conversation she didn’t want anyone to hear.  But there we were.  In the same room.  At the same time.  I didn’t know her.  She didn’t know me.  But now I know something about her that she wanted kept private.  What am I to do?

I couldn’t unhear what I had overheard.  I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop.  I didn’t even know her, but now I know her secret.  I know information that I wasn’t supposed to know.  I’m keeping the news to myself.


The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.  Proverbs 15:3


There is one who sees everything, hears everything and knows everything.  That is not me.  That is God.

Is the fact that God sees all a warning to you, or is it an encouragement to you?

I read that sentence in the daily devotion, and it jumped out at me.  I guess it just depends on the day.  That’s what I think.

I need to be reminded that every word I say is heard.  Every thought I think is read.  Every action I take is seen.  What I say and do in secret, really isn’t secret.  How often should I be ashamed and confess?

Some days I need to be reminded that I am being watched. That all my words and actions are seen and heard by God.  I need the nudge to be kinder.  To say polite words.  To use my indoor voice.  To treat others the way I want to be treated.  I do need that watchful eye on me.  Even when I want to hide.

Other days, just knowing that God sees all feels like a gentle hug of comfort to me.  It feels as if I’m sitting in front of a fire keeping warm.  It tells me that I’m not overlooked when I’m feeling lonely.  It reassures me that I’m being seen when I feel unseen.  It lets me know that he sees my needs and will provide.

A popular song tells us that God is watching us.  from a distance.  If that is true, then why do I feel him closer than a heartbeat?  Why do I sometimes feel that he’s walking right beside me?  Why do I feel a nudge when I’m disobedient?  Can a God who sees me from a distance be so close?  At the same time?

       In a world quick to condemn, criticize and overreact, be quick to be kind.                  ~~Rachel Macy Stafford 

Yes, please.  Because God is watching and he sees us when we condemn others.  When we criticize those who are different.  When we overreact to others when we’re misunderstood.  He also sees us when we’re kind.  And loving.  And caring.  When we serve others who may never acknowledge what we do.  He sees.  He sees us.  All the time.