Ushering in the new year can fill you with bubbles of elation, infusing your mind with dreams and possibilities of the next 12 months to come. So it should. We all need that jolt of motivation and inspiration that charges us to take that extra step.
Though December 31st and January 1st feel the exact same to some, others look at it as if we have crossed through a magical portal that makes us a clean slate with a fresh path ahead of us.
I can’t help but compare God’s power to the wonder of the new year. His love made us pass from death to life just as simple as passing from 2017 to 2018. Through Him we can continue to live as a clean slate with the knowledge that He shares a piece of the future with us each step of the way.
Like leafing through the crisp pages of a new book or journal, adventure is waiting for you. This year is another chapter in the story that will make you the person God created you to be.
I will always encourage you to make time to spend with your Savior this year. My last new year’s post suggests how. Why? Because with a new year comes new difficulties and probably some tough times. But blessings are also coming your way and maybe even some miracles. We must accept whatever happens with the strong faith that Jesus is in it all.
Keep going. Those words are the beat to which my anthem will follow for 2018, what about you?
The hype leading up to the total eclipse on August 21st didn’t really phase me.
Until the hour came.
Suddenly, the phenomenon that had everyone talking became real. Through foil lens, I saw a black disc push its way between me and the sun. As I began to grasp the significance of this event, a flame of excitement finally ignited.
My family and I staggered around our backyard staring up at the sky in glasses that surround you in darkness. We fumbled with cameras trying to capture an image that can only be appreciated if you experience it for yourself. It felt like the quickest sunset ever as the sky grew dim to dusk in a matter of seconds.
Then it happened.
I ripped off my glasses along with hundreds of thousands of people to see the majesty. Surrounding that same black disc was a light so white that I thought I was looking at a ring of angels holding hands. Knowing that so many people were sharing a speechless moment made me think of Revelation 1:7
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him — even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.
When the sun peeked out from behind the moon, the first ray of light was so brilliant I had to look away. They call it “the diamond ring.” It couldn’t be more appropriate of a name because when I think of a diamond ring as big as the sun, I think of how God has given us the largest engagement ring in the universe and one day, the church will be his bride (Revelation 19:7-9).
It’s mindboggling to realize how we have no control over such an event. I read someone refer to us as simply “onlookers.” When it comes to God’s power, we are only onlookers, reveling in the wonders of God’s creation.
The change in my attitude towards the eclipse reminded me of an important lesson. I felt like doubting Thomas as I underestimated the eclipse until seeing it for myself.
Circumstances/events in our lives come and go, sometimes with warning and sometimes without. The fact is, we should be ready for anything God brings to us, whether it be times of blessing or times of disaster. Everything happens so we can see The Chief at work.
I’ll admit, these takeaways didn’t come to me until after the awe of the moment. But I want to treasure this experience so that I won’t be forgetful like the Israelites in the Bible, who saw miracle after miracle and still turned away.
I hope that you were just as impressed by our once in a lifetime event…until 2024 at least. Comment on what the eclipse meant for you; I would love to hear your experience.
PS. Don’t forget to check out my pictures of the eclipse on Instagram- @leahjordanmeahl
The other day I was reading my devotional, Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado before going to work. Under a list of bullet points I was surprised to read “Make major decisions in a cemetery.”
I had to reread that line a couple times. It seemed so random and not flowing with the other ideas, but I pondered it nonetheless. I decided that my next morning walk would be at a cemetery not far from my house.
The morning was slightly cooler than it’s been the past blazing week. I pulled into the cemetery and instead of being surrounded by headstones, I was surrounded by bouquets of flowers. Most of the grave markers are set flush to the ground so you have to practically be standing over top them to read them.
If you ever need a reality check, the cemetery is a good place to go. Especially when you see the markers of children who didn’t even make it to 5 or 10 years old.
My Uncle “Skipper” died of leukemia when he was 9 years old. He was my first real understanding of death, which is odd because I never met him. Even now I feel a strange connection with him and the knowledge of his brief but precious life.
In a cemetery you are very aware of lives that have come to an end and no matter what age, they’re always gone too soon. So, here are some thoughts I had while sitting on a cold stone bench overlooking the resting memorials.
If we could check off everything on our bucket list, would we feel like it was a life well spent? If we landed that dream job, married the love of our life, had the perfect number of children, and could afford a lake house for retirement, is that a successful life?
I gotta be honest, sometimes I feel like if I don’t achieve any of those things, I’ll have wasted my life. But a passage keeps coming to my mind.
“34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” ∼Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)
In life, we are constantly bombarded with planning our future and making goals for everything we want to do while we’re still on this earth. Whenever someone close to us passes away, we are reminded that life is short and we should always live as if it’s our last day. While all of that is true and blanketed with good intentions, it’s easy to fall into making each day about us.
As Christians, the fact of the matter is time is short.
Time is short to represent Jesus.
Time is short to do His will.
Time is short to celebrate His name in thankfulness.
I was listening to an online sermon by Todd White (worth looking up here) and he made it abundantly clear that we might be the only Jesus people see. We might be the only Bible people read. What are we doing about it? Are we really making good use of our time as servants of Christ? That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?
The Bible consistently reminds us of our selfish nature, but thankfully, it also gives us a better alternative to living. If we could just peel our selfishness away and focus on living for God and for others (Lk 10:27), there will be no greater achievement on earth as it is in heaven.
This epitaph inspired me because I realized I would rather be remembered by walking out the fruits of the Spirit than how many books I publish or performances I give. The fruits of the Spirit are evidence of God in our life so you better believe I want people to see them. They’re found here in Galatians 5 if you want to know what they are.
Let me leave you with a few ideas on how you can reveal the love of Jesus in your daily life:
Generously tip all of your servers (not just the deserving ones)
Leave notes of encouragement
Don’t complain about work
Learn peoples’ names (everyone likes to hear their name)
If you have any other ideas on how you like to represent Jesus, leave a comment so we all can learn from each other!
The next time you find yourself in the cemetery, remember the advice from my devotional: “make a major decision” to walk in the light of Jesus, bearing His fruit so the world can pick it from your branches.
P.S. Daytime walks in the cemetery are far less scary than nighttime walks.
After two whole days of nonstop raining, I got into my car on a damp and dismal morning. The grey clouds matched the greyness that had crept into my demeanor. I felt like I was driving in a fog, only seeing the road a few feet in front of me.
Attempting to pull myself out of my discouraged mood, I prayed. My heart only wanted to complain, but I knew that my God deserved more than that. So, despite my reluctance, I praised Him. After all, He’s still the God that gave me another day.
“You are God of the grey clouds as well as the white. You are God when the rain drizzles as well as when it pours.”
I looked out the window at the clouds. Their chests were puffed with arrogance, and their thick clutches threatened torrents of rain. But amidst the dreariness that loomed over me in my car, I noticed something startling.
Behind me, puffy white clouds parted ways to reveal a radiant blue sky.
I realized that the image might as well have been the voice of God, my Chief Encourager at work.
Dark and heavy clouds do not make the sky. They only cover parts of it, and they only do so for a brief period of time. Moments of sadness or any other negative emotion are easy to focus on and they are at times hard to see through. But the sky, in all its brilliance and beauty, is constantly above us, making sure we’re covered.
In the Old Testament, during the Israelites’ forty-year excursion, the Lord gave them specific instructions. When they packed up the tabernacle, they covered the Ark of the Covenant with leather and then with a blue cloth (Numbers 4:6). I don’t think it’s any coincidence that God covers us, His tabernacle, with a blue sky.
If you’re going through a grim time like I was this morning, remember to trust that God will see you through. Remember that these despairing moments are passing like a few days of continual rain. Blue skies are coming, because they’ve always been there. Just as the sky doesn’t change, neither will our God.
Don’t forget to take a breath from complaining to God about what’s making you feel this way, and take a moment to praise Him for being the God He’s always been.
Spiritually speaking, this week is pretty busy. For my family, it’s not really because of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, or even Easter, but because of three other holidays that are either glossed over or forgotten completely. I’m speaking of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits.
Just like with most holidays and not a lot of nearby family, we did what we do best. Invite a variety of friends, decorate a festive table, and cook like its Thanksgiving.
These feasts, along with several others in the autumn, make up what we call God’s Holy Days. If you wanna know more about them, just check out Leviticus 23. There, God commanded His people to observe special days, not simply for the fun of it, but also to set into motion prophecy of Jesus’ coming.
The Spring Feasts remember how God rescued the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt while also announcing the coming of the messiah.
Fun Fact: Jews came from the line of Judah, only one of the twelve tribes. The entire twelve tribes of Israel were called Hebrews. God gave His feasts for all His people.
While celebrating the Passover we remember that Jesus acted in the position of the Passover Lamb, covering our hearts with His blood and forever saving us from the Angel of Death. His sacrifice is a gift we don’t deserve and can never repay.
One of the main focuses in Passover is the act of getting sin out of our lives. Job 11:14 says, “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your houses.” (ESV paraphrased). Egypt represents the sin so ingrained in our lives that it almost seems normal. This week is the perfect week to allow God to show us the sins that continue to rule over us and save us just as He did that first Passover.
There are a lot of interesting traditions that come with celebrating Passover. If you’d like to know more about them, check them out here.
I was in high school when my family celebrated our first Passover. I’ll have to admit, I thought the Seder plate was weird and religious and I wondered if I really had to do these things in order to love God?
Six years later, I can finally say that the answer is no. We don’t eat horseradish and hide bread because we want to please God by celebrating Passover. But the traditions are there to help us remember. We are such a forgetful people, so quick to forget all that God has done for us. Not only in our lives, but in the lives leading up to ours.
Now that I’ve come to a better understanding of Passover, I have grown to love gathering a group of people together to share in the amazing power of Jesus. Him as the Passover Lamb was just the beginning. He was merely gearing up for battle against sin and death.
Today, I am thrilled to announce that my first devotion has been published! ChristianDevotions.us is not only an organization dedicated to sharing God’s Word with the world, but they also pride themselves in helping new writers build a resume. I’m so glad that I was led to submit to them and that they were gracious enough to give me this opportunity.
My summer job allows me to turn up the Christian radio and sip on my coffee as I spend the mornings driving all over town making deliveries.
Those closest to me know that I’m not a huge fan of driving, so this job is definitely God’s way of pushing me out of my comfort zone.
Anyway, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been seeing this bold, purple Ford GT (I think) in different parts of town. It’s not a soft purple either, it’s about as strong and vivid as the skin on the ripest eggplant you’ve ever seen. Not to mention, purple is my favorite color, so the car is definitely hard to miss.
I even saw it this morning, and I can’t help but believe it’s the same car.
Why am I telling you this, you wonder?
After watching the violet beauty speed by me down the road, I felt God minister to my heart. The Father reminded me that we don’t even realize how many of the same people we cross paths with on a daily basis.
People we don’t even take notice of. And why should we, we don’t know them?
But God knows them. Not only is He aware of every random face we see, He knows all about them and more importantly, He cares about them.
The woman you brushed by with your shopping cart? He loves her.
The guy that handed you your food at the drive-thru? He’s ministering to him.
The child that obnoxiously screams in the restaurant? He wants to soothe.
The stranger who started following you on Instagram? He knows them.
The couple who just got married, or the teenager who just graduated high school, God is present and His spirit is working in their lives because He cares for them and loves them.
I’m glad I can rest in the fact that the Father pays attention to all, not just the people that know Him personally. We should follow His example and treat everyone as if we already know their whole story and love them as a result.