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Did the Broncos Do a Good Enough Job? You Decide.

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(…patiently waiting for the kicker.)

What side were you on? Were you cheering in elation for the Seahawks this past Sunday? Or were you like me: curled up in a ball on the couch, secretly wanting to reach out to give Payton Manning a hug overflowing with encouragement. But to each of these teams, winning football’s game of all games may have made this the “perfect” season. Of course, neither the Broncos nor the Seahawks had perfect stats (both being 13-3), but that didn’t matter. They had arrived—both contenders in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Of course, one team inevitably walks away in defeat. But does that mean the Seahawks achieved hypothetical perfection? Did the Broncos work hard enough, block enough, or focus enough? Either way one thing is certain, both teams have a great deal to be proud of, despite the number of yards, interceptions, and points on the score board.

~      ~      ~

So many of us are in search of perfection. Commonly we aim to be “the best” at whatever goal we have our sights set on. At times, we can have such high, unnecessary expectations of ourselves and our lives. Nearly perfect doesn’t always suffice. That one tiny flaw can be impossible to set free. Is the house clean enough? Did I say the right thing? Did I buy the right product for my needs? Did I study hard enough? Did I truly give it my all or did I have more in me to offer? Did I love them enough? Am I enough?

“Don’t let disappointment own you.”

~ Unknown

Have you caught yourself dwelling on any of these things? Some concerns are not reflections of your true character. A less than tidy house or subpar product purchase does not speak to your worth or level of achievement. However, some of these concerns are the product of more than just arbitrary desires. Concern for treating others appropriately or our level of effort toward a goal are worthy reasons to pull out our measuring stick. However, all of the concerns mentioned above deserve a different level of attention. That may be a brush off the shoulder; that may be a heart-felt apology. Take a moment to evaluate your revolving thoughts. Ask yourself, is this a true obstacle or a waste of time and energy?

Nothing about any of us is perfect, which is exactly why Jesus sacrificed His life to save ours. Though we may hate to admit it, even upon achieving “the best” in anything, another “best” is right around the corner. Sport accolades will be replaced. New, innovative technology will one day be obsolete. Sales records will be surpassed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting extraordinary goals for ourselves; the key is to be satisfied in the end, whether perfection was achieved or not. Thankfully, because of the grace we’ve been given, an imperfect life can still be beautiful.

Because of Him we are enough.

“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 can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9
(ESV)

Twitter:  AliciaMSmith7


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Can I Get a Little Love for Valerie Harper?

Dancing through life

I practically live for inspiring moments—nuggets of motivation that propel me forward each day.  In fact, I just concluded my lunch hour, in which I wrapped up an episode of The Biggest Loser.  I save episodes such as this for moments requiring a pseudo Red Bull, providing a little extra “oomph” of momentum to carry me through the remainder of an exhausting day. Of course, I cried like a baby (which is typical) … but boy was I ready to jump back into my work when it was over.  After all, if those contestants can push themselves through grueling weeks of physical turmoil, I can certainly mark some items off my to-do list.

There isn’t a science to inspiration.  I think we all hope to inspire or be inspired in some way, but may not have a clear route toward the execution.  In an attempt to provide a little extra jolt of encouragement for you today, I’d like to share a short video of our treasured Valerie Harper (actress legendary for the Mary Tyler Moore Show, among other things).

Valerie, a recent contestant on Dancing with the Stars, shared thoughts on video of her brain cancer diagnosis and her decision to join this year’s DWTS cast:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQs71f9FYJc

Valerie asked herself upon receiving her prognosis (given an “expiration date” from doctors):  “’Why this?  Why me?’  And then I said, ‘Why not you?  You’re 73.  You’ve had a great life.  Look at the career you’ve had.  The husband you’ve had.  The daughter.  Stop complaining and let’s attack it.’”

I know there have been instances in my life where I’ve asked, “Why me?”  But what makes me so special that it can’t be me?  And if not me, then who?  None of us are perfect.  No one is above another simply because of who they are or what they have accomplished.  So why would anyone else deserve to be faced with a hurdle and not me?

It’s not a question of whether or not we will each be presented with a struggle or whether or not that struggle is deserved.  It’s His will that matters, not our own.  Battles are inevitable.  But it’s how we “attack it.”  It’s how we renew our minds.  It’s what we make of ourselves.

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do.

It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”

~ Rikki Rogers

Valerie is a perfect example of life’s circumstances controlling our conditions, but not our attitude.  Not our faith.  Not our persistence.  So why let our situation determine the outcome?  How we live each day is still within our realm of control.

Cheers to Valerie!  And cheers to you, for having the courage and determination to continue to dance through life, pummeling your road-blocks, while striving toward a positive mind-set.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:2 (KJV)

HAPPY EARLY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

Twitter:  @AliciaMSmith7


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What do Babies, Jesus, and Your Death (or not) Have in Common?

©Copyright πίστις 2013

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Babies are so cool…little bundles of cuteness, a new life created by God. Their needs are really pretty simple if at times very overwhelming! They want to be fed, held and loved. When they do not feel good…they look to us as the parent to fix it, make the problem go away.

So what do we as adults have in common with babies? Lots and at the same time little. Let me explain…

Babies all have one characteristic in common; they are completely helpless. Anything babies’ need is provided for them by the parents.

We all began life as this helpless little new life dependent on someone to take care of us; if someone did not fulfill the responsibility of taking care of us as babies…we would have surely perished. Then we grow up and outgrow this need…or do we?

Soon before you know it that baby is a toddler, and then in a blink of an eye they are the willful teenager…and right around the corner they morph into the young man or woman that knows it all while you the parent are an idiot that knows nothing. Not all kids are like this, but many are to some degree.

We live our lives, we learn our lessons in school, and we gain life experience. At some point we live on our own and manage our own lives. We are adults and can make our own decisions and take care of ourselves now right?

I would submit to you that this is an illusion. Don’t feel bad…we have all participated in this illusion and many still are. NO one is self sufficient…many think they are but it is not so. This is another lie fostered by Satan himself. If you truly believe you are self sufficient, then you have no need of God do you?

As I said before babies are born helpless. As a matter of fact, we are all helpless in a way and it does not end because we can manage our own household.

You see my friends…we are all born dead. Yes dead! We are born spiritually dead, separated from God. During the course of our lives we have opportunity to reverse this “spiritual deadness”. We are helpless to do this however without the help of our Creator…God.

You may very well get through life just fine without God…but what are you going to do when your physical body dies and your eternal soul stands before Christ? When Christ says to you why should I let you into my heaven…what are you going to say? You were a good person? Sorry…that does not count. There is only one correct answer to that question; I trust in Jesus.

As a baby is utterly helpless to take care of itself, we are utterly helpless to bring our eternal spirit to life without Christ. We are all born spiritually dead, the only way that condition changes is by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Why are we born spiritually dead? We all sin, sin is death and it only takes one. Not death of the body as we all will die unless Christ comes back first but that is another topic altogether. We are speaking of the death of your spirit. Let me make this as simple as possible. We all have a soul and spirit. Our soul is what makes us who we are; gives life to the otherwise inanimate body. Our spirit connects us to God. When we are born, the soul is alive so to speak, but the spirit is not as our spirit is not yet connected to God. If you die without connecting your spirit to God…well you will be separated from God forever and your spirit will die forever. However…your soul on the other hand will live on eternally…in hell. Yes that is right, your soul will life forever tormented in hell…Bibles words not mine.

The thing is loved ones…it does NOT have to be this way! Jesus Christ regardless of what you do or do not think of Him came here to save you! Jesus died on the cross so that you may go to Him, ask for forgiveness of your sins, change your life to live for Him and receive eternal life in heaven…your spirit alive and your body perfectly restored better than it was in life. What does not sound good about that?

Either you accept Christ and live forever with Him; no more pain either physical or emotional, no more death, no more anything bad ever! Or…you refuse Christ and you will suffer for that decision forever in hell. God sends no one to hell…you choose that eternal destination for your self at the same time you willingly choose to refuse the One who created you Lordship over your life.

You can refuse Christ now and party down and do anything you want to, but you WILL pay for that decision!! Please realize that your decisions now will affect you in eternity.

Christ is soon to return to this earth. Time is short…the need to accept Him as Lord and Savior is now, not tomorrow. You may not have a tomorrow.

Watch this video on our YouTube channel about how quickly one can be here today and gone tomorrow. WARNING…this video is VERY graphic. You will see people actually die.

To accept Christ simply pray to Him. Ask Him into your heart and confess all sins to Him. Believe that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was enough to pay for your sins. Place your trust in Jesus for your eternal life not yourself. Believe that Christ rose from the dead and lives even now with the Father in heaven.

Welcome to the family of God!

God bless you all
Greg


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Some Thoughts on my New Granddaughter

I took a break from blogging for a couple of months so I could assist my daughter and be present for the birth of my newest granddaughter! This beautiful little girl makes number six…I have five other adorable grandchildren, three girls and twin boys…but this was my daughter’s first baby and you know how mothers through the centuries have traditionally helped their daughters after they gave birth. So, I spent a lot of time in Texas and had lots of time getting to know my sweet little Margaret Nicole! She was named for my late mother (her great grandmother, who sadly passed away before my daughter ever got to meet her) and our beautiful cousin who was tragically killed in a fall while hiking in the mountains.

Little Margaret (Maggie) actually had a pretty rough start in some ways. After the placenta began deteriorating she lost weight (this is a one in a million occurrence), and when her heartbeat dropped dramatically during labor, the doctors rushed my daughter into the operating room for an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my son-in-law’s family and my husband and I were blissfully unaware of these developments until the doctor came out and told us both daughter and baby were doing fine! That was all we needed to hear! We all shed a few tears of gratitude to God for bringing them both out of the crisis and saving our beautiful granddaughter’s life and realized she was, indeed, our little “miracle baby”!

My daughter is doing just fine now and Margaret is beginning to sleep through the nights. But for many days I stayed and helped by cooking, cleaning, holding and rocking the baby often, especially during the nights, so my daughter and her husband could get some rest. It was during these cherished precious moments alone with her that I realized how tiny and frail she was, and yet how strong she was, as well, with the determination to enter this world even though in some ways the odds were against her. I realized how God is the giver of life, beginning at conception, and these words from the Book of Psalms came to me over and over again:

“Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Psalm 22:9 & 10, NIV)

“Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.” (Psalm 71:6, ESV)

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13 & 14a, ESV)

Remembering the amazing sonograms my daughter sent us during her pregnancy, the fact that Margaret was just as much a human being then as after she was born, and the startling realization she might not have made it had God not given her breath, made me that much more grateful for her little life and that much more horrified when I thought about the millions of tiny babies just like her who had been aborted while still in their mother’s wombs for reasons totally foreign to me! How could anyone kill a beautiful, innocent life, totally created by God?

I also thought of how she was entering a very wicked world and without faith in the Lord, she might be unable to withstand the onslaughts of the Enemy against her. I also thought of the fact that she has her whole life ahead of her, a blank slate on which she can write or accomplish anything she wishes. She may be a prolific author; she may discover a cure for cancer; she may be a doctor who cures the sick and starving in Africa; she may be the future president of the United States; she may be a great artist, composer or pianist. Of course, I am a bit swayed towards the pianist idea! With her long, slender fingers I think she will make a great pianist…or flutist like her mother…or French horn player like her father! Oh, well, the important thing is that she be what God wants her to be! I prayed over and over again as I held her in my arms that she would be a handmaiden of the Lord, used to bless many and minister for Him in the way He chooses for her life!

Even though she has not been born into an earthly royal bloodline as a princess, she has Christ’s royal blood flowing through her veins, and is heir to much more through our Lord than any earthly prince or princess could inherit from this world! I prayed that she would always serve the Lord and glorify Him, giving her heart and life completely over to the Master for His use. Yes, little Margaret, God has gifted you with so many talents yet to be discovered and my prayer for you is that you will always use them for Him! Forever love and serve the Lord and you will make your grandma so very proud of you! DSC05048

(Next week I would like to complete this post by giving some ways in which parents can influence their children to love and serve the Lord by introducing them to worship music, creating musical interest in them and helping them develop their inner God-given talents. Don’t miss Part 2!)


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Post-Abortion: Hope for Hurting Hearts

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Click image to visit Save One for compassionate help and healing

Click image to purchase this Bible Study for post-abortion healing; written for men

Click image to purchase this Bible study for post-abortion healing; written for women

 

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SECURITY IN ETERNITY

By Neil Anderson

September 20

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Psalm 18:2 
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold
 
The key to experiencing security in your life is to depend on things that are eternal, not temporal. Christians often feel insecure because they are depending on temporal things they have no right or ability to control. For example, some people rely on their money for material security instead of relying on God’s promise to supply all our needs. The safest place to keep money a few years ago was a savings and loan institution. But many have failed and the security people had placed in them was shattered. Only eternal investments are secure.
 
I believe God is shaking the foundations of the world. Natural disasters are on the increase, kingdoms are being toppled, political boundaries are being redrawn, and anarchy reigns in many poor countries. Scripture warns us that such conditions would precede the second coming of Christ (Matthew 24). This shouldn’t alarm us; we should be excited. Christ’s return will be the day of the church for those who have stored up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).
 
Security only comes from relating to that which is anchored in eternity. Jesus said that we have eternal life and that no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:27-29). Paul declared that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:35-39) and that we are sealed in Him by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14). How much more secure can you get than that? When your ultimate trust is in temporal values and relationships, you are always subject to insecurity because these things are subject to failure and can be lost. The greatest sense of security you can experience is the byproduct of taking a firm grip on values and relationships which will endure as long as God Himself.
 
Prayer: Lord, my Rock, thank You for the peace and security that comes from trusting in You instead of temporal values.


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Reverse Logic

So many things in the circumstances around me lately have been confirming how absolutely wise and true  the bible is. It is so clear to see that when we are self seeking, we reap chaos, disorder and destruction around us and for us. Yet, when we choose to seek peace with others and allow ourselves to die, righteousness is sown.

James 3:13-18 is clear on sin and its consequences; as well as what is righteousness and its consequences. Godly wisdom puts others above ourselves. Demonic wisdom is self-seeking, seeking only to satisfy ourselves. Being at peace with others, sows righteousness. Self seeking sows disorder and every evil practice. In order to follow Jesus, we cannot seek to satisfy ourselves; on the contrary, we need to die to ourselves so that all that Jesus represents and is will live in us. We see this in John 12:24 & 25 where Jesus says that unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will not produce life; and a man who seeks to save his own life will lose it but if he loses it, will keep it forever.

To our human logic, it makes terrible sense. Our whole sinful nature is to preserve ourselves at all costs, especially our desires, lusts and envy. Yet, here is the Master teaching that to be self-seeking will bring us death while to allow ourselves to die, we will live.  No human logic can understand that, only one who walks by the Spirit and has his mind renewed by the Word can understand this.

Fennel seed

Fennel seed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A seed or a kernel of corn can remain all its life on a shelf in a pantry; dry, cool, comfortable. Nothing needs to change in the course of its life on the shelf. But, it could get eaten by mice or go all mildewy and stale. Apart from that, it could remain all its life on the shelf; comfortable and thinking that it is living its life the way it should.

Yet, it is not living out its purpose.

A seed’s purpose is to become a plant, a bush or a tree. It was never meant to sit on a shelf and be there forever, no matter how comfortable it is. However, to become a plant means it has to get off the shelf and become really, really uncomfortable. 

It has to get into soil; dank, dark and damp. No light, no one to keep it company, just the insects and slimy worms. It will be all alone. When it gets wet, as it will, the seed will have to change. And change is not comfortable. It has to allow itself to become something else, it has to agree to be distorted, to burst out of its skin and lose all semblance of its former self. With it getting wet, it will bloat up, and then its outer covering will start to rip at the bottom and roots will start to push out. Later on, shoots will start to come forth from its top. The seed will be disfigured and changed to become unrecognizable as this other form takes shape.

While this takes place, the seed as we know it will be completely destroyed and unrecognizable.

A plant will take root where the seed died. A plant that will produce seeds of the same fruit and perhaps be shade or food to some small animals will have come from the one seed. From that one seed, much life will come forth but in order for that to happen, the seed had to get into an uncomfortable spot and die to its own self seeking desires.

Zwiesprache

Zwiesprache (Photo credit: BlueRidgeKitties)

We do not like to be uncomfortable. We like to be “safe” and to each of us that means something different. Yet, to follow Jesus is not to be safe. It is allowing ourselves to be uncomfortable and to die to our self seeking desires so that Jesus’ character can grow roots and sprout shoots in us. We, like the seed in the ground, need to break; and most times when we have to go through a transformation in our lives and hearts, we go through it alone with only the Master Gardener and many ugly insects that come to scare us while we are vulnerable. When we go through this transformation, we tend to focus on the pain or the cost to us as well as the loneliness and the scary surroundings. We mourn the demise of the seed, now unrecognizable, but we fail to recognize that roots have formed and tender shoots and leaves are being pushed out upwards towards the light to give life.

As human beings, we are self seeking and the wages of this nature is death. Life comes only when we become like the One who gives life, when we allow our self seeking natures to be destroyed, so that our purpose to bring forth life will be fulfilled by Him.


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Fire: Keeping the Flame Ablaze

During this summer, I have spent some time clearing out a worship spot at my house in the back of our woods. I must say, I really enjoyed doing it. I wanted a spot that I could go and spend time with God in solitude. I gathered old down trees to use for seating, found various pieces of old furniture to place back there, and Tiki Torches to help keep away bugs. In the middle I built a good-sized fire pit for bonfires. The other evening I went out to that spot to spend some time with God. My brother was with me and we were trying to light the fire. The pit had quite a bit of wood in it so if we ever got it lit, it would be a very big and nice fire. The problem was we couldn’t get the fire lit.  Granted the top pieces were a little wet, but the rest of the pile was dry, so we didn’t think it would be much of a problem. We had pieces of cardboard to help start the fire, but it didn’t work. We lit some of the dry leaves in the midst of the sticks, but it didn’t work either. We even found some straw to light to help with the process, but all it did was burn. It didn’t stay lit and the fire died quickly. So finally after much frustration, we got the gasoline. Now, I realize this is not the smartest choice nor safest, but I wanted a fire! Luckily nothing bad happened! So we light a few more pieces of cardboard and paper just enough to keep it a flame for a few minutes. Then we doused the places we didn’t have lit with some gasoline so with the fire caught it, it would light up. The finally we applied the gasoline on the flames that were going and instantly, the fire went ablaze. We experienced the thrill of getting our fire lit and the fire was glorious…for about ten minutes. But soon, that gasoline had burnt away, the wood had never really caught a flame, and the fire died out again quickly. Now I realize that there are better ways to light a fire, and if I did some other things I could have probably got that fire going. However, I’m glad I tried to light the fire the way I did because God used it to teach me something.

When the fire began to die out again, I was getting kind of irritated. Then I felt God speak to my heart saying, “I need people who will tend and stir the fire, not just light it.” I immediately knew what God was saying to me. In order to keep a fire going, you have to constantly add fire to the pile, you have to stir the fire to keep the fire going, and you have to watch it. Gasoline is a nice help, but it is only a temporary fix. It only lasts for a moment. It looks glorious and the flames are huge, but they don’t have much life. God doesn’t need followers who will be like the gasoline. Who will become very passionate and devoted to God one day, and have a devotion to Him that dies at the end of the week. He wants followers who will fan the flames. Who will keep the fire going, even if that means taking longer steps in doing so. Followers who will spend the extra time in prayer, reading of His Word, and living out the life He calls His people to.

I think you would be very hard pressed to find a church, if you asked them, would not want to see people come to know Christ. I mean, that’s just a ludicrous thought. The Church may have many different denomination and beliefs of theology, but I don’t really think there are many people in the Church who do not want to see souls saved. In fact if there are any, I really think those people need to evaluate their life and see if the are in step with the Spirit. But all too often the Church tries to witness to the world with gasoline. With big and glorious displays of various ministries, emotional appeals, etc. Those of you who serve the Lord know exactly what I’m talking about. But those things don’t last. People who come to the Lord on those terms won’t last unless that fire is cultivated. Unless their flames are stirred and wood is added to the fire. If the Church and Christians want to set this world on fire, we first have to cultivate the fire in our own hearts, then also be willing to take the time to minister properly and effectively to help keep the fire lit the hearts of others as well. Jesus told His followers that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they will be His witnesses. The Holy Spirit gives Christians the power to witness to others about Jesus powerfully. God is the source of that fire. I pray that believers everywhere will submit to the Holy Spirit and allow God move in their hearts. I also pray that Christians all over the world will fan into flame the gifts of God and take the steps necessary to keep that flame going. When the fire rises true and proud, the world around us will catch fire too. Don’t use the gasoline. Cultivate that fire.

“Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” ~2 Timothy 1:6

“Fire must be kept burning on the altar continually; it must not go out.” ~Leviticus 6:13

May God be with you.

-Joey


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Two More Days

An urgent plea was sent to Jesus.

Please come. We need you. Lazarus is ill. 

But He stayed 2 more days where He was. By the time He arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had been dead 4 days.

Mary and Martha, distressed, heartsick, disappointed. They had sent word and had waited, believing, trusting that Jesus would help them. He had loved them and they had loved Him.

Where was He when they needed Him most? Why didn’t He heal their brother?

From the depths of our hearts we cry out to Him. Wracked with pain, broken by hurt and illness, hearts in pieces, we cry out to Him, believing and trusting that if we call unto Him, He will listen and respond to us.

But He is silent. And our situations and problems worsen.

Our hearts heavy, we believe that He has abandoned us. Forgotten us.

Martha and Mary must have felt that depth of disappointment so very long ago. They had believed Jesus would come. He would heal their brother. But nothing. He didn’t see the urgency in their need. He hung out longer in the place where He was.

He didn’t care.

And so we turn our backs on Him. We mistake His silence for uncaring and His timing for abandonment.

Never too late. Never too early. Everything He does is to glorify the Father. 

And so it was that day, when He waited to go to Bethany. He waited until it was impossible humanly to do anything for Lazarus. Until all human strength and capabilities were depleted before He stepped in.

And called Lazarus to come forth.

Resurrection power. Life from death. Turning the impossible into the possible.

From the time of Adam to the present day, our God’s specialty is bringing forth life from death. He blows the breath of life into that which is lifeless and dead. But He has to wait until we cannot do anything in our own power to help ourselves. He has to wait until we can come to a point of  total surrender to Him before He can breathe life into a situation that is seemingly lifeless.

We can only see with limited vision. We are limited in everything that we do. Yet, God is infinite. He is not limited in His ways or power. From the time we first cry out to Him, He hears us. Yet, there are times when He waits before He steps in to intervene on our behalf. And there are other times when He steps in right away. We don’t know why. Only that He knows what is best. He knows when to bring life to something that is dead. When the right time is to glorify the Father so that He gets all the glory and not us.

Like Martha and Mary, we don’t understand the whys and hows. We don’t understand why He needed to wait and not respond right away. We don’t understand why He lets us go through such pain and brokenness.

The truth is, sometimes we will never know why. Not until we get to heaven. But what we know is that He will always turn around what was meant for evil for good, and that He can bring life to that which seems dead. Everyone saw that Lazarus was dead, yet Jesus said that he was only sleeping. Even while we are going through difficult times, we need to look through eyes of faith, surrender completely in brokenness to Him and to believe that Jesus will make the impossible possible and that He will always bring life from death.

Even if it seems like He is taking His time, trust that He knows when is the best time to act on our behalf. He is never too late.

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