Let the Son Outshine Your Problems

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

The moon did a disappearing act on me recently.

As I sat eating breakfast, I could see the moon shining brightly through the window. It handily outshone the streetlights, which were still on at that pre-dawn hour.

But slowly, the moon grew dimmer and fainter, although it was still high in the sky.

What had happened to its luminosity?

Had the moon changed in some way?

No, the sun had simply come up!

The sun’s growing brilliance filled the morning sky, causing the moon to appear paler than before. Eventually, I could barely see the moon at all, even though it hadn’t set behind the horizon yet.

This puts me in mind of how we sometimes view our problems.

In the darkness of our difficulties, we often focus on what’s causing us pain. The source of our problems gets our attention, out-competing other factors in our lives.

But if we let the light of Jesus shine on our situation, the truth of His unending love for us can outshine the temporary nature of our problems. Our challenges appear dimmer in the light of His forgiveness, His care for us, and His promise of eternal life.

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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Did you ever play games with flowers as a child?

Perhaps you squeezed the “mouth” of a snapdragon flower to make it “talk.”

Or maybe you held a buttercup underneath the chin of a friend. If it reflected back a yellow colour, it meant that they liked butter (apparently, everyone does!).

Probably one of the most famous flower games involves the daisy: it’s considered the oracle of affairs of the heart. The daisy supposedly has the ability to tell you if your sweetheart truly loves you or not.

It goes like this: you pluck off each petal of a daisy in turn, and as you do so, alternately say, “He loves me,” or “He loves me not.”

The final petal tells you which statement is true.

You’re left in suspense the whole time, and worry about what the last petal will reveal.

I know this is just a children’s game, but even as adults we sometimes worry if we’re truly loved, don’t we?

Human love can be a fickle thing, and we can often be unsure about the commitment and loyalty of those we love.

That’s why it’s so good to know that with Jesus, we’re never left wondering whether He loves us or not. He never leaves us in suspense as to whether He cares.

He always does.

And He always will.

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Help Is On The Way

Image by Alexander Heeb from Pixabay

When you’re in trouble, hearing the sound of help coming can be music to your ears.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident or have been the victim of crime, the sound of emergency vehicle sirens approaching gives you a welcome sense of reassurance.

If you’re in a jam and need help from a friend or family member, it’s such a relief to hear the sound of their voice on the phone saying, “I’m on my way.”

If your city was brought to a standstill by a massive snowstorm (as mine was last week), hearing the sound of municipal snowplows entering your neighbourhood to finally clear the streets can almost bring tears to your eyes.

It’s good to know that help is on the way, isn’t it?

The Bible tells us that when we’re facing difficulties, we can count on God to be there for us and help us.

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The Dreams of the Blind

What do blind people dream about?

Do they dream in pictures, or in sensations and sounds?

Researchers tell us that it depends on when they lost their sight.

The brains of those who went blind after ages five to eight will have received a lot of visual inputs during the years when they could still see. These individuals are able to form visual dreams using the images stored in their memory banks for a good while after they’ve lost their sight.

People who are blind from birth are different, researchers say. The brains of these individuals have no visual images to work with, so they don’t dream in pictures like the rest of us. Instead, their dreams are based on input from the other senses: sound, taste, smell, or touch.

The upshot is that the blind can only dream using the inputs they’ve received.

Isn’t this true for all of us, in a way?

We can only dream about achieving or receiving things based on the examples that have been “inputted” into our minds. If we have never seen a real-life example that something is possible, we’ll probably never dream about it for ourselves.

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The Joy of Long Letters

Image by hudsoncrafted from Pixabay

Isn’t it lovely to receive a long letter from someone who loves you?

In an age of tweets, text messages, and sound bites, perhaps many of us are missing out on this special joy.

Several times a year, I am privileged to receive a long missive from an older male relative. These letters are hand-written, and the latest one was 18 pages long! I treasure these letters, and go back to them time and again to refresh my memory about what he’s said.

In the letters, my relative will share his views on world events, discuss the progress his garden is making, or pass along some wisdom about life. Invariably, he’ll also throw in a bit of cornball humour.

Throughout the letters are woven his love and regard for me. After all, you wouldn’t go to the trouble of writing an 18-page letter to someone if you didn’t care about them, would you?

Would you like to receive a letter like that from someone who loves you?

In fact, you already have!

God Himself has written letters to you in the form of the Bible.

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Create Your Own BC/AD Pivot Point

Image of Anno Domini inscription on Windsor Castle, England, by Leo Reynolds via Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It’s natural to divide your life into “before” and “after,” isn’t it?

We mentally calculate whether something happened before or after certain important events in our lives.

We might say that such-and-such happened before we moved to Boston, or after we got married. We may recall that another thing happened after we had our son but before the twins were born.

Ancient cultures did something similar. Those with monarchies would mark events in relation to what king was on the throne at the time. They’d say that something happened in the 9th year of the reign of King so-and-so.

Certainly, most of us will divide our lives into pre-and post-pandemic eras. March of 2020 was a clear demarcation point between our previous “normal” life and one dominated by COVID-19.

The dividing lines of our lives will be different for all of us, but what most of the world has in common is the use of the same calendar system to mark off years. This system has its own before-and-after pivot point.

For instance, most of us just celebrated the start of AD 2022.

What does the “AD” mean, anyway? Or “BC” for that matter?

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The Most Memorable Gift Of All

Image by Marco Verch on Flickr CC BY-2.0

What’s the most memorable gift you’ve ever received?

Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t something bought for you in a panic at the last minute.

More likely, the gift you remember most involved time or trouble on the part of the giver.

Perhaps your child presented you with something that they’d painstakingly fashioned themselves.

Or maybe your spouse had a piece of jewellery custom made for you that they’d had a hand in designing.

Or a friend spent months searching high and low for a hard-to-find collector’s item that you’d always wanted, and finally tracked one down.

The present was especially meaningful for you because the time and trouble the giver went to were part of the gift.

Did you know that Jesus has given you a gift? And it isn’t something He picked up at the mall on Christmas Eve.

He offers you the gift of eternal life.

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Are You On The Naughty Or Nice List?

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Are you on Santa’s “Naughty” list or his “Nice” list?

Sometimes it’s hard to know, isn’t it?

You shovelled the snow off your elderly neighbour’s walkway, so that counts as nice.

But on the other hand, you greedily ate half a pan of freshly baked brownies before sharing them with your family. Not so nice.

You made up for that by running errands for a sick friend, and volunteering to work late at the office to help finish a project. Definitely heading well into “nice” territory!

But then you lost your temper at your spouse, fibbed to get out of visiting your mother-in-law, and illegally parked your car in a disabled space while you dashed into the store to buy milk. Uh-oh! Looks like you’re squarely back on the naughty list.

With Santa, it’s hard to know where you stand on the naughty/nice spectrum.

That’s why it’s good to know that, if you’re a believer in Jesus, there’s only one list:

Forgiven.

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How To Be The Best Dressed Person At Any Gathering

Image by Andrew Vargas on Flickr CC BY-2.0

If you live in a cold climate, you’ll know that getting dressed to go outside in winter can be quite an operation.

This is particularly true if you have children. Getting your little one bundled up warmly enough to brave the frigid temperatures outside can take a great deal of time.

First, you have to make sure they have warm underclothes and socks on. Then, you might dress them in layers of several tops, and select pants made of warm, thick material.

Once you’ve put their winter coat or snowsuit on them, you’re not done yet. There’s still their boots, hat, scarf, and mittens to don.

And then what inevitably happens when you’ve finally wrestled a recalcitrant child into all their winter gear, and are poised to leave the house?

Your little darling suddenly announces that they have to go to the bathroom!

Dressing in layers takes a lot more time and effort, but it’s essential to ensure that we’re kept warm and protected in winter.

Similarly, Scripture tells us to dress in spiritual “layers” as well.

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Get Your Joy Back!

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

When I was a little girl, the first snowfall of the season was a big deal.

If the snow had fallen overnight, my Mom would wake me up with, “Lori, I have a surprise for you!”

I’d then look outside to see everything covered with a blanket of pristine, white snow. I’d be excited about going outside to play in it with my friends. We’d create snow angels and snowmen, throw snowballs, go tobogganing, and perhaps even make a snow fort.

A new snowfall was an occasion for joy.

But now that I’m an adult, how do I react to a fresh snowfall?

With groans and grumbles.

I think of having to shovel it off the driveway and the sidewalk. I think of how it will make the roads slippery and the commute slower. I think of all the extra work and trouble it will cause me.

Nowadays, a new snowfall is an occasion for chores and complaints.

I guess I’ve lost the joy that new snow used to bring me.

The same thing can happen in our spiritual lives, too.

We sometimes lose the joy that our salvation initially brought us. Gradually, our focus shifts from Jesus and what He has done for us to what we feel we should be doing for Him.

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