Thursday September 18, 2014 Sinner

Posted September 18, 2014 by bgovanus
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The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  1 Timothy 1:15

I wondered when I was younger, what Paul was all about writing words like this. I knew him as the great preacher and planter of churches.  I knew him as a great writer and how his incredible understanding of Christ’s message had opened up the message for me and all followers of Jesus.  I guessed he was referring to his zealous persecution of the early church before Christ appeared to him.  Now as I have matured, I have come to realize that he was a sinner until the day he died.  Like Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul and every mortal being upon this earth… the tendency to sin is real each and every day.  The closer to God, the more in tune each of us become of the great chasm between heaven and earth… between perfection and me.

Great is the challenge to be faithful to all Jesus taught. Loving my enemies, having patience with those I live and work with and who share the road to work, being able to accept illness, disappointments and betrayals without asking “Why Me?”  God asks me to put my faith in Him not in myself.  There are so many easy ways to sin.  In my mind, in my heart and with my body.  Paul had it right, I am the foremost.

I am so grateful that Christ came into the world to save sinners, to save me.

Lord help me always be aware of my tendency to sinfulness. Be with me when I near the wrong path and steer me toward the life-giving way instead of the path to hell.  I look forward to seeing Your face.  

 

Tuesday September 16, 2014 Wait!

Posted September 16, 2014 by bgovanus
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Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!  Psalm 27:14

Being a part of the microwave generation, I expect things to be instantaneous. I get perturbed when traffic prevents me from moving on to my next destination.  When a client puts off making a decision to buy, it is very hard for me to find patience and grace.  When the computer has issues, I find myself tapping my foot and becoming agitated.  When a loved one is sick, I am anxious and worried.  In every situation, there is a lesson of patience and trust that God is giving me.

There is rarely a spare moment of time in my day for prayer. I schedule my day pretty tightly so when I am given time to wait, I look at it as a gift, as an opportunity for prayer.  God wants me to put myself in His presence and instead of tapping my foot or pacing anxiously, waiting can be a blessed opportunity for listening and talking with God.  No amount of my anxiety will cause anything to happen more quickly so by stepping back and looking for the lesson or the opportunity in the delay, my heart can be at peace and I have come to discover a new perspective.  The Lord is in the moments of waiting.  I can do some serious communing with Him in those seconds of quiet anticipation, He can speak to my heart!

Life is going to come at me in its own pace with interruptions, distractions and occasionally in total derailment when the unexpected or tragic happens. It is crucial that I WAIT with my God for Him to unveil His plan at His pace, NOT mine.  When I WAIT on the Lord in prayerful peace, I am able to accept the delay and rejoice in it instead of becoming anxious.

Please dear Father, help me to have patience and grace while I WAIT for You to unveil Your plan. Allow me to seek You in those moments before Your will is revealed and to seek You with a contrite heart! 

Monday September 15, 2014 The Blessing

Posted September 15, 2014 by bgovanus
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The Lord said to Abram, “I will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing.”  Genesis 12:2

My favorite scarf came to me because I admired it on a friend. Colleen was wearing this beautiful scarf and I said how wonderful it looked on her and how much I liked the colors.  She immediately took it off and gave it to me, saying that in Italy the tradition is to bless someone who admires an item by giving it to them.  I protested loudly but she insisted.  Now each time I wear it, I think of Colleen.  I have bought two scarves when I find one I really like if there were two available and have gifted it to someone who has admired it.  Recently, one of my gifted scarves went with Laura to Italy and she shared with me that it was a great traveling addition.  Full circle for me is a blessing.

Abraham was indeed blessed as well. He became the Father of a two great nations.  His story is epic in nature and would make a great telenovela.  There is sex, betrayal, and jealousy, empire building and obedience to God.  His wife Sarah, impatient for the promised child gives her slave to her husband to create a baby.  Her lack of trust in God’s promise creates so many complications that live on in the Middle East even today.  It is crucial to seek God’s counsel and then listen to it.  God does not have the same clock as do.  Believing is sometimes hard when I am waiting for something but God is always faithful.  Sarah had her baby, fourteen years after she gave Hagar to Abraham.  I know I would have lost confidence too especially when my biological clock was ticking as Sarah’s was.  God can be trusted and He will bless me in His time, not mine.

Lord, Thank you for the lessons in the Bible of Your faithfulness. They give me hope of a future when I know I too can be a blessing if I stay true to Your promises to me.  

 

Sunday September 14, 2014 The Cross

Posted September 14, 2014 by bgovanus
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He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2:7

Today, Christians honor the cross. The vehicle by which Christ earned my freedom from sin and death.  Crosses are everywhere to remind me of this important fact of life.  I need reminding, because it is too easy to lose sight of the fact that I was not created for this world but the next.  I was not made for this place but for heaven.  Without Jesus sacrifice, I would not have the opportunity to join my family and friends, parents and God-parents in the great celestial home for which each of us was created.  The cross is the key to the gates of heaven.  I must cling tightly to the cross for it will be the only way into my promised reward.

I was blessed to visit Israel and be at Golgatha and touched the rock which held the cross. It was a trip that changed me forever to walk the streets of Jerusalem in Jesus footsteps as He made His way to His crucifixion.  Envisioning Him carrying His cross, falling, meeting Veronica… being jeered at, spat upon and ridiculed, moved me to tears.  Then as I looked around at all the tourists, shopkeepers and people minding their own business, it made me think that it was the same 2000 years before.  Many then ignored or were unaware that life was changing forever right beside them.  A humble man carried a cross, it was a common occurrence for someone to be crucified… nothing unusual was happening for or to “them”.

There is no one in the US who can say today that they don’t know what the cross represents. Whether they choose to be moved by it or believe is another story.  Christians have done a good job educating and getting the word out about Jesus’ Cross.  The symbol is worldwide and creates emotions in the majority of people.  Some react in anger, others with passion and still others with indifference.  God calls me to react.  He does not like lukewarm.  He prefers fire or cold.

Lord give me the fire burning in my heart. Let the wood of the cross enkindle a blaze that is never extinguished of LOVE for You and Your Son, my Savior.  Help me to never be indifferent or ignore Your gift of Redemption.  

Saturday September 13, 2014 Images

Posted September 13, 2014 by bgovanus
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He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.  Colossians 1:15

I can recall spending hours looking into the face of my daughters when each was born. Looking at each beautiful feature and reflecting upon the heredity that shaped that visage.  Grandma Boedeker’s nose or Grandma Horsey’s eyes.  When each of their children was born I would gaze at the history that lived in each characteristic and how they combined to make a unique and incredibly beautiful new person.

God must have felt the same way as He looked down into Jesus beautiful face knowing that His people would finally have the opportunity to look into His eyes and see the kindness that lives there. To gaze upon Jesus was to see the invisible God who people were so anxious to meet but could not.

How glad I am that God allowed His Son to show us His face. Centuries of Israelites had longed to be in His presence and look at Him.  They wanted that feeling of joy of recognition and comradery that comes when you are able to look someone in the eye and communicate.  The moment when I first gazed into the faces of my children and grandchildren is indelibly etched in my memory.  I live for the moment when I will see Jesus’s Face and will have the same moment of joy that will remain with me forever.  How exciting that God’s First-born looks like Him.

Lord help me to appreciate the fact that You are reflected in every face: the homeless man begging on the side of the road, the child who is crying in the plane, my grandchildren, my daughters and my husband… because each of us are created in Your image and likeness. Your Son is the First-Born of all creation but we are His brothers and sisters. Help me to see You in them and for they to see You in me.

Friday September 12, 2014 “In Training”

Posted September 12, 2014 by bgovanus
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I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.  No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.  1 Corinthians 9:26-27

I have many friends who run marathons, triathlons and even Iron Man competitions. They are constantly “in training”.  They eat better, exercise daily and get lots of sleep.  They know that to perform, they need to prepare and treat their bodies better if they expect it to last through the challenging course ahead.  This whole passage talks about winning and the perishable crowns that being the first to finish affords here on earth.  Paul explains that his training is all about a heavenly reward not the one given to the leader.  Yes he is definitely “in training” but he has his eye on a much grander prize.

It is so hard to keep focused on the finish line particularly when there are many on the field and the crowd is offering lots of noise and distractions. Later in the race when there are fewer contestants, the temptations are different… my body is crying out to rest or the path may not be clearly marked.  Other things claim many from pushing on.  This is when the daily conditioning really pays off.

The neat thing about pursuing a heavenly reward is that there is more than one winner. God has a finish line broad enough to accommodate each of His faithful ones.  Each will break the tape and feel the exhilaration of being the winner.  With a host cheering me on over those last grueling miles, I know God will not disqualify me for I continue to be “in training.”

Lord, Thank you for giving me the trials and the sometimes grueling uphill battles I face for they are helping me win the reward for the life You are calling me to live. I can only finish the race with Your Grace. 

Thursday September 11, 2014 Patriot Day! Enemies

Posted September 11, 2014 by bgovanus
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Jesus said to His disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27

They have named September 11, Patriot Day. It is a nice name and a way to remember the tragedy that happened 13 years ago. There have been too many more tragedies: Columbine, Sandy Hook, and many more that have dotted the years with blood and tears. Today, there is ISIS and the atrocities that they are creating on the other side of the world. I ask myself if presented with these harbingers of doom, can I do as Jesus has instructed and do good, bless and pray for these enemies?

The Sunday following September 11, 2001, my church was packed in MN. Our pastor stood in the Pulpit and read these words. He preached forgiveness and asked us to pray for our enemies. Many people walked out. They wanted answers but this was not the answer they wanted to hear. Pope John Paul, modeled this for us when he visited the man who shot him as soon as he was released from the hospital to forgive and pray for him. As a Christian, I am called to do the same.

The other story which is getting so much play now is Ray Rice. I am not advocating staying in an abusive relationship but self-preservation and forgiveness are two very different things. Pope John Paul did not bring his would be assassin a loaded gun when he visited him in jail. I pray that women in abusive situations leave and then practice loving and praying from a distance. Lack of forgiveness is like drinking poison yourself when you want someone else to die. Forgiving releases the power to move on.

Lord help me to have the courage and strength to love my enemy. To do good to those who hate me, bless those who curse me and pray for those who mistreat me. I cannot do this without You because my nature is to retaliate, help me to turn the other cheek.

 


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