Sunday, May 8, 2011

everyday is a gift! everyday!!!

Chuck and I spent Saturday evening visiting with our dear friends Mike and Michele who are currently camped out at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Without going into extensive detail about Mike's physical condition, let me just say that for years he has suffered the threat of dangerous blood clots building up in his veins along with many other associated health concerns.

Today, Mike's health situation has reached a critical decision point for his perplexed doctors. The question: How to best treat Mike's health? Do they keep him in the hospital or do they release him? Do they perform a very dangerous, life-threatening surgical procedure that may or may not improve Mike's condition, or do they leave everything as is and manage Mike's blood flow (which thankfully for now is reaching all his major organs) with thinning agents and pain management medicines? Either decision is risky. Neither decision is easy. But one thing is certain... moving forward, both decisions will result in the same undebatable, undeniable, and unquestionable truth for Mike and those who love him: Everyday is a gift! Everyday!!!

Chuck and I spent Sunday afternoon visiting with family to celebrate Mother's Day together. Without going into extensive details about the many events and participants involved in our day, let me just say that I was one of five people packed into a car who drove about an hour across Illinois in order to meet up with other beloved relatives to enjoy a lovely luncheon together.

To get to our location quickly, Chuck decided to take the expressway. This resulted in our group arriving earlier than expected before our reservation. So, there we were... together in a historic, little town with time to kill. As it turned out, we decided to use our free time to bum around in a quaint antique/resale shoppe that, upon first glance, may as well have been painted by Norman Rockwell himself. This place had everything! It was bursting at the seems with all sorts of memories from yesterday past.

I love places like that. Places that remind me of lives lived before my own life began. Places filled with precious remnants once greatly appreciated and newly purchased by their original owners... hobbies enjoyed, books read, fashions revealed, souvenirs acquired, time lived. Ahhh.

While running my fingers down the worn lines of an old furnishing that most likely graced someone's home only a century before, I kept thinking about the one truth that the Lord so evidently made clear to me while in the hospital with Mike and Michele just the day before: Everyday is a gift! Everyday!!!

The luncheon proved to be a grand success. Everyone hugged and said their farewells, then piled back into their vehicles to head back to familiar destinations. Since the weather was sunny and the temperature delightful, Chuck decided to spoil our group by meandering through the back roads. This allowed our original five to travel home laughing and sharing stories of life. Life that has proven to be a gift for each of us. Life that has been both a solitary journey as well as communion alongside one another. Life, no matter how difficult, we each still appreciate - no matter how trying a moment has been faced... no matter how terrible an experience has been endured. No, yesterday those hard times were easily discarded (if only for a short while) as our ride home paused our spirits to enjoy the beauty of scenic farmlands, breezy country roads, rusty tractors, playful horses, faded barns, white picket fences, reminiscent chit-chat, happy seconds. Yesterday, LIFE (in and of itself) proved good, and the blessedness enjoyed was undebatable, undeniable, and unquestionable.

This got me to thinking: a good life is what we each crave, isn't it? The desire of every living being is to enjoy these moments of poetic fullness, feelings of acceptance and love, visions of beauty, experiences of pleasure... purpose...hope! LIFE!

Everyday is a gift! Everyday!!!

I realize by now that some of you might be wondering why I feel compelled to share these experiences for what seems to most to be an ordinary Monday morning. But to this I ask you: Is today really ordinary? For isn't today the only Monday, May 9, 2011 that our earth's history will ever record? Isn't this "now" the only moment you can really choose to rejoice in, appreciate, enjoy, and LIVE? If so, how will you choose to live THIS day... and who will you live it for?

Might I suggest you choose to live for the One who can insure that this "now" - this good part of life that everyone is so desperately scrambling to hold onto - will continue and actually improve for the better? You see, there is a NEW LIFE of everlasting goodness that Jesus has offered to those who will choose to receive Him. His is an even better life... an ETERNAL life!!! A life without uncertainty, sickness, horror, hardship, sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, hatred or fear. A good, holy, perfect life that He is able to assure us of - even after our gift of "everydays" on this earth have past by and concluded.

Friends, there is no denying that in this world human death is as certain as the life you are presently living. Our time on this planet is limited. Our important agendas, dearest relationships, and valuable belongings will one day become memories, relics, and antiques of yesteryear and we will each ultimately pass away and likely be forgotten. Everyday is limited here. But everyday promised in Christ offers us an eternity of whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent and praiseworthy. Oh, what a wonderful life Jesus has to offer!!! But this NEW LIFE can only exist in His presence. It can only be found in His kingdom and under His rule. Indeed, this NEW LIFE is the life our Creator originally intended for us to know and enjoy in the glory of His holy presence!

The Bible says that from the dust of the ground God created man in His own image and breathed into His nostrils the breath of LIFE! (Life comes from God!) Unfortunately, man selfishly turned against God and corrupted his own existence by choosing to sin. And, unfortunately, where there is sin, there is death. (Just look around - death consistently surrounds us and threatens us. I hate sin and death! Don't you?)

Thankfully, God - the Giver of all LIFE, loves us enough to keep on giving! To right our selfish wrong, He came to earth and paid the ultimate price for our sin! Sure, this world still displays many examples of His creation - the good He first intended for mankind to enjoy. For our God is gracious, loving, and anxious to extend us His goodness - even to those who deny Him. Why? Because He loves mankind and desires to be intimately close to us forever. However, ultimately God cannot allow sin. Corruption must be corrected or removed. So, man must either choose God's gift to become new again (Jesus) or be removed from His kingdom forever. If we choose Jesus, our sin is forgiven. If we reject Him, we will die and be removed forever - then the gift of life will be lost FOREVER.

Knowing this, will you choose Jesus as your Savior, dear friend? Will you trust and learn to obey His loving, life-giving Word? Will you believe that His Way is healthy, good, and can insure you eternal LIFE? I pray that you will. For this is the day... this is the moment... this is the only "now" you have to choose Jesus... the Giver that keeps on giving!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

In Jesus Holy Name, I wish you all His eternal goodness, love, and blessings!
Love you all!
XOX!

~Victoria

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P.S. For those who seek to receive the gift of NEW LIFE in Jesus Christ...

Can people in today's world have hope? Yes. God's power can make us secure.
Many people today live without hope. They have no resources to strengthen them or guide them through their struggles in life. However, the focus of the Christian faith is God's power to help us in whatever trials arise. Through Jesus we are able to receive a power great enough to bring salvation and deliverance. It is available to any person who believes His Word.

Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

God's power results in change.
Through God's loving plan, people can change. The biblical word for "change" is repentance. This means allowing God to change the direction of our lives for what is best.

Romans 2:4, "God's kindness leads you toward repentance."

Sin makes change necessary.
Why do people need to change? According to the Bible, every human being has to face the problem of sin. Sin is to fall short of the standard we were originally created to uphold. The Bible teaches that God created us in His image with a standard of perfection. (See Matthew 5:48) However, man failed to meet that standard by disobeying God's plan. As a result, man has to face his problem of sin. We may do much that is good, and we may not want to do anything bad, but no person can measure up to God's standard of ALWAYS doing what is right.

Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and fall short to the glory of God."

God still loves us.
Some people think that our failure to meet God's standard results in God being our enemy. But the message of Jesus is that in spite of our sin, God still loves us. God hates sin.... not men. But God's love for us is not based on an unawareness or intolerance that overlooks our sin. God cannot tolerate sin. So, the Lord sent His perfect Son to take man's place for the penalty of sin. God demonstrated the depth and reality of His love for us, by doing what was necessary to overcome mankind's problem with sin. (See John 3:16 again.)

Romans 5:8, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Sin earns death, but God gives life.
Sin would not be a problem, if it did not have serious consequences. However, the consequences of sin are too serious to overlook. Whenever we sin, the Bible says we earn the wages of death. This means, if every person is guilty of sinning, then every person must die. This does not refer to a physical death alone. This refers to a spiritual death and complete separation from God for eternity. (See John 3:36 and Revelation 20:11-15) However, because He loves us, God provided an eternal solution so that we may live with Him for all eternity. Jesus died on the cross in our place as a sacrifice to save us from death. (See 1 Peter 3:18) He took our guilt for sin upon Himself so that His death would fulfill the judgment against our sin. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Colossians 2:13-14) Basically, Jesus substituted Himself so that we could live! By our own works, we earn death. But by His grace we can receive eternal life. This is the loving gift that God offers to mankind.

Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The Call to Salvation: Confess / Repent / Believe / Call

Confess: The biblical word translated confess means to "say the same thing". When we confess Jesus as Lord, we are recognizing His rightful authority over us - agreeing with who He says He is. (See Isaiah 45:5-7, 22-24 and Philippians 2:10-11) In acknowledging Jesus as our Lord, we admit our sin and the problem it poses for us.

Repent: In accepting Jesus authority, we can then repent of our sins and turn away from the hopeless life we have been living on our own terms. Rather, we can obey and serve Him by living a God-oriented life (rather than self-oriented). This turning away from sin in order to follow Jesus is called "repentance".

Believe: Believing God means to trust God. When you you choose to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, you have confidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus are enough to secure your salvation. You are trusting the work of Christ, rather than your own works to save you. You are putting the certainty of your physical and eternal life in His hands.

Call: Acknowledging that Jesus is now the rightful Lord in control of your life, and believing in His work alone for our salvation results in our calling on Him to be saved. Anyone who is willing to call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Anyone. No other qualifications are required. To call on the name of the Lord is to ask Him for forgiveness of sin and for salvation. By doing this, you are acknowledging Jesus as your Lord and expressing your intention to live a life following Him.

Romans 10:9-10, 13, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. For, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"
The Sinner's Prayer
Would you like to have an intimate, eternal relationship with the One who made you and loves you unconditionally? If so, tell Him in your own words or repeat this simple prayer of repentance (below). Note: The language used in a person's prayer of salvation is not the primary issue. The action of genuinely committing one's life to Christ matters the most. Words are not more holy or effective if they are scripted. The prayer shown below is only to help someone express what they want Jesus to do in their life.

“Father in Heaven, until now I have been living life my own way, but I want to start living for You. I trust You. Through the working of Your Holy Spirit, I realize I’ve sinned before You and come to You in repentance. I believe that You loved me so much that You sent Jesus, Your Only Son, to fully pay the penalty for my sin by dying on the cross. I receive the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf and trust Him as my Lord and Savior. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I will live eternally in Your perfect, glorious presence. Dear God, thank you for forgiving me, making me Your child, and preparing a place for me in Heaven. Amen.”

Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior have hope because we are heirs of God!
Once we have accepted God's gift of salvation, God adopts us as His own children, and His Holy Spirit assures us that we are part of His family. According to Roman law at the time of Paul's writing, someone's adopted son also became his heir. While Christ is God's heir by nature, Christians have become God's heirs by adoption. Therefore, we are now joint heirs with Christ Jesus.

Verses 38-39 tell us that we are eternally secure in God because Jesus defeated the principalities and powers of this earth. The result is that we need not fear any human or superhuman enemies. Nothing can separate us from God's love in Jesus Christ!!! Believers can live with hope because they are God's children - secure in His eternal love. GOOD NEWS!!!

Romans 8:16-17, 38-39, "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Faith = Life for God
Once you become a Christian, God calls you to live your life for Him. He wants only the very best for you! By following His commands, your life will change to become more like Jesus who is perfect. New Christians can expect their life to be different because of this. God wants a Christian's life to change (even if it means sacrifice). The goal for believers is to look and live less like the unsaved world and more like Jesus. That kind of change only happens because God brings it about. He will transform the new Christian's life, making it more like the life of Jesus. (See Philippians 1:6 and 2:13) It is important to note that a person does not need to be "religiously inclined" to become a faithful Christian. Jesus is all you need to focus on. He will make you look and live like one of His children.

Romans 12:1-2, "I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Blessings!
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

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