The Lost Art of Grieving

Loss is a part of living; but grieving is a lost art. We do not want to face the pain, so we stuff it inside, wallow in self-pity and depression, and ignore the one safety valve God gave us to overcome the deep abiding sadness we carry around with us every hour of every day.

If we would allow Him to, our God of all comfort would fill us with His joy and peace as we trust in Him. He enables us to overflow with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit within us (Romans 15:13).

People usually ignore us when we are grieving, because they do not know what to say. They may want to speak to us but cannot decide how to word their feelings. This is common and we do not need to feel insecure.

We can simply say, “I am not sure what to say, but I want you to know that I care about you and that I am here for you in any way that I can be of help.”

We tend to use phrases like: passed on, passed away, graduated to heaven, went to be with the Lord, etc. Using the word “died” will allow the grieving person to realize that it is okay to refer to their loved one in that same way.

We can express our concern by sharing our sorrow that they are experiencing this loss. “I am so sorry for your loss. I really care about you. How may I help you?”

A simple, “What do you need from me right now?” or “What can I do for you?” are appropriate ways to offer help, because they show you support them during this time of grief.

Do not tell the grieving person that their loved one is in a better place, or that they will get over their grief in time, or that this loss was part of God’s plan, or that you know how they feel. Instead, ask them, “How are you feeling right now?”

You do not need to remind them of all they still have to be thankful for or that they can find comfort in the fact that their loved one really cared about them.

Do not tell them what they should feel or do. Let God direct their steps in His timing and way. If they ask you, then start your comment with, “Have you ever considered …”getting a part-time job”, “volunteering at a shelter”, “helping us with our children’s ministry” (in the office, on workdays around the building).

The worst thing you can say is, “It is time to get on with your life.” You could say, “God still has plans for your life and He will show them to you as you are ready.”

Everyone has a different way to grieve and different time frames in which to do this. Some take longer than others. Some never get over the intense feelings of grief and it shapes their future life.

Many friends forget about the grieving person once the funeral is over. That is when the person needs us the most. Take them shopping, to get their hair done, or for a quiet walk in the park on a pleasant sunny day.

Take them a hot meal, but do not stay to watch them eat it. Offer to buy them some groceries or to do their dishes or wash a load of laundry. These basic needs often get neglected when we are grieving.

Send cheerful cards, invite them to a movie or over to your house to join mutual friends for dinner. Do not force them to be outgoing or cheerful. Just allow them to silently enjoy your company.

Honor their requests, don’t push your ideas on them, but ask them, “What would you like to do this week?” Do this regularly for the first year after their loss. Be patient and don’t push them. Love them with the love of the Lord.

Prayer:
Father God, knowing what to say to a grieving person is so nerve wracking and our ineptitude is paralyzing. Teach us how to comfort. Give us Your Holy Spirit’s wisdom for how to minister to each new grieving person. Put Your ideas in our mind, inspire our creativity with Your ideas on how to be a special blessing to this grieving friend, relative or church member.

We also ask that You comfort us in our grief. Help us not to wallow in self-pity but to rise and shine with each new day and to seek Your will in each new moment. Help us to realize that You have plans for us that do not include our loved one; and that we still have purpose and meaning for our life in You.

Thought for the Day:
Give a bereaving person the gift of your time and attention.

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End to the Beginning

End to the Beginning

Whenever I read a book, I always read the last chapter first. That way I eliminate the mystery, suspense and unpredictability of the story line. Then, I can read from the beginning, without the stress of not knowing how it will turn out.

Some of you may enjoy horror movies and suspenseful mysteries, but they cause my psyche too much anxiety. I love to watch Hallmark movies, because as my husband derisively points out, the endings are predictable. There is very little stress and suspense in these wondrously sappy romances.

I did this with the Bible too. I read Revelation first. This colorful depiction of symbolic drama gives us a bird’s eye view of the culmination of time as we know it.

Revelation confirms the prophetic books of the Bible, such as Daniel, Ezekiel and Isaiah – as well as the New Testament letters such as the gospels and Thessalonians. They report to us God’s intention for creation, redemption and restoration.

When we know how the end plays out, these facts remove the guesswork from life and give us a fool proof game plan to follow in our walk of faith through the Son of God.

God made His will plain and stress-free for us through the Biblical account of His clear timetable of events leading up to His final return to earth and His eternal plans for humanity.

God does not dwell in time. The 6,000 years since creation are all in the present to Him. He is not restrained, directed or controlled by the hands on the clock like we are (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).

Our Creator and King dwells in eternity. He invites us to join Him in this place of unhindered existence through salvation in His Son. Jesus won this privilege for us by taking on the form of a man and dying in our place (Philippians 2:6-8).

God also provided us with His Word in order to afford us hope for a joyful future and instructions for living in a peaceful existence through every moment of each new day regardless of our circumstances (Jeremiah 29:11).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for Your Word, which takes the guesswork right out of life. Remind us to check with You before we do anything, so that You can direct our plans (Proverbs 3:5-6). When Satan attempts to hinder us, teach us to use spiritual warfare through the power of Christ in us to withstand his onslaughts.

Thank You for always answering our prayers, and for not always giving us what we want, but what is in our best interest. We squirm under the pressures of life and often feel like we know how to alleviate these trials; but we often jump out of the frying pan into the fire. Keep us in the center of Your will and walking in the fruit of Your righteousness.

Thought for the Day:
Our Father is God and there is no one like Him; He declared the end to the beginning. – Isaiah 4:9-11

Lift Up Your Head

Rahab hid the Israelite spies who came to scope out the land for the Israelite invasion. She was rewarded with salvation during the destruction of Jericho.

The amazing part of this story to me is that she lived in the outside wall, and God sent her deliverance before the wall fell straight down on the seventh day.

God kept her safe even through this time of destruction, as well as redeemed her from her former profession. She married Salmon; and her son, Boaz, married another gentile convert, Ruth.

Rahab is the great-grandmother of King David and is in the ancestry lineage of Jesus Christ. God truly lifted up her head and turned her ashes into a thing of beauty (Psalm 3:3-4).

Our Father God does this same thing for anyone willing to surrender their will to His will (Luke 22:42). He exalts our head above our enemies (Psalm 27:5-6).

When our soul is depressed and unsettled within us, we hope in God and praise His name, and He puts a smile on our lips and joy in our heart (Psalm 42:11).

He sets our feet to dancing (Psalm 30:11) and gives us something to shout about (Psalm 98:4). He changes our focus from the temporal to the eternal and gives us a future full of hope and blessings (Jeremiah 29:11).

Eventually, we leave this carnal earth behind and enter into the glories of Heaven, living in the presence of God for eternity and inheriting His Kingdom with Jesus (Revelation 21:23; Psalm 16:11; Romans 8:17).

Prayer:
Father God, we praise You all the days of our life and still do not have enough time to thank You for all You have done for us. We look forward to eternity and having endless eons to worship You in all of Your beauty and holiness. We give you praise, honor and glory.

Thank You for Your love for us, for holding us in the palm of Your hand and for lifting up our head when we face the trials we encounter on this earth. You fill our hearts with joy and peace; not the tentative harmony that the world offers, but Your lasting and eternal peace that surpasses our human comprehension (John 14:27).

Thought for the Day:
God leads us by His Spirit each moment of the day and fills our life full of divine appointments which make a difference in our life and in the lives He brings across our path.

Lead Me to the Rock – Psalm 61

Jesus Christ is our solid Rock on which we stand when the storms of adversity stir up the quick sand of life. These menacing pits of destruction attempt to swallow us whole, sucking the life right out of us inch by inch.

As our heart grows faint, we cry out to God from the lowest parts of the earth and He leads us to the Rock, which is so much higher than our debilitating circumstances (Psalm 61:1-2).

Safely entrenched on the Rock of Christ we rise far above these destructive elements from Satan, the world and the flesh, which come to rob us of our joy and peace and make our testimony for God ineffectual and tarnished.

As our refuge and strong tower, He protects us from our enemies, takes us into His dwelling place, shelters us under His wings and showers us with His blessing (Psalm 61:3-4).

He hears our vows to serve Him with our life and He gives us His heritage in exchange. He increases our days and provides for our children and grandchildren for thousands of generations in the future (Psalm 61:5-6; Exodus 20:6).

God gives us a place in His royal priesthood and shares with us the throne of Christ. He showers us with His love and faithfully protects us (Psalm 61:7).

His goodness, grace, love and mercy cause us to praise His name forever and to keep our vows to Him day after day (Psalm 61:8). We want nothing more from this life than His perfect will for us.

Prayer:
Father God we wait patiently for You and You always hear our cries. You lift us out of the slimy pit of doom, out of the mud and mire and safely stand us on the Rock of Christ (Psalm 40:1-2, 62:1-3). You put a new song in our heart, which is a testimony to everyone in our life (Psalm 40:3).

Your love fills us with peace and joy regardless of the outward circumstances attempting to beat us down and debilitate us. We look for the seed for a miracle, which You plant within every trial threatening to overcome us. We depend on Your Spirit to guide us through each moment of our day.

Thought for the Day:
When we face the issues bombarding our life, we remember that the peace of God protects us when we are firmly standing on the Rock of Christ.

True Christian Life

A life lived in total surrender to the will of God brings healing in body, soul and spirit. God’s Spirit renews our mind and transforms our spirit into the likeness of Christ (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Satan will attempt to keep us under His bondage to sin, and to prevent us from functioning with effectiveness in the Kingdom of God. He will lure us with a promise of worldly gain.

However, as we seek more intimacy with God, who abides within us, our desire for more of this world fades. We find our true identity, restful peace and complete joy in the presence of Christ in us (Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20).

Christ abides in our heart by faith and we are rooted and grounded in God’s love (Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:7). Our goal is to reach perfection through the knowledge of God’s Son and by growing into the fullest measure of the richness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

We live in contentment, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). We have boldness and access to the very presence of God, because of Christ’s completed work on Calvary’s cross (Ephesians 3:12).

Christ’s faith within us helps to quench the fiery darts of Satan’s lies and temptations (Ephesians 6:16; 1 Corinthians 10:13). By God’s Spirit we work in faith, labor in love and have patience through our hope in the Lord in the sight of God, our Father (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for counting us worthy of our calling, for helping us to fulfill Your will through Your goodness, for the work of Christ’s faith and power within us, and for delivering us from unreasonable and wicked people in our life (2 Thessalonians 1:11, 3:2)

Thank You for freeing us from believing fables and trusting in endless genealogies, which only stir up more questions rather than edify You or build our faith (1 Timothy 1:4). We enjoy Your abundant grace through the faith and love, which we find in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:14). You are all we need.

Thought for the Day:
As Christians, we let our thoughts, words and deed reflect the glory of Christ within us, so that we do not shame our Father God in any way. – Philippians 1:27

God’s Fullness – His Love

God’s Fullness – His Love – Part 2

God has a rich storehouse of glory, which He provides to strengthen and protect us with His mighty power (Philippians 4:19). He does this in our soul and spirit, by the Holy Spirit and Christ who dwell in us.

God helps us to plant our roots firmly in His love by His dealings in our life. He teaches us to comprehend the firm foundation, which He gives us for our faith in the fullness of His love (2 Timothy 2:19).

The richness of God’s love is actually multi-dimensional. It is so grand that it has width, length, height and depth. He surrounds us in His love and allows us to experience its riches practically.

God’s love exceeds our human understanding and fills us through every part of our being with His whole Being (Ephesians 2:16-20, Amplified Bible). The more submitted we are to His Spirit, the more we feel God’s love cascading like a waterfall over our body, soul and spirit.

Our hope in God is never disappointed, and we never feel shame for our faith in His faithfulness, because He pours out His love into our heart and life (Romans 5:5).

As we wait for the manifestation of Christ, His mercy, His perseverance and endurance in our life, God’s love keeps us (Jude 1:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:5). God’s love is perfected in us as His Spirit enables us to keep His commandments (Philippians 2:12-13; 1 John 2:5).

The love of God empowers us with mercy and compassion for God’s Body and for the whole world around us (1 John 3:17). The steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord never fail to watch over us (Psalm 61:7).

Prayer:
Father God, we miss out on the riches You already provided for us, because we are too busy with our own plans for our life to concern our self with Your will for us. Remind us that You created us for Your pleasure, not for our own (Ephesians 2:10).

Help us to experience the fullness of Your love, so that we can share it with the world around us, which is full of desperate people who are dying for a lack of Your presence in their life (Psalm 52:8).

Thought for the Day:
God proved His love for us by coming as a man and dying in our place; and there is nothing in this earthly world or in the spiritual world, which shall ever separate His Saints from His love. – Romans 8:31-39

God’s Fullness – His Presence Within

We have the opportunity to enjoy the richest measure of God’s presence in our life. He is already there, but we often ignore Him, or fail to seek Him out more than during a few moments of devotion a day.

God wants to fill us with all of His fullness. He desires to flood our entire body, soul and spirit with the richest measure of His Presence (Ephesians 3:16-20, Amplified Bible).

He starts to work in us the moment we come to Him for salvation. Then He commissions us to carry out His purpose in our life (Ephesians 2:10).

God wants to do more for us and in us than we could ever imagine, dream, desire or hope. He will do it too, if we simply surrender every area of our life to Him.

He not only gives us strength to live each day, but He also fortifies that strength with all the unrestricted resources and mighty power available to us through His Holy Spirit, who is abiding in our body, His Temple (1 Corinthians 6:19; Philippians 2:12-13; Ephesians 3:16).

Jesus Christ actually lives in our spirit by our faith in His finished work on Calvary’s Cross, so that the love of God will firmly unite us to Him with its power (Ephesians 3:17).

Our life will follow God’s path of fulfillment, and we will receive God’s intense and continual love from Him, His Body and our family and friends, who He brings into our life.

Our sinful desires melt away like wax. We cannot boast in the presence of God, because we do not earn it, it is a free gift (Psalm 68:2; 1 Corinthians 1:29). We reverence His presence in our life and value Him and His Word more than all the riches of this world (Psalm 19:10).

Prayer:
Father God, the power and authority of Christ increases in us as we decrease the hold we have over our life; so help us to totally surrender to and trust in You. You promise never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). You will continually abide in us regardless of our thoughts, words or actions, even though we may grieve Your Spirit.

Over the years of our service to You, make Your presence more real to us each day and help us to abide in You each moment of our day (John 15:4-5). Help us to send the roots of our faith deeper into Your love, so that we can willingly serve You with our whole life.

Thought for the Day:
God gives us the richest portion of His love, and fills us completely with His divine presence; flooding every fiber of our body, soul and spirit with Himself.

– Ephesians 3:19 Amplified Bible.