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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Take Courage

With persecution of Christians increasing in the world, including in the good ole USA which was founded on religious freedom, we have to remember that the main thing is still the main thing: God will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Regardless of how many God haters rise into power, God is still in control of our individual lives. Our fears and anxiety will only add to the stress and ill health caused by their persecution.

If we learn to enter God’s rest now, while we still have our freedoms, it will enable us to better traverse the unknown treatment, loss and deprivation which we may face in the future.

God reminds us that we are actually blessed when we are persecuted for His sake. We take courage from the example set by lives such as Paul and the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 5:10-12).

We rejoice, because although we may face scarcity now, we are storing up rewards in heaven for eternity. This concept allows us to rejoice and continue to serve as the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:12-15).

God uses us to preserve the lives and to light the path of those around us and to lead them to Him. When they see His love, peace and joy in our life, regardless of circumstances, they too will honor our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Prayer:
Father God, remind us to take the focus off our self and to share Your love with those who are also suffering all around us. Remind us that the endurance of Christ fills our soul, because He abides within us. Any persecution is light and momentary when compared to the glory You prepared for us in Heaven.

As Your righteous ones, we live by faith and You preserve our soul, so there is no need for us to shrink back in fear but to continue to show Your love even to our persecutors (Hebrews 10:32-39).

Thought for the Day:
Regardless of those who are elected as our officials, how much power terrorists gain in the world or how many laws are passed against us expressing our faith with words, buildings, external crosses or religious trappings, nothing can separate us from the eternal rest and love of God dwelling within us. – Romans 8:35-39; Proverbs 21:1

We Can Do All Things

When we quote the first half of Philippians 4:13, we usually put the emphasis on our self. We can do all things. We stop there, feeling rather smug with our self and overly confident in our own ability to accomplish great works for God.

We need to quote the verse in its entirety: “I can do everything, which God asks me to do, through the power of Christ in me, who gives me the ability and the strength.”

This verse is actually telling us that apart from Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). He is the vine, we are the branches. Apart from the vine, the branch is useless and dies.

A branch bears no fruit apart from the Vine. The Vine gives us the ability and strength to produce only that fruit, which the Vinedresser predispositions us to bear (John 15:1).

God’s perfect plan, orchestrated for each life, yields a beautiful symphony. We do not do works for God, but the works of God, which He called us to do before we were ever born (Ephesians 2:20).

This way we cannot take any credit for our accomplishments nor should we feel as if we are incapable of obeying the Holy Spirit’s direction. Christ is within every authentic Believer, every step of our life (Matthew 28:20).

God’s Spirit directs and supports us in each situation, which life throws our way (Isaiah 41:10; Daniel 3:24-25). We gain our esteem and power from Christ in us (Colossians 1:27).

Prayer:
Father God, we find rest for our soul – our mind, choices and emotions, when we realize that we no longer need to figure everything out and to plan for ever contingency. We rest in the realization that Jesus is our way, truth and life (John 14:6).

As we know You in a deeper relationship, Christ is also our wisdom and strength (Philippians 3:20; 1 Corinthians 1:30). We completely surrender to You and Your direction of our thoughts, words and deeds according to Your perfect will for us (Romans 12:2).

Thought for the Day:
Nothing will occur in our life, which is not already part of God’s plan for us, unless we are reaping the consequences of our disobedience or self-will.

The Name of the Lord – Our Power

The Lord saves us and raises some people into prominence and authority for His name’s sake, so that He may make His power known in the whole earth; such as the little shepherd boy who slew the mighty giant by the power of the name of the Lord of hosts (Psalm 106:8; Romans 9:17; Isaiah 17:45).

God revives us, delivers us, forgives our sins and brings our soul out of trouble for the glory of His name (Psalm 143:11; Psalm 79:9). God gives His people, who magnify His name, rest like cattle who are fattened by the sweet grass of the valley (Isaiah 63:12, 14).

The Lord knows those who are His and helps us to abstain from evil (2 Timothy 2:19). Since we love Him and intimately know His name, He securely sets us on high and delivers us (Psalm 91:14).

We know and trust the Lord who will never forsake those who seek Him (Psalm 9:10). He helps us to resist our enemies and through His name we have spiritual power and might (Psalm 44:5, 118:12; Romans 16:20).

God gives a chance for repentance and forgiveness to all by proclaiming His name to all the nations (Luke 24:47). He blesses anyone who lives in His name and through them He blesses the whole earth (Psalm 72:19, 118:26; Joel 2:32; Luke 13:35).

When we rely on the Lord, we are overcomers. He makes us strong pillars in His church, and He writes on us His name and the name of His holy city (Revelation 3:12).

Prayer:
Father God, You will make Jesus the only Lord and King over all of the earth. His name will be the only one glorified among the nations (Zechariah 14:9). From the rising to the setting of the sun, we praise Your name, and we look forward to You reigning as King over all the earth (Zechariah 14:9; Malachi 1:11).

Many come in Your name in order to mislead the foolish (Luke 21:8; Matthew 24:5; Mark 13:6). Therefore, we must use discernment to realize who is speaking Your truth. Remind us not to follow any one person, but to feed from the life given to us in Your Word.

Thought for the Day:
The Son of righteousness has risen with healing in His wings, and enables us to dance with joy like a playful calf. – Malachi 4:2

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

Our True Reality in Christ

There is no need for us to frequent the “self-help” shelf at the library or bookstore, because the Holy Spirit is changing us through His sanctifying process, until we come to the fullness of Christ in us (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When we come to the end of our self, God’s Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, becomes our comforter, guide, wisdom, encourager and the voice of Christ, who also dwells in us by His Spirit, as our way, truth and life (Colossians 3:4; John 14:6).

Christ in us is not a separate entity from who we are. He is as much of an integral part of us as He is to our Father God (John 17:21). Living in the center of God’s will is the happiest place on earth.

We surrender the control of our life over to God, because to think that we actually have any control over our life is ludicrous! Life happens and is always out of our control.

Just as Jesus did nothing of Himself, we follow His example. We die to our self and trust only in God. We live in union as one person with Christ in us. He is our whole life (Colossians 3:4).

The sooner we come to this place of total surrender to the will of God, content in the circumstance which He provides (Philippians 4:11), the freer and more joyfully we experience each day, captivated by His Spirit and His will.

As we decrease in our desires and control over our life, He will increase His control and put His desires in our heart (John 3:30; Psalm 37:4). Christ in us is our only true reality now and in eternity.

We are dead, and He now lives in and through us (Colossians 4:3-4). There are no formulas to follow, no effort on our part, no striving or quoting Bible verse, which can make this happen.

We simply surrender all to Him by letting go of our anxiety, negative emotions and idols, which imprison us, and letting God have His way in our life.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for revealing to us that this life in not about us; it is totally and abundantly about You in us (Colossians 1:27). You free us from bondage to the devil, the world and the flesh; and You allow us to walk intimately with Your Trinity abiding within us (Galatians 5:15-25).

Surrendering to Your rest is the only step we need to take to enter into this union life with You (Hebrews 4:10-11). We stop our stress, strain and list-making and follow Your Spirit during each moment of our day. When we walk in the center of Your will we find true peace, joy and rest in Your Spirit (Romans 14:17).

Thought for the Day:
It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me, because we are unified as one being; He is the head and I am the body, which He uses for His glory. – Colossians 3:3-4

We Live, Yet Christ Lives in Us

The concept of us living at the same time Christ lives through us, is confusing at best (Galatians 2:20). How much of our self is prominent and how do we give Christ preeminence in us?

Prior to coming to Christ, our spirit is dead, and our flesh is very much alive. We live in the flesh, plan for the flesh and we hunger after more of the flesh, the world and sin (1 Timothy 5:6; Romans 8:5-8).

Separated from God, we are blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Yet, when we surrender our life to Christ, our penchant for sin wanes.

We have no more desire to reap the destruction, which is sin’s reward (Romans 6:23). Now, our spirit is born again, and our flesh is dead in Christ (John 3:3-4, 6:63; Colossians 3:4).

Knowing that we are in Christ, and that our old nature is already crucified with Christ, gives us the power over sin. We no longer live in slavery to sin and the flesh, but we are slaves to Christ who dwells in us (Romans 6:7, 12, 14; 8:9).

Each day, we submit to God’s Spirit as he crucifies our old carnal nature, and we grow further away from the habits and desires of our old life (Galatians 2:20, 5:15-25).

God sets us free from condemnation and the law of sin and death by His Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-2). We live victorious lives as we walk in God’s will under the direction of His Holy Spirit each moment of our day (Galatians 5:15-25).

Prayer:
Father God, help us not to allow a distracted life to keep us from experiencing Your fullness for us. Fill us with the fruit of Your Spirit, so that we no longer have ungodly character and negative personality traits (Galatians 5:22-23).

Use us for Your glory as we make Christ preeminent in our life. Help us to decrease, so that You can increase within us (John 3:30).

Thought for the Day:
We walk in the Spirit, which prevents us from living in the flesh. – Galatians 5:15-25