What Are We Living for?

You’ve heard it. You may have even said it yourself. “He lives for sports!” “I live to eat!” “They live for their children!”

Oh, yes. Whenever we pour our life energies into someone or something, we are definitely living for that pursuit.

And it isn’t only men who live for sports. Here in Wisconsin, women also spend every spare moment reading, thinking, and talking about the Packers. We deck ourselves out in green-and-gold and wouldn’t miss a game at Lambeau Field or on TV. We even show up at church on football Sundays in our Packer finery. Okay, I’ll admit it. I wear Packer earrings, jerseys, and socks on game days! I suspect it’s not much different for fans of other football franchises.

Oh, and how about those of us who love to eat? Love to collect and exchange recipes, try new foods, go on and on talking about our favorites foods and spreading the news about our favorite restaurants. We enjoy heaping our plates at the barbecues, banquets, and buffets. Wouldn’t miss a church potluck or family celebration. Oh, how we love our food!

And, let’s face it. We all know parents who pour the lives, time, and money into their children.

Is this bad? Not really.

Actually, it’s good to have a pursuit that captures our hearts and makes life worth living. Even Jesus cherished a pursuit that captured his heart and made his life on earth worth living. He poured himself into teaching, healing, and giving so that we each might know how much he loves us. He was so focused on gaining an intimate love relationship with us that he was willing to die to make it possible.

He knew that we could not have a love relationship with our holy God until someone paid the price for our sins. He volunteered, and it cost his death on the cross. The ultimate act of his love.

Since his resurrection three days later, Jesus has remained focused on his pursuit. He waits eagerly for us to respond–to be so captivated by his unconditional love that we joyfully pour our lives into learning to know and love him more each day.

Focus: “He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for their sake and was raised” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:15, New American Bible.

How about you? Who or what do you live for? Have you already responded to the Lord’s love?

 

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A Changed Life

Imagine a twelve-year-old becoming absolute ruler of a nation. His every command would be law–a situation that might cause a few problems. And it did. Here’s the story.

After ruling Judah for twenty-nine years, King Hezekiah died, and his twelve-year-old son became king. But unlike his father, Manasseh had no intention of serving God. He took up sorcery, divination, and witchcraft. He consulted mediums and psychics. He quickly set up pagan altars and encouraged idol worship all over the country–even within the Lord God’s Temple in Jerusalem. Ignoring God’s patient warnings, he led the people into more evil than all the nations around them.

Finally, God sent the cruel Assyrians to invade Judah. They captured Manasseh and led him away to prison in Babylon.

Did Manasseh cry out for his pagan idols to save him? No. He turned to the Lord God Almighty whom his good father had served. “And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request for help” (2 Chronicles 33:13, New Living Translation). God then restored Manasseh to his throne in Judah.

This amazing experience brought Manasseh to his senses. Now realizing that the Lord alone is God, he changed. He destroyed every foreign idol and restored the Lord’s altar in the Temple at Jerusalem. There he worshiped the Lord God and encouraged his people to do the same.

Can a bad boy or girl turn good? Yes! God promises that no matter how bad our past, we can humbly turn to God, be forgiven and live a changed life.

Focus: “If a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed … none of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him.” ~Ezekiel 18:21-22, New Living Translation.

What about you? Do you know someone who, with the Lord’s help, left a bad past to live a changed life? Please share.

 

Will You?

In a recent reading on forgiveness, I was reminded of a relative. Through family stories during my childhood, I came to mistrust and then dislike him. It wasn’t until years after his death that God took the matter up with me. By that time, I was a grown woman with a husband and a baby.

While walking to work one day, I heard these words in my heart. “It’s time to forgive. Will you?”

I had been harboring those ill feelings for a long time, not even aware of them most of the time. But that day I discovered that, for Jesus’ sake, I could forgive. The person didn’t have to ask for my forgiveness, didn’t even have to know he had offended me. I could set myself free of ill feelings simply by forgiving.

How about you? Have you struggled with the remembrance of someone’s offenses against you or someone you love? What has your struggle taught you about the power of forgiveness?