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Tapestry // Praise & Shine

Tapestries are beautiful works of art. They are typically woven by hand on a loom by a skilled artisan. This artisan will interface each color back and forth in its own small pattern area. Tapestries are considered to be delicate and very difficult to make; however, when complete, they are masterpieces. If you have ever had the chance to look at the back of a tapestry, you would find a different picture. It would reveal all its knots and seemingly random threads.

The same is true of life. Like an elaborate tapestry, our lives are woven little by little. Oftentimes, however, our lives seem like a tangled mess. Mistakes, missed opportunities, and mixed motives.

God has plans and purposes for each of us. If you look back on your life and see a tangled mess rather than a tapestry, trust God is working all those things together in a way we just may not see yet. It’s all about having the right perspective.

One day you will be able to turn over the tapestry of your life and see the beautiful masterpiece God has been creating.

Death & Grief // Praise & Shine

The loss of a loved one, whether it’s sudden or expected, can leave us shocked and unprepared. Your grief can leave you feeling lost and alone. Your mind becomes flooded with things you wish you had said or done. You wish you could say “I love you” one more time. You may not feel ready to say goodbye or deal with the grief that has overtaken you. When you are dealing with grief, your emotions can scatter your thoughts. In the middle of this confusion and difficult time, remember a few simple truths from the bible.

The Apostle Paul calls death our “enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). Death reminds us that we live in a broken world. Death was never part of God’s original design. When you recognize this, you will long for the final restoration of all things, when the last enemy–death–has been defeated.

Death leaves us feeling alone, but remember, you are never alone in the darkness. Your Savior, Jesus, has taken the name Emmanuel, or “God with us.” This name reminds you that when you came to Christ, you also became the place where God dwells! His presence makes it impossible for you to be alone. (John 14:15-20)

The death of Jesus Christ is a powerful demonstration that the best things can come from the worst. Peter said that Jesus’ death was an evil thing done by evil men to the only truly good person (Acts 2:22-36). Jesus died on the cross so God could defeat sin and death–two enemies we couldn’t defeat on our own. In the same way, God can and does bring wonderful things out of the darkest moments of our lives.

One day death will be put to death. The loss of a loved one should remind you that God’s work is not yet complete. Because of sin, death entered the world. Jesus died so we would no longer have to die. When He rose from the dead, death was defeated. Until He returns, we still experience death but one day life won’t give way to death. Children won’t mourn their parents, parents won’t mourn their children, and there will be no widows or grieving friends.

On the cross Jesus defeated death, and his resurrection is your guarantee that one day, all who believe in Him, will be resurrected to a life of glory and peace. One day He is coming again to end physical death and usher in a new heaven and earth where there will be no death, no tears, and no sorrow (Revelation 21:1-4).

If you are struggling with the grief after the loss of a loved one, please read this article for a deeper look into biblical truth, and how to find healing in God.

Red Sea Clear // Praise & Shine

The other day, I was thinking of the Israelites at the Red Sea. They had the sea before them and the Egyptians behind them. And rather than praying for their path to be clear, they complained. Of course, God parted the Red Sea, and they walked on dry ground. When the Egyptians followed in pursuit, the sea closed, and the enemy was defeated. God delivered the Israelites out of the hands of the Egyptians.

By all accounts, this was a miracle. It was clear. I call it ‘Red Sea Clear.’ They must have known that when the sea cleared and the ground was dry, God wanted them to go that way. It WAS God’s will. Wouldn’t it be nice if every time we wanted to know God’s will, He made it ‘Red Sea Clear?’

When the Israelites made it to the other side, they praised God, singing, worshiping, and thanking God for the miracle He just performed. But before too long, they started complaining again. How quickly we forget God’s grace.

We should try singing, praising, and thanking God before the sea is parted. Thank God in advance, “Lord, I know you are going to part this Red Sea. I know this, because you promised it in your Word. And I know you can’t break your Word, or your promise. I wan’t to thank you now for what You are going to do.”

When the Israelites praised, it wasn’t in faith, it was in relief. We need praise in faith being the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that have not yet happened. And when the Red Sea parts and you see the dry ground, don’t just walk, run out in faith.

The Righteous Shall Live By Faith // Praise & Shine

The righteous will live by faith. (Habakkuk 2:4) This is perhaps the most important connection between two words in the Bible.

Righteousness and faith.

To be righteous means that you are right with God. You know what it feels like when your relationship with another person is just right. Nothing can stand between you, and you always do right by each other. With God, that’s called righteous, and in the Bible, it’s the only way to heaven.

“But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.'” Galatians 3:10.

The problem is we can never live to the standard of righteousness set by God.

“So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law…” Galatians 3:11.

So God made a way to reconcile us.

“But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hong on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoinge…” Galatians 3:13.

Jesus paid for our sins, to break the curse, and make us righteous. Right with God by faith in Jesus. The righteous shall live by faith.

Gratitude // Praise & Shine

With everything we have in our daily lives, it is easy to overlook all the amazing things God is doing for us. A Christian living a life of gratitude expresses thankfulness and praise.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Displaying gratitude is a distinguishing quality of Christians, but there are positive health benefits too. Practicing gratitude increases dopamine levels in our brain, making us feel good and encouraging us to seek more of the same. The more we are grateful for, the more we will find things to be grateful for.