Press On

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14 (NLT)

I recently started Invisalign orthodontic treatment. I have to wear plastic trays on my teeth 22 hours a day. They are uncomfortable, create a lisp when I talk and every time I eat or drink anything other than water, I need to take them out and brush my teeth and the trays before I put them back in. What a pain! I need to remind myself how nice it will be to have straight teeth and a pretty smile at the end of my 2 years of treatment because right now, I am not seeing any immediate reward, other than the fact that I may have lost a few pounds because the aforementioned post-eating ritual makes me think twice about whether or not a snack is really worth it. 

It can be hard to wait for a reward that seems so far in the future. Life gives us tough seasons. Sometimes even our walk with Jesus can be challenging. It’s tempting to chase instant gratification, however, these things that can satisfy us immediately are temporary. The eternal life Jesus promises is forever. Living with an eternal focus often goes against the messages we are constantly bombarded with in the world today, but let’s look at what Jesus says:

Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:27-29

I love that when Peter asked the very human question of “What’s in it for me?”, Jesus did not admonish him but instead reminded him of the reward given to all who follow. 

What can we do to continue to press on toward our heavenly prize? 

1.    Read the Bible- Staying in the word reminds us of Jesus’ love and promises. 

2.    Prayer- God wants to be in authentic relationship with us. Crying out to God when we are sad and even angry allows him to comfort us and draw us closer.

3.    Community- It’s important to have a good support network of fellow believers who can help encourage and pray for us when we are struggling. 

When you feel discouraged or find yourself asking “Is this worth it?”, remember the promises our Lord has made and the reward waiting for you at the end. Press on toward the prize of eternity in heaven. It will be so worth it.

~Sherry

Sherry Bliss Haase lives in Northern California with her husband and two teenage children. In addition to her favorite role, being a mom, she works in the finance industry as a Retirement Plan Educator. She is also writing a women’s devotional. You can read her blog at www.sherryblisshaase.com.

The Fallen Leaf

The Fallen Leaf: Your Purpose

In the past, I’ve been asked what my favorite season is and I’ve always struggled to answer.  I love different aspects of each season. I like the process of transition and I like the knowledge that it will soon change again.

When Autumn arrives, I cherish the changing colors of the trees and the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet as I walk through the woods.  Leaves fluttering through the air as they fall to the Earth is one of the most peaceful moments I can think of (next to watching snow fall slowly).

Does the leaf know its lifespan is over? Does it know it’s fulfilled its role for the tree? 

Or…

Is the leaf able to recognize that it’s about to create joyful play-space for small children and dogs as they jump into piles?  Is it able to recognize that it’s about to fertilize the ground beneath the tree, continuing to provide nutrients for the tree and the vegetation nearby?

In the same way that the leaf has continued purpose, even after it falls from the tree, we have purpose in transitions during our Christian walk.  

  • As you step down from a committee at church, you are steered towards a different ministry.
  • As you complete a Bible Study, you are given opportunity to share what you learned with others.
  • As you watch others leave your church, you are able to volunteer in new roles.
  • As you observe a seemingly fruitless prayer life, you become aware of the work God is doing in your life.

Most of us are familiar with Ecclesiastes 3:1, which states “For every season, there is an appointed time. And there is a time for every matter under heaven.”

We may even be familiar with how that passage gives us direct guidance on the timing of transitions in verses 2-8:

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.


A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.


A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

If we read further to Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NASB), we read, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, without the possibility that mankind will find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”

Each time we think we’re done, we must remember that God has purpose for our lives.  He has purpose for each of those endings…and each of the subsequent beginnings. 

Just as the fallen leaf continues to have purpose, keep in mind your Christian walk has purpose in all of your transitions.

~Emily

Seasons of Life

I saw a meme several times this week that expressed dislike for calling attention to a “season of being single.” Essentially, the meme is highlighting the unnecessary hurt caused by labeling singleness as a season.

It got me thinking about the different phases I’ve had in my life.  There was a season of being a new believer.  The phase of being a newlywed.  The time of being deliberately disobedient to God.  The time of military service. The part about of infertility disappointments.  The transition to retirement.

I thought about my own season of singleness in my mid-30s, which admittedly was really awesome at times and really sucked at others.  I’ve concluded that every single phase of life each of us faces has highlights and lowlights.  Parts of each season are incredible, which counters the parts that are cloudy darkness.

In the days leading up to Easter celebrations this last week, this meme against “single seasons” also got me wondering about the seasons that Jesus’ mother, Mary, faced in her life.

Her season of being an unwed teen pregnancy statistic. Her season of being a newlywed with an infant.  Her season of her son “running away” to the temple. Her season of learning more from her child than He learned from her.  Her season of watching His trial…of watching Him die.

How incredibly heart wrenching each of Mary’s phases must have been.  On the counter, how incredibly enriching each phase would have been.

In Luke 2:39-53, we read about how Joseph and Mary would travel to Jerusalem annually for the Feast of Passover.  Imagine how she felt when at age 12, Jesus disappeared from her sight and they don’t even notice until they are already on their way home to Galilee.  Everyone is searching frantically for him, issuing the equivalent of an “Amber Alert” 2000 years ago.  Three days later they find him in the temple sitting among the teachers.

This would have been Mary’s season of panic. Panic over a lost child.  Panic over realizing He was more knowledgeable then they could even imagine.  Panic over the thoughts of a future, which would include the child learner becoming the grown-man teacher.

This time of panic would have been laced with joy. There could have been joy and pride at seeing the child learning so intently.  Pride to hear the teachers of the temple praising Jesus’ attentiveness. A maternal love when sensing that the child was about to embark on His destiny.

In Luke 2:51, after rebuking Jesus for worrying His parents, we read “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

Mary had to make sense of what she was seeing in her child.  She knew of Gabriel’s announcement, of Elizabeth’s and Zechariah’s prophecies, and of course, she had experienced her own divine appointment with the Lord through the immaculate conception.  Imagine this question facing Mary:  How do you raise a child you believe is the Messiah?

When one looks at seasons of their own life, there is a give and take between the good and the bad of those phases.  Mary saw that first hand through the seasons of motherhood.

If Mary’s transitions offer us a glimpse into seeing both sides of a scenario, shouldn’t we be able to apply that to our own walk with Christ?   I believe that if we look at our own seasons we can discern positive qualities as well as negative qualities in each.  As in Mary’s time, this look at our “seasons of life” allows us a moment of reflection on what God is trying to teach us.

No matter the phase we are in, we are still learning.   Imagine we’re sitting in the temple at the foot of the great teacher.

I encourage you this week to reflect on your current season.  What are the negative and positive attributes of this time?

~Emily