Sacrifice Before Glory

My small group has been studying the book of Philippians and our most recent lesson focused in on Chapter 2 Verses 1-11. Throughout this passage, Paul encouraged the Philippians to be more like Jesus.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”                                    Philippians 2:3-5 NLT

It’s not easy, is it? I think, as humans, we’re selfish by default. I can’t speak for you, but I tend to remember when someone puts my needs ahead of their own. Humility doesn’t come easily either. We’re a prideful bunch! Jesus did it all perfectly while He walked this earth, because He was God. He would later make the ultimate sacrifice and die a criminal’s death on a cross.

But death did not have the last word—

“God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”                                                                                                                          Philippians 2:9-11 NLT

If I had to sum up (and I like to do that) the whole point of the lesson it would be that sacrifice comes before glory. It was true for Jesus—He was the ultimate example.  It is also true for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

I love when I can connect the dots. While we were driving home from my husband’s grandmother’s funeral last week it struck me that, other than Jesus Himself, she has to rank right up there as one of the best examples I could ever have of what sacrifice before glory looks like. By the time I met her nearly 30 years ago, Gram had already been firmly entrenched in modeling sacrifice daily as the primary caregiver for her disabled husband. That continued until his death in 1993 and she did it all with a smile. She was a lady of great faith and loved her family with all she had. It almost seems like we lost her twice because Alzheimer’s robbed her of her memory several years ago, and now we’ve lost her physical presence too. Lost isn’t a good choice of words though, is it? No—she’s not lost at all. We know exactly where she is. She’s with Jesus.

First, the sacrifice, then the glory! I can’t think of anyone more deserving of that glory.

In loving memory of Freda “Little Gram” Leipold
October 21, 1924 – December 26, 2016




In this world you will have trouble…                                                 (John 16:33 NIRV)

You may not remember being a toddler yourself, but have you ever witnessed one expressing his newfound independence with the words, “I can do it myself!”? That thought generally continues far beyond the age of 2. In fact, I’m still struggling with it 50 years later. Oh, how the enemy loves that attitude! It feeds right into his plans to separate us from God.

As parents, we want our children to be able to stand on their own two feet and become independent adults. That’s a great goal, but perhaps we should be more specific and limit the object of that independence to people. No matter our age, trying to “do it ourselves” leads to pride and drives a wedge between us and our Creator.

When trouble strikes and the burdens are mounting, we quickly find that we can’t do it ourselves. Well, okay, maybe not quickly. I will admit, I often try to fix it myself first. Perhaps you do too. That’s not the way God drew it up though. He wants us to live in dependence on Him, not independent of Him. God doesn’t want us depending on anyone else. Humans will fail us; He won’t. While the enemy wants nothing more than for us to think we alone can handle whatever trouble finds us, Jesus says,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”           -Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

Are you tired of trying to go it alone? Weary from hauling around your burdens? This promise is for you. Jesus wants to lighten your load and give you rest. He simply asks that you come to Him. That’s a pretty good deal, don’t you think?

But wait, it gets better! I never completed my opening verse. Yes, we WILL have trouble here on earth. Jesus then says,

“But cheer up! I have won the battle over the world.”                        (John 16:33 NIRV)

Or, in the words of a dear friend, “I read the end of the book. We win!”

Thank you, Jesus, for going to the cross and dying for my sins so that I may have life and have it in abundance. Help me to fully understand that you are all I need. If I stay focused and seek you above all else, you will meet my needs. Help me do my part and, by faith, trust you to do yours. Amen. 

Advent: The Candle of Peace

peaceAdvent season is coming to a close and Christmas is upon us! How are those preparations coming along? I find it somewhat ironic that it’s the candle of peace that we lit last, just before Christmas. With time running out to git’r done, the stress levels tend to run high and the peace meter reads low. Whether your stress is Christmas-related or not is irrelevant. No matter the source, the bottom line is that stress and peace have an inverse relationship. So how do we combat stress and enjoy peace instead? I believe the answer is to keep our focus where it belongs. And just where is that? Right where I’ve been attempting to point all along—Jesus, the One whose birth we celebrate on Christmas.

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ‭‭               Isaiah‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Out of love, God gave us His Son, Jesus. Did you catch all those names for that Boy who brought joy? That’s one impressive resumé, perfect even. We’d be crazy NOT to seek His help. We do that through prayer.

The Prince of Peace entered our world to save us. Take to Him the concerns that are weighing heavily on your heart. Replace those worries with prayers, remembering His faithfulness in the past, and trust Him with the results.

‬‬“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”              Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The byproduct of prayer is peace. A peace that cannot be explained.

No matter the magnitude and quantity of your concerns right now, my prayer is that you would know Him as the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God. May the Prince of Peace reign in your heart, now and always.

(Coincidentally, or perhaps not, “Unto Us” started playing in the background as I put the finishing touches on this post)

Rock Solid

solid rock

There has been no shortage of upheaval and excitement since my last post. Yes, I know that was a LONG time ago. I’ll use that as my excuse for not writing in so long as well as my reason for writing now. People who are near and dear to my heart have experienced some incredible highs and unfathomable lows in the past five months. Minus the details, here is a sampling (in no particular order): a life-threatening diagnosis, a new home, loss of job, birth, death of a loved one, a new job, illness, marriage, cancer treatment, an engagement, chronic pain, a change of career, a golden wedding anniversary, injury, vacations, an empty nest, milestone birthdays, surgery, sending a first child to college, a life-altering diagnosis, accidents, baptism, and relocation. That’s a LOT of ups and downs within my circle of influence. And I highly doubt that list is complete! Emotions run especially deep leading up to, during, and following a life-changing event. Sometimes these events occur without any warning. Sometimes life doesn’t follow our script. What do you do when it feels like the rug has been pulled right out from under you? Somehow you must regain your footing and find stability.

Feelings change with the wind, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NLT) As Christians, He is the solid rock on which we stand, our firm foundation, our cornerstone.

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.”     Isaiah 28:16 NLT

Feeling a bit wobbly today? I know just the One who can help. Believe it. Believe Him.

“When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps its foundations firm.”   Psalms 75:3 NLT

“But now, (insert your name), listen to the LORD who created you. (Insert your name), the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.”  Isaiah 43:1-4 NLT (personalized by/for you)

You are safe in His care. Savor the peace that comes from living in His presence. God bless you.