With Great Anticipation

As some renovations are happening around the house, we have restricted our entire household to one bedroom, our kitchen, and the family room. With just the two of us, plus the pooches (excessive heat over 100F has forced my old pal Bubba inside), we’re comfortable enough. Ms. Diane’s little friend Archie isn’t quite sure what to make of it all, but he’s finding plenty of new places to explore. Usually found in my wife’s craft room or my den; the only time he’s at this end of the house is when his dinner is served. His favorite hangout has been in mama’s lap or looking out the low windows.

The other day, I caught him in the cutest little pose (photo above), leaning on the windowsill and looking out the window in our breakfast nook. The way he had his front paws crossed in front of him brought a chuckle. I’m not sure if he was watching the chickens chase grasshoppers or the cows getting in the hot tub (their pond), but he was most intent. Focused on what was outside, he didn’t even respond when I said, “Cookie.” It was with great anticipation that he was looking forward to going outside and exploring all those smells.

The words of Titus 2:13 raised up from my heart and I found myself asking, “Am I that focused on what’s ahead?” It seems so easy to get distracted as we walk through this world sometimes. There are bills to pay, shopping, cleaning, laundry, appointments, repairs, maintenance, meals, and always a hundred other things that can take over our days. I’m glad that I get up before everyone else and get my focused “God time” in before the day gets into full swing. That time helps me to set my eyes upon God and invites His presence with me throughout the day. I need that! The peace He brings as we walk through the day truly helps me make it through. Often, I find myself silently asking for Him to help me come closer as the world does its best to steal my peace.

Satan does his best to distract you through the world and disrupt your faith walk each day. #AStrongFaith #OvercomingTheWorld Share on X

I wish I could tell you I’m always in a peace-filled, joyous state-of-mind as I walk about spreading sunshine, but when you’re responsible for so much, that Utopia is unrealistic. It would be nice to live like that, but I don’t think that’s what God wants for us. We can’t grow to become what He wills for us without adversity in our lives. It’s the struggle that builds our faith muscles. The key to living our best Christian life is accepting the struggle and relying upon God’s presence in your life each day.

I remain hopeful upon God’s promise that I will one day live worry-free, stress-free, and distraction-free, focused solely on worshipping and living in His presence. Until that Day, we are all encouraged to do all we can to prepare ourselves and others for that time. We understand that this time of preparation is called sanctification, but what does that word look like in our lives? When I asked myself that question, my immediate response was, “Surrender. Surrendering to the work and will of God in my life so that I become more like His Son. I must relinquish control of this life so my new life in Christ can take on His character and goals.”

Thinking about this further, I realized that my thinking was too narrow, it was too “me-focused.” I prayed and then went back to read Titus 2 in its entirety. Verses 11-14 stood out as I came to understand that this Scripture speaks to not only the individual Christian, but to our obligation to the body of Christ.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to
all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly
lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the
present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious
appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who
gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every
lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people,
zealous for good works.

(Titus 2:11-14 NKJV)

In Paul’s letter to Titus, I think perhaps he was also writing this epistle to those whom Titus was pastoring/ministering to. Paul was exhorting all Christians to subject ourselves to the sanctification process so that the church (the body of Christ) will grow stronger together.

The purpose for sanctification goes beyond the individual. It brings unity and growth to the entire body of Christ. #SanctifyTheBody #ChristianUnity Share on X

Titus 2 tells us that as Christians, we must live morally and right in accordance with God’s Word, so we do not become stumbling blocks to others. To do this, we must extend the work of sanctification in our lives to others within the body of Christ. If you will, we are missionaries within the entire body of Christ. We are to minister to one another. It’s important to remember that this body extends far beyond our church walls.

God obligates us to be good stewards of those fellow Christians placed in our care. This includes our brothers and sisters in Christ in other churches and other communities. To accomplish this, we must make considerable effort to grow ourselves in Christ and to help those around us do the same. The work of our ministry includes helping the body to grow and mature in love and unity.

Christian growth takes work and effort, individually borne by every member of the body. It involves rigorous self-examination, practice, self-control, self-discipline, and actively overcoming the things which separate us from God and our brethren. God’s grace teaches us to replace our worldly desires and cravings with godly cravings and desires for truth and righteousness.

Like Ms. Diane’s little dog, I find myself looking out the window to the future when Christ returns. But I cannot, like him, become so focused on tomorrow that I ignore everything and everyone else around me today. Until His return, my job as a Christian is to invite and encourage others to peer through that window with me. As I continue to learn and grow in Christ, I am reminded of the words of I Corinthians 13:12. There is much I am yet to learn. But if I continue seeking His presence in my life and understanding, He will be faithful to keep growing and grooming me for His service.

I pray that you too find something new in God’s Word this week. Something that not only helps you grow in Christ, but will help others along our shared journey of sanctification.

God’s blessings,

46 thoughts on “With Great Anticipation”

    1. Thank you Ms. Ann. At one-year-old, he’s still a handful; albeit a four-pound handful. The way he barks (it’s really a screech) always brings my wife (her dog) laughter. Glad you took something away from the post ma’am. God’s blessings.

  1. “invite and encourage others to peer through that window with me”
    Daily anticipation is amplified, intensified and personified when we consider I Cor. 2:9.
    Thanks for whetting my anticipation.

  2. J.D., this post gives much for me to think on today. All I can say is > Thank you for your transparency. Thank you for this entire post. Thank you for reminding me that the struggle is necessary and needed and keeps me dependent on God. May God bless you, and Ms. Diane, and be with you all!

    1. Thank you Ms. Joanne. Yes, the struggle is very real. But, as you point out, it’s a necessary one so He might grow us stronger. I sometimes refer to it as “spiritual sandpaper.” It’s what God uses to remove the rough edges of our life.

  3. You’ve given so much to chew on. Love the picture of Archie both real and spiritual of his eyes set on his goal. Oh my. To keep my eyes on the Lord Jesus! Thanks so much. Blessings!

    1. Yes ma’am. It’s where our focus needs to be, isn’t it? Each morning I go out before the sunrise and I look east, asking, “Is today the day, Lord?” He hasn’t answered yet, but I’ll keep asking and looking. God’s blessings sweet friend.

    1. Indeed they are Ms. Gail. When are you coming back to Texas sweet lady? I’m not sure I can handle meeting both you and Ms. Lynn at the same time, but maybe the restaurant will let us stay if we promise to hold down the laughter. God’s blessings sweet sister-in-Christ

  4. What a cute pooch! I can relate to Archie. All the enemy has to do is keep me just “a little” distracted. One degree off the right path is one degree off, right? Thank you for reminding me to focus ahead – don’t look to the left or the right. We’re undergoing new flooring install, so I can relate to being exiled to one part of the house. We’ll be finished today. Can’t wait to sleep in my own bed tonight! I hope your reno goes quickly and flawlessly!

    1. How true Ms. Karen. And I’m sure Mr. Russ can explain better than me that if you’re even a smidge off the target up close, the further you move away from the target, the more you miss by. We had new tile installed in three rooms here this week too. What a mess, and all that furniture moving wore me and Mr. John out! LOL Praying a blessed week ma’am.

  5. As a guy who lives almost exclusively in the company of two-legged creatures, I’m thoroughly intrigued with how many lessons God has used you and your four-legged friends to teach us. Like your other fans, I loved the picture of Archie gazing out the window. It brought back memories of watching our kids’ little dogs gaze out a window in their breakfast nook. There’s a clump of trees about 30 yards from their house (they call it the “forest”) :). Young deer come by for a visit occasionally and a few turkeys come around to scratch in the leaves for a bite to eat. Their little dogs delight to look out that window like Archie was doing and when the wildlife comes by react with unrestrained frustration that they can’t get out there to chase them. That little drama has unfolded a few times when Mrs. Diane and I have happened to be there and it’s really entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, inspiring insights like the ones you shared this morning never occurred to me–another affirmation that we need you to keep filling in the blanks for us.
    But beyond that, your focus on the fact that our ministry, our mission, and our lives, are not “all about me.” What God reinforced for me as you skillfully transitioned from the picture of Archie to the picture of our relationship with Jesus, was that His call to “follow” Him is more than just traipsing along behind Him. It’s an invitation to be in partnership with Him. Life is about going where He goes, reacting like He would, saying what He would say, and doing what He would do. God make it clear that our lives are “not our own” (I Cor. 6:19-20), and for me, I love the idea that “surrender” in this case means accepting an invitation to be a part of the most incredible partnership I could ever imagine.
    So, thank you again, my friend. You and Archie have brightened my day, lifted my spirit, injected a dose of encouragement in my heart. You reminded me that when I engage the world, it isn’t just “me.” There’s a divine, gracious, loving, and incredibly powerful partner involved as well, and that makes it “Us.”

    1. Oh, how your kind and encouraging words humble me Mr. Ron. Each week, you and my other dear friends who read and comment on my posts, remind me that although I write to an audience of One (Jesus Christ), His blessing upon me is when something I’ve written and given to Him blesses others. The comments I receive on my posts are both humbling and challenging for me. The challenge comes from my desire to never fail my readers and always give them the best I have to offer to God.

    1. Thank you Ms. Diana. I’m with you ma’am, in that our focus should be on allowing God to groom and grow us. I’m sure glad He uses such a sweet lady as you to help me accomplish that.

  6. A powerful message here! Archie’s pose reminds me of my grandson’s excitement (when he was about three years old) each time the garbage truck stopped to collect the trash. He could hear it in the distance and watched out the window for it in great anticipation. Much like we should anticipate the arrival of Jesus.
    Unity and oneness seems hard to find in today’s world – which is why we need to strive for it all the more,

    1. Amen Ms. Candyce. We surely do ma’am. The world wants us to focus on “individualism” and “self”. God wants us to focus on Him, and that means serving those around us. I’m always amazed at how when I’m serving in whatever capacity I can at church, someone else from church is serving me and my family. That’s the way the body of Christ is supposed to work. Much the same way the community of Christian writers we share this journey with support one another. God’s blessings ma’am.

  7. That picture is so adorable and does give us an image of how we should be anticipating Christ. I love this statement you made, “Until His return, my job as a Christian is to invite and encourage others to peer through that window with me.” This is so true and, yes we should be looking for Christ, but also not forgetting we still have a job to do while on this earth. Blessings, J.D., and also I wish you success in your renovations!

  8. Little Archie is adorable! And your lesson to make sure we focus on watching what God has for us today is so applicable. May we all be windows that help people to see God!

  9. J. D. , you crafted powerful truth into this section: “We can’t grow to become what He wills for us without adversity in our lives. It’s the struggle that builds our faith muscles. The key to living our best Christian life is accepting the struggle and relying upon God’s presence in your life each day.” I want to focus more on accepting the struggles and “relying on God’s [faithful] presence and guidance to teach me. I enjoyed this post and appreciated your humor and candid views, in addition to the application of God’s Word. Thank you.

    1. I’m with you Ms. Jeannie. In accepting the struggles in this life, we are growing stronger for the eternal life to come. And the stronger our faith becomes, the bolder we can become in proclaiming the message of the gospel of Christ.

  10. We’re not promised tomorrow. But sadly, it’s far easier to gaze out our “windows”, heart longing for things we may not yet have or want. That mindset blinds us to seeing the work in front of us, this day, this moment, in our hard journey of sanctification. Loved the image of your little gem at the window. It’s a great visual for how we tend to miss opportunities to strengthen the Body of Christ today, here and now.

    1. Yes ma’am. We have to remember that it is what we do today that enhances our tomorrow. We must work toward that goal, not spend every waking moment dreaming of that goal. Daddy used to have a saying at work, “That boy is so heavenly minded that he’s no earthly good.” That wasn’t putting down someone for their faith, but pointing out that they are so focused on tomorrow that they fail to do anything today to ensure that tomorrow will arrive. Great thoughts ma’am. Thank you.

  11. Thank you for sharing another meaningful and inspiring message. I showed Rowan and Eden the photo of Archie. They kept saying “He’s so cute. He’s so little.” Eden wanted to touch the screen to be closer to Archie. Although we may have struggles, we can rest in the promises of God. His love and mercy will comfort us each moment. Have a blessed day dear friend. 🙂

    1. Awww… Archie would have loved to have played with your grandkids. He loves “sock monster” (he’s been a sock thief forever), so we tie our old socks in a knot and he runs through the house with them, as though he just stole the crown jewels. Then he wants to play tug of war with you.

      How true my friend, God wants us to struggle so our faith grows stronger, but He always wants us to come rest in Him. Great truth sweet sister.

  12. Amen to these spiritual truths you’ve shared J.D.
    I hope you’re able to enjoy the finished renovations soon and can spread out a bit.
    I’m still smiling thinking of your “cows in the hot tub.” 🙂

    1. Thank you Ms. Sally. I’ll have to post a photo of “Cows in the Hot Tub” for you later today when they go for their lounge time. It happens around 3:30pm every day in the summertime.

  13. This is such an encouraging post. You remind us of the responsibility we have to fix our eyes on Jesus and His marching orders for us. In the letter to Titus, Paul drafted powerful words of transformation led by the Holy Spirit. Thank you for passing on these powerful words today.

  14. I once read something by Elisabeth Elliot to the effect that that’s one reason God doesn’t tell us more about heaven–because we’d be so excited, we wouldn’t be able to keep our minds on what needs to be done here.

    It’s so true struggle helps grow our faith, though it doesn’t feel good at the time.

    May we keep growing more like Him until we see Him face to face.

  15. What a powerful lesson here, JD. I love the scripture in Titus–so encouraging. Like your adorable little Archie, may we keep our eye on the sky but also our feet on the ground in service to the Lord. May we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as we pursue sanctification in Him, and may we not be distracted by the world’s cares. Prayers for your animal kingdom during this heat snap–it’s dangerously hot. Have a blessed weekend, my friend.

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, and especially for the prayers during this heat wave. It’s hard on all of us, but we can come inside and sit under the fan or under A/C. My livestock can’t do this. I am especially worried about heat stress at night. With the temperatures not getting below 80 at night, there’s not a lot of convection cooling that’s happening to help them cool down and get ready for the next day. That’s what killed all those cows in KS last summer.

  16. I have been challenged. I never really expanded my thinking to realize that I need to grow for my writing audience, not just for myself! Why haven’t I ever thought of that before? Self-centered, I guess. Thank you for the lesson, J.D. I must not remain in the same place spiritually. I have a responsibility as a Christian writer to grow and share. Yes!

    1. Well said Ms. Karen. Great insights ma’am. As Christian writers, we have a sacred duty to share God’s salt and light into this world, both to help our fellow Christians but to also bring others to a saving knowledge of Christ, our King.

  17. Until His return, my job as a Christian is to invite and encourage others to peer through that window with me. What a great way to describe it JD. I want to invite as many people as possible to join me as we live for Christ and watch for His return

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Yvonne. Am so pleased you enjoyed the post ma’am. I love the thought of standing there and peering into the window of heaven alongside you and Bill. Every time we pray, that’s what we’re doing, isn’t it? God’s blessings ma’am.

  18. I’m so sorry for the intense heat you’ve experienced there. Another great analogy, J.D. Agree with you wholeheartedly that struggle is what grows us up in Christ–especially as it relates to walking in the Spirit. Ephesians tells us to build up the body of Christ, so there’s no question we are to be about asking God to help us “live a life worthy of your calling” (Ephesians 4:1) and helping others do the same. God bless.

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. It’s been another difficult year of farming and ranching, but I hope to remain as faithful a steward of God’s blessings as He remains my faithful Savior, Creator, and Lord. I can do nothing less my friend.

  19. Loved the picture of little Archie and the reminder of the joy we anticipate as we continue on our journey with Jesus. Sanctification, the process of becoming holy and pure through our ongoing relationship with Jesus, is a process which takes a lifetime for us. We are so blessed that our Savior is so patient to guide us on this journey. Thank you, my friend, for this inspiring message.

    1. Amen Ms. Katherine. When I think of how God has never given up on me, despite the number of times I have failed Him in my life, I stand in awe, humbled by His mercy and grace. What a mighty God we serve my friend. God’s blessings ma’am.

  20. In Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis wrote that out of past, present, and future, the present is most like eternity. I like how you exhort us to make the most of our time today to impact that eternity for ourselves and others. Blessings, J.D.!

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