What always brings a smile to your heart?
The sound of your husband’s hello? Hugs from your kids?
Puppy antics? The fragrance of flowers? The rhythm of the surf as it rolls in? Lasagna, especially your Mom’s lasagna?
All good stuff.
Today I read this,
And he rejoiced. . . that he had believed in God.
The season of Thanksgiving is here.
We hang a blessing-tag on certain things in our lives—especially the people and experiences that bring us real joy and make our hearts break into a big wide smile.
And he rejoiced. . .that he had believed in God.
Of all your blessings, don’t forget this one.
Don’t let the joy of it fade with age. Some things just get old, others develop a patina from constant use and frequent polishing.
Take this one out and admire its beauty. Don’t leave it on a high shelf like a fragile porcelain figurine. Hold it in your hands and examine the workmanship.
God spoke to you and you really listened. Something magnificent happened in your heart and mind, in your soul. In a moment you believed in God and were born again.
You have believed in God.
Count it as the greatest blessing of your life.
And give thanks.
Every man is made to reach out beyond his grasp. It is God who draws me, and my relationship to Him in the first place is a personal one, not an intellectual one. I am introduced into the relationship by the miracle of God and my own will to believe, then I begin to get an intelligent appreciation and understanding of the wonder of the transaction.
My Utmost for His Highest
I pray you have a blessed Thanksgiving,
Start with a puppy that makes you laugh. . .
Add artists singing old gospel songs and hymns :)
Can you believe these are two artists from the current season of The Voice?
How awesome is that?
Notice the beauty of Fall that’s showing up all around us.
Remember ~ There’s a message in every miracle.
I’ve been thinking about that as I’m reading through the gospels—on a hunt for miracles and their messages.
Matthew tells us about a leper who came to Jesus. (Matthew 8)
He knelt before Jesus and declared “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
What would you ask?
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said.
What’s the message for us in this miracle?
In his chapter on God’s Goodness, A.W. Tower writes
Nobody ever got anything from God on the grounds that he deserved it. Having fallen, man deserves only punishment and death. So if God answers prayer it’s because God is good.
From His goodness, His lovingkindness, His good-natured benevolence, God does it!
That’s the source of everything.
We’re not on the merit system with God.
At school we earn grades, at work we earn a promotion. Some of us have had friends that made us feel we had to earn their approval.
But we can’t let this world’s thinking seep into our relationship with God.
We’re under grace.
That’s unearned, undeserved favor from God.
Today is the perfect time to seek His grace, to seek His face, to go and ask for a fresh touch from Jesus.
Last Sunday I heard Him described as ‘The With Us God’.
Jesus is with us.
He is for us.
And He’s willing.
We all have flaws. His was that he was a leper.
But this story isn’t about him, it’s about her.
About a little girl child, part of the spoils of war, who without hostility or bitterness, without meanness or vengeful spite wanted to see him healed.
How does a child, abducted from her family and taken hostage, cling to God in faith and care one bit about the health or well-being of her captor?
There is more than one miracle in this old story.
Whatever she knew of the God of Israel she remembered it even in her captivity. She carried it away with her to Syria and right into the house of a military commander and his wife.
Compassion flowed out from her child-heart.
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
2 Kings 5:1-3
I can’t imagine how this child, this little girl, can want something good, something redemptive, something whole-making for this man.
But she does.
It’s godly to want good for others. To care about people and want blessings and a touch from God to come into their lives.
In the circumstances of her life, she finds the intersection of compassion and faith.
Compassion and faith.
That dynamic combination made her an evangelist.
She knew her master’s need and she knew that the prophet, the man of God, could cure him of his leprosy. She actually cares, has love, for this man and his wife.
She cares enough to share what she knows.
Do You Care Enough to Share What You Know?
We’re talking about evangelism at church.
We’re talking about talking about it in January.
I can’t wait that long because I know people with needs.
Picture someone you know who doesn’t know Christ, they’re not a believer, not a Christian.
What do you think is that person’s greatest need?
How would believing on Christ as Savior meet that need?
How would coming to know God in a personal way heal that soul, mend that life, meet that need?
That’s the lesson we learn from this child.
Look for the need in a person’s life and you’ll find the place where they can meet God.
*Read through 2 Kings 5:15 to see Naaman’s confession of faith in God.
The Jesus Style
Take any of the gospel accounts and examine how Jesus interacts with people.
In Capernaum He heals a man in the synagogue who is demon possessed and then He goes to Peter’s house for dinner, but first heals Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. In another city He healed a man with leprosy and on another day a paralytic whose friends let him down through the roof. First he forgave the man’s sins, but went on to heal his physical malady to demonstrate to the religious leaders that He had authority to pronounce sins forgiven.
Jesus saw needs.
Spiritual needs, physical needs, emotional needs, the sins that mar us and the wounds that scar us!
He sees them all. He wants us to care enough to see the needs of people. Then He’ll give us the opportunity to evangelize. To bring good tidings of great joy to people. The deepest most divinely beautiful aspect of the gospel message is that God loves and has demonstrated His love in sending His Son.
~ A relationship with God can meet every need of the human heart.
Do you believe that?
~ God loves every single person.
Do you believe that?
If you do it will make you an evangelist.
Jesus mentions the story of Naaman the leper when He visited Nazareth, the village where He was brought up.
“. . . And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
He includes it as part of a rebuke for their lack of faith and their scorn for Him.
They became furious with Him and tried to throw Him off the edge of a cliff.
But look at the first part of His message that morning in the synagogue:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
A Spirit filled messenger with a message of good news from God for the poor.
A message of liberty for the captives.
A message that gives sight to the blind and freedom.
A message of deliverance for the oppressed.
The example we should follow, if we are serious about winning souls for the kingdom of God, is the example given us by Jesus as He walked among us.
See people in their need.
Let God’s love be the anointing that commissions you.
Let God’s Spirit be the power that animates your message.
Proclaim with assurance God’s love and favor toward all.
Share with clarity and simplicity the heart of the gospel:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Declare with conviction the person of Jesus Christ as God and Savior.
And then ask if they want to come and have their need met in Him.
I have a friend who went with a group on a short-term missions trip. She said most people she talked with prayed to receive Christ as Savior. Others on that trip shared the same truth, but didn’t find the same response from the ones they spoke to. As the group members talked about their experiences at the end of the day my friend realized that she had actually asked people to make a decision.
Others shared the gospel, but didn’t invite a decision.
They hesitated and the moment passed.
Again, Jesus is our example. Look at what He says to Martha in this passage from John 11:25-27.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
“Do you believe this?”
Jesus is asking Martha for a decision.
Don’t hesitate to ask for a decision.
Don’t sow the seed and walk on as the Enemy snatches it away.
Make sure the person you’re sharing with understands the truth and the importance of responding to it.
Ask if they believe what the Bible says about Jesus?
Ask if they want a friendship with God?
Do they want forgiveness of sin?
Do they want deliverance from bondage?
Do they desire spiritual life and union with God?
Would they like their life to count for eternity?
“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
I received Christ without anyone asking me if I wanted to pray a sinner’s prayer.
I heard the gospel and believed it that very moment. But a few days later the friend who had invited me to the Bible Study asked me if I was a Christian. I told her I hadn’t been, but that I was when I left her home after the study. I didn’t know I was suppose to say something. It never occurred to me. I had heard the good news and my heart couldn’t wait to say Yes!
We’re not alone in this!!!
In fact we’re just a mouthpiece.
It’s the Holy Spirit Who does the real work in a human heart and mind.
But there is Romans10:9-10
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
That passage encourages me to give a person the opportunity to say it out loud.
To respond in the moment.
To pray a prayer that’s witnessed by another.
Remember that little girl.
Open your eyes to the people around you. Let God show you their need and fill your heart with love and compassion. Pray for them. Pray for an opportunity to be used by God in their life, to bring healing and whole-ness, to bring truth and salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This afternoon a young man and woman will get married.
They’ll join their lives, as the old words say, for better or worse.
It’ll be some of both; married life always is.
Having found a great dress on sale for their special day, I’m now contemplating the weightier issues of matrimony.
First, it has the power to show us who we really are.
It unmasks, it peels back the outer layers, it lays bare the timbers of character.
At some point there’s no convenient hiding place, no ducking behind the furniture, or slinking behind the door. Sooner or later the real us shows up and says hello, or something much less friendly and civilized. We’ve been provoked by all that oneness, all that sharing of life. Which by that point we’ve all figured out means less of ‘my way’ in deference to the preferences of the one time object of our affection.
Too late, or maybe just at the right time, we discover that most frequently we ourselves are the object of our affection.
Second, marriage is both testing ground and factory floor for character.
It’s a crucible set over the flame that shows us the stuff we are made of. It’s a refinery for burning off the impurities and less than desirable components of our ‘all too human’ nature. You want to be a better person? Get married and stay married. Learn to give up having things your own way. Care about another the way you care about yourself. Let your spouse choose what to watch on TV, or where to go for pizza. It sounds trivial right?
But it’s not.
This is one of the hardest things most of us ever do in this life: learn to give up having our own way.
So yes, it’s much harder than this young couple can imagine it will be.
We women want the Fairy Tale
And the dress.
We want babies.
I know, it makes no sense to want to bring a totally selfish, demanding, and completely helpless individual into your life, but we do.
And we want our man to want that too.
What do I know of why men want to marry?
For pot roast? Beef stew? Sex? Filing jointly on tax returns? Someone to remind you of dental appointments?
Probably not those things or not in that order.
I’m just guessing here?????
Please help me out here guys and share the real deal in the comments section. . .
Third, good marriages require regular maintenance
My husband once shared with me a comment made by the groom’s father. They were at a Men’s Bible study and discussing Proverbs 27:15.
A continual dripping on a very rainy day
And a contentious woman are alike;
After a few typical jokes about nagging wives and dripping faucets our friend spoke up. He said he knew a thing or two about dripping faucets and one thing it always showed was a lack of proper maintenance. The other guys got quiet and he said, “I think a woman resorts to nagging because she knows she’s not been heard or responded to properly.”
There’s truth in that.
Not that I endorse or recommend nagging.
I tried it and it totally doesn’t work.
I suggest clarity, conciseness, and a disciplined lack of emotion when communicating about anything problematic in your marriage.
And Billy Graham’s wife Ruth always said a woman was never in a strong negotiating position with curlers in her hair.
Also, every woman should watch this scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
I remember another wedding we attended at the same beautiful venue where we’ll go later today.
The thing I recall most vividly is the thoughts shared by the father of the bride.
This was his advice to a couple beginning life together.
I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
Marriage is something two people build together.
It’s something they nurture with love or starve with neglect.
It can be a shelter or a storm front, a garden or a wasteland.
The vows are just words.
The ceremony just the public witness to the words.
Marriage is a sacred endeavor that shapes and molds two people into one.
What advice would you give to a young couple on their wedding day?
UPDATE: I just discovered this article called 12 Things Marriage Is and 12 Things It Isn’t
Do You Hear What I Hear?
A couple of weeks ago I began practicing for a Christmas program with a group of people from church.
How hard could this be, I mean it’s just a few Christmas carols.
I’m rusty and my vocal cords are less flexible than they were a decade ago.
But I’ve noticed an even bigger problem.
I am not a good listener.
Except to myself ;)
I can hear myself loud and clear, in the car, in the shower, or while rinsing the dishes.
Even at singing practice.
But the more the merrier! Right?
Especially for singing Christmas carols.
Two voices are better than one.
And ten—well, there’s safety in numbers!
The beautiful blend of good harmonies brings out the richness of the old familiar songs that tell the story of the birth of Jesus.
Except, I think I’ve forgotten how to listen to others ;)
Now I’m wondering if there’s a broader lesson for me in this whole thing???
Even a life lesson—yikes, I have a complicated relationship with life lessons.
Kind of a love-hate thing.
So I’ve been trying to improve my listening skills.
Trying to listen to those singing the harmonies. Trying to blend my voice with theirs, to get our phrasing in sync, to sing as a group with one voice.
I heard somewhere that listening is one of the most important life skills.
We have two ears and one mouth.
That anatomical ratio has got to be an object lesson from our Creator!
Two listening devices.
One speaking device.
OK, even I can grasp the significance of that.
So I paraphrased or personalized James 1:19
It’s God’s instruction to me—because He knows what I’m like and how often I blow it in this area.
Kelly, here’s how I want you to interact with others: be urgently quick to hear everything they’re saying, be super excruciatingly slow to speak, and totally, completely reluctant and disinclined to get angry with anyone about anything—ever. Got it?
Here’s that verse from the Amplified version:
Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];
James 1:19 AMP
Whatever the state of your relationships—at home, at work, with friends—ask yourself if you’re really listening to the people in your life.
~ Listen for emotions like frustration, hurt, or sadness.
Before you speak let them know by your eye contact and facial expression that you’re hearing them.
Husbands need this from us. Kids need this from us. Friends need this from us.
~Listen for the good emotions too like excitement, joy, and love.
Stay focused on that person and really share in their good feelings. Celebrate with them :)
And put down your phone!!!
Don’t let that manufactured thing suck the human connection—the heart-to-heartness out of your relationships.
Here’s more about coping with the digital explosion that puts the world in your hands while it pushes the people in the room out of your mind and heart.
Do you feel a decreased, diminished connection with others?
Have your interactions left you feeling like you weren’t really heard or cared about?
Or, have you been the one distracted and disengaged?
Would you turn your phone off while meeting with a friend for coffee?
How good do you think it would make them feel to know they were THAT important to you?
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
1 Peter 3:12
Father help me, help us all, to treat people with the love you pour out on us.
Looking into their eyes and listening with interest and compassion to their words.
Let their stories and struggles touch us, move us, or inspire and delight us.
Forgive our selfishness and fill us with Your love and ‘other-minded-ness’.
Draw them all in with love.
Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, the lonely and disconnected—draw them in and reach out through us to bless them.
What would it be like if Jesus led your personal Bible reading/study time?
In a word—awesome!
When it happened to a couple of bummed out disciples walking along a dusty road to Emmaus, they said “. . .our hearts burned within us while he talked to us on the road, while He opened the to us the Scriptures.”
That’s the experience we all want.
We want a burning heart that’s fully alive, fully engaged because of an encounter with Jesus.
Instead we feel a little disappointed or ashamed that sometimes the Scriptures seem closed to us when we read them ourselves.
It happens to us all.
For some people it’s just too discouraging. It’s enough to make them give up on the whole process entirely.
God says we are to search for Him, to seek Him out.
The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
But the Bible is a long book, a big book with lots of characters with confusing names. It’s full of old stories that take place in ancient cities and countries. A lot of it seems so far removed from our lives, our experiences. We get lost in the tall grass ;)
Secretly we ask, “Is any of this even relevant to my life?”
“How can I wade through all of it to find the parts that apply to me, to my life, my family, my journey?”
What does God want from me? For me? Through me?
What is He trying to tell me?
Jesus said, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Luke 4:4
Everything God says is pure; He’s a shield for those who take refuge in Him. Proverbs 30:5
It’s all good!!!
All of it.
But I don’t think it was random that Jesus focused on the truth about Himself when He met those two guys on that road to Emmaus.
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Jesus is without doubt the center of God’s message to us.
In Jesus we see the fulness of God. We see the incarnation of God’s love, His mercy, and His grace in Jesus the man.
Every story that is told reveals something about God’s own nature, His working in the world, His heart toward us, His plans, and His eternal purposes, and our part in those plans and purposes.
What’s the meaning of the burning heart response?
It says Jesus began with Moses, those first five books of our Bible, and expounded, or unfolded the meaning by explanation and interpretation.
Then He moved on to the prophets and did the same.
Jesus opened their eyes to see Him in the Scriptures.
That’s what caused their hearts to burn.
Our hearts are looking for Jesus!
I found an old post-it-note with this phrase on it: There’s a message in every miracle.
I’ve been thinking about that as I read the gospels.
I’m not sure what messages I was looking for, but I thought they might be about the others in the stories, like the little boy who offered his 5 loaves and two fish to Jesus, or a lesson in faith for Martha and Mary grieving their dead brother Lazarus.
But, it was right there all along: the message is about Jesus.
It’s always about Him.
What He can do if we just offer Him what we have.
How the trials in our lives bring Him glory.
Our tendency is to start with ourselves.
We read our Bibles for ourselves.
We want to figure out how to end our trials, conquer our weaknesses, relieve our stresses.
We want happy marriages, successful children, and fruitful spiritual lives.
Nothing wrong with those things.
God wants those too, but Jesus began by expounding, unfolding truth about Himself, to His followers.
If we start with Jesus the rest will follow.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18
Our hearts burn when we see Jesus.
Start looking for Him when you read your Bible.
Can I share with you my prayer, the one I pray before I read from my Bible?
Holy Spirit show me Jesus, lead me into the truth—His truth, as I read today. Kindle a fire in my heart with the knowledge of Jesus and with a clear vision of Him. Then change me, transform me into that same image for His glory.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Do you ever wonder what Jesus is doing?
I admit sometimes I wonder, just what is taking Him so long??? I know He’s coming back for us. But when?
My trials make me impatient for it.
The ickiness and evil in the world make my soul cry out, ‘Come quickly Lord Jesus!’
I’ve found two passages in the Bible that give us clues about how He is occupied while we’re waiting for Him.
The first is this promise in John’s gospel.
“I go to prepare a place for you.”
He knows just what we’re gonna need for our forever stay.
He’s on it. He’s thought of everything. And it will all be perfect.
That lifts me when I feel ‘not at home’ in this world. I remember that this isn’t my real home, it’s like being on a long trip and longing to get home.
Home, where you belong, where your family is, and where you feel their love and acceptance.
Yep, even the things we don’t know we’ll need.
Like the knowledge of God that will heal our ‘soul holes’ as Ann Voskamp call them, even that will be ours.
To know God fully. There’s deep wonder in that promise.
The Grand Tetons are majestic, but God is Majesty, divine Majesty. He is brilliant in glory, immeasurable in love, overflowing in mercy, unmatched in power, and without equal in wisdom.
Don’t you want to know Him?
I can’t wait!
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12
The second thing Jesus is doing is praying for us. Constantly. Faithfully. Wisely. Effectively.
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
Hebrews 7:25 NLT
He intercedes with God on my behalf and on your behalf.
We forget to pray for ourselves and others, but Jesus lives for it!
We’re at the forefront of His thoughts. Don’t let the enemy tell you that Jesus has forgotten you—it’s not true. He numbers the hairs of your head. No detail is too small, no care too mundane, and no need too great for Him.
Jesus is waiting for that coming moment, that appointed time when He’ll return for His us and we’ll never be separated from His presence again.
We’ll see and enter into everything He’s prepared for us.
We’ll know all the prayers He prayed for us.
We’ll be all He has planned for us to be.
We’ll know as we are known.
The old song says, I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop, in that bright land where we’ll never grow old.
I don’t know what kind of dwelling Jesus is preparing, but I know it’ll be perfect.
While in France we toured some of the great French Chateaux. This one is Chateau de Villandry. Beautiful, but a maintenance nightmare ;)
I said I’d blog about France, but instead I ate croissant, lots of French pastry and traipsed all over soaking up art, architecture, and the bucolic French countryside.
It’s all as beautiful as you’ve heard, but I’m sorry to report that there is still too much smoking in France.
Have you heard about the movement called Slow Living?
Life in an African village is a model of Slow Living.
There are 12 hours of daylight all year round and the strength of the midday sun can sap of the vitality of even an Olympic athlete. Nobody wears a watch and there are no clocks on the walls of their mud huts. The changing seasons are invisible, but follow a regular pattern of anticipated rainfall. Farmers know when to plant in hopes of rain that will make their crops grow.
They prepare the soil, they plant their crops, then they wait.
In the western world we rush.
We pushback against the onward march of the clock and try to pack as much into every minute, every day as is humanly possible.
That can’t be good over the long haul of a lifetime.
We’re getting ready to head back to the States and all the hustle and bustle of modern life ~ a lifestyle designed around productivity and as the poet* said “getting and spending”.
Not a lifestyle designed to cultivate a rich life in God.
I hadn’t heard of this concept of Slow Living, but I like it!!!
Want to slow down a little?
Want to begin to savor the good things, the simple things in your life?
I hope you’ll find something enlightening in this offering from houzz.com
I’m calling this Slowdown Sunday ;) Even God took a day off!
This is the poem I mentioned earlier in this post. Parts of this poem deeply resonate with me.
Don’t look for doctrinal perfection in it, it’s just poetry.
The World Is Too Much With Us
I hate it when life goes from Technicolor to black and white and icky feelings creep into my heart.
They’ve usually hitched a ride on unkind thoughts spawned of misunderstandings, less than stellar behavior, or the more common varieties of thoughtlessness. It doesn’t matter if I’m the victim or the perpetrator. Either way the track plays over and over. Side A is called Justification and on the flip side is a song called Blame.
None of it pleases God. None of it blesses others.
It’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of love.
As children of God we have at our disposal an unlimited reservoir of love.
. . .because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
A love so powerful, so complete, it allows us to love everyone. Even those who offend us, especially those who offend us.
Forgiveness is the stiff wind that blows away the gloom of icky feelings.
Forgiveness is letting go of the hurt and allowing the love of God to flow from my heart toward that person once again. It’s relinquishing my right to ‘feel’ offended and surrendering the moral high ground of ‘aren’t they so awful’, look how they treated me.
What if I’m the one that did the hurting?
What if my words, my judgment, my selfishness were the cause of another’s pain?
The cloud of icky is gonna hang on like San Francisco fog in June until I fess up, humble myself, and personally accept responsibility.
And—it brings my spiritual life to a grinding halt. FULL STOP.
God isn’t gonna overlook it because I’m not comfortable with conflict resolution. The discomfort of the whole thing will etch itself deeply in memory and serve as a deterrent in the future. He insists on reconciliation.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
We can’t control what others think or say.
That’s between them and God, but we can exert significant influence over our own thoughts. What we think will lead to what we say.
Jesus said it this way:
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
“The tongue is the tail of the heart. The heart is known by how the tongue wags.”
We’ve been ministering in Africa for weeks now and I’ve heard teachings from the book of Philippians over and over again.
Here’s God’s counsel on setting up a filter for our thoughts:
~ worthy of praise
think about these things.
Remember the Petri dishes in Biology class? Our hearts are like Petri dishes, they’ll grow and multiply the thoughts we introduce.
James tells us the tongue can be a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
If our thoughts pass through the 8 filters listed in Philippians we won’t create icky feelings in others. And the hurts we experience simply can’t grow in the pure environment of these filters. The good in our hearts shrivels up the icky feelings and we know the God of peace is with us.
photo credit: Richard Loader unsplash.com
We forgot to take a padlock to Paris!
TripAdvisor never said a word about it. Ditto Rick Steves. Same for Fodor’s France.
I don’t know when this became a thing, but the bridges in Paris are slowly being overtaken by padlocks.
The newest symbol of a couple’s enduring love.
Seeing all that gleaming colorful hardware reflecting the sunshine of a bright Paris afternoon, I had to wonder how many of those couples are still— well, you know, still a couple.
Or is the padlock a symbol of a love that no longer exists?
Christians hold the Cross of Christ as the greatest symbol of God’s love for mankind.
For on it Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
But among the sites and relics of the Holy Land you won’t see the one that most definitively and beautifully symbolizes God’s love for us.
The Cross no longer stands on the hill called Golgotha, but the love demonstrated there is as deep as ever it was.
Maybe you’ve been distracted by life’s busyness and haven’t been thinking of God.
He’s been thinking of you.
In Psalm 139 David captures the depth and intensity of the love God has for you.
Let it refresh your heart with a new awareness of His constant abiding love.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it. . .
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
Psalm 139:1-6 & 17-18
There’s no one, no one, who knows you as God knows you.
Every hurt and regret, every habit and character trait. Your thoughts and motivations, your hopes and disappointments—He knows them all.
David says this truth is just too lofty, too marvelous to comprehend.
He can’t really wrap his mind around the way God knows and loves him.
He’s written on this theme before.
In Psalm 40:5 he put it like this:
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
More than can be told.
How do you respond to that kind of love?
Respond by returning it in kind.
Take some time today to think about God. List a few of the things you know about Him. How would you describe His ways, the things He does and how He does them. Proclaim it! Tell somebody about it!
What do you think is God’s greatest desire? What fills Him with joy and delight?
The more you discover Him, the more you’ll love Him.
. . .the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his unfailing love.