Responding to Suffering

A homeless man in Paris

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“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.’” – Luke 16:19-25

I admit that when I see people suffering in some way, I don’t always know what to do. At times, it can seem overwhelming for in this world there is a lot of evidence of brokenness. My heart goes out to those that hurt and I attempt to do something. I believe these verses are talking about the condition of our heart and not what we are able to do.

Jesus said we would always have the poor with us. How our heart responds to needs makes the difference, but we need to remember that we can’t do it all. God doesn’t want us to take on everything. That’s why he gave everyone a special call on their life. Listening carefully to the Spirit is needed at all times.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that I may be moved to respond where you call me to do so. I thank you that you give me the ability and enable me with your power to complete the task assigned. Amen

Faith Tip: Do you know someone in need of comfort today? Pray to God to give you direction and discernment.

Preparing for Easter

Cross-in-Chimayo-Area

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“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Lent begins today. What will we do with it? Is it just another day in our life, or is it something in which we take action? The action is in preparation. Preparation can take many forms such as buying eggs to color, getting an Easter dress and bonnet, or planning a special meal for Easter. There is nothing wrong with doing these things, but the real preparation is in the heart. Lent is a time to prepare our hearts for the greatest event in history. Reliving the Easter experience in our lives brings us closer to the true meaning of what Jesus accomplished and what it cost him.

God calls us to live a holy life. God is the only one who makes us holy and it is truly only by his grace that we can experience holiness in walking with God. Follow in the footsteps of the Master this Lenten season and discover the powerful events of God as he readies his one and only son to pay the ultimate price for you and me.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for taking the sin in my life and paying for it. Your love for me is more than I can imagine although I don’t deserve it. I pray that I can pick up your cross each day and carry it closer and closer to Calvary. Amen

Faith Tip: Begin today with praying for an open heart to where God wants to take you on this Lenten journey.

Heart exchange

Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual Mashups

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I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19)

I recently took some playdoh that I had sitting around to a mentoring session with a fourth grader. I had four different colors for them to choose from. The canisters were never open, so I thought they would be delighted to be the first to use it. Unfortunately, the playdoh was hard in all four canisters. It only crumbled and was not flexible at all. We were disappointed because it wasn’t any fun in this condition.

Our hearts can be like that playdoh—stiff, hard, crumbling, inflexible. We can make choices to try to be a better person and care about others more. Honestly, there is nothing we can do without seeking God. God is the one that gives us a heart of flesh that is loving, caring and obedient to him. As our relationship with God is built on, we will see things the way that God sees them and care about the things that God cares about. In true obedience and desire, we will follow God where he sends us, speak his words, and show his love. It won’t be just a practice session of “being good,” it will be who we truly are because of the transforming power of God.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for changing my heart. You have been faithful from the beginning and have plans for me to use my heart of flesh for your kingdom. I pray that I will continually sit at your feet and drink in who you are. Amen.

Faith tip: Time for a heart check. Ask God if there are any areas in which transformation is needed, and then open your heart to whatever work he wants to do in you.

Pondering

A photo of The Thinker by Rodin located at the...

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But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

Each day, our minds are full of things to think about…what we will have for dinner, projects that are before us, someone is sick or hurting, world events, etc. It’s amazing all the things that our mind can hold and process. Studies show that we use a very small portion of our mind…about 10% at most times. There is greater potential for us if we choose to stretch our minds.

Of course, whatever affects our minds affects our hearts, too. What we choose to fill our minds with is what we choose in which to fill our hearts. Mary treasured the things God was doing in her life and around her…and pondered on them. She chose the things of God to fill her mind and heart. She lived her life in response to these treasures. What are some of the things we treasure in our mind and heart?

Prayer: Lord, you are more precious than silver or gold as the song says. May we treasure all that you are doing in our lives and around us…ponder on them like the treasure they are…and live out our lives in response to them.

Faith tip: Make a conscious effort today to take some time and ponder on the goodness of God. Step away from something else that you have been filling your mind with that is not treasure.