Don’t Miss the Feast

hugs

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21

I am so good at talking myself out of doing something I should. I have a young friend who recently lost a close relative. I hadn’t seen her in about a year and wondered if it would matter if I was there. The visitation was quite a distance, my schedule was full, my gas tank low, my dog would be waiting in the kennel and so on. There was also a traffic jam from an accident along the way which added a good chunk of time to the commute. But I was determined to follow God’s leading no matter how misguided I thought it was.

I am so glad I went. I can now see why God wanted me to go. She needed to hear and experience God’s love for her. As we hugged, I thanked God for the opportunity to express love in a real way and feel I would have missed something huge if I had listened to my negative thoughts and didn’t go.

It’s all about focus. If we look at only the peanut butter and jelly of our own circumstances and try to make things better for us, we will miss the feast God has planned for us.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the opportunities you give me each day to express your love in a real way. I pray that I follow your leading and feast at your table. Amen

Faith Tip: Today when opportunities come up to show God’s love to someone, turn off the negative thoughts of why you shouldn’t and go forth in faith knowing God has set a special place just for you at the table.

The Power of Relationship

Moses holding up his arms during the battle, a...

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The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. – Exodus 17:8-13

This past weekend, I spent some quality time with God’s people. It was a pilgrimage. Together we journeyed in discovering more about God. What did we discover? God’s great love for us expressed through each other. We found out that we needed one another not only through the weekend, but perhaps more after the weekend.

Gathering together in God’s name is a call. We were never meant to travel life alone. Yes, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us and I praise God for that, but there is another element needed in those God puts in our life. Sometimes the relationship is life-long and sometime just for a season, but they are both crucial for our spiritual makeup.

The power of God’s love and grace is dynamic when people that follow Jesus gather together. It must be experienced for it can never be fully described in words. I encourage you to make plans to get together with some friends and family who know what this means, and be ready to show others who don’t know the great bond they are missing.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the relationships you have brought into my life, especially my relationship with you. I pray that I demonstrate the power of your love to those I come in contact with today. Amen

Faith Tip: Consider the people God has placed in your life. How do they uphold you? What part do you play in supporting another?

For the Love of Discipline

Listen to advice and accept discipline, 
and at the end you will be counted among the wise. – Proverbs 19:20

I remember reading the comic strip Family Circus where the children would blame “Not Me” which was this invisible person that showed up whenever they made a bad choice. The invisible person would be shown in the comic smiling and having a good time because they couldn’t be caught in the act of doing wrong.

We are always ready to look for another person or thing to blame regarding challenging circumstances we have that are a result of choices we have made. We make ourselves powerless in the situation when we look elsewhere for fault. We do not grow from this practice.

Taking responsibility is hard, but it helps us grow into the person God wants us to be for we are opening ourselves up for learning. The discipline we encounter is for our teaching. It is not to say we are bad. It is to say we are loved.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the lessons in life you have taught me through your discipline. I pray that I may follow your direction and grow from sitting at your feet. Amen

Faith Tip: Is there a situation in your life that you are blaming others for when it is a great opportunity for you to grow? It’s time to learn.

The season of love

LOVE

Image by Nina Matthews Photography(find me on FB via Flickr

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

She slowly opened the red envelope found on the kitchen counter. Her eyes delighted in the beautiful scene of children playing in a field…carefree. Opening the card, she noticed a handwritten message saying, “I’m sorry for the pain I have caused you. Please forgive me. I want us to be free to love one another like the children on the cover of the card. I love you so much.” She found herself desiring the same thing—freedom to love one another with nothing between them to restrict it.

That’s how God wants us to love one another. Jesus modeled it on earth by showing grace and mercy to all he came in contact with. He didn’t keep a tab of the wrongs people did. He loves them completely and longs for relationship with all. Focusing on the past will keep our heart imprisoned with feelings of anger, bitterness, discouragement, and other chains that drag us down. The key to freedom is forgiveness. Offer the gift to others just as Jesus offered it to us.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for the wonderful gift of grace that you offered me. I grasp onto that grace and pray that I can offer it to others as you have. Amen

Faith Tip: Discern how free you are to love. Do you want to love freely? Trust Jesus in helping you take steps today to freedom.

Remember

Rainbow Valley

Image by rwangsa via Flickr

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (Genesis 9:16).

Visuals are a great help in remembering things. I put my pills out on the counter that I need to take before bed, I write a list of things that need to be done each day, and an empty dog dish reminds me it’s time to feed Charlie. We use calendars, blackberries, and iPods to help us remember important dates and times. What if we only had our memory to count on to remember everything—scary thought.

While God placed a rainbow in the clouds to remember his covenant with us, I doubt very much that God needed the symbol to remember. God doesn’t forget a thing. It’s hard to imagine having all the details from the beginning to the end, but he does. I think the rainbow is more for us to remember his covenant. It reminds us of his love, faithfulness and constant grace in our lives. Another symbol to remember God’s love is the cross. Jesus suffered and died to save us. He didn’t have to, but chose to do so. What greater love is there?

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for your love and care each day. I pray that I remember the symbols of your love throughout the year. Amen

Faith tip: What are the symbols of God’s love for you? Thank him for them.

Making room

Star of Wonder

Image by c.a.muller via Flickr

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”Luke 2:6-7

My sister is very talented in visual decoration. So when her son came home for Christmas, this gave her the opportunity to make room for him in one of the rooms making it nice for him. She loves to do this, because she loves him. This process not only means cleaning out, but also making things special.

Do we make room for Jesus in our hearts? Like the inns in Bethlehem that Christmas night, some hearts put up a no vacancy sign. In that whole city, don’t you think someone could have made room somewhere other than a stable? That was God’s plan though. I wonder if it was a reflection of the rejection Jesus would experience not only through his life on earth but beyond.

Christmas is the perfect time to invite him in and make room for him in our hearts. There may be some things we have to clean up, but he will help with this, and maybe add some special things to make him feel welcome like spend time with him. Making room means giving more of ourself to him. We do this because we love him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are welcome in my heart. I pray that I make room for you and give you the reins of my heart so that you can shine. Amen

Faith tip: No better time than now to prepare for Christmas by inviting Jesus in.

Answering Respectfully

Question of Faith

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Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… (1 Peter 3:15)

When I came home after a Pilgrimage weekend, I wanted everyone to take part of this weekend. I was really excited about it and showed a lot of passion for the Pilgrimage ministry. People who have not been on a special weekend like this don’t understand the excitement, because they need to experience it first. I think it’s human nature to want to help others by sharing your experiences with them and encouraging them to do it a way you found worked.

Our relationship with Jesus is very exciting to us…and it works. So we want everyone to have a relationship with Jesus like we do. This is a good thing. Problems may arise when we come across as forceful or disrespectful. It is important to be gentle and respectful with people—to just love them where they are at and share with them what God has done for you. There are always questions by nonbelievers. Be gentle in your answers. Keep the focus on them and God and not on yourself. God will give you what you need to answer. You do not have to own a theological degree. Just be you…that’s how God created you to be.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the many gifts you give to us. I pray that I can tell others about my relationship with you lovingly and with great respect. Amen

Faith Tip: If someone asked you today about your hope, what would you say?