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

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“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

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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

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“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?

Strong agape love

Jesus loves you

Image by George Ornbo via Flickr

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16)

There are different meanings of love in the Bible. In the New Testament, the Greek words used most often are agape and phileo. Agape means the deepest kind of love, while phileo means brotherhood type of love. The city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, is named for this. So what does that mean in connection to the verse above?

If we have agape love for the things of the world, we cannot have agape love for God. It is either one or the other. If we lust after something, our focus is on that thing we lust after. Lust is not love. Lust tries to fulfill our physical and emotional wants. These can change like the direction of the wind. Love and lust for the things of the world come from the world; they are not from God.

So what kind of love does God give us? It’s a true love in the full form of agape. God loves us with the deepest kind of love possible. What would God do for us? He had done everything for us through Jesus. He gave the ultimate sacrifice because of his agape love for us. Receive it freely knowing that you are a beloved child of God.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me when I lust after things of the world. You have given me everything in Jesus, and I thank you from my heart. You are my all in all. Amen

Faith tip: Whenever you find yourself lusting after something, imagine the cross standing between you and the object of lust. Transform your pattern of thinking with the help of Jesus.

Joy Restoration

Jesus on the wall of the senior Home

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Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12)

Sin creates chaos. Whenever we decide to go our own way and not God’s, we are walking a different path not meant for us. At first it may feel like the right way to go as we envision the things in life we will enjoy by our hand. We are certain that we will experience much joy. But then there is a patch of road that is bumpy, and we think that will pass and we will find smooth traveling again. Then we find parts of the road missing, or forks in the road and not knowing which way to go, and then finally we come to a dead end…the end of ourselves. We have forgotten the last time we experienced real joy in our travels for it has been so long.

A reminder comes to you. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28). You remember the loving voice of Jesus. You think you are unworthy of any attention by God, but he still beckons you to come. He wraps his loving arms around you and tells you of his love and how glad he is to see you. The sadness you feel begins to feel like something else. What is it? Joy.

Prayer: Forgive me, Father, when I have chosen to go my way and not yours. Thank you for inviting me back into your loving arms and healing me so that I can experience your joy. Amen

Faith tip: Do you need a nice long hug from Jesus today? He’s ready.

Designer Clothes

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

As I waited in the checkout line at the grocery store, I noticed the fistful of coupons coming from her purse and heard the audible sigh from those behind me. It was obvious that the clerk wasn’t thrilled either as they took the coupons and started scanning them coming to one that wouldn’t work. Frustrated, they looked on the receipt to see if the correct product was purchased and then manually entered the coupon savings. The woman checking out looked at me and said she was sorry. I said it wasn’t a problem. I encouraged her on her coupon tenacity sharing that I cut them out and normally left them at home. I chose to be kind and patient. Everyone in the line and the clerk had a choice to make on how they would respond.

If we understand that we are truly God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, I believe that would make a difference in our choices. The sense of belonging and focus on the kingdom sets a direction for us to follow. God’s love for us is a blessing, and we are blessed to be a blessing to others. Showing God’s love to others is a choice, and can be done in all circumstances.

Prayer: Your wonderful love for me, dear Lord, is reason enough for me to show love to others. I pray that I can wear your designs of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to your glory and honor. Amen

Faith Tip: Put on God’s designer clothes and practice with each person you come in contact with today. Make it your choice to do so.