Category Archives: Fruit

Patience

Forward Looking Statements Anticipating Joy

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

If you’ve ever read a company’s annual report, there is a probably a section in it about what the company intends to do in the future and the anticipated outcome of those actions.  If the company sells stock, it has to be careful about those kinds of statements regarding the future.  They can deceive people.

This is because companies operate in the real world, and although everyone has the best of intentions, things happen, including natural disasters, war, fraud, economic conditions and disrupted supply chains.

Anytime you see words such as anticipation, estimates, plans, predicts or believes, those are statements that look forward.   Usually, companies base projections about the future on what’s happened historically, however, history does not guarantee future results will be the same.  Obviously, companies want to convey the image of a future that looks hopeful and lucrative not shaky and uncertain.

Think about companies that have failed financially that were once giants in their industry.

We know that just because people predict growth and stability doesn’t in any way assure it.

When human beings make most statements about what will happen in the future, they may be wrong.

However, Jesus saw the future as He hung on the cross-and somewhere He saw joy.  It was just in front of Him.  He knew it was there.

As Christians, we can all make forward-looking statements about eternal outcomes because we know that the bible is true and can be counted on as our guide to life.

The Holy Spirit plants in all believers the seed of joy, and as you read right now it grows in you.  It becomes stronger every day, more deeply rooted, bright and brilliant.

You lack nothing that you need, now or for eternity.

Look forward to joy!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Joy Fruit Cultivated Through Plain and Simple FUN!

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.  Psalm 16:11

Joy Fruit Through FUN

Hey, now, fun is a fruit I can get behind!  And God wants us to enjoy life!  In fact, he asks us to.  And who has more fun each day than children?

We can learn a lot from them.

When I was in second grade in a Christian school, I learned a song.  We would sing it as we were getting settled in the classroom to start instructional time.  I never forgot the song, since it was played daily for a year of my life.  But I love that it is a good, sound biblical principle that gives us a mandate for rejoicing every day.  You may already know the tune.

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

The Video below is not of my Little Girl.  My daughter’s version is very robust.  I might take a video of her and post later.  In the meantime, this gives you an idea of what the car sound like on our short drive to school. We have fun!

This is the day

So as we drive to school (which only takes about 3-5 minutes) we sing the song and do a quick prayer thanking God for our blessings and asking for His favor and direction throughout the day.  My daughter prays for things that are on her mind. It’s a special time of the day for us.  I find that even if I wake up rather grouchy and perturbed, after I’ve dropped her off I have a boost.

God has given us a day like a gift.  Do we always treat it as such?  Does life seem like a perpetual Monday morning for you?

Make a framework for cultivating joy fruit early in your day, whether through prayer, devotions (thanks for being here), meditation, exercise or a good breakfast.  Get something positive and energizing into your day as soon as possible.  

Teaching my daughter the little song from my childhood has been a good reminder for me that we are to walk around weighted down by anxiety, stress and worry.  You can step into joy, for a while at least, by shifting your attention to God and asking Him to give you a boost of joy in your heart.

Share a laugh with someone, listen to your favorite music while you work, take a walk and stretch, sit down and color with your kids.

There are opportunities for little joys interspersed throughout our day.  Stay alert to the opportunities and take them when you catch them and reap more joy fruit!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

 

 

Peace Fruit

Love Prays A Lot!

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.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Cor. 13:4-7

A person with an abundance of “love fruit” of the spirit most likely spends a great deal of time praying because he or she realizes that without prayer it’s impossible to love in the way described in the verse above.

This person may be getting up before dawn every morning to pray for an hour.

This person may keep a detailed prayer journal.

Or, this person might be like you and me struggling with time commitments and balance.

But one thing is probably consistently true of all people walking in an abundance of God’s love: they are praying for others consistently-even if it is just to send up “bullet” prayers in the middle of a workday or long commute.

There are some people here on earth who have never been prayed for by another human being.

Take a minute to let that churn around in your heart and mind.  There are people who have no one in their lives praying for them.  To make it worse, many of those same people see no value in prayer because they do not know God or have consciously rejected Him.

I think about my small daughter.  I was praying for her from the moment I found out I was pregnant and I have prayed for her and with her (almost) every day of her life so far.  There are some children without a praying parent, relative or friend. There are elderly people alone near the end of their lives with no one praying for them.

Just as we feel burdened to help the economically disadvantaged, we should also feel a burden for those with no one praying for them.

Does this mean that we locate a stranger in outer Mongolia to pray for by name every day?

I don’t know.

Maybe that is what it means for YOU.

Be sensitive to promptings when you think of a person you haven’t spoken to in a long time.

You hear a news story that rocks you to the core,

Pray for the survivors and families of victims.

Pray for the perpetrators of the violence.

You are frustrated with local, state or national government leaders.

Pray for them.

You have to pull over for an emergency vehicle.

Pray for the responders and people waiting for them to arrive

What if our “first response” to encountering frustration, stress or anxiety over people was to send up a quick prayer asking God to send His love into the person’s heart or into the center of the situation?

Be a zealous advocate before God for the people in your life-even those who just cross your path for a moment.

“Oh that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor.”  Job 16:21.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Peace Fruit

Love-Is Always Hoping

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.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love Is Always Hoping!

Hope and trust are key elements to cultivating the fruit of Love in our lives.,

Just as trust has within it an element of hope that the object of our is dependable–one who hopes trusts that the outcome hoped for is coming soon!  These elements are knitted very closely together.

Love’s Hope!

As we focus on the hope element, it’s important to clarify what we mean by hope in the context of love.  Hope conveys an expectation or desire of receiving something. A hopeful individual believes that there will be a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.  It is not necessarily that you always see the glass as half full, it’s just you hope with certainty that more water will come out of the well when you need it.

The opposite of hope is despair and giving up.

We all know people who have given up hope and often there is nothing more distrubing to see.  Perhaps if we are external to the person’s life we see possible solutions to their problems and may try to help.  However, the individual has gotten so low that they cannot accept hope.

Maybe there have been times in your life when you have lost hope as well.  You are tired, frustrated, broke, discouraged, defeated, deserted or sick.

It is during those times that we need to remember the words of David

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Psalm 43:5

When we hope in God, He opens our eyes to the great possibilities in our lives removes, our blinders of fear and despair and gives us glimpses, and sometimes even bigger pictures of where we are destined to go-here on earth and eternally.

Don’t you wish that there was a “hope” station-something like a gas station-where you could go get pumped full of hope when you need it?

Well, the Church, God’s word and christian friends are our our “Hope Station.”  Let us love people who are in despair by helping them re-frame despair into hope.  Likewise, when we are discouraged, allow others to minister to you, but, above all, keep hoping in God!  How much sweeter the fruit will taste when we have waited for it!  In Proverbs 13:12 it says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  If we give up too soon, we miss the fruit from the tree!

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Thomas O. Chisholm

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Peace Fruit

Love Isn’t Delighting in Evil

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.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Cor. 13:4-7

So what do you say when faced with the forces of evil?  What do you consider the forces of evil?  Darth Vader, common characterizations of Satan with horns, red costume and pitchfork, or black-hatted cowboys?  This is the Hollywood version of evil.

Real evil in the world has all-too-sufficient examples brought to our attention.  Mass murder, war and violence are all through history and current events. Or, it can be subtle things that occur behind closed doors or in our thoughts.  Evil seems to stretch past more “everyday” sins such as that word that “slips” out in a weak moment, or a harsh word to someone else.  Evil implies something much more malevolent, elaborate, dark and premeditated.

Love in the Face of Evil

As we endeavor to cultivate the fruit of love and live in this world, we will invariably be faced with “evil” in its various forms and personifications.

Six Things Loving People Should Do in the Face of Evil

What are we to do when we evil crosses our path?

 1.  If people are trying to convince you to do something wrong, stay strong in your refusal to follow them.  “If sinners entice thee, consent thou not!”  Proverbs 1:10.  Believe me, my five year old WILL be learning this verse soon!

2.  Demonstrate our wisdom by getting away from evil! “To depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28.  Don’t mess around and play with it!

2.  Once you’ve gotten away from it, do something good to replace the evil you just escaped.  “Depart from evil and do good.”  Psalm 37:27.  It’s always important to replace empty space, vacated by evil with something good right away so the evil doesn’t come sneaking back again.  Shut the door on the “devil” and light a candle and know everything will be alright.  Cool video

 3.  Don’t let people doing evil things make you uneasy, anxious or fearful.  Know that ultimately they don’t win.  “Don’t fret evildoers…for they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.” ‘Psalm 37:1-2

4.  Don’t respond with evil for evil.  Wait for victory and reward.  “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not theyself in any wise to do evil.  For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”  Psalm 37:8-9 

5.  Have assurance, even when you want revenge, that God will take care of it.  People that do evil will “eat the fruit of their own way and be filled with their own devices.” Proverbs 1:31 This fruit will not be tasty fruit of the spirit.  It will be sour and wilted and rotten.

6.  Keep the focus on God and yourself, not the evil people.  “Whoso harkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from the fear evil.”  Proverbs 1:33

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Patience

Love Isn’t Keeping a Record of Wrongs

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.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Cor. 13:4-7

Love Isn’t Keeping A Record of Wrongs

At a certain point in our childhood some adult told us that we had reached a point in our maturity that stuff we did wrong was going to go in our “permanent record.”
Now when I was growing up (way pre-internet), that meant someone writing something down on a piece of paper in a file folder with your name on it somewhere.

“Julie passed notes.”

“Julie left campus to go to McDonald’s.”

(I’ll stop here in case my mom is reading).

You can visualize at some point someone loses that record and all of those childhood and young-adult mess-ups.  Maybe the file folder of your transgression in junior high is sitting in a cardboard box in a storage center awaitng shredding.

Now, in the age of Facebook and Instagram and everyone recording and sharing everything, a “permanent record” is truly going to be more permanent.  Even if you try and delete every reference to yourself from the internet, you’d probably not succeed.  Even if you did, then you’d have to think about government electronic records of you, your electronic medical record, your banking history and your credit history.  (And the list could continue, but you get the idea!).  And there seems to be endless space somewhere in “the cloud” to store it all.

Think about another kind of cloud.

The cloud that we traditionally associate with where God resides.  Think about HIS cloud and all of the expanse of space that is there.  Think that He has seen everything from the beginning of time.  Think that he has seen all of the death, the war, the violence and cruelty.

Focus for a second on what He’s seen you do in your lifetime.  All of the “good” and “bad.”  And he never runs out of memory space.

Sometimes cartoons depict people at the “Pearly Gates” and St. Peter is checking a list…and we often imagine that list is the “permanent record” of our life and that somehow all of our deeds are recorded there.  I always imagined myself showing up and my good deeds hopefully fill a reasonably-sized spiral notebook, but my sins require many volumes.  Endless volumes.  Racks upon racks of servers.

But that’s not how God is.

When we accept Christ into our lives and believe that He died for our sins, God erased the sin record with His son’s blood.  It’s gone.  And it’s not backed up on a stray forgotten flash drive.  It’s erased.  It’s like God has amnesia.

Love Often Requires Liberal Doses of Amnesia.

You have tapes in your head of moments where others have hurt you.  Emotionally, spiritually, physically or financially.  Some transgressions are minor, others may be unspeakably horrible.  How much of your time do you spend replaying these tapes?  Are the images on them fading each time they are played?  Do you play them less and less?  Do you LIKE playing them for some reason?  And when you play the tapes, do you remind the other people in the tapes of their roles in hurting you?  Do they now know the tapes as well as you do?

What would it take for you today to simply erase the tapes?

Or “delete” the document?

Or “purge” the files.

Think of all the storage space that would be free in your heart and your spirit that you could then fill with LOVE for God, for yourself and for others.  Even the players in the tapes.

You ask, “Well am I just supposed to ‘pretend’ it didn’t happen?”

You don’t have to pretend.

You can just give it to God to carry away and let Him dispose of it.  It may fade quickly or it may take  years and help from others.

But ask God to help your forget and fill the space of recorded wrongs with God’s love for you.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  Psalm 103:12

All the best in 2013!

Julie

Love-What It Is & Isn’t-Love IS KIND!

LOVE IS KIND! 

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.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Cor. 13:4-7

Love is KIND!

Yesterday, we started in the next and final leg of our journey through cultivating the “LOVE” fruit of the spirit and recognized that love is the “super-fruit” that all of the other fruits spring from!

In and of itself, the “love” fruit produces other, unique fruit.

We noted that love is patient.

Today we note that love is KIND.

Kindness is also another fruit of the spirit which we will concentrate on for forty days straight so today we will think about it much like we thought about patience yesterday.

Kindness is evidenced by goodness and charitable behavior, a  pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others.  According to Aristotle, kindness is an emotion manifesting itself by the desire to help somebody in need, without expecting anything in return. We are often spurred to kindness in an effort to alleviate someone else’s suffering.

Being kind to another person is one way you can often lift yourself out of doldrums, self-pity or lack of motivation.

Or, maybe you just want to brighten someone’s day.

This can even be something you do professionally.  Maybe you log into Linkedin and take a look at your list of contacts.  You know that your accountant John Smith does a great job on your taxes each year.  Have you taken five minutes to write him a recommendation or endorse him?

If your are selfish, chances are you have difficult time being kind.

Think of children fighting over toys and not sharing.

Think of people with abundant food not wanting to share with people who have none.

Think of people who walk by a homeless person and say things like, “get a job.”

Kindness means giving.  And it often means giving sacrificially.

Love is KIND When You Give!

If you are giving “kindly” you are probably not delving too far into whether the person “deserves” it.  Maybe the person hasn’t even asked for your help, but you help anyway. You are instead giving it because you are prompted to give and follow through on it.

If you feel that prompting or nudging to be kind and to give, I’d urge you to ACT on it because that’s  God’s Holy Spirit doing the nudging.  And if you ignore the nudge, at some point you will receive fewer “nudges.”  And you are the one who is poorer as a result.  In contrast, if you respond and act on the “nudge”, not only will the Holy Spirit “nudge” you more often, but He will “nudge” others to be kind to YOU and so on, and so on, and so on.

I will give a quick and personal example.  I attend a downtown church.  Downtown where I live is kind of quiet on the weekends with stores closed and homeless in the parks and asking for money outside some of the many downtown churches.

One day I came out of church carrying my bible and walked the few blocks with my preschool daughter to the place we’d parked.  And there was a guy sitting on a bench on the sidewalk right in front of where I’d parked my car who was apparently homeless.  I will admit to some fear and reticence to interact with him.  I instead secretly hoped he’d not solicit me for money so I could get my daughter safely into the car.  It was also a day when I actually had cash with me for some strange reason. Two fifty dollar bills.  I felt a bit vulnerable.  But the guy was quiet, focusing on listening to his headphones and didn’t bother me.

So I got into my car and started the engine.  I felt the nudge.  “Give that guy one of the fifties.”  I immediately started arguing internally, “I paid my tithe, I gave extra, my daughter is here in the car.”  Yes I know it was SUNDAY and I had just come FROM CHURCH and the guy had seen me get in the car with my bible!

Yes I am often one of THOSE PEOPLE.

So I left my daughter sitting in the car seat.

Got out of the car and handed him the fifty.

Said something like, “I think you could use this.”

He looked up in shock.

“Why are you giving this to me?”

“Because you didn’t ask me.  Maybe you wanted to, but you were considerate that I had my daughter with me and my hands full. God bless you.”

I have probably missed many more of these opportunities than I have taken.

This makes me sad for myself and for my child.

My daughter SAW me do this, and asked what I was doing.  I told her something simple like God told me to give that man money and that Jesus did things like that.

“Oh.”

Does this mean I am telling you to hand out fifty dollar bills to the homeless that don’t ask for money?

Only if this is what God tells you to do.

What I AM telling you is always be kind when He reminds you and nudges you.  It isn’t always money.  It can be letting someone cut in front of you in line at the supermarket, holding a door or even giving quite sacrificially of something you think you need to keep! Thank Him for the opportunity to be kind to another.

Kindness is so powerfully and wonderfully contagious.

Love is KIND!

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace Fruit

Love-What It Isn’t-Envious, Boastful, Proud, Dishonoring or Self-Seeking

LOVE ISN’T Envious, Boastful, Proud, Dishonoring or Self-Seeking

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.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Cor. 13:4-7

As we have been cultivating the fruit of love over the last several weeks, we started this week looking at kind of a laundry list from Corinthians of what behavior, actions and thoughts do and do not demonstrate love for another.

Today we will focus on several of the “negatives” all at once.  These “negatives” -things to avoid- are envy, pride, dishonoring others and self-seeking.

Love Is Not Envious

Envy is a  combination of wanting something while resenting that someone else has it and you don’t.  Stuff is going well for someone and they are enjoying it.  Stuff isn’t going so well for you and you are not enjoying your life. This starts to irritate you.  Maybe you are rolling around in bed at night thinking about it.  You spend a lot of time ruminating about it.  How can you love someone who you envy? It sure makes it difficult.

Love is Not Boastful

 Boasting is the outward form of the inner condition of pride. It basically would be like someone getting up to accept the Academy Award and talking about all the things they did to deserve the award, while ignoring the contribution of others.  Fortunately we don’t see that too often.  Award-winners are often fearful in acceptance speeches of leaving someone out.  We can avoid boasting in our own lives by doing two things:

1.  Acknowledging that God gave you the ability to do all the things you are good at.  Acknowledge this in your own heart and mind when you receive an award or praise.  You can also acknowledge God publicly if you are led.  It’s not always necessary to do it publicly.  Of course if you are nudged, you know you have no choice!

2.  Thank others for their contributions to your accomplishments.  Even if you did most of the work, contributed the most money or won a competition, it shows love of others to thank them either publicly and privately, or both.

Love Isn’t Full of Pride

PRIDE is a turning away from God specifically to take satisfaction in self.  It’s thinking that we are doing things on our own.  The opposite of pride here is submitting to God and drawing near to God. Pride wants to be independent, self-governing, autonomous. Therefore it inevitably comes into conflict with God. If we don’t think we “need” God, we probably don’t think we need other people either and treat them as mere resources to be exploited or used on our way to wherever we are going.   If we don’t think we need other people, how can we love?  If we are full of ourselves, there is no space for others or for God.

Love Does Not Dishonor Another Person

Think back to a time when your reputation was unfairly damaged or words were attributed to you that you never spoke.  If you found out the source of the mis-information, I’m guessing you didn’t feel a lot of love for that person and it’s a fair assumption that the “source” doesn’t love you much either.  You felt humiliated and degraded.  Your trust was betrayed.  Perhaps you have lashed out at another person.  Most of us have.  You know “dirt” on someone and you think it will somehow make you feel better to tell a few dozen people about it when the person does you wrong, or you have something to gain by cutting down the other person.  Whatever you might initially “gain” in self  satisfaction or competitive edge will be short-lived.

Several times in my life I’ve been called by people seeking to hire someone I’ve previously supervised or worked with.  The HR rules were basically that you could just confirm dates of employment.  However, if I really liked the person being considered for a new job, I would break the rule and say nice stuff.  If the person was not the best employee, I used the stock answer, “I can confirm dates of employment.”  Repeated entreaties about more specific information, often by people I knew resulted in the same robotically intoned  answer.  Finally, frustration would cause them to say, “Come ON now!  What is the MATTER with you.  I’ve know you forever! Why can’t you tell me anything more about this person…..” Then, a few second pass and you can almost see the light bulb illuminating over their head! They say, “Oh, I get it….Thanks for your time.”

Translation….”If you can’t say something nice…”

Love Is Not Self-Seeking

Is everything always all about you?  Are you always looking to put yourself at an advantage over other people?  Do you seek to take attention AWAY from others so that the spotlight is on you?  If you are serving on a team of people, do look for the most conspicuous assignments so the boss notices you?  While we are to value and love ourselves, there are many times when we are called upon to put the interests of others above our own.  (Try every day when you are a parent).  We tend to be more willing to be selfless when it comes to our children, but what about at work when you are trying to get promoted?  God would not ask that we “hide our lights” nor would he expect us not to highlight our accomplishments.  However, if we use unfair or unethical methods to “get ahead of the pack” this pushes us from loving ourselves to unloving destructive behavior.  Again, any benefits gained by doing this will most likely be transitory, and, at some point, you will be accountable for it.

We can easily fall into unloving patterns if we aren’t mindful of our thoughts and actions.  Additionally, if we are too focused on “stuff,” money, appearances, or professional accomplishments, using our talents can be transformed from God honoring activities to things that are displeasing to God, and damage your ultimate production of the fruit of love in your life.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

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Loving Others Day 4-Recognizing We Are In It Together

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others Through Unity of Purpose

The idea of loving our neighbor as ourselves may seem simple enough if we can relate to our neighbor.  But do we feel a common bond with people who look different than we do, or do not share our life experiences?

Loving Others: “Haves” and “Have Nots”

If we come from a family who struggled financially, do we resent the person who seemingly had advantages and status “handed” to them and do we seek to grab what they’ve got?  Likewise, if we have some material success, do we resist sharing resources with others?  Be mindful that either attitude is destructive.  A desire to cling to our “stuff” demonstrates a lack of recognition that God is the universal source of all resources.  Similarly, seeking to force others to give demonstrates our lack of Faith in God as provider. None of it is “ours” -instead it is all His.

This is the principle that we see demonstrated in the biblical practice of tithing.  We give a percentage of our income back to the “source” and by so doing demonstrate our recognition of God’s provision to us.  From personal experience, I know that this practice does immeasurable good not only to the Church and it’s work, but to our own personal finances.

We all are probably conscious of the deep divide that exists in the United States and elsewhere between “rich” and “poor.”  There have been prominent debates about what makes a person “rich” or “poor.”  We see illustrated in the life of Job a man who experiences both great wealth, status and abundance and utter desperation   In this way, we see that

“The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.”  Proverbs 22:2.

We are all therefore rich-in that God loves us all and calls us to an abundant life- and we are all poor-without God we are nothing.

Loving Others By Being Unconcerned With Our “Stuff”

If we hold loosely to what we have and use our resources to care for ourselves and our families and also give abundantly to the Church and those around us, we demonstrate Christ’s love to others!

These principles are completely separate from our tax code and system of government.  Whatever your individual beliefs about tax reform and entitlements, drop them at the door of the Church.  Because within the Church we have our own tax code-God’s word and many “entitlements”-God’s promises.  As we let elected officials argue about the role of the government and participate in that process as we are individually led, know that within the Church giving to the poor-“our neighbors” is never optional.  It’s a mandate.  Let’s do it with gratiude and love for each other! (And, for now, it’s tax deductible!)

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

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Loving Others-Day 2-Loving our Next-Door-Neighbors

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others-The Folks Next Door

When we think of neighbors, we generally think of the people next door. Of course, Christ means a much more universal and wide definition of “neighbor.”  But for our purposes today-let’s get literal and think about the folks next door.

Loving Others-But What If We Don’t Like Our Neighbors?

What’s your experience been with your neighbors?  Good or bad?  Some of both mixed together?  Do you aspire to live far from any neighbors, on a big plat of land or in a remote location?  Or maybe you like close proximity to others and often have neighbors in your home.

My first experience with having my own personal “neighbors” was in college.  I am an only child and frankly did not look forward to the whole roommate experience.  Probably for my growth I was paired with a girl with whom I had very little in common.  Living with her was a bit of a trial.  She was big into “hospitality” such that HER friends were always in our room. One time I cam home rather late and people of both genders were asleep in our room-with one young man asleep in MY bed, which was “against the rules.”  The result was that I was in my dorm room very little and surrendered it to her, basically.

Yet, the next year, when it came time to choose roommates  we chose one another again because at least we had figured out how to live with one another.  Unfortunately over the summer she decided she wanted to transfer so I never saw her again.  Of course I hoped that maybe I would end up with a single room, although they weren’t typically given to sophomores   Instead, I got a girl with whom I had a bit more in common but who had messy personal habits and used talcum powder as face powder which would end up coating everything in our room with the white dust.

After prevailing on the housing folks, I ended up with my sophomore year single.

These years were before I became a person of faith.  I’d hope that now I’d have a different view of both of these girls and realize that they had been placed in my life by God and that I would view them with His eyes.

My next authentic experience with my own neighbors was during apartment life, when I finally realized it was best to live on the top floor so that you did not hear the people above clopping around on top of you at all hours of the day and night  Due to the nature of apartment living, I did not really form relationships with my neighbors.

In my current life, I feel blessed to live in a great neighborhood.  People are generally quiet and considerate of one another, maintain their homes nicely and watch out for one another.Everyone has a lot of individual space, yet the neghborhood gets together cohesively fairly often and people generally get along.  When our neighborhood began experiencing some issues with crime, the community got together and began plugging into each other’s lives a bit more and watching over the property on their street-rather than just their own homes.

What about where you live now?  Do you know your neighbors?  Do you keep up with one another?    Do you realize the just like God placing us in our families, He also places us in our neighborhoods.

Loving Others in Our Neighborhood

What do you do to bless and love your actual neighbors?

You can start by praying for them to have peaceful, harmonious, healthy and prosperous homes where Christ is glorified.  You can pray for the marriages within those homes to be strengthened.

You can take meals to new neighbors and introduce yourself to them.

If you see their dog running loose down the street you try and catch it and return it home safely.

Do all of those things that you’d want them to do for you!

If harsh words have transpired between you and your neighbor over barking dogs, improper or infrequent maintenance  fence repairs or clashes about the political signs you put in your yard, pray for an opening to repair that relationship. (Or that their house sells fast if a sign goes up AND that God won’t bring you anyone worse!)

A little levity today to illustrate that loving our neighbor promotes harmony in our lives and is pleasing to God.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Fruitful Days

Fruitful Days