Monthly Archives: January 2013

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

Patience

Love Isn’t-Easily Angered

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 Easily Angered

Think about the last time you lost your temper, blew your stack, exploded, yelled, screamed or ranted.  Or wanted to.

How much love are you feeling or exhibiting at those times?

It’s hard for love to live with anger.

Yet anger can be deeply satisfying, right?

And we have lots of ways of justifying our anger.  After all, do you want me to TELL you what that person DID to me?

Maybe you suffer deep-seeded pain from abuse.  Or maybe your kids are on your last nerve.  Maybe your spouse is gone.

We all know that anger damages us mentally, physically and spiritually.

Releasing anger releases US from bondage and increases our ability to give and receive God’s love.

There is not space in a devotional reading to equip you to deal with and get rid of you anger or to help you deal with angry people. Nor am I qualified to do so.  I am not very good at this sometimes. I just hope to encourage MYSELF and YOU to be on guard against anger.

Just some quick words from God about it, that can be translated as “tips” for dealing with anger in ourselves OR in someone else.

“An angry man stirreth up strife and a furious man aboundeth in transgression” Proverbs 29:22.  So, if you are angry you are provoking strife and sinning.  If someone else is doing it, the best course is to not participate and thereby refrain from sinning.  Turn from the anger and seek God’s love.

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath.” Psalm 37:8 Stop being angry and trying to get even.  Focus on loving yourself enough to step away from revenge.

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered.”  Proverbs 22:24.   If you are constantly surrounded by angry people, it may be time to seek a new set of friends, a different workplace or become better equipped to step away from the fray.

Anger destroys our ability to love.

Let’s pray to have a less angry, more loving day!

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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Peace Fruit

Love: What It Is & Isn’t-Patient!

 

 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 Directly From the Owner’s Manual

God never tells us to do a thing without equipping us with thte tools needed to accomplish it.  We’re told to love God, ourselves, neighbors and enemies.  (I guess that’s everyone.).

Maybe you’ve gone through these last devotionals but still  wonder what love actually looks like.  Maybe you have experienced diffculties related to people who said they loved you letting you down.  Maybe you think you’ve fallen short in how you love others.

Well, in that familiar passage above that we hear so often at weddings, we are basically given what amounts to a “job description” for teh role of a loving person. And it also tells us pitfalls to avoid if we want to fit the description.

It makes sense that we spend the next few days reflecting on these “is’s” and “isn’ts.” (And, yes I know “is’s” and “isn’ts”  aren’t real words!)

On thing that you will note in looking at the verses on love, is they feature several of the other spiritual fruits such as patience and kindness. This highlights for us that love is foundational for all the other fruits.  Love is the “superfruit” of the spirit from which all the other fruits blossom.

The first descriptor of “love” is that it is patient.

Since we’ll be spending 40 days focused on this later on, we don’t need to dive extensively into it today.

I do want to start by asking a question that I am simultaneously asking myself!

If I am frequently impatient with someone close to me, does that mean I don’t love them enough?

Do I need to pray that God will help to love the person more, and through that enhanced love-the supernatural love of Christ that we have in us through the Holy Spirit can manifest more patience for the person?

That question kind of its me like a thud.

And reflect for a minute on how patient God is with YOU and ME?

Infinitely patient!

We are here.  Reading this.  Yet how many times have we probably disappointed ot grieved His spirit.  Yet we haven’t been zapped by lightning or exiled to hopelessness.  It’s because He loves us and wants us to succeed!

Love more and watch more patience naturally spring from it.

Report your results!  I want to hear from you!  Are you out there? Today’s the day to comment! 🙂  At least give me an “Amen!”

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

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Patience

Loving Others-Day 8-Heaping Coals of Fire

 

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-Enemies

Yesterday we thought about people in our lives that can be tough to love. And we hopefully realized that we have to love these people anyway. You might not have to “like” them on Facebook or follow them on twitter, but you’re called on to love them.

Today, I want to talk about some verses in Proverbs that have always intrigued me:

“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.
For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head and the Lord shall reward thee.”

Proverbs 25:21-22

There is a similar verse in the New Testament, in Romans 12:20.

It’s strange isn’t it…but it speaks to us at our human level and in some way acknowledges our human nature’s desire for revenge.  “OK, so I’ll feed him, and give him some water…but only because this will make his ultimate judgment even worse! I’ll show him!”  This isn’t exactly the right motivation or loving attitude is it?  But the verse doesn’t speak or even seem to care about how you FEEL while you are doing it.  It just says do it.

And what do the “burning coals” mean? Interpretations and commentary on this verse are a bit all over the map.  Some say that the “burning coals” during that time in history were symbolic of mercy and blessings and did not mean ultimate revenge and that the negative “hell-fire” like connotations attributed to the coals are misguided.  Some commentators give the divine justice “hell-fire” interpretation some credence.

One I liked best balances the justice with the mercy.

Meaning:  if you minister to your enemy one of two things will happen:

1. He will be won over by what you are doing and your relationship will be restored and maybe you will end up leading that person to Christ or helping them in their spiritual life.  (A “win” for you both and God is glorified).

2.  He won’t.  He’ll be ungrateful-maybe even spurn you and wonder about your motives.  (A “win” for you anyway because you’ve been obedient and you’ve prayed for “God’s best” for him.  You’ve kept your side of the street clean. And God is glorified).  So you can move forward in peace.

So, by being the loving person, you “win” under either scenario and you know that God will be glorified and is in charge of deciding the ultimate outcome!

And God PROMISES you a reward if you do it.  You may have to wait until Heaven to get the reward or it may be more immediate.  But He’s promised it and you know He doesn’t lie!

If you wait until your heart is right, you’ve forgiven the person completely  or your motivations are pure and selfless and Christ-like chances are you would never bake the bread or pour the water.  You’ll just stay stuck.  Then your enemy wins and you don’t get the reward.

It’s like telling a child if he eats his broccoli, he will get ice cream.  And if he doesn’t eat his broccoli, there is no ice cream.  So you might as well eat your broccoli now so you can get to the ice cream!

So ask God to help you love through your actions even if your heart and mind aren’t there yet.

Leave the future to Him and choose to love through actions today and wait for the promised reward!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Loving Others-Day 7-What About Loving People I Can’t Stand (Or Who Can’t Stand Me)

 

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

You may have been trucking along OK with me on this loving others stuff.  We’ve talked about loving within and outside our immediate sphere of influence.  We’ve talked about how to demonstrate love to others.

We’ve seen that our “neighbor” is everybody.

So you may be asking…..

What about the “neighbor” who hates my guts?

What about the “neighbor” whose kid is bullying your kid?

What about the “neighbor” who crashed into your car and put you in the hospital because he was texting or drunk?

What about that “neighbor” who is a backstabber at work?

What about the “neighbor” who robbed your house?

What about the “neighbor” in the form of your husband’s ex from college who keeps “liking” his Facebook updates?

What about the “neighbor” personified in the parent who left when you were a child?

What about that “neighbor” who you thought was a friend but who was really gossiping behind your back?

I’ll stop here. Hopefully I’ve hit a nerve or two to make you sufficiently uncomfortable.

And you know what I’m going to say next.

Yep.  The bible says we have to love them too. It’s here….

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44

Now does this mean writing them notes of encouragement, inviting them for dinner or sending them a basket of fruit? (Hmm….we are studying fruit of the spirit…but NO…it can’t be rotten fruit).

I see this as telling us that we should be praying for them.  If you can’t do that, start by praying for YOURSELF by asking God to make you willing to pray for them.  And then ask God to help you forgive the person for whatever he or she did to hurt you.  If you simply tell God you are willing He will do the rest as you persevere.  It will most likely not happen overnight. Take baby steps.

I work on this constantly myself.

It’s tough.

Loving Others Takes Prayer

Start with a prayer for willingness, then a prayer that you can forgive, then, once you’ve forgiven them, pray for God’s best in the person’s life. (Even if part of you still thinks the best would be that they contract a prolonged case of norovirus).  Maybe God will stretch you more.

He’s done stranger things.

And He means it all as a blessing to you which we explore more tomorrow.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

 

Peace Fruit

Loving Others Day 6-The Power of the “ASK”

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 By Asking

Yesterday, we considered how we can about love people by asking them what their needs are and trying to meet them.  In that way, we explored the superficial and obvious meaning of the word “ask.”

Today we refer to the word again, but this time in the context Christ used it when He said, “Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door will be opened unto you.”  Matthew 7:7

This is an easy verse to memorize mainly because of the “ask” acronym.  It gives us a great pattern for prayer –

“A”-“Ask” in prayer

“S”-“Seek” the answer.

“K”-“Knock” daily (repeat the prayer) until you see the answer.

So, how doe this tie into loving others?

If a person asks for something you cannot do or says “it’s hopeless,”  ask them if it’s OK if you pray for them.  Then, if they say “yes,” make it a point to pray with the person right there on the spot.  Maybe that means going in a restroom, outside, or into a quiet corner.  If you are on the phone, pray over the phone.  When this was first suggested to me I balked.  It meant really putting myself “out there” with the person and I was nervous I wouldn’t know what to say. What I found out was that the holy spirit (which is the source of our “fruit”) gave me the words to say. You should also do the same thing if someone tells you about something and asks you to pray for them.  Take the 30 seconds or minute to pray quickly with them right there.  So many times we promise to pray or are asked to pray and we forget and perhaps later feel bad about it.  This brought to mind where it says in Psalm 33:6  “pray unto [God} in a time when [He} mayest be found.” Psalm 33:6.  You may not have another opportunity to pray for the person!

You can bet that the person you pray for will be struck by the gesture and leave the encounter feeling better.  Then  try and go the extra mile and write the request down and try and remember to follow up with the person about the situation when you see them again.  If it makes the person uncomfortable, don’t insist, but when you say goodbye to the person, try to step aside right away and pray!

And there will be the people who don’t want you to pray for them and want to get away from you very fast when you offer!

Make a point to pray for them anyway, in the quietness of your soul!

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 5-Don’t be “That Kind” of Giver

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 By Giving Good Gifts

Having Just Come from Christmas  maybe you got some lame gifts.  Stuff you will never use. Stuff that doesn’t fit.  Stuff you may sell or re-gift or donate.to someone in need.  Stuff that demonstrates that the gift-giver did not put any thought into the gift.  Stuff that demonstrates the giver KNEW what you wanted (maybe even asked you what you wanted) and made a point to NOT get it for you and to get you something you else. (The passive-aggressive mode of gifting).

We should not be those kinds of “givers” when we try and love others.  I am not really talking strictly about material gifts anymore but instead am talking about our emotional, spiritual and physical energy as well as our TIME which is an asset you can never get back.

What’s the application?

I have two….and they both have a term in common…and that is ASK!  In today’s context I am talking about the common meaning of “ask”-posing a question.

Loving Others By Getting Them to Their “Ask”

When someone is experiencing any need and they need support, there is a time to let that person “vent” to us.  Indeed, we love someone simply by listening to their heart as they talk and identifying with their sadness, frustration, loss or trial.

But how much more we could do if, after listening for a while, you move the person to their “ASK.”  Find out how you can help them.  “What can I do for you to help?”  This will often surprise people and they will not know how to respond.

But what you have done for the person in that moment is moved them from the venting stage, which has limited usefulness to the action stage, where they can “get over it,” and you are being God’s instrument to minister to that person practically.

Examples:

A mom has a newborn, company visiting from out-of-town and another sick child at home!  You could offer to take care of the newborn for a while, or perhaps take the out-of-town guests sightseeing or fix a casserole, (A standard here in the south!)

A friend is facing having to put a loved one into an assisted living facility.  You went through this with a loved one and know of a great place.  You pass that information to your friend, saving him or her the massive time involvoed in locating the right facility.

A friend is complaining about her job and you know the person in charge of Human Resources at a company that is hiring and you introduce her to that perosn.

This “ASK” principle serves to put love of another into action.  This is a powerful message to the individual.

Of course, the person may not have that readily comes to mind when you ask them what they need from you.  They may dejectedly say, “There is nothing you or anyone can do.”  Or, they may need something you cannot give, like vast sums of money.

This will move us into tomorrow…..that second component of ASK!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

 

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