Love vs Hate

“Harley’s love is unconditional a reminder to our family each day of Christ’s Love for us.”

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“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1: 14.

A rainy Sunday afternoon is good for one thing and that is a good movie.  After digging through all our movie apps we decided on Woodlawn. This movie is based on  true story which is one of our favorites.  This story touched me deeply as I watched and learned about the transformation in Birmingham, Alabama in the 70’s.  If God can use high school football players to change a city, then I wonder what he can do with me.  Watching this movie and thinking of this volatile time in our past, I realize that our country today is moving toward repeating history once again.  We allow charged words and actions to turn to hate, we forget the role model of our servant Christ. He showed us how to serve in love and always point our glory to God.  Social media makes it so easy to spew out words that seem “right” in our opinion, but really our actions will always speak louder than words.  Do we live the words we speak?  Jesus, of course, had both, but his actions and focus on people around him spoke the most to his disciples.  Would they have learned just from his words or writings like they did watching him live day to day dependent on God and loving all kinds of people.  Meeting people where they are.  Love always Wins.  “Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor”.  Romans 12:10.  This scripture is a challenge to all Christians to strive to serve and show honor to all.

Christmas was a time for Christians to remember the greatest gift given by our Lord and Savior.  He loved us so much that he came to earth to live among us in human flesh.   John 3:16 our daily reminder… “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Christmas is a reminder to us that life is about Jesus and not about us and what we want.  We have to remember that we live for him!  Christ speaks to us in John 13:34, ” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:  just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  Lets always remember to put Love first.

The innocence of a dog like our Harley is how our dependence on Christ should be.   We must believe totally that he is our Father and wants what is best for us whether it feels good or even hurts.  As we all move forward with our lives, my prayer to God is for more loving in our country and our families where we respects everyone’s opinions, and we all remember to choose to love others with our words and not choose hate.

Closing Verse: Galatians 5:13 ESV ” For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do no use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Challenge:  The quote below is being passed around on Social Media and I am not sure who the author is , but I am going to make this one of my new years goals.  I challenge you to make it yours.  “While much of America seems to be getting more and more divisive, I’m going to be holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, greeting all I meet, exercising patience with others, and smiling at strangers.  I’ll do this as often as I have the opportunity.  I will not stand idly by and let children live in a world where unconditional love is invisible and being rude is acceptable. Join me in showing love and respect to others.  Find your way to swing the pendulum in the direction of love.  Because today, sadly, hate is gaining ground.  Love must begin somewhere and love will overcome hate.  Imagine the difference if we each purposefully love a little more.” Praise God!

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Overcoming Hurt

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How much of our lives do we spending either hurting others or healing from the pain of hurt.  Sadly, we hurt those we love the most more often.  Each time it happens to me, I want to crawl under a rock, and I always cry out to God for wisdom through the valley.  Too bad, I didn’t ask him for guidance before the pain.  I wonder why God allows me down that treacherous road of pain both when I dish it out, and receive it.  What is the lesson I need to learn?  If I believe his word in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ”  then all this pain will turn to good, so I am able to pick myself back up and walk again because I know he will heal and forgive me even if others choose not to forgive.

We hurt our spouses, we hurt our children, and we hurt our friends with simple words and actions.  We feel we are “right”, but does it really matter if we cause pain or hurt.  Certainly, we feel the pain of hurt from others, and then our only hope is they will be able to see the pain they have caused, but sadly human relationships are messy.  Mankind always want to put their individual pain above others.  Sometimes, I wonder if I could push rewind and hear the words that I just spoke if I would still feel the same.  Do I really hear what I am saying to someone?  Do I really want to know how it made them feel?  And, do they want to know how it made me feel?  These are powerful questions that are hard to find the answers to, but I encourage us all to seek God’s peace.  Scripture reminds me in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  My prayer is for the peace of God to not just guard my heart but plant seeds of peace in my heart.

God knew all this about humans and our inadequacies to love like him.  He knew we would hurt each other and him.  How did he reconcile this pain?  He gave the greatest sacrifice of all his Son to forgive us.  If God can open his heart and sacrifice so much, then forgiveness should be so easy to give especially to those we love.  Ask for forgiveness, give forgiveness, hold no grudge, and open your arms.  Choose God’s peace over the pain and hurt no matter which side you end up on.  Jesus taught us to pray:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  Matthew 6: 9-13

Closing Verse:  Jesus responds after the Lord’s Prayer in verse 14, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Challenge:  Choose to forgive others no matter the sacrifice just as your Father chose to give his only Son in order bring forgiveness to you.  God promises you will feel the burden lift from you.  Try to stop and put yourself in the place of the person you caused hurt to or who caused you hurt.  The perspective will help you heal.

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Fear of the Future

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Sometimes as we look toward the future, it is fear that can halt us and keep us looking backwards instead of moving forward in God’s plan.  Proverbs 22: 4 prepares us, ” The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.”  These coming weeks have been the first weeks of my youngest daughter’s life that does not have schooling in her immediate future.  She is now an official college graduate and her future seems to loom before her.  As I watch her struggle to make decisions about her future, I remind her to turn to the Lord for guidance and remember that she is young and this is the time to live her life!  My prayer for her comes from Psalms 86:11, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”  As I ponder her future plans I realize that I also face changes soon in my future.  Sometimes this is scary and sometimes it is exciting to think of what my future could hold. Whether excited or fearful of what the future will bring turning our eyes to the Lord and listening to his guidance may prove hard but rewarding in our lives.  The only fear we should ever have is of the Lord, yet scripture speaks to us in Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

I am watching the struggle right now in my daughter as she tries to listen and seek God’s guidance, but her youth tells her to ask everyone else and her parents for guidance.  I pray that the wisdom I provide is what God wants her to hear, as I encourage her to follow her dreams for now since she has nothing to tie her down and let God’s plan work in her life.  2 Timothy 1:7 reads for us all about the spirit God gave us, “For  God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  She certainly has some exciting plans and ideas and I look forward to seeing which one God blesses and develops in for her future.  I am reminded of Luke 12:7 where Jesus shares, “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

My husband and I are now beginning to plan the next stage of our lives.  I will soon reach retirement and now is the time for me to seek God’s guidance for the next phase of my life.  I  feel like my daughter with a new future before me, but I know that my age is telling me to seek my dreams now.  We both know we have to seek God’s guidance in making the best decision for our future.  David writes in Psalms 25:14, “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”  Exciting times are ahead!

Closing Verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Challenge:  Are you letting fear keep you from stepping out in Faith and moving into your future?  Make time with the Lord and his Word as you face the future.

 

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Dreaming vs Doing

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Sometimes it is funny how God talks to you.  How is it that God allows you to dream dreams, either in your sleep or in your lives.  Seems God has been trying to nudge me this holiday season and when that happens, I am always drawn to scripture to figure out exactly what God is trying to tell me.

Maybe I should first begin with God’s little nudges.  God has been nudging me and pricking my heart (more about the details later) and a devotion that I was reading for the Christmas Season ended with this statement, “Make a plan this Christmas Season to do something ridiculous that you know God wants you to do.”  Although maybe it isn’t ridiculous, my doing it might be, so there I was pondering what God wants from me again.  The very next day in my inbox I received a video the explanation in the video discussed Dreaming to Doing.  That moving from Dreaming to actually Doing something is considered RAD.  Ok, God has my attention.  Just pondering dreaming lead me to scripture.  First, let me define dreams in this context.  Dreams are not just what we have when we sleep, but they can also be more importantly dreams we have for life.  How does God challenge us, prick us, or move us through dreams?  His dreams for us which can mean we must let go of our dreams for self so God can work.  In Genesis 41:15-16 it reads,”And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it.  I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it. Joseph answered Pharaoh, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.'” In the verses, Joseph uses his gift of interpreting dreams for Pharaoh.  Not the gift I have, but it does  make me wonder what the meaning of the dreams I am dreaming really might mean for me.  What is God trying to say to me.  I know I need to listen, but I also need to understand.  Clearly, in Job 33:14-15 we see God speaking through dreams.  “For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.  In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds”. God brings vision to us and speaks to us in our dreams.  So I pause…

Again, how do we decide what those dreams are really saying to us from God?  In the Old Testament days, prophets like Daniel were given the gift to interpret God’s will as in Daniel 5:12, “because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel.” Today we have to be willing to stop and listen to the Lord when he speaks to us in our dreams.  I know I am one who fails sometimes to really hear him until he continuously pricks my soul.  We must humble ourselves as Solomon did before the Lord in a dream.  When God said, “Ask what I shall give you” 1Kings 3:5, Solomon responded with, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” I Kings 3:9.  Sometimes asking for the wisdom and understanding of God’s true call is not always what we think we want to hear.  It is not what we believed is right or fair for our lives.  We must be accept his wisdom not ours.

Now, dreams are not just those that we have when we sleep, but sometimes they are the goals and dreams we have for our lives.  Whether we actual dreams in our sleep or you are focused on your own desires for your life, be sure that they align with God’s plan.  Otherwise be open to his nudges.  We have to stop and believe that following the dreams that God has for us will result in the dreams found in Psalm 126:1, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.”

I must plant God’s dreams and desires in my heart and not my own, so that my fruit shows his grace.  This is hard gardening but the fruits will be more abundant than my own.

Closing Verse:  “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasures produce evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  Are we speaking from our hearts (dreams) or the Lord’s will for us?

Challenge:  Explore your dreams for God’s desires.  Start a journal and really dig into your dreams that tend to be recurring.  Then start doing! I use both a written and online.  www.penzu.com is a great online journal.

 

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Happy “New” Year

The new year is upon us and a time to renew our spirits after the Christmas season and reflect on what God is calling us to this New Year!  Revelations 21:5 reads, “And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new…”  Christ is working to make all things new but our service here among man is a calling he makes to us.  How will you help your neighbors this New Year?  We must remember that we are “new creations”, 2 Corinthians 5:17 shares “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  If we have become a new creation then we will bear fruit.  Ephesians 4:22-24 explains our new creation this way, “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

God shares in scripture how serving him is a part of his plan.  In Jeremiah 29:11 the scripture reads “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  and in Isaiah 40:31, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

As we prepare for the coming New Year 2017, stop and listen to the call from Christ in your life.  Stop and pray for God’s guidance in your life.  Then go and faithfully serve him.

Closing Verse:  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” 1Peter 1:3.

Challenge:  As you close out the Christmas season and reflect upon God’s calling and plan for you.  Focus on where God want you to serve him in 2017.

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