Archive | September 2012

Jesus Said “Come To Me”

Read:  Matthew 11:16-30

Thought for the day: “ . . . surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Sunday is my favorite day of the week.  Always.  Jesus is with me every moment of every day and the Holy Spirit is always deep within me guiding me, but somehow being together with the amazing body of Christ at church is like being on holy ground and nearly always fills me with such joy and new life for the coming week.  There are the occasional Sundays, though, when I’m, for one reason or another, a bit off.  The one I’m to share is an example.  As Fr Rick was about to share the daily Gospel reading, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to awaken me.  He did indeed open the ears of my heart and I heard words read, and in particular I heard verses 28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Okay, so sometimes we just need a hug and it’s so cool when someone seems to know and is there to provide it. Wow, is it special when it’s Jesus. He didn’t stop there either. On the way home I turned on Christian radio and it seemed every song and every comment made was about surrendering our heavy load to His loving arms. Song after song reminded me of what I knew but needed to hear anyway. I kept hearing songs that told me He had a plan and that He was inside me and that He was working on me and through me.

Someone told me a while back that prayer was a waste of time. “Nobody listening” was the message he conveyed. I can’t agree with him and can only pray that he will open his heart to the Lord who’s lovingly waiting for him. Why do I pray? I pray because I love the Lord. Why do I love Him?  I love Him because He first loved me.  It’s that simple.  I hunger for Him.  Even when I turn my focus off Him, He never leaves me.  My relationship with Him is the most important thing in my life.  It is my life.

Prayer:  Thank you Lord for your love.  Help me to reflect that love on those you entrust to me.  Give me your heart, your patience, and your compassion.  Amen.

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Harvest Season – Thoughts Of Another Garden

 

Read: Psalm 119:97-99

 

Thought for the day:  “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
Luke 15:30-32

 

Working a bit in the garden got me to thinking, as such tasks so often do. Hands busy while the mind, heart, and soul are set adrift . . . these are usually times I spend with Jesus.

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Good Friday came to my mind and I found myself wondering what those very close to Jesus were thinking or doing on that particular day. He had tried to tell His apostles what was going to happen, yet we know they didn’t understand. Though the Bible doesn’t reveal it, I’m thinking He may also have tried to tell His friends in Bethany . . . Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, what was about to happen and if He did, I’m thinking they as well may have misunderstood . . . perhaps on some level they didn’t want to understand.  We don’t really want to accept bad news about our loved ones . . .

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Jesus, as we know, was fully human and fully God and as such experienced some of what we do. I’m sure it was difficult to tell His friends He was about to die. He knew them well. He likely knew they’d be upset, yet there was still much to do before His death and surely they’d need to be prepared for what came next . . . He said yes to Father God and yet those short couple of days before “it is finished” could not have been easy at all for Him.

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I expect, as was His custom, He likely made a visit to Bethany to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Assuming they didn’t fully understand what was soon to come, I wonder what they were thinking . . . knowing Jesus well, I”m sure they were concerned. Surely, they’d have noticed a bit of something different about their friend . . . perhaps they were concerned as dear friends are when something “seems wrong.”

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Do you suppose they invited Him into the sunroom for a restful cup of tea? I’d really like to do that right now.  I’m in a wilderness just now spiritually.  I know He’s with me, but if you’ve been in a wilderness spiritually or otherwise, you know there’s wildlife, poison ivy and other spooks yet honestly there are also incredible sights and smells and the trouble is, when I am just about blown away by the awe and wonder of it all, that’s when one of those wild creatures suddenly swoops in and scares me.  I know that the Lord is with me, but when one of those hawks come along suddenly, or a wildcat comes running, or it seems I am surrounded by heaven only knows what, but the sounds of their calls seem inches away, my thoughts are no longer of peace, hope, and beauty in the wild, and sure aren’t at that moment on my amazing Jesus who loves me.  Distracted by fear, I lose my focus on Him.

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Thinking again of Jesus’ friends back on that seemingly ordinary day when life was about to change, I wonder once again about how amazing it must have been to simply sit in the sunroom with Jesus and hold His hand, as I sometimes do when sitting with someone I love.  Oh, how I’d love to be sitting with Him now.  Hmmm . . .  I believe I will.  There is that special place in my home where I go when I want to talk to him.  If I go sit there right now, I’m sure He’ll be there with me.  He has just the right words to give me hope.  Sometimes, words aren’t even needed.  Just sitting with the one I love is amazing, don’t you think?

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Prayer:   Lord, let me feel your strength and confidence when I’m faced with more than I think I can handle.  Remind me that there is nothing we cannot face together.  Hold my hand and lead me in the way you would have me go.  Thank you for always holding me close in your loving care.  Amen

Wow Christians! We Need To Get Busy!

Read:  Matthew 5:16

 

Thought For The Day:  Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.”

 

If you use a search engine with the keywords “let your light shine” you will find 238,000 hits. If you then search “darkness” you’ll get a shocking 75,900,000 hits. We, as Christians have much to do. Those numbers – so sad. But, look at Matthew 5:16 and we have our commission! Reminds me, too, of my days as a church school teacher. I first taught 5th grader and I myself was just in the 9th or 10th grade in school at the time, but Mom was in charge and knew what I could do and there were no adults willing to take on the task, so there I was excited to do it!  I was to teach them the Ten Commandments.

 

It was priceless because as I tried to break them down to examples and dialog that they could understand and broaden things so they’d see there’s more to it than perhaps they thought, they’d then ask me if “when Mommy does this, isn’t that again this commandment?” Later in another parish when I was in my twenties i taught the first and second grade and they were so adorable. They were also drawn to the most “goolish” (is that a word?) parts. Interesting comparison though. The little kids – the 1st and 2nd graders – they had such strong faith. Oh, yes they could be fresh and all but usually they were fighting to see who sat next to me as I “told stories” to them. There was a pure faith so clear in them, but less evident in the 5th graders I’d taught before because they were more used to living in this world and had begun to be changed by it.

 

This ties into the “let your light shine” as our commission as Christians. We are born naked and we’re full of God and full of faith. As we are “exposed” to the world, our nakedness becomes an embarrassment and our faith becomes weakened by the world and the fact that it’s impurities take away our trust. It’s our job, as Christians, to enable folks to be in the world but to restore them to their earlier faith by reminding them that they are not OF this world. That’s really all there is to it. It really is rather simple. WE are Jesus body in this world and He will give us all we need.  We make it harder than it is. WE do. It doesn’t have to be.

 

Prayer:  Thank you Lord for loving me.  Show me the way to lead others to know you and to love you as well.  Give me your words and your compassion.  Help me to follow you in faith.  Amen

About Believing

 

Read:    John 17:20-22

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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Psalm 106:12  “Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.”

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“I don’t believe in anything,” he said.  Wow. Think about it. How must life be for the individual who spoke those words to me a while back. I am thinking of it now because I realize I am nothing if I don’t have Christ in me and the Holy Spirit to guard and guide me . . . yet he did say that to me. He was polite. He was direct. He peppered me with questions to defend my faith, he accepted my responses and questioned me further, yet his belief in nothing remained.  He didn’t hear me with the ears of his heart. I can’t call him angry, nor can I call him joyful. I think to have passion you must believe in something even if you do not share my own specific beliefs.  I feel sad for him.   “I don’t believe in anything . . . “

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The man wouldn’t call himself an atheist nor an agnostic. In his own words he admitted that to be an atheist he’d have to believe in something and so he couldn’t lay claim to that. Why am I thinking of this now? Well, I balanced the bank account which is a test of my faith and trust in the Lord since I am still seeking financial provision and have been for a long time. I have not yet paid the next of the monthly bills and now find it impossible not to wonder “how much longer . . . ” since the human only sees, with her eyes, that which is of this world.  Yet, I do believe.  Fear hasn’t destroyed me yet.  I see the Lord’s hand in my life and I feel His presence much of the time.  I even hear His voice speaking reassurance to me.  Thinking of how much I love the Lord and of how limitless His love is for me made me sad again for the man who believes in nothing.  I cannot imagine getting through a single day . . . a single moment without my faith.  It seems to me that my existence, my life would have no meaning at all without Him.  “I don’t believe in anything . . . “

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It is easy to see the Lord’s hand in great miracles such as blind men seeing and the lame walking, but everything in life is wrapped in His love and His blessings.  Mini-miracles happen all the time.  One by one the “things” in my life over the last few years of “season change” have ceased to function.  These were things I couldn’t see my way to spending money to replace yet each time something broke, the Lord either showed me a new way or had a replacement ready for me even  before I needed it, like the day my coffee maker quit and a friend called and brought one over to my home so quickly I had my morning cup about the same time as usual.  The love of the Lord is huge and comes to us  in many forms . . . fabric an old lady gave me knowing I love to quilt, “can’t use this and thought perhaps you . . . ” In the bag was matching thread too . . . sometimes Jesus blesses us with coffee makers, bits of fabric, and so many things that we do not perhaps think of as miracles, but oh, they are!  “I don’t believe in anything . . . “  I am sorry he doesn’t, but I am so thankful that I have the gift of faith!  I pray he will find it within him as well.

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PRAYER:  Thank you Lord for the gift of faith and for keeping your eyes on me even when I take my eyes off you.  Help me to grow stronger in you and show me the way to reflect your Light in the darkness that all may believe.  Amen.

Unconditional Love

Read: Galatians 5:12-14

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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-36

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I read something earlier about love. A man wanted to know if the statement he had heard from a companion declaring she was “in love” because her man had a “great sense of humor” could possibly be “real” love . . . I can’t begin to guess what’s in the heart of another but those words speak of conditional love and as he considered whether his companion might suddenly fall “out of love” if her man’s sense of humor should change, I could understand his concern.

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Since I don’t know any of the people in that love story it quickly slipped my mind. Then I read a book which spoke of another kind of love. It made me stop, think, and smile. I realized something I’d never really thought of before, or at least not in the way I suddenly realized. A writer spoke of a quote from the third chapter of Matthew’s gospel where God speaks of Jesus saying “my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” I have heard this many times. It has always sounded like a father proud of the accomplishments of his son. Taken out of context, that is surely true. This time I realized something I should have seen all along.

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For in the fifth chapter of that same gospel, while alone and praying and fasting, the Lord is tempted by Satan. Satan urges Him to turn stone into bread and offers all sorts of tempting chances to improve His current circumstances. Our Lord was 30 hears old at the time of this temptation, prayer, and fasting, and was preparing to begin his ministry. That’s when it hit me.

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When God spoke of His beloved Son with such love and pride, that love was truly and totally unconditional. Jesus had not yet begun His ministry. We have every reason to believe He lived a reasonably typical life for the culture of that day. Obeying His Mother and His earthly father, helping out in the carpentry shop. The love that His heavenly Father professed was completely unconditional. This speaks loudly to all of us. It sure did to me.

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As we wrestle through our life on earth, we are often uncertain and are faced with judgement constantly. All about us challenge us in good ways and not so good. We hear “I love you” so often but the words so many times should have also said “I love you if you do this” or “I love you when you do that.” We feel, whether we admit it or not, that we need to earn love, need to deserve it, and often that we fall short. These feelings hold us back. We, I believe, consciously or unconsciously accept God’s love assuming the same conditions apply. But they do not. When He declared His love as quoted in Matthew’s gospel, He meant it not just for Jesus, but for each one of us. He loves us without restraint and without a list of conditions which we must meet to receive it. How very blessed are we?

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PRAYER: I love you Lord. Help me to love others as you love me. Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me. Instill in me your compassion for all living creatures. Amen.

Speed Bumps Along Life’s Journey

 

Read:   Genesis 2:8-10

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Matthew 28:20  “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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Trust versus worry . . . this is a battle that’s gone  on since nearly the beginning of time.  From the familiar story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis to the present, it so often seems that worry comes out ahead.  Think about it.  Gone to the dentist recently?  I dread it and avoid it and I am not alone, yet I’ve always, once the task was done, felt great and promised myself that next time it would be different.  One of these days I hope that’s true.  Thinking of Adam and Eve, I’ve often wondered what made her think she had to have those special apples?  God lived there in the garden with her and gave her everything, yet she worried about not having enough . . . so she took the apple and the promise of wisdom which supposedly came with it.  Adam agreed with Eve and ate.  They sure regretted their lack of trust.  I shake my head over the story, but I am not any different and I know better.

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In my life there have been many seasons and with each one came growth.  With each one came worry as well.  There were good things and bad and as I look back, I can see how the Lord used all things for my good.  I can see that He enabled me, as well, to share my trials and triumphs with others so that they, too, might  benefit from them.  He placed people in my path to likewise share with me.  Yet, here I am in a period of change of season and some days it seems the storms will never pass.  I could walk on ahead and dance to the rhythm of the raindrops, but all too often I stand still and idly get soaked.  He lets me get wet, however, like my earthly Daddy did, He remains near and at the right time, as only He knows best, He takes me by the hand and we walk ahead together.  The adult should recognize a pattern in all this and allow herself to enjoy this closeness with her Heavenly father.  Walking in the rain, once the initial shock is over, can actually be a lot of fun.  The challenge of facing up to difficulties with God’s hand holding tightly to my own, should be exhilarating.  In hindsight, I have always eventually come to the conclusion that “wow, that was awesome” but I also know that my little girl self is just now saying “Are we there yet?”  Hearing no answer, do I walk on in trust and patience?  No, I tend to keep asking “are we almost there?  When will be get there?”  It’s not raining today.  My soul is dancing today.  I feel His hand holding me close and anticipate the wonders to come from all He’s showing me and teaching me on the journey!  Worry may return tomorrow and like speed bumps, it’ll slow me down.  His hand will always be close though and while speed bumps do slow me down, I know with His hand in mine, I’ll get there.  Trust will win and my heart will rejoice in the victory!

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Prayer:  Lord, give me stronger faith and teach me.  Let me know the shelter I always have in you.  Guide me in your truth that I may learn what you desire for me and that I may be a good and faithful servant.  Amen.

Strength and Success Redefined

 

Read:  2 Corinthians 12:8-10

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 29:18-20

 

Famous poet, author, and oh so much more, Maya Angelou said and I quote “success is loving life and daring to live it.” Can there be a better way to express the commission we have been given, as Christians, to be Disciples of Christ in the world today? As I turned on the news one morning not too long ago I  heard, as is so often the case, stories of arson, of cruelty one individual inflicts on another, stories of our government infighting which, we were told, could cause countless numbers of us not to receive our monthly income, and stories of disasters around the world . . . I turned the television set off. I had heard enough. I then read the quote from Angelou and wondered how can I bring this message to those in darkness and lead them to the light of Christ? The answer came to me quickly but in the form of another question. How can I not???? Has there ever been a time when His love was more needed? Dear readers, His love is in our hearts. His Holy Spirit is there to guide us and guard us. We are broken and we are weak, but in Him we are strong! We have His wholeness within us and His strength to rely on. I’ve heard it said that “Christianity is not for wimps.” I am not so sure.  Hmmm . . . wimps . . . the weak.

I’ve searched for success as this world sees it my entire life. Yet, it’s a goal that I feel can never truly satisfy me even if I reach it. Many times I have thought I had reached it. The things of this life entice me, but getting what I ask for has so often led to disappointment. It leads me to keep seeking and without Christ leading me, I am more than a bit like the dog that keeps chasing its own tail. I never quite achieve what I believed was in sight. My earthly eyes somehow do not see clearly enough regardless of how strong they are. Through Christ, the eyes of my heart . . . my soul see things in a whole new way, and a far better one. I don’t believe the cliché that “Christianity is for wimps” is true. I must surrender my own will and my own dubious strength and yield to Him . . . for that is where my strength lies. That is where my joy comes from. That is where I can truly, as Angelou spoke, love life and dare to live! Life in Christ – it is there for you! Do you dare to live it?

Prayer:  Lord teach me to see through your eyes and love with your heart.  Help me to surrender to you so that in my weakness, I may live in your strength and yours alone.  Amen

 

 

Related Articles & Sites:

Pat’s Devotions  –  //patromine.wordpress.com/

Jesus Is My Joy Ministries Devotions  –  http://jesusmyjoy.wordpress.com/

Richie and Kathy Castaldo  –  http://cryofworship.com/

Women’s Window http://womenswindow.com/

KeziaCarriehttp://keziahcarrie.com/