…he maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45 (KJV)
After a drought of approximately five years, Texas has been saturated with rains—some gentle and some causing serious flooding. The wildflowers have been glorious, and we are seeing lush landscapes such as have been nonexistent for years. All because of the rain.
Has it occurred to you to notice that the rain falls on good people and on people we might judge to be bad? That’s what Jesus says in the Matthew passage above. God sends blessings—like rain—on everyone. Romans 2:4 goes on to say that God’s kindness is poured out to bring people to repentance.
If we wanted someone to repent, would we want to beat him into submission or would we, like God, saturate that person with kindness? Even our folk wisdom tells us that we can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Father, again you teach us that your love, your mercy, your goodness changes us in ways that no amount of criticism or disparaging could ever do. Remind us of your kindness to us and help us to reflect that every day to the people in our lives. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.
…I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:20 (KJV)
We were reminded in our chapel service this week that life as a Christian is not a bed of roses. Even if it were, there are thorns just beneath the petals, and we’re not exempt from the pain of the jabs.
Just look at Jesus’ life on earth. Everywhere he went, there seemed to be controversy of one sort or the other: You’re healing on the Sabbath. You’re blaspheming. You’re making yourself out to be God. You’re breaking the Law. Whatever made us think that walking with Jesus kept us in a tight little bubble, free from adversity? It didn’t happen with him, and it won’t happen with us.
But the part of the story that we tend to forget is that when the storms begin to rise, we just need to look around to see who’s in the boat with us. There’s Jesus, and he’s been there all the time waiting for us to call on him.
Don’t wait. Call now. “Jesus calms the storm in our hearts before he calms the storm on the sea.” DW
Father, remind us in the storm that we all we need to do is call on you, and Jesus will give us peace. AMEN.
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)
That day we had vaccinated 155 dogs and 17 cats as part of a vet team in another country. The hours had been long and intense, but, happily, we had been working in shade with a cool breeze.
We had been told not to expect gratitude, but still something troubled me. Only one person of all the people whose animals we had treated said thank you. That wonderful team of 28 people had given their time and expertise and had spent money to leave their comfort zone to come to help. And only one person was thankful.
The week went by as we moved to various locations with much the same response. On the final night, a local business that had provided transportation, drivers, and warehousing for the medications gave a lavish fiesta for the team complete with delicious local cuisine, entertainment, and gifts for us all. When it came time for me to receive my gift, how did I respond? I forgot to say thank you. All week long I had quizzed myself over the failure of so many who had received so much, and when I was in the same spot, I forgot.
It was easy for me to see something troubling in someone else, but when the same shoe was on my foot, I saw how easy it was to take generosity for granted. God’s standard is higher: “…to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required…”
Father, you have given us all so much. Forgive me for forgetting to say thank you. Work gratitude into my heart so that I remember the Source of every good gift and always express thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Yesterday a friend who lives in the guest apartment above my garage called to tell me that the air conditioner had fallen out of the window. Is that even possible? Apparently, all the bad weather and wind had loosened the supports of the unit, and it fell two stories to the ground. A couple of friends came and re-installed it, but it didn’t work. No surprise.
In the afternoon two repairmen came to replace cracked glass in my windows while I was out. When I returned, I saw that three window panes in each window had the original see-through glass, and the new ones had opaque glass that no one could see through. Didn’t they notice that it was different? (This was after the A/C fell out of the back window.)
I went to bed last night feeling like Job and thinking about the windows, the broken air conditioner, and the cost, not to mention hassle. And these are only trivia compared to the grave matters in our world. Just as I was beginning to grind my teeth, I remembered that worrying doesn’t do anything positive, and it certainly isn’t conducive to sleep. With every ounce of my will, I gave the matters over to God and snoozed.
Today, the repairman found a little wire had gotten disconnected in the fall, and the A/C is back in service. And the glass people are coming back – with the right glass this time.
Father, thank you for being patient with me and reminding me that worrying is counterproductive. Help me to trust you in ALL things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. II Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)
My little mom has been packing her tent for quite a while. She has been with hospice care for almost two-and-a-half-years. We watch her fade, sometimes on a daily basis, but her spirit remains strong, and she is joyful. She understands that things and experiences and people do not make for joy—it only emanates from an intimate relationship with One whose presence brings “fullness of joy.”
Not long after my father died, Momo told me, “I don’t have anything. I don’t have a home. I stay in this room. But I’m happy.” And her face and her attitude confirmed her words.
Another time when I asked her who she wanted to see first when she got to heaven, she said, simply, “Jesus.” “And what will you say to him?” I asked. Softly, Momo answered, “Thank you.”
I want to be like Momo when I grow up.
Father, I am so blessed to have had a mother like Momo who has loved and served you faithfully for 85 years. Make me authentic and true to you so that instead of me, your image is evident to everyone. In Jesus’ name I ask. AMEN.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
The Scripture often uses hyperbole to make a point. I believe that’s the case when we look at the story of David and the giant Goliath.
When we read the story in I Samuel, we see that David has come to the battlefield to check on his brothers, not to engage in a fight. But he hears Goliath’s challenge and is astonished—not at the giant’s words but that no one has taken up the gauntlet.
David hasn’t prepared for a conflict; but God has prepared him through his many experiences in everyday life. David may be the youngest male on the field; but with God, age doesn’t matter. David has no weapons; but God has weapons already in place. David seems to be going forward against overwhelming odds; but with God he has the victory.
Essentially, everything is against David. But God…
Without looking at the obvious, David trusts the One who has been with him in previous trials. He uses familiar weapons that he’s proven in the past. He goes out trusting in the name of the LORD Almighty, and the enemy is defeated.
No giant is too big for God. He is the one who fights for us and through us, and he is glorified in victory. The bigger the battle, the greater the triumph.
Father, open our eyes to see that it is not us but you who can defeat every spiritual enemy in our paths. You are glorified when we acknowledge and surrender our weakness to you, realizing that only in you do we conquer. Thank you.
“…he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit…” John 15: 5 (KJV)
On various occasions I have been given delicate Phalaenopsis orchids, those wonderfully exotic flowering plants that appear to be so fragile. I have learned an interesting principle from these beautiful bits of creation. Given the right light and moisture, they continue to bloom year after year—it is their nature.
I have not taken the time to research orchids nor have I joined the local orchid society. All I do is put a spoon of water in their pots every week, and they faithfully bloom. But this is not about orchids.
I have noticed that there are some people who, like orchids, can always be counted on to bloom. Somehow, they stay in the Light, stay connected to the Source of their growth, and they constantly seem to be watered by the Spirit. Because they are intrinsically beautiful, they beautify their environment, and they bring joy and encouragement just by being.
I think that is what is meant by abiding.
Father, keep us in you so that your beauty shows through us. Amen.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (KJV)
“Stand on your own two feet” is a phrase many of us learned growing up. Essentially, it meant that we were to grow in independence, develop our skills, and become self-sufficient. We do a pretty good job of that until we begin to encounter some of the rough patches of real life.
The storms that are essential components for maturity buffet us as relationships unravel, as cherished careers disappoint, as finances fluctuate, and as any number of unanticipated events rock our world. In our disillusionment we suddenly become clear-sighted; we discern there’s a missing element; that we are not enough. We just can’t stand on our own two feet.
We discover the God who has been there all the time, but now we need him. We are not sufficient to ourselves. He has been waiting for us to realize this; he has waited for our epiphany. We gradually, tentatively, begin to rest on and in him. He is there, and he is enough.
Dear Father, thank you for always being Emmanuel, God with us, and for your incredible patience. Let us rest ourselves in you. Let us lean on your everlasting arms. In Jesus our Lord. Amen.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2 (NIV)
“So how is he going to be judged?” I was asked at lunch. Do you ever think people are getting by with things? That they ought to suffer for what they’ve done? It’s so easy to be tempted with those kinds of thoughts. And then we look in the mirror and are so grateful for mercy.
My mom used to say that when we judge someone, we’re assigning motive to their actions, which is arrogance on our part. And however do we know why anyone does anything? Only God knows the heart.
The very instant we begin to judge each other, we lose our peace, and the more we concentrate on their perceived wrong, the more we become distracted from what God has called us to do. Oswald Chambers says there’s always one more thing in that person’s life that we do not know—one more thing that affects his behavior.
Interestingly, even Jesus said he didn’t judge—that was the job of his Father. He allowed that the wheat and the tares grow up together lest the wheat be torn out with the tares if removed prematurely.
Staying focused on Jesus, abiding in him, and rejoicing always in him leaves us no time to look for flaws in others. Actually, judging is a job best left to God who alone knows all things, especially our hearts.
Father, forgive us when we take your job into our hands. All of us need your mercy, and we all should show mercy. Remind us of that when we are tempted to be judgmental. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.