Love, in deed

A Trilogy from Another Brother:

1 John 3:17 – 24

But if anyone has the world’s goods sand sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”

Have to admit that I read this morning’s verses several times and came up with:  “it says what it says”.  So, what do you do when you have no other trains of thoughts…you go with movie themes.

Verse 17, Trading Places

I would like to think that if any of us saw someone in need, that we would respond in a generous way.  How far would we go out of our way to help others?  How far could we go out of our way to help others?  There are so many aspects to both of these questions.  If I spent all of my time helping others, how much would I have to share with them?  Yet, there are some that their spiritual gifts are giving and are SO amazing at it.  There are also some that thrive with what God has given to them and thrive at sharing with others.  What this verse speaks against is having the means and doing nothing with it.  Don’t go down that road:  don’t be Louis Winthrop III toward the beginning of the movie…be Billy Ray Valentine toward the end of the movie.  “Mortimer…we’re back in business!”

Verses 18-20, Forrest Gump

“I may not be a smart man, Jenny…but I know what love is.”  Forrest was really good at walking the walk…once he learned to walk.  He showed love to his mama, Jenny, Bubba…and little Forrest.  He loved his momma through obedience…loved Jenny by never giving up on her…loved Bubba by going back in the thick for him (it’s like a snake jumped up and bit me)…and loved little Forrest by “fixing his breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day”…and putting him on the bus with Dorothy Harris.  Forrest didn’t talk the love game…he flat out lived it…with passion!  You could see the love for Lt. Dan in the excitement for his gain:  “Lt. Dan, you got new legs!”  May we be generous and genuine in our love for someone in our circle…or someone running from one coast to the other coast that we don’t know.

Verses 21-24, Pinocchio

In this verse, we need to let The Trinity be our Jiminy Cricket.  I think we all believe in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus or we wouldn’t be reading this.  These versus tell us to believe in the name of Jesus and that we can have a clear conscience in Him, with the Holy Spirit in us.  Is there much more exciting and inspirational than verse 24:  “Those who obey God’s commandments live in fellowship with him, AND HE WITH THEM.  And we know he lives in us because the Holy Spirit lives in us.”

Have a blessed Wednesday and please pray for all of the students and teachers starting another school year.

MT

Open Door

Today’s reading is Revelation 3:8-11

8 “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”
We watched the movie Armegeddon the other night. Not on purpose…kind of stumbled on to it and couldn’t shut it off. While watching I thought about end times. It’s a real thing. But we don’t have to be afraid if it. God has a plan.
These are the words of encouragement written to the church in Philadelphia. They are also an encouragement to us, the Bible Journal Community in 2018. I love the word picture of the door of salvation. He has set an open door before us that no one can shut. No one! It’s done and promised. This is the door of hope, the door of eternal life. He knows we are weak and has opened it for us if we accept it. These verses encourage us to continue obeying and persevering because God sees us, knows us, and will protect us. I do not pretend to know the ins and outs of “the hour of trial” but I trust that God will protect us in that moment because He said so. He is coming soon. Keep doing the things He gave you to do on this earth for Him. Keep going. Don’t give up. If you don’t know what He’s given you to do…..ask Him. He will answer because He has given each of us gifts and talents for His kingdom. And make sure to look for your gift…..not the one you wish you had. I’ve done that……it’s exhausting. Be patient….it will come. Keep your eyes on that open door.
Have a blessed Wednesday!
Shelly

Wisdom

James 3:13-18 “Wisdom from Above”

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of his wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

 

This is a passage that I needed to read a few times to soak it in. First let’s take a look at two definitions of wisdom. Wisdom according to Wikipedia: “Wisdom or sapience is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight, especially in a mature or utilitarian manner.” Wisdom by Psychology Today: “Wisdom is one of those qualities difficult to define—because it encompasses so much—but which people generally recognize when they encounter it.” I then took it a part a little bit more and looked up “meekness” on Google. The first definition showing screamed at me ‘world view’ because of the example sentence: “The fact or condition of being meek; submissiveness. ‘All his best friends make fun of him for his meekness.’” That doesn’t sound very flattering or fun. Then, under Wikipedia, you see the more biblical version: “Meekness is an attribute of human nature and behavior. It has been defined several ways: righteous, humble, teachable, and patient under suffering, long suffering willing to follow gospel teachings; an attribute of a true disciple.” So, if we do have wisdom, we are to show our works in the humbleness of our wisdom…in the teach-ability of our wisdom…in the true discipleship of our wisdom.

 

BJ asked us to focus on the character of God…and I think this reading speaks it loud and clear: “But the wisdom from above (God’s character) is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” Quite the example and all character traits that you would want in your Heavenly Father.

 

Happy Wednesday and may people see your works in the meekness of wisdom.

MT

 

The Wedding Banquet

Todays reading: Matthew 22:2-14 and Psalm 132

We recently celebrated a wedding in our family. My step daughter Paige married Ross on 6/16/18. It was perfect. Even though it poured down rain 25 minutes before the outdoor ceremony……it was perfect. And at the end of the day they were married!!! We spent many hours preparing for the ceremony and the reception. Then we waited for people to RSVP to the blessed event. As we waited, I was convicted of all the times I was slow to respond or failed to respond all together to various invitations. Why would I be so slow to respond to an invitation to a banquet with free food and drink, entertainment, and celebration with friends and family?

The parable in Matthew 22:2-14 speaks to an invitation and is an illustration of the kingdom of heaven. There was a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. Invitations were sent out but the people were too busy to respond (RSVP). Their minds were on other things. They were busy with work, family, illness, animals. When it came time for the banquet the people that were invited didn’t accept the invitation. They actually got mad and violent towards the servants that were inviting them! So the king, who spent so much time preparing for the event, invited other people off the street to come to the party in place of the ones initially invited. They accepted the invitation and came to the banquet. Once there, the king noticed someone who was not dressed appropriately for the banquet. At that time, when Jewish people  had a wedding banquet they gave the invitation and provided clothing for guests to wear to the event. This particular guest came to the banquet but wasn’t wearing the new clothes given to him. He showed up, but didn’t fully accept the invitation. He was only half present.  The king got rid of him because the guest arrogantly arrived in his own clothes and wasn’t willing to put down his pride and fully commit.

Have you RSVP’d to Jesus invitation?In accepting Jesus invitation have you fully committed by also putting on the new clothing of Christ? God asks us to clothe ourselves in His righteousness, not our own.  It’s part of the celebration of fully accepting the invitation of salvation from Jesus.

Isaiah 61:10 “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.”

All In!

 

Today’s readings:

Luke 14: 28-33 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise you might only complete the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh at you! They would say, “There’s the person who started that building and ran out of money before it was finished? Or what king would ever dream of going to war without first sitting down with his counselors and discussing whether his army of ten thousand is strong enough to defeat the twenty thousand soldiers who are marching against him? If he is not able, then while the army is still far away, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace. So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.”

Psalms 120 – A song for the ascent to Jerusalem. Page 957 in my Bible 😉

When I read these versus of Luke, 28-32 were kind of simple to understand. Do some serious research and seek wise counsel before making a MAJOR decision. OK, I get that and it makes sense. However, I can’t be a disciple of Jesus without giving up EVERYTHING for him. When I read this, my first thought always goes to ‘I have to sell all that I have and become a missionary in a country that doesn’t know Jesus and have my family live off the land until we convert everyone to Christ followers.’ Then I read the verses prior to our reading today. There were great crowds following Jesus. He starts off: “If you want to be my follower….” Then he puts it to them in this modern day term: you have to be, “All in!” There’s no, “Let’s give this a try and see if this works out.” You must be willing to put all of your trust in Jesus and who he says that he is.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know fully what that means. Again, I often go back to my earlier statement about becoming a missionary…and He does call some to that position. In my simple view, I think it means to put Jesus first. Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” After self-examination, do you? If you do, how do you fix that? Jesus loves you no matter where you’re at…how will you love him back today? May God bless your 20th day of June, 2018!

MT

 

Hidden Treasure

Todays reading: Matthew 13:44, Psalm 108

”The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”  Matthew 13:44 NIV

Last night I discussed this parable with my family. We were all a little unsure of the meaning. We were thinking the guy stole something that wasn’t his and took credit for it! That doesn’t seem right! Yes…..on first reading that’s the initial feeling. But in remembering the purpose of the parables we knew there was deeper meaning. I found my BSF notes from a 2007 study on the book of Matthew to help gain some insight. They noted that the people of that time often buried their “treasures” in the ground to keep them safe. According to Jewish law, if someone found buried treasure it belonged to them. The man in this parable found hidden treasure that became his once he found it. He was so excited about his “find” that he promptly buried it again so he could sell everything else in order to buy up the land and get the treasure too. He was all in. He knew what he found was special. Nothing else mattered anymore except holding on to that treasure. He got rid of his old life because the treasure he found was better than anything he had before.

The treasure is Jesus Christ.

Am I so excited about Jesus that I‘m willing to sell all I have? Am I willing to completely redirect my life for the treasure of heaven instead of the treasures of this world? Do I really believe the kingdom of heaven is better than the things I’m trying get in this life?

Luke 14:33 “In the same way, anyone of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”. NIV

Matthew 16:25-26 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” NIV

Psalm 108:4-5 “For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.” NIV

 

 

Wise builder

Today’s reading is from Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49, and Psalm 96

Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because it’s foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

Growing up I learned about God as my foundation in Sunday school. Thankfully my parents started this for me at a young age. It wasn’t until I had my own storms that I really understood the strength and importance of God as my rock and foundation. There are a handful of moments that I can recall very quickly where I was clinging to my sure foundation for peace in the midst of my storm. When I failed a major class in college, when I became a mother, and when my son was diagnosed as “not typical”. These moments all made me shrivel back in fear and question my abilities, my worth, my significance. Initially I recall trying to reconcile these situations on my own. Study harder, be better, research more. But when these methods still left me feeling empty and exhausted I finally sat quietly with God…..my foundation…..and the peace of God replaced my fear. My perspective changed from the difficulty of the moment to Gods eternal perspective. I began to see the blessing in the trial and I started to grow in faith, love, and grace. My view of the world is much better when I’m sitting on the foundation of who I am in Christ. There is nothing that can change the fact that God loves me and sent His son to die on the cross for my sins. I am His and this life is a gift. I may lose a few shingles here and there but my foundation will not be shaken.

Are you sure of your foundation? In both Matthew and Luke it says that the destruction “is great” to those who do not build their foundation on the rock. The good news is that you don’t have to build it yourself. God already did. Just accept it and build your house on it. Storms will come……you may need to replace a few shingles, shattered windows, or creaky doors but God’s foundation is strong and peaceful.

 

Pigs and Pearls

Todays reading is from Matthew 7:6 and Psalm 84.

“Don’t give what is Holy to unholy people. Don’t give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you” Matthew 7:6

Ive always struggled with this verse. It seems to me the unholy people are exactly who I should be sharing the good news with at any opportunity. Don’t they deserve to hear about Jesus too?

The people of that time understood when Jesus spoke of swine. They were “unclean” animals according to Jewish law. He says not to give pearls, a very precious item, to them because they will never wear them as they were intended to be worn. They wouldn’t even know what they were or that they had any significance at all. Their uncleaness would overpower the pearls. And the pearls would be lost on them.

Jesus wants us to share all the things He has done in our lives and the good news of the Gospel to everyone, but when we see “swine” in our midst it’s time to be discerning. The swine in our lives are the people who like to argue us out of our faith and trample on our sacred ground. They won’t be won to Christ with our holy words or knowledge of the Bible. They will trample the “pearls” with another comment or remark. Only the Holy Spirit can change a heart. Not our continuous arguing.

When discussions get heated over Jesus, theology, or whether or not the Bible is the inspired word of God……we are throwing pearls to swine. They will not understand Holy things and they will use your words to continue the argument. Step back. Save your pearls for someone who wants to hear and know more about their significance. Pray for the swine and show Gods love in actions.

Our Father

Today’s  reading is from Matthew 6:9 and Psalm 72

I remember saying the Lord’s prayer in church as a child. We stood in the big sanctuary with stained glass windows and recited the prayer together. Everyone joined in the low monotone mumbling of the verses as we became one voice. I memorized it at a young age from being in church and listening. It didn’t mean anything to me at the time. I was proud for knowing the words until I realized there were different versions with different words and then the confusion set in.  I was suddenly not able to join in the beautiful monotone for fear I might mess up the cadence with a 3 syllable word instead of a 2 syllable one. The opportunity to recite this prayer has been less often but when it does arise I try to assess the crowd for what version I should use. I’ll admit I’m never right and end up mumbling through most of it. I asked my 13 year old son if he knows the Lord’s Prayer and he admitted he couldn’t recite it but he knew it was when Jesus taught people how to pray. He probably has a better understanding then I did at his age as I was just memorizing words. These past few days I spent time with the first 9 words of this prayer. It’s just the introduction to the prayer but it sets the tone and prepares our hearts for time with God.

Our Father……..addressing to whom our prayer is directed. The word ” Father ” expresses an intimate relationship that is not reserved for holidays and Sunday’s. We are His children and He knows us and loves us as a Father does. He is ours and we are His.

In heaven…….. He is not of this world. His ways are not our ways. His plans are perfect. I am in awe of His position and that I am able to pray and be heard by the creator of the universe through Jesus Christ.

May your name be honored……He is worthy of honor and praise. In all that I do, say, and think. How am I honoring God today?

I’m convicted to be more thoughtful about WHO I’m praying to and to spend more time honoring His name. I often skip the reverence part and get right to the asking or complaining. In doing this I’m forgetting how big and awesome He is. I have found a peace when I sit in reverence of who God is and it changes my heart.  There is a time for asking but it comes after acknowledging Him as our Father in heaven.  As we spend the next few days going through the Lord’s Prayer, spend time with each phrase. He reveals Himself through His word when we listen. Go slow and let the words rest on your heart throughout the day.

 

 

Christ Came to Fulfill

The readings this morning are Matthew 5:17-20 and Psalm 60

“Christ Came to Fulfill the Law”

In this short passage, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that he is not here to abolish the law…but to fulfill them. They are here to stay! I think seeing the definition of “fulfill” makes it clear of what Jesus is saying.

ful·fill
fo͝olˈfil/
verb
1. Bring to completion or reality; achieve or realize (something desired, promised, or predicted).

2. Carry out (a task, duty, or role) as required, pledged, or expected.
When I look at the definition, the words really jump out as to the purpose of the Old Testament laws and how they pointed to Jesus: desired, promised, predicted, required, pledged, and expected. All six of these words, combined, provide a great indicator…Jesus was to be all of these things.

Jesus also made it clear that just because he had arrived to fulfill the laws, that they were not to be taken any more lightly: “Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Not mixing words! Personally, I think it goes along with a phrase I heard from the great philosopher Gary York one Sunday morning: “Action follows faith.” If you have faith in Jesus…and that you believe He is Who He says He is…your actions will be in alignment with the laws. In John 14:6-7, Jesus tells us: “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Who can you introduce Jesus to today? He is the only way. Have a blessed day!