Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua 12 and Proverbs 12 are our readings for today.

Joshua chapter 12 simply sums up all of the kings that have been defeated by the Israelites, to date. First, the kings that were defeated under Moses’ leadership, Sihon and Og. Then, the kings that were defeated by the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership are mentioned. They conquered the kings of: Jericho, Ai, Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, Elon, Gezer, Debir, Geder, Hormah, Arad, Libnah, Adullam, Makkedah, Bethel, Tappuah, Hepher, Aphek, Lasharon, Madon, Hazor, ShimronMeron, Acshaph, Taanach, Megiddo, Kedesh, Jokneam, Dor, Goyim, and Tirzh.

No detail is given about any of these kingdoms; how much territory they covered, or anything about them. They are simply listed.

So…how does this relate to us? Or…what can we learn from this passage??

Joshua defeated and killed thirty-one kings in all!  He took their land as their possession for the tribes of Israel.  Each of these battles presented unique challenges and difficulties. Each of these kingdoms presented real dangers. And yet, in the end, God enabled Israel to be victorious in every singe one.

No matter what situation we are in or what challenges we face today, God can and will enable us to be victorious if we will trust and obey Him. And…be like Joshua…STRONG and COURAGEOUS!

What battle are you facing today? What battle will God give you victory in??

What is your Jericho?

The picture above definitely brings out the former preschool teacher in me.  I am a visual learner, so this helps me remember stories of the Bible.  Without reading farther, can you answer the above question in the picture?

Today’s reading is Joshua chapter 6.  The following verse will help you with the answer:)

Joshua 6:20 “So the priests blew the trumpets.  As soon as the people heard it, they gave a loud shout, and the walls collapsed.  Then all the army went straight up the hill into the city and captured it.

Jericho was a city that lay in the eastern provinces of the Promised Land.  The city had to be demolished because it was fully given over to paganism and was a center for worship of many false gods.  God did not want any trace of idolatrous people living where Israel was to worship only God.

The walls of Jericho were nothing like we might see in castles today.  The walls were six feet thick and up to 26 feet high and sat atop a 46 foot hill making the city almost impossible to get into.

This story in Joshuah 6 demonstrates the miraculous power of God.  The strategy to conquer the city of Jericho was unique in two ways.  First, the strategy was laid out by God Himself.  And second, the strategy seemed quite foolish.  God simply told Joshua to have the people march silently around Jericho for six days, and then, after seven times around, on the seventh day, to shout.  Though it was not a traditional way to conquer a city, Joshua followed God’s instructions.  When the people gave a shout, the massive walls collapsed instantly!  Israel won an easy victory.  God had given the city of Jericho to them before they even began to march around its walls.  It was when the people of God, by faith, follwed the commands of God that the walls of Jericho fell down (Joshua 6:20).

This story was recorded in Scripture in order to teach us several lessons.  Most important is that obedience, even when what God has imprinted on our hearts seems foolish, brings victory.  When we are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, we must learn that our Jericho victories are won only when our faithful obedience to God is complete.

What is your battle of Jericho?  What walls do you need to collapse in front of you?

Do you remember singing this song as a kid?

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho                              Joshua fought the battle of Jericho                                                      And the walls came a-tumbling down

It is a very catchy song (believe me, everyone has told me to stop singing it for the past few days!), but it is not really accurate.  It was not Joshua who brought down the walls.  It was God.  And it was not Joshua’s fighting that won the victory.  It was his faith in God.

Do you have faith that God will take care of your Jericho in His timing and in His way??

Read:  Proverbs 6

Before Your Feet Hit the Floor

 

Psalm 143:8
Remind me each morning of your constant love, for I put my trust in you. My prayers go up to you; show me the way I should go.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you grab your phone to look at the latest news or what you might have missed on social media during your sleep? Do you rush to the kitchen for that cup of hot coffee? How about grabbing the remote control to turn on your favorite morning TV show??

In Psalm 143:8, David wrote, “Remind me each morning of your constant love, for I put my trust in you. My prayers go up to you; show me the way I should go. David saw the necessity of seeking God to direct his steps. He looked to God for guidance for the needs of each day. A sign of spiritual growth is longing to be with the Lord in a time of Bible study and prayer each day. Whether it be in the morning or at night, is there a time in your day in which you spend time with Jesus? Is it a time that you hold each and every day?

This Christmas Eve is a great time to open your Bible and read what the Lord has for you. Start by reading the Christmas Story.  Maybe we could practice this idea of opening our Bibles before our feet hit the floor for the next few days and SEE what the Lord has planned.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.”

Nothing, not even coffee, will begin your day like time alone with God. Seek Him so that you may grow closer to Him. When you make plans to meet God, He will place an intimate joy within your heart. Then you will learn to desire His Word every single morning.

Tested To Tears

Have you ever been tested to tears?

Today in Mark 5 we read about 2 individuals who were definitely tested to tears. The first story is of the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the second is the healing of the woman who touched the “hem of Jesus’ garment”. These events show us that Jesus has a tremendous power to heal and even to give life to the dead. They also reveal the important role of faith in giving Jesus the opportunity to work in our lives.

Mark 5:19 says,…“Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

This chapter in Mark speaks to my life in so many ways. I have had the opportunity to experience healing and see how faith gave Jesus the opportunity to work in my life. And because of the verse above, I feel led to share with you a small part of the miraculous story God gave me 15 years ago.

It seems that Jesus never answers our prayers in the way we think would be best. He definitely has His ways and they will be revealed to us in His timing. 20 years ago (wow, where has the time gone?? how can it be 20 years already??) I was experiencing some headaches along with a high level of anxiety. I let this go on for a few years before I really went to a Dr to seek treatment. I had been to the ER one time for a full-blown anxiety attack (beacuse I knew deep down that there was something wrong with me-I was pretty sure I had a brain tumor). But, the Dr assured my husband that I was just having a small nervous break down and if I took some meds for it I would be fine. I struggled through the next 3 years trying to find a balance with my anxiety on my own. I read everything I could to help me alleviate the symptoms. At this time, I had a 1 year old daughter and a 3 year old son. Life was busy with the two littles and I chalked the anxiety up to just trying to survive the day to day life. I remember seeing a commercial about struggling with anxiety and that there was a new medication that could help. My close friends and I chatted about this and I realized that ALL of us were struggling with the same anxious feelings. And, some of them were already taking these anti-anxiety meds. I finally gave in and called the Dr. She wanted to do a quick MRI before chalking it up to anxiety.

Low and behold, within an hour and a half after that MRI, my gut instincts from 3 years ago became reality. The Dr called and told me very bluntly…”You Have A Brain Tumor”.

Here begins the journey that tested me to tears! This brain tumor gave God the opportunity to be MY ALL and ALL. When you have a brain tumor you are pretty much at the mercy of the Dr’s. There is nothing I could do on my own to make it better.

Within 24 hours of that dreaded phone call, the ladies of my small group gathered together. We just sat and went through Bible verses about God’s faithfulness and hope.  I cannot tell you the Life-Giving words that I left my friend’s house with that day. God showed up! I left with PEACE BEYOND UNDERSTANDING that day, and that PEACE stayed with me throughout the whole brain tumor journey of the next 9 months.

I somewhat feel I can relate to Jairus and the woman in Mark 5 in that they were at the end of their rope. Jairus had a daughter on her death bed and the woman had been hemorrhaging for 12 years! They were both fully aware of their needs and were desperate. But, they both fully believed that Jesus could bring healing.

But, neither Jairus nor the woman got exactly what they wanted.

Jairus knew that Jesus could heal his daughter, but Jesus did not act as fast as he had wanted him to and he received word that his daughter had died in the waiting. His friends tried to tell him to give up on Jesus, his daughter was already dead. But Jesus tells Jairus in verse 36, “Do not fear, only believe.” To Jairus’ credit he did just that and he and Jesus walked the rest of the way to his house. When they arrived Jesus gave the young girl life again.

The woman believed that Jesus could heal her if she could only touch him and then quietly slip away, she did not want to make a scene. As soon as she touched him, Jesus stopped and wanted to know Who touched Him. The woman then had to step forward and acknowledge that it was she who touched him. She could not blend away in the crowd without first sharing her entire story with Jesus and to the whole crowd.

My story is right in line with these two from the Bible. My journey did not go exactly how I wanted it to. God had bigger plans and a purpose through my suffering. From the moment I felt the peace of God wash through me, I knew He was going to take care of me. It was in His hands. Little did I know that when I went in for my first exploratory surgery I would find out I was pregnant. What?!?!?! How could I be pregnant? I had a brain tumor! Only God.

You guys, there are far too many miracles and answers to prayers during my 9 month journey of brain tumor and baby to name them all. But, the biggest miracle was that on February 13, 2001, the Neurosurgeon removed a tumor the size of a lemon from my cerebellum while I was 13 weeks pregnant. The tumor was benign and the baby in my belly was still alive. Yes, I will omit the struggles and day to day challenges of having a 12 inch incision in the back of my head, not being able to take certain medications because of being pregnant, and taking care of my 2 littles once I got home. Only God provided for EVERY need through this entire journey! I thankfully kept a journal and have documented every answered prayer that took place. And then, on August 5, 2002 our surprise miracle baby was born healthy as can be!

Jesus knew how the events of Jairus, the woman, and myself would transpire and unfold. Jesus was in control of each situation. None of us knew how things would turn out.

God does not answer our prayers in the way we think would be best. God acts in accordance with His will, not with our wishes and desires. However, just like in these stories, we find that when God does act, it is usually much more powerful and beautiful than what we had imagined it would be.

When you are tested to tears remember that God’s timing is best and He will be glorified. And remember, that Mark 5:19 tells us to …TELL WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE FOR US!!

To God be the glory in each of our lives and the stories He tells through us of his Love and Faithfulness!!!

Dirty Feet

From 2007-2011 our family lived in Green Valley, AZ. I have 2 lists in my phone from the day we began our long trek from AZ and traveled back to Illinois. The first list is, “Things I will miss about AZ” (of course the weather is at the top of that list) and the second list is, “Things I will NOT miss about AZ”. My #3 on this list is the dirt! My children were involved in many sports when we lived out West. The two dirtiest sports were baseball and soccer. In AZ, of course we know that it is hot and dry as well as windy at times. This fact becomes reality when you where flip-flops 24/7, 365 days a year. Not to be gross, but my feet were disgusting! They would crack because of the dryness and be covered in dirt from being out on the fields every night. I would get home in the evenings and have to soak my feet to get them clean. I remember always worrying about getting into bed with dirty feet!

I imagine this is something like what the disciples encountered with their wearing of sandals in the hot Middle Eastern climate. Their feet would always be caked with dirt and need to be cleaned. The typical household would have had a servant available to wash the feet of guests arriving for dinner.

In John chapter 13, the disciples had gathered for the Passover meal. As they celebrated the Hebrew festival, Jesus would serve them the Lord’s Supper for the first time. At the end of the meal, Jesus did something that shocked the disciples. He went over and got the basin of water and a wash cloth. He then went and began to wash the dirty, smelly, gross feet of the disciples. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was taking the position of the lowliest servant. The Master demonstrated the greatest leadership as he made Himself low.

We like to be recognized. We love the idea of being the person who is known as a leader or remembered as a person of prestige. But in God’s Kingdom, true leaders will follow Jesus’ example. If a person desires to be great, he must make himself a servant. If a person wants to be recognized by God, he/she will need to be a foot-washer. If we want to be like Jesus, we will need to lay aside our agendas and aspirations, and put the needs of others first.

Another amazing lesson in this account is that when Jesus washes the disciples feet, Judas is in the group. Jesus already knew exactly what Judas was about to do. He knew Judas had made a deal to betray Him and hand over Jesus to be crucified. This man who spent three years with Jesus was about to turn his back on Him. But Jesus, fully knowing what Judas had done, chose to wash Judas’ feet. His act of service wan’t reserved for those who deserved it. He didn’t wash only those who would stick with Jesus. Jesus’ act of service was shown to the person who would send Him to the cross.

It can be easy to serve a person you love and who loves you. But to choose to serve, to give yourself away to a person who would betray you, wow! But this is the kind of service that Jesus, our Savior and Lord Demonstrated.

Jesus was not worried what anyone thought of him during this feet washing event. I imagine that others were whispering about him taking on a servants job and washing feet. But, Jesus did it anyway. What is it that I could do if I wasn’t so worried about how people would think less of me — or for that matter, not take notice of me — what would I do that would be a genuine blessing to someone else?

Thinking back over the past few days, how did you serve others during the Thanksgiving Holiday? Did you get up and help wash and dry the dishes, even though you did not feel like it?? Did you sit and talk with the relative that absolutely bores you?? Did you offer to serve the last piece of pie to the child who had already had a piece? Can you imagine stripping down to your t-shirt at the the end of the meal and washing everyones feet???

This act of washing feet is so much more than cleansing someones dirty feet with a wet cloth. Jesus calls us to do things considered “below us” for others. We must put away selfishness, get on our knees before one another and serve them. Along the way, we discover that following Jesus means doing things that do not bring glory to ourselves.

Whose feet do you need to wash???

Go – Baptize – Preach

Sometimes it is intriguing to think back on my “growing up” years. I will be the first to admit that I never would have gone to church or been part of choir and youth group without my parents insisting that I be involved. As I reluctantlly was a part of these things, I am amazed at the seeds that were planted during that time.  (Side note…parents, don’t be afraid to insist that your kids are participate  in activities that they would rather not be part of.)  There have been numerous times over the past years that something pops into my mind from what I learned back in those days. Today is no different.

Our reading today is Matthew 28. As I was reading the passage, two songs immediately came to mind from my days in the Church Choir back in the 80s. The first is a song we sang called “Go Ye Therefore and Teach all nations, Go, Go, Go”. The second song I recall is from a musical we performed and all I remember is “God, please don’t send me to Africa” I recall at the time seriously thinking about that and what my life would look like if God really sent me to Africa. (I know some of you reading this were in that same musical and are singing the song in your head right now:)

Matthew 28:18-20:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to by everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The above 3 verses are known to us today as The Great Commission. It is Jesus’ last earthly message to his disciples. This is the message that Jesus wants his disciples to remember as his final command. He instructed them that He wants them to do 3 things:
1 – Go and make disciples
2 – Baptize them
3 – Teach them all that I have commanded you

Can you imagine how you would feel if Jesus appeared before you (after being crucified on the cross and put in a tomb) and commanded you to do these 3 things?? Would you be ready? Does this mean you have to pack your bags and get on the quickest trip to Africa?? How do you suppose the disciples reacted to this command?

The reality is, the Bible is Jesus’ way of speaking to us and commanding us to do what He wants of us. And guess what, He is asking us or commanding us to do what He asks of the disciples!

Go – Baptize – Teach!

What excuses do we bring to the table when we think about doing these 3 things? Personally, I think about my daily life and how busy I am. I have responsibilities to my husband, my children, to dos for work, errands, keeping up with household chores, and the numerous other events that pop up daily. There are so many reasons that I am too busy to “go and teach all nations!”

But, Jesus is asking us, just as He did His disciples, to preach the Gospel every day, right where we are (while some are called to Africa). We can preach the Gospel every day: by what we say, how we say it, what we do and how we do it! Every day we have the ability to “preach the Gospel” without saying a word. We can “preach the Gospel: simply by who we are, what we do and how we do it!

We have to make this a daily choice to live our lives in a loving and generous way to all those we encounter.

Thankfully, we don’t Go – Baptize – Teach on our own! Jesus ends this command to “go” with a promise of His presence. He says in verse 20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus promises this to the disciples and also to everyone of us! He is saying to us, “don’t worry, I got your back! I will be with you!”

Where is Jesus sending You? Where has He sent you? Is it in your community, your work place, your family, or maybe Africa? Where is it that Jesus is commanding you to go make disciples? Wherever it is, He promises to go with you.

Jesus being our ever present help gives us the opportunity for a closer relationship with Him daily. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”  Oh what great words of courage and confidence that Jesus gives us today. If you abide in Christ and Christ abides in you, here is another one of God’s promise to you today… Joshua 1:5 says, “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God promises never to leave me nor forsake me. I need to let that sink in my brain and my heart daily, sometimes hourly! We can rest in the promise of God in knowing that He will be with us ALWAYS, even unto the end of the age. There is never a time when He is not present with us. So, don’t be afraid of what God has commanded us to do..
GO – BAPTIZE – PREACH

Walking On Water

Halloween is right around the corner. Wether you are a fan of this holiday or not, it gets us all thinking about things that might scare us. We see many decorations around that can bring frightful thoughts into our minds. 18 years ago, my husband and I were blessed with a beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby girl. Besides her perfection, one other characteristic immediately stood out about her. We realized from day one in the hospital than many normal noises scared our baby. When doors closed or at any abrupt sound, her body would jump. We were concerned about this, but the Dr said it was normal, some babies just had a disposition for this and it was nothing to worry about. Halloween was a particularly scary time for her as she went around the neighborhood and saw the things she was not used to seeing. Ghosts, freaky masks, and monsters really freaked her out. This fear is not something that she has not fully grown out of. Thankfully, as she has gotten older we can discuss these things and guide her through the fearful times.

Speaking of things we are not used to seeing that might scare us…

Matthew 14:22-33 describes what the disciples experience when they are in their boat, rowing to the other side of the lake. This was not a “quick trip”. They had been rowing all night and it had been storming the entire time they were in the boat. After several hours of enduring the wind and waves while being pelted with rain, they see something walking on the water and freak out assuming that it is a ghost. Then this “ghost” speaks to them and they recognize a familiar voice! They realize it is the Lord! Peter than says, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you across the water.” The Lord takes him up on it. “Come!” he says. So Peter steps out of the boat and actually starts to walk on the water! As Peter gets out of the boat, the wind and waves do not stop, it is still storming all around them. The more steps that Peter actually takes, the more he realizes the strong winds and waves all around him and fear begins to sink in and he begins to sink. As he sinks, he cries out, “Lord save me!” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught Peter. But then, Jesus says to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus does not say that Peter has no faith. After all, he had more faith than the other eleven, at least he stepped out of the boat!

I think we can relate to this story because we can so easily see ourselves in it. We often begin a journey with excitement and encouragement from others. Then the harsh reality of the everyday grind set in. Next come trials and unexpected detours. When things lose their new luster and excitement, sometimes we backtrack or even abandon the journey entirely.

“Little” faith means immature faith. For our faith to be mature, it must be used and and mixed with courage. We can only develop courage in the face of danger. If there is no danger, no threat, no trial, then there is no possibility of gaining courage. Mature faith means believing more in what you can’t see than in the terrifying things you can see. It means keeping the eyes of your heart fixed on the master of the wind and waves even though you might feel like you are sinking.

Jesus commands us many times in the Bible, “Do not be afraid!” (366 times to be exact! A reminder for every day of the year!!) We have to make a conscious decision not to allow fear to paralyze us. Peter sank because he stopped walking. Faith means to keep walking even when your knees are knocking. We have to keep seeking Jesus and looking to Him to guide us and He will catch us every time we cry out to Him, just as he caught Peter.

The Gospel of Matthew

The first book of the New Testament Bible that most of us read is the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew is the first of four gospel writings, yet there is only one gospel about Jesus Christ and four different writers: Matthew, Mark, Juke, and John. The word “Gospel” means “good news”, and the good news is that Jesus Christ died on the cross, 3 days later conquered death by rising from the dead and offers salvation to all mankind…this is the Gospel.

The Gospel of Matthew was written for the purpose of revealing that the man Jesus of Nazareth was actually the King of the Jews. He was the long awaited Messiah who came from heaven to this world revealing to man the kingdom of heaven. Jesus fulfilled every prophecy that was spoken about Him in the Old Testament.

The apostle Matthew tells us the story of Jesus. In this book, Jesus performs miracles, shares parables, and teaches the ways of God. He is betrayed and crucified. He rises again and commissions His disciples to spread the good news.

So, how does the Gospel of Matthew apply to our lives? This book is a constant reminder that we have not been forgotten. Do you ever feel as though God has deserted you or that He is just not responding to you in your time of need? Matthew reminds us that Jesus Christ coming to earth as God in the flesh shows us His deep love for us. Matthew 28:20 says, “…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We also learn from this book what we are to do with our days. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”(Matthew 28:19).

The Gospel of Matthew opens with a simple statement of who Jesus is – The Messiah, and closes with a simple statement of what we should do – Make Disciples for Him!!

Additional reading:  Psalm 73

How Should We Pray?

How Should We Pray???

The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray. We can find this prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and here in Luke 11:2-4.

Luke 11:2-4 says, “He said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” (NIV)

Growing up in a Presbyterian Church, I remember memorizing and reciting this prayer each and every Sunday. It was just something we did. I was always focused on getting the words right, never on what the words meant and why were they written. Why did we say this prayer every Sunday? Did this make God happy just for us to say it by rote?

The Bible teaches that God is more interested in our hearts when we pray than He is in the words that we say. When we pray, we are to pour our hearts out to God, not simply recite memorized words to God.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about evverything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

The Lord’s Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern of how to pray. The disciples were eager to learn HOW to pray. The disciples watched Jesus pray. They were so enamored with how He prayed and was filled with the power of His prayer, that as soon as He was finished praying, they asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray”. There was something about watching Jesus pray that made them want to learn how to pray as Jesus did. The disciples sensed the closeness that Jesus had with God the Father as he prayed. They needed to learn that it is more important that they learn TO PRAY, not necessarily how to pray. Just as the disciples, our greatest need is to learn TO PRAY and TO PRAY all of our days!

The fact that Jesus taught this prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and then repeated it here in Luke shows how important it is. The fact that He did not repeat it the exact same way as in Matthew shows that it was not to be used as a precise ritual or magic formula for prayer.

“Father” is teaching us whom to address our prayers to – The Father.

“Hallowed be your name” is telling us to worship God and to praise Him for who He is.

“your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God’s plan in your lives and the world. We are not praying that our own plan will turn out perfect. We are to pray for God’s will to be done, not our own desires.

“give us each day our daily bread” encourages us to ask God for the things we need. Jesus shares with His disciples that they should ask for daily provisions. (Asking God daily reminds us that He wants us to seek Him every day! )

“forgive us our sins as we have also forgive everyone who sins against us” reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us.

The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation” is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil.

So, again, the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite back to God. It is only an example of how we should be praying. Should we pray the Lord’s prayer back to God? Yes! If our heart is in it and we truly mean the words we say.

We all have days when we struggle to pray. Sometimes it is hard to have moments to sit and pray. But the good thing is that God listens to our prayers, big or small. He wants us to have conversations with Him. And thankfully when we are struggling with what to say, we have this prayer that Jesus shared to use as a model.

This week, let us commit to prayer. No matter how big or small, let us take time to have those daily conversations with the Lord. Remember, God is far more interested in our communicating with Him and speaking from our hearts than He is in the specific words we use.

Go. Be. Hospitable!

Bible Journal Post – 3 John & Psalm 45

Has your week been as crazy busy as mine?!?! Some days, I make my list and schedule for the day and due to unexpected circumstances, NOTHING on that list or schedule is accomplished. Then, I feel frazzled, stressed, and rushed. But, I was reminded through our Bible Reading today, 3 John 1, that my focus needs to be on others! I get so caught up in my world of taking care of my families’ needs, work stress, and keeping a house that I lose focus on Walking in the Truth.

3 John 1:3-4 says, “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

We can only know Jesus and share Him with others when we know Him personally and spend intimate time with Him. John tells Gaius in 3 John 1, that he knows that Gaius is walking in the truth because of what he has heard about Gaius’ actions. John praises him because he treats everybody the same. John is not only speaking about what Gaius knows, but about his actions that demonstrate truth. Gaius was not a well known person or a public figure. He seems like he might have been just an ordinary man in his community. But, he simply opened up the doors of his home to others that were traveling through his town. Even though these people were strangers to him he invited them in and was considered a partner in the truth.

3 John1:8 tells us that “We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.”

According to dictionary.com, hospitality is 1) the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers. 2) the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

How do you show hospitality to others? I am sure that Gaius, like us, had other events happening in his life that made hosting others stressful. But, he did it anyway.

In this day and age, hospitality might look different.

Of course Facebook these days can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, there are times that I spend too much time mindlessly scrolling through posts that mean nothing to me and add nothing to my day. But, every now and then I will read a post from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are giving their lives on the mission field that is priceless. As I was preparing for this post, I stumbled upon a post from Amy N’Todd Block who are missionaries at Village of Hope in Guatemala. I encourage you to find them on FaceBook and read the post that Amy posted on Thursday of this past week. It is a true definition of hospitality and a demonstration  living out the TRUTH.

We may not be missionaries out in the field, but how can we be missionaries here at home in our busy lives and support those around us? Of course, we can help financially support missionaries we know are spreading the Truth and join together with them in their endeavors.

But what about here at home during our daily activities? Sitting at the soccer field watching your children play a game? The baseball field? Grocery shopping? Doctors appointments? Picking up the dry cleaning? Grabbing lunch at a restaurant? Walking the halls at school or work? During your daily walk to get or stay healthy?

I have been impressed with a gal that I pass every morning during my walk on the trail. I am walking with my faithful companion (my dog, Sami), my hat on, head down (so I don’t trip) and ear buds in my ears. I used to not pay attention at all to those who walk by me. This was MY time. But, every morning as this one particular lady passes me, she steps closer to me, smiles hugely, and puts her hand out waving at me with a loud “Good Morning”! The first time I experienced her, I l was shocked because she made me smile and feel happy. Now, I expect it from her and am always ready to smile back and say good morning when we pass. That small act made me so happy that guess what? I have been intentional about getting others attention on my walk and smiling and saying “Good Morning”! I try and see how many people will smile and say good morning back to me! This is hospitality, treating strangers in a warm and friendly way!

The simple smile, a friendly “good morning”, and a little small talk may be the beginning of a relationship where we get to share the Truth! What are others saying about your actions?

Go. Be. Hospitable!