Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Party Crasher

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:44-47)

Have you ever crashed a party? Think about this sinful, uninvited woman who came unannounced to a dinner party that the Pharisees were giving to Jesus.  She heard that Jesus was going to be there, and in this room full of people, regardless of the sneers and objections she knew she would receive, the woman brought some perfume in an alabaster jar. She stood at Jesus' feet, crying. Then she began to wash his feet with her tears. She dried Jesus' feet with her hair. She kissed his feet many times and rubbed them with perfume. She is too ashamed to even look Him in the eye, but in humility she cowers on the ground, weeping and saying nothing, but honoring Him the only way she could.

What loving and inspirational trust and hope this woman displayed! This woman’s act demonstrated her true faith, and Jesus honored her faith. She is a testimony to us all that if Jesus could welcome her, then any one of us, despite our sins, are welcome into His kingdom of love and grace!  Jesus came into the world to offer grace and mercy to all persons, no matter what path they have chosen in life.

6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)

We can never let our pride stop us from boldly “crashing” in on someone’s party, weeping and taking the liberty to fall on our knees at our Master’s feet. We need to bring our best oil and honor Him in the presence of all. Jesus accepts that which is precious and meaningful to us and returns it to back to us with so much more! What a great return on investment!

“Our choice to bring glory to God yields a great return on Christ's investment.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wasteful Worrying

"Who of you by worrying can add a single day to his life?" (Matthew 6:27)

Are you like me, a worrier? I often fall into a trap of self-sufficiency when I worry or when I am anxious about something or someone. I get caught up into my own thoughts, and let anxiety wrap me up in myself.  I honestly feel sometimes like I am not doing my job if I don't worry about something!  Life can seem so out of control at times, and when I don't stay centered on God and His perfect timing, the burdens I am carrying are needlessly overwhelming.  I realize that I have just spent valuable time worrying and letting obstacles get in my way rather than letting God take charge! When I am faithful and turn my worries into heartfelt prayer, I begin to experience peace knowing that God is truly in control. I read somewhere; "Worry replaced by Prayer equals Trust." (Unknown)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Worrying is time wasted and is one of the least productive activities we can do, but it is also one of the hardest things not to do! When I look to God, come face to face with Him and trust in His guidance, I can break free and receive His help. When I keep my eyes focused on God, I realize I truly have nothing to worry about. I feel safe! He will take care of all of our todays and all of our tomorrows, and knowing this releases us from worry as we place our trust in Him for everything.

"At night we need to empty our hearts and minds and lay the contents at the foot of Jesus' cross. We need to ask Him to sort through it while we sleep and take away those things which could be harmful, leaving only what is beneficial in growing us into His likeness." (Tupyi)

I know that I just don't have the time and energy to waste on worrying these days! And as I continue to mature in my walk with God, I focus more on turning it over to Him and realize that He has a wonderful plan for my life, which includes taking care of my every need. I need to stay focused on God, and trust in our relationship rather than worry about the circumstances around me. God promises that all that we need will be provided in His good timing and I am pretty sure that He knows what He is doing!

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)

It's Winsome Wednesday, and I am hooking up with Tracy at "My daily Walk in His Grace!"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shooting Star

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15)

The sight of a shooting star fills most people with a sense of awe and enthusiasm; it shoots across the sky leaving a trail of light behind that is awesome and beautiful. What would it be like to have others think of you in the same manner as you pass them by, or in the way that you interact with them? I think God looks down upon us and is very proud of the way each one of us (shines!) and expresses our love through glorifying Him; there are many ways, and shining your light is just one of them! Christians are the light of the world; Ephesians 5:8 says “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” Simply put, we should be a light to others in our attitudes, words, encouragement, and compassion as a testimony of our authentic faith and trust.

“The one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:8 ESV)

I love surrounding myself around charismatic people, and associating with an enthusiastic crowd because they are contagious; when one person has it then everyone wants to share the same love, laughter, and optimism that shines through them. Our light is meant to be seen by everyone. We should be the same whether we are at home, at work, shopping, or in church. Despite our troubles and heartaches, we can maintain the light of God in our hearts because we have learned to rejoice in all things and at all times. Our faces should shine with the glory of God, so that we can build each other up and encourage one another.

"For you are all children of the light and of the day, and do not belong to darkness and night." (2 Thessalonians 5:5)

Just like the light that is left behind from a shooting star, Christians should bring warmth and delight to others, and shine forth as a bright light by providing inspiration, laughter, and assistance. Something magical happens when we put our focus on encouraging and making others shine; not only does it just feel good, it brings great value and joy to those around us. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love This Moment

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

Living in the moment is all about living like there's no tomorrow; right? This moment is here and now for us all to live. And we have the choice to live it fully and richly, as if this is the only time there has ever been and the only time that will ever be. J It certainly requires a special effort on my part to consciously live in the moment because life presents me (as I am sure it does for most of us!) with so many distractions.  Many times I am so concerned about planning and adding days to my life, that I forget to add life to my days! That's when I stop and live in the moment, and appreciate and glorify everything that God has blessed me with. Every morning is an exciting new day, and if I stop and quit trying to fit this day into a preconceived mold, and believe that God has designed this day for me, I can relax and enjoy whatever circumstances that He has planned for me. If I am thoughtful of any distractions that eliminate me from praise and worship, then I need to resolve any unfinished business and give closure to the situation.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Sometimes life passes by so quickly that we forget to pay attention to what is going on, and then we wonder where the time went. When we are still and give glory to God for even the smallest pleasures and blessings, we can immerse ourselves in thankfulness and make each moment more meaningful. To make every moment count we must embrace it! J We certainly can’t live life to its fullest if we don’t know how to slow down and enjoy the beauty and love that surrounds us.

"The past is history. The future is a mystery. The only time we really have is now." (Unknown)

Living in the moment can be very easy during special events, when we feel good, or when things are going our way. But if we let worry or fear get in our way and distract us, these issues rob us of our lives.  Regardless of the trials and circumstances of our daily lives, if we focus on and stay centered in Christ, we will not stray and we can live a life of peace, and live in just this moment. :)


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Love Them Anyway

“Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those that love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:44-46 ESV)

Isn’t it so easy to love those who are lovable? We can all do that, but what is hard is to love the unlovable. Often, life sends us a curve ball in the form of a very difficult person. There are people who cross my path and challenge me with rude, insensitive, self-centered, and downright hateful attitudes, but God’s word challenges me to love them anyway. There are certainly times in our lives when we feel mistreated and attacked, but I believe that sometimes God places these individuals in our lives as an opportunity to trust Him and go against our natural inclination to respond back with an eye-for-an-eye response. I like to believe that (most!) people will begin to react differently toward you and approach you with the same attitude, respect and love that you give to them. You might just be the turning point in someone’s life who seems at first to be unlovable.

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” (G. K. Chesterton)
I think one of the surest kinds of strength is keeping the “Golden Rule” in mind; treat others as you want to be treated regardless of how they have treated you. Jesus’ solution for dealing with people who wanted to hurt Him was to pray for them. Prayer is the most effective way to gain the wisdom and strength to follow through with a task such as this. We need to show those hard to love people how much we love them, and how much God loves them. God loves them in spite of their actions because He sees beyond the surface and loves the person He made in His own image.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Who are those people in your life that you need to show yours and God’s love to? :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Grateful Heart

"Showing gratitude is the sort of thing you can make yourself do whether you feel like it or not. There are always things you can thank God for if you look around. In other words, even if you don't feel like it, do it anyway." (Kendall)

I read somewhere "Gratitude is a 'medicine' that promotes your spiritual health." What an awe-inspiring thought! When I wake up in the morning with an attitude of gratitude, determined to make the very best of any situation God has planned for me, I feel more spiritually healthy and mature. I feel that God is pleased when we rejoice in Him and thank Him for all circumstances. Attitudes decide our lifestyle, and my at the kind of day I am going to have, as well as the impact I will have on those around me. As I focus on and share positive thoughts and words, it becomes attractive and even addictive to people and their circumstances.

"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live." (I Thessalonians 5:16-18~Message)

It's a decision first thing in my morning I must make to eliminate and ignore any negative thoughts or negative people that might get in my way, and to instead get in the habit of appreciating with thanksgiving, every wonderful thing God has given me in life. When I focus on all that is good in my life, it's actually pretty tough to be negative; an attitude of being thankful makes me a more positive person!

Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overgrow with thanksgiving for all He has done. (Colossians 2:7)

Obviously, there certainly are times when I need to face negative or undesirable issues and simply deal with them. There are days when my mood is down or I feel a particular situation is out of control. However, if I confront my challenges with a positive attitude it makes a significant difference on the outcome of the situation. As long as I am honest with God and talk things over with Him, my prayers end in praise, and I have a reason to rejoice and deal with the problem. Showing gratitude to God my Father is to trust and rely on His help, wisdom, and guidance to lead me to a right decision or place. Sometimes when things seem so bad, it's really tough to find something to be grateful for. I know it's not always easy, but it is definitely never impossible. It doesn't matter what happens or how difficult things may be, with God on my side, I can be thankful for all circumstances!

"They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord; they were to do the same in the evening." (I Chronicles 23:30)

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Little Prayer Box

“I pray that from His glorious unlimited resources, He will empower you with inner strength through His spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.” (Ephesians  3:16-19 NLT)

Several years ago a very special friend presented me with a lovely little prayer box. I learned at that time that prayer boxes are used to collect specific prayer requests by writing down prayers on pieces of paper and inserting them into a box. I began writing down a short prayer for others whenever they needed encouragement or God’s healing touch, and also for my own praises and concerns. Soon, writing down my special little prayer requests became a part of my (almost) daily life! I have since then had to transfer dozens of little pieces of paper into a larger keepsake box, but I still use my little prayer box for my most recent prayers.
The very best gift anyone can give to another is a special prayer request! Our words in prayer carry incredible weight, and praying for another person not only helps that person find God in the midst of trouble, but also helps us recognize the blessings that God gives us daily. I believe that when we pray with confidence, He listens to our requests and that any prayer prayed in the will of God will be answered. All things come by asking and receiving; there can be no confusion that His gifts begin with a sincere and humble request. I don't feel that any prayer request is too big or too small and insignificant; our prayers are a chance to reach out to a loving God who longs to communicate with us!

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (l John 5:14-15 NIV)

Does someone come to mind today who needs a little prayer? God shapes the world through our prayer; pray diligently, persistently, and repeatedly!

“I said a prayer for you today, and know God must have heard.
I felt the answer in my heart, although He spoke no word.
I didn’t ask for wealth or fame, I knew you wouldn’t mind, I asked Him to send treasures of a far more lasting kind.
I asked that He be near you at the start of each new day, to grant you health and blessings, and friends to share your way.
I asked for happiness for you in all things great and small, but it was for His loving care I prayed the most of all.” (Unknown)