|Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1|
|We are known by a number of titles over our lifetime. We begin as “cute baby (insert your name here)” and go on from there. Over a lifetime we can hold a number of “titles” often overlapping one another: husband, father, wife, mother, Grandpa, President, and so forth.
Some of these titles describe what we are while others may describe who we are. The one thing that most have in common is that they are bestowed upon us by someone else; rarely can we bestow a title upon ourselves.
There are also those titles that we carried as a child that have stayed with us as adults – sometimes to our dislike. Most of the time we outgrow one title and grow into another one as we progress through life.
There is one title, however, that has been bestowed upon you and that will stay with you from birth to death, and beyond. God has endowed you with the title “a child of God.”
To be honest, it’s not always easy to live up to it as we struggle with the temptations and demands that the world makes on us. But even in our struggle, we never are stripped of the title that God has given us because His love for us never falters.
|Heavenly Father, I’m honored and humbled to be known as Your child. Help me to live up to that title in a manner that brings glory and honor to You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.|
Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ the He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:44-45)
It’s easy to get seduced into thinking that God only sees the “big” things that are done in His name. The truth is that while “big” acts are important and do get noticed it is often the little actions that we do in serving one another that carry the most weight.
In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is speaking to each one of us about just this idea. Nowhere in the list of acts that He mentions is there anything that could be called “big.” The things that He mentions are the little acts of ministry that are one-on-one. These are the acts that allow us to touch the soul of another as we meet their need.
These small, individual acts that He lists in this passage are important. However, the true weight of this list is not in the list itself, but in His response when He is asked when one of the actions was done for Him. Jesus puts the lesson clearly in front of us when He says, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
Do the little things that we do in serving others get noticed and are they important? Absolutely they do and they are! Your words of comfort, that loving touch, your quiet presence – they are acts that serve Him by serving another.
So, the next time the opportunity to serve the need of another presents itself, don’t pass it up. You may just be touching Jesus and not even know it.
Heavenly Father, help me to see and respond to the little acts of service when they are before me. Guide me so that my hands, my touch, and my words are Yours. Act through me, Father as I serve my brother or sister. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
|For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)|
|It seems that there are those times when it feels like the wrath of the entire world is being directed solely at us. Someone in the world is angry at us and they are not the least bit shy in letting us know about it.
There are other times, however, when instead of being the recipient of the wrath of others we are the issuers of it. We lose sight of the fact that we are a child of God and unleash the wrath of our anger on someone else; knowing full well that this is not how God wants us to behave.
Life is not always fair and as such, we cannot control how others behave toward us. We are often the receivers of someone else’s anger just because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We can control how we behave, however. When we live with Christ at the center of our life our words are those that bring comfort and peace to others, not anguish, more anger, and anything but peace. It’s when we forget (ignore) His presence in our life that we all-too-often find ourselves spewing wrath on another when we should be doing just the opposite.
Until that day when Jesus comes again, how do you want to live? Do you want to be known by Him for your words of wrath or your words of comfort to others? Your choice.
|Heavenly Father, help me to live with Jesus at the center of my life. Guard me against the wrath of the world that I be calm in my response and that I not return wrath for wrath. Guide me so that my words are not those of wrath but of comfort that build up rather than tear down. In Jesus’ name, AMEN|
|The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)|
|There are situations in life where fear is a natural and appropriate emotion. We face an unknown and our anticipation of what could be there; a sense of danger only serving to heighten the anticipation.
Look back at David as he faced Goliath, nine feet tall and in full battle armor. David is significantly shorter and armed only with a sling and some stones from the river. While others may have been afraid, David trusted that God would protect him and enable him to defeat this seemingly undefeatable foe.
We see this same trust in God in Esther. She was tasked with carrying knowledge of a plan to destroy her people, God’s people, to her husband the King. She knew that if she entered the royal chamber to speak to him without his permission he could have her killed. Yet she, fearful, entered anyway.
What did David and Esther know that we at times forget?
They knew that as long as they were acting according to the will of God, He would give the strength to accomplish the task. They knew that neither one of them possessed the strength to succeed on their own.
|Heavenly Father, there are those times when I am overcome with fear. Help me to remain calm when fear overtakes me. Remind me that I have no strength of my own but that You are the source of my strength as I face the unknown. Lead me to react with grace that honors You. In the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus, AMEN.|
|Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Matt. 18:21)
|It would be interesting to know what had taken place to prompt Peter to ask this question. Had something happened that sorely tried Peter’s patience? Was he venting that frustration to his Rabbi? We’ll never know.
What we do know, however, is that Jesus tells him that there is no limit to the number of times that forgiveness should be offered. Probably not what Peter wanted to hear.
Buried just underneath the surface of this conversation is the key question that drives it – what is forgiveness, what does it mean to forgive (or be forgiven)? What is it about this act of forgiveness that dictates that it be limitless?
To forgive is to dismiss an offense as if it never happened. It implies that the offense will never be brought up again. It doesn’t mean that we tolerate the offense. Even though we forgive, the sin behind the offense must still be addressed.
We often wrestle with forgiveness because we want our “pound of flesh” before we are willing to forgive. That is not the model that God has given us. If God demanded His “pound of flesh” before He forgave us, how could we know when He had satisfied Himself and we are forgiven?
And what if God said that each person only has so many times that he, or she, can be forgiven before He just gives up on us and permanently separates Himself from us? Again, we could never know when we are forgiven.
So, the next time that you are in the position to forgive or not, ask yourself this question, “does what I want in this situation match what God wants for me, for the one who has offended me?”
|Heavenly Father, so often I am in the situation where I’ve been hurt by the actions of another. Help me to see the path of forgiveness and choose it over that of revenge. Guide me by the Holy Spirit to forgive when it seems as if that is the last thing that should be done. Help me to heal from the offense committed against me so that I will remain on the path of righteousness. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.