The Power Of Ashes
There is a story of a pastor of a country church who was visiting with one member of the congregation who, over time, had become less and less a part of the congregation. They spoke of many things that affected the parishioner but when the pastor steered their talk back to participation in the congregation, he was met with silence.
As he was leaving, the pastor stopped by the stove that heated the member’s home. Taking the tongs that hung by the stove, he plucked one, and only one, ember from the fire and sat it on top of the stove.
The following Sunday, the pastor looked out over his congregation and there seated in the back was this long-lost member.
What happened to change the mind of this member? Perhaps, it was watching that one ember that the pastor had removed from the fire die out when it was there by itself.
A true story? Who knows? True or not, however, it does illustrate the fundamental truth that as Christians, we need the community of others to keep our “ember” of faith alive.
Scripture: Matthew 18:19-20
Take Care Of Your Marriage
Marriage is one of God’s gifts to His children. It’s like a fine wine that ages well with care and nurturing. With each passing year it can become more robust and full-bodied, or it can spoil, turning to the sourest of vinegars.
So, what does it take to care for and nurture a marriage? Well, not only does God give us this institution of marriage, He also teaches us how to take care of it.
He tells us that a wife should be submissive to her husband; not as an inferior to him but as a partner in the marriage. He goes on to tell a husband that he should love his wife as Christ loved the Church, placing her welfare first in his life above all else. Still not done, He tells a wife that she should respect her husband, the implication being that he should be deserving of her respect.
If both of you can accomplish this, then your marriage will sweeten and become more robust and enjoyable with each passing year. It will take some work and possibly a change in focus, but it is worth the effort. Why? Because you will be living according to His will for you; finding a peace that can be found nowhere else.
Scripture: Ephesians 5
Hugged Your Family Today?
Did you hug your children before you left for work today? How about telling your spouse that you love him, or her? If you don’t have children or are not married, did you tell a friend how much you value their friendship?
If you didn’t, you missed a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your relationships with them. Perhaps you were just too busy or something else had your attention. Yes, this happens to all of us at one time or another. However, can we ever justify being too busy or too distracted to focus for a few moments on a loved one? Just maybe your day would have been better if you had taken the time to tell someone how much you love them.
It’s a good thing that God is never too busy or too preoccupied to tell you how much He loves you. Even when you don’t think that you deserve it you do, for His love is unconditional!
Give it a try this week and see what happens; you might be surprised.
Scripture: John 3:16
This Year, Whose Time?
Who will control your actions this year – the world, you or God?
On the surface the question seems trivial but it’s not. We do well when we operate according to God’s plan for us but not so well when we allow ourselves and/or the dictates of the world to control our actions and how we spend our time.
The issue here is two-fold. The first is discernment. We have to know His will for us and we do this by asking for it in prayer. The second is patience as we wait for Him to unfold that will.
So, how did you do last year? Was it a year of seemingly constant struggle? If so, then why not try a different approach? Try making God a part of your plans and see what happens.
Two thousand years ago, God fulfilled a promise to His children that He made at the time of their fall from the Garden. Their first parents disobeyed His one command that they not eat from the tree at the center of the Garden – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Well, you know the story. They disobeyed, they sinned, and as a consequence they were ejected from the Garden and the entrance was blocked by an armed guard. They brought sin into the world and man has suffered from it, never able to break free of it.
God’s love for His children was absolute and unconditional. However, He knew that even though He wanted them to be with Him for all eternity, they were incapable of cleansing themselves of their sin and thus could not be with Him.
In order for them to be with Him, He gave them the gift of salvation in the person of Mary’s child Jesus – Son of God and Son of Man. Her child was the only acceptable sacrifice that could atone for the sin of His children.
At Christmas, we give gifts to those we love; a small token of the gift that He gave to each of us. Just like the gifts that you receive at Christmas that are addressed to you, the gift of Jesus was also addressed specifically to you from the Father.
Scripture: Luke 1 & 2
How Large Is Your Plate?
A question that each person must constantly ask is: how large is my “plate” not in terms of that amount of food that the dinner plate can hold but in terms of how I can use my time and talents.
It’s not uncommon to take on too much in the way of commitments. After all its just a little request, and I can tough it out for a while. We tend to forget at times that we need to prioritized our resources in order to remain healthy.
If we don’t, or are unwilling to do so, then something has to give way. All-to-often its relationships with family, loved ones, and God. We allow one, or more, of our relationships to suffer thinking that we can go back later and repair the damage; but do we?
The solution is a simple one – reduce the size of your plate. Prioritize what needs to be there and be selective as to what can, or should, be added. Allow nothing on that will result in something more important to be pushed off.
Need help in doing this? Go to God in prayer.
Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17 (noting the order in which He presents His commandments.
We live in a world in which technology is as much a part of the fabric of living as breathing. We’ve come a long way from the technology days of David’s sling that slew Goliath.
This technology by itself is neutral – neither good nor evil. It just exists, ready to be put to use. While God doesn’t speak to its existence, He does speak to how it is to be used – for good or evil.
It can be used in either realm – benefit or harm, good or evil. The computers that are the heart of the diagnostic tools available to your physician are certainly well within the realm of benefit. Those same computers, however, can be used for evil, doing harm and causing us to step away from God.
The point here is that this technology, no matter how powerful it is or will become, is only a tool. Therefore, the question is not the technology but the intent of the one who uses it. Do I use it to glorify Him or the world?
Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46
Over the years you’ve been blessed by the many relationships that you’ve encountered. As you look back over them, you see that they are a living reminder that life is all about relationships.
Most of our relationships are transient and for the most part enjoyable. However, there is one relationship that is permanent, joyful and by far the most important of all – our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. He brings a love to the relationship that is strong. So strong, that He willingly died on the cross so that you and He can continue your relationship for all of eternity.
So, the next time one of your relationships is not going as well as you think that it should, think back to what He did to ensure that His relationship with you went the way that it should. He gave everything to make the relationship with you work; can you say that you’ve done the same?
Scripture: Acts 10:43
Life’s Only Constant
The only constant in life is change, or so a very wise man once said. At first-blush you might think that he was just being funny, but history teaches us that he was spot-on with his observation. The world of today is no longer the same world as it was even a few short years ago.
There is one aspect of life, however, where his observation is not spot-on. In amongst the changes in our lives, there is one facet of life that has not changed – God’s word and His love for His children.
Our understanding of right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable may have shifted over time, but His word and His love for His children has not!
His love for each one of us is the same now as it’s always been: at times soft and comforting and at others, hard and demanding. Yet, in all of His dealings with us, this foundation has never changed.
Scripture: 1 John 4:19
There’s nothing more quieting than to just sit and look out over the lushness of God’s creation. It’s good to just get away and think. And, no matter what the season, if you’re patient God will unfold before you all of the majesty of His creation.
If you’re very quiet you might even hear the birds begin to serenade you with their song. Notice that they go about their business without a single sign of worry or concern, for God has provided all that they need.
Why is it that unlike these birds, we spend so much time worrying about what we can’t control when everything that we need is close at hand. God takes care of the least of His creatures so doesn’t it stand to reason that He will take care of you as well.
Scripture: Matt. 6:25-34