Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

You Matter

You matter! Many people struggle with feeling that no one cares, but Jesus says that you are much more valuable than the birds in Luke 12:24. “Look at the crows: they don’t sow seeds or gather a harvest; they don’t have storerooms or barns; God feeds them! You are worth so much more than birds!”

In Luke 15, Jesus used three illustrations to express how important each person is regardless of their own or even society’s opinion. He tells about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. In verse 4 Jesus says, “If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it?” He goes on to tell of the rejoicing that would follow. Even though the majority of the sheep were safe, that one lost sheep was important enough to be found and celebrated.

Then Jesus tells of a woman with ten valuable silver coins in verses 8-10. He asks if one is lost, wouldn’t she light a lamp and search the entire house until that lost coin is found? As with the lost sheep, the woman did not shrug off the loss of the coin just because she had others. Instead she searched with great effort and then rejoiced with friends when that one coin was found.

Finally, Jesus told of a son who took his inheritance and left his home and family. He wasted his money away and began living a life of poverty and shame before finally gathering the courage to go home to his father. The father did not turn his son away for making bad choices but instead welcomed him with love, compassion, and you guess it…a celebration.

The lesson in each of these stories is that you matter! Some people are judged by society as less important, but God sees the value in each and every person. Regardless of what anyone says or how you feel about yourself, the important thing is that you matter to your Creator. God the Father loves you so much that if you’ve lost your way, He will welcome you with open arms. You are valuable because He loves you!

When you see a bird, remember that God loves you and that you do matter!

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“Don’t give up on me”… those are the words my husband used as he struggled with the recent changes in his life following an accident. I quickly responded with, “How could I ever give up on you? I love you too much to give up!” When we are struggling with life, temptation, and sin,  Satan will try to convince us that God has or will give up on us and that we aren’t worthy of His love. But we must focus on the knowledge that God won’t give up on us. Instead He’s saying, “Child, I love you too much to give up on you!”

The Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues. Psalms 100:5

God our Savior showed his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-5

Dear Father, I ask that you reassure all who are struggling today. Remind them of your precious love and faithfulness. Carry them through and place people in their path to reaffirm your love and encourage them through the difficulties. 

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Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A (Photo credit: Link576)

There has been much controversy recently over statements made by Chick-fil-A president, Dan Cathy. In an interview, Cathy was asked about the company’s support of the traditional family. His response was, “Well, guilty as charged.” Cathy also said, “We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit.” The original story was re-posted in the Baptist Press on July 16, 2012. You can read that entire story here.   The Baptist Press also printed a follow-up story on July 20, 2012 which can be found here. Before I jump off into this, let me say that it is not my intention to offend anyone.  I’m not one for stirring the pot and sure don’t like opening cans of worms, but I believe it is important that we Christians take a stand for what the bible says.  My personal opinion in all of this controversy is that we can be firm in our biblical beliefs while showing love and without judging those who believe differently.  It seems to me that Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy is promoting this same attitude.

When asked about his beliefs, Cathy’s comments were positive in nature.  If you read the story, there was no bashing or disrespect toward the gay community.  The company president simply stated his belief when asked.  Look at his statement again:  “We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit.”  His statement “guilty as charged” referred to his stance on traditional family values.  It was not a claim that the company is anti-gay. Chick-fil-A is simply standing behind their belief of the biblical definition of a family.  However, soon after the interview was published, related articles began to surface with “anti-gay” in the headlines.

All the hoopla about being “politically correct” has left many Christians afraid to take a stand for biblical principles which are often not socially accepted.  Often we find ourselves just keeping our mouths shut and not standing strong on those biblical principles hoping we won’t be accused of being judgmental or intolerant.  Regrettably, continuing this behavior could ultimately lead to loss of our current religious freedoms.

A song written by Aaron Tippin in 1991 says, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything”. Those words carry just as much truth today as when they were originally recorded over twenty years ago. It’s vital that Christians stand for biblically sound principles or we will look no different from nonbelievers.  Everyone has a right to their opinion, and as Christians we can respect everyone but yet not compromise biblical values.  However, we must stand against sinful behaviors, yet avoid judging the person. We must continue to live out our faith in hopes of making a difference in the world around us.  Matthew 7:1 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”  It is not our place to judge any person.

Matthew 7:3 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye.”(NIV)   We all face temptations, but we should not condemn others just because their temptations are different from ours.  In Galatians 5:14 we are called to love one another:  “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (NIV)   That means everyone, not just those who believe exactly as we believe.   We should stand firmly on biblical principles, but that does not mean to turn away from those who believe otherwise. It is our responsibility to treat every person with respect regardless of their beliefs.  Sometimes we must agree to disagree, and love rather than judge while standing firm on the Word of God.

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X Marks the Spot

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I couldn’t help but stop to observe this massive X in the sky because it appears that two planes came very close to colliding in mid-air, but here on the ground we are so far away that our perspective is actually obscured.  Although it appears to be a close call, there was probably no threat of danger to those involved.  Technology allows pilots do a remarkable job at avoiding physical contact as they
travel through an endless sky without roadways.

I realized our lives on earth are like planes crossing paths in the sky. We constantly cross paths with others yet how often do we actually connect?  I remember a time when each vehicle you met on the road transported a driver who waved at you whether they knew you or not.   I remember sitting on the porch or in the shade of a huge oak tree visiting with friends or family.  Now we barely take time to interact with others.

Think about it.  How often do you greet people with, “Hi, how are you?” but keep walking allowing little or no time for response?  I do this all the time because I’m in a hurry, or if I’m honest sometimes I just don’t want to know because I have enough of my own issues to worry about.  Philippians 2:4 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”(NLT)   Often we go through the checkout line at Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, or the grocery store and seem to forget that the person standing in front of us is someone’s teen working to help the family make ends meet, a parent mourning the loss of a child, or someone suffering through the cancer of a spouse.  1 Peter 3:8 reminds us to “be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”(NIV)  Each person we meet on the road of life is going through struggles just as we are, and as Christians we are to show compassion as if they were part of our family.

The picture above made me think of the saying, “X marks the spot”, but what spot would that be?  In regard to those around us, X marks the spot where we encounter others.  X marks the spot for sharing the good news of Christ.   X marks the spot for showing that someone in this busy world cares.  X marks the spot for showing the love of God to people we meet each day.  John 15:12 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  How do we love everyone we come in contact with?  The possibilities are endless, but first we must be aware and take an interest in those around us.  Whether it’s being friendly to the cashier, stopping what we’re doing long enough to find out how a friend is really doing, or simply waving at a total stranger as we drive down the road.

Like airplanes in the sky, our lives seem to cross paths, yet we rarely truly connect with those around us. When you come in contact with others, find a way to make a connection. Don’t let your life intersect with theirs without being compassionate.  Remember, X marks the spot for showing God’s love.

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BRAG BOOK

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This is what the Lord says:  Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this:  that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these things I delight declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 9:23-24

We are a bragging society.  Television reality shows and game shows provide the opportunity for contestants to show off their knowledge or strength in a very public way.  Others brag about money they may or may not have by purchasing expensive cars and homes.  People brag about what they have and what they have accomplished.  Parents and grandparents brag about their children and love to show off pictures.  Many parents carry little “brag books” to show off pictures of their children and what they have done.  Facebook is the new “brag book” where we can share the fun and exciting things in our lives.

There is nothing wrong with bragging about those we love and sharing the joy they bring to our lives, but the one who loved us enough to die for us accomplished so much more.  Yet many of us are afraid to brag about what He has done for us.  Galatians 6:14 says, “As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  There is nothing any of us could ever accomplish that compares to the kindness, justice, and righteousness of our Lord.  What Christ has done in our lives is an amazing personal experience.  We just need to do some bragging and be willing to share with others the impressions God has left in our lives.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16).  Many of us learned this verse as a child, and it is the perfect “brag book” to show others how Christ has changed our lives.  Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we may have eternal life, and we need to tell others so that they may also experience salvation.  My challenge for you is to pull out your John 3:16 “Brag Book” and boast of the wonderful things Christ has done in your life, so that others may also experience salvation.

If you don’t already know Christ as your personal Savior, you simply need to pray and:

A – Admit you are a sinner – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of  God” (Romans 3:23)

B – Believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again.  – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

C – Confess your sins and ask Jesus into your heart.  “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

If you just accepted Christ as your Savior, you now have your own John 3:16 “Brag Book”.  Share with someone the first and most important thing Christ has done in your life.


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REVENGE PRAYER

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Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.  Leviticus 19:18

I often find myself singing along with the radio without even paying attention to the message of the song.  There is a secular song called “I Pray for You” which has such a catchy tune that I was singing along without realizing it is actually a prayer of revenge.  Some of the lyrics say, “I pray your brakes go out driving down a hill.  I pray a flowerpot falls from a windowsill and knocks you in the head like I’d like to.”  I think many of us have suffered a break up or some other life event that made us feel or even say similar words.  Believe it or not, there are scriptures in Psalms which would fit perfectly in this song.  Psalms 109:10-11 says, “May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.  May a creditor seize all he has.”  These verses are a revenge prayer spoken by David.  In his prayer, David was brutally honest with God about his anger and how he wanted his enemies punished.

Is it acceptable for us to pray for revenge?  David’s prayer may sound shocking coming from a man of God, but his actions were actually the best way to handle the situation.  Anger may cause us to behave irrationally or make shocking statements, but who better than God to express those feelings to?  David did not take action against the enemy himself but instead prayed voicing his anger to God.  When we become angry, we need to follow David’s example and pray.  Being honest with God will help  us to let go of the desire to seek revenge.

David also did not voice his anger to others.  Often we vent to a friend which makes us feel better but may leave the friend wanting to seek revenge on our behalf.  Sharing our anger can have a ripple effect as others become angry.  God is just and can handle our anger without lashing out as friends may.  He is not a genie in a bottle that hears our request, says “your wish is my command”, and grants whatever we ask regardless of how it will affect us and others.  Instead He is “slow to get angry, full of unfailing love and truth”  (Psalms 86:15).

There are many instructions in the bible about anger.  Ephesians 4:25 says, “In your anger do not sin:  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”  The issue is not whether anger is appropriate, but instead how we deal with anger.  Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  By praying for those who make us angry instead of reacting; we are able to express God’s love as we turn the other cheek.

Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”  It takes a lot of restraint for us to keep ourselves under control when we are angry.  It is better for us to pray honestly to God about our anger as seen in the song and David’s prayer than to seek revenge ourselves.

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