Friday, February 22, 2019

His Mercies Never End

Compassion, God’s Love
 
quiet spirit.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’
Lamentations 3:22-24

            Jeremiah witnessed the fall of Jerusalem. In the book of Lamentations, he reflects on the event. In our focus passage, He gives hope to those who are exiled.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; Jeremiah reminds those in exile that God still loves them and will always do so.

his mercies never come to an end; God will always look down on His people with love we don’t deserve.

they are new every morning; Each day, He gives new mercies to those He loves.

Great is your faithfulness. Here Jeremiah gives witness to God for His faithfulness. God is always faithful, even when we are not.

’The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’  Jeremiah gives testimony that he will share the privilege of worshiping God forever. He is present in his soul and he will trust in Him.



I need to be reminded of this passage and this hymn. I chose this verse and this hymn when I worked on this month's blog posts in January. This past Sunday, our pastor announced that he was retiring from the United Methodist Church. This Saturday and next week our General Conference meets to make a crucial decision about the doctrine of the church. Please pray for our local church and the church-at-large.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Jesus Speaks on Love

quiet spirit.


You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And a second one is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39(ESV)

Jesus responds to a lawyer’s question with our focus verse. I wonder why the why the man posed the question. Was he seriously seeking an answer to something that bothered him? Did the group of Sadducees put that lawyer up to asking a question to trick or embarrass Jesus?

His answer may have surprised those in the crowd. The question, as presented, asks about a high thing, the greatest commandment. The Master told the group three ways in which to love God.
 
“with all your heart,” The human heart thought to be the seat of our emotions. When we choose to love another person, we want the best for that person. When we love God, our desire is to live for Him.

“with all your soul,” The soul is man’s true self, who we really are. Said another way, our soul is our inner core. When we say we know a person’s soul, we know his or her inner being.

“with all your mind.” Our minds control our thoughts as well as our movements. What we think at times dictates what we say or do. Our words convey more than we realize. Sometimes they convey hurt and cause problems. As followers of Christ, we are to represent Him in the world. Because we are his His emissaries, we are to live for Him hourly and daily. Jesus continued instructing the Sadducees. With the last seven words of our focus verse, the LORD gets down to the very core of human relationships, how we treat those around us.

“You shall love”
Our neighborhood has changed over the time we have lived here. People have passed away, others have moved away. Those houses that were owner-occupied might now be rentals, several which seem to be vacant. Because of these factors, we no longer know most of those who live along our section of the street. As Mother Teresa told us, we must “Do it anyway.”

“your neighbor”
I found a way to love these neighbors and these supposedly empty houses. I have a section of my prayer list devoted to my neighborhood. In checking a neighborhood social media site’s message board one morning, I found I needed to expand my section to include a few more houses on a street down the way from our home.

“as yourself.”
As we continue to live in our world as things become more conflicted for those of us who love the LORD, we may need to look again at the values we hold and search for ways to please God as we pray for those near us and for those dear to us.

We can learn from the teachings of Jesus and apply them to our daily lives as we walk with Him. We can learn to seek His guidance before we comment on the events and actions of others that we don’t understand. We can give Him the glory for the uplifting things He does and not try to take credit for anything He has done for us. We can encourage our neighbors as they try to improve their homes. We can be patient with those who do not have a like-minded viewpoint about certain events that affect our homes and our lives.

Father God;

I thank You for Your lesson on how to love You. I ask that You help me to love You according to this verse in order that I may truly represent You in this fallen world. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. AMEN


Friday, February 15, 2019

What would Jesus Do?



Sallman
In 1896, Charles Monroe Sheldon, authored a book entitled, “In His Steps, What Would Jesus Do?” In his novel, Sheldon wrote of a church that had become ‘comfortable’ in their Christianity. The church had a visitor on a Sunday. The man was, by today’s terminology, homeless. The pastor was appalled by the was the congregants received him. The pastor mobilized the congregation and some of the townspeople to follow Jesus' way of dealing with the issues of their time.

The subtitle became a watchword for people in the 1990s. Everyone of a certain age seemed to sport bracelets or wristbands with the letters WWJD, meaning ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ Over time, the idea died out.
Recently, that phrase came to my mind. I prayed a request to God for a long time. As I began to pray that evening, I heard “What would Jesus Do?” My sometimes-analytical mind broke it down into four different questions. Here is the breakdown:

What would Jesus do?
            Teach
            Preach
            Heal
            Forgive

What would Jesus do?
            Would He argue?
            Would He love the sinner?
            Would He allow Himself to be distracted from his job?
            Would He obey His Father?

What would Jesus do?
            Jesus, the Son of God,
            Jesus, our Redeemer,
            Jesus, our Savior,
            Jesus, our King,

What would Jesus do?

            His Father’s work
            Stand for His Father


As a large group of people across the world wait for the answer to their prayers, we must think about this timeless question. What Would Jesus Do?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

God’s Sacrificial Love



but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)

Paul makes a very important point in this verse. He highlights a point that we often take for granted. God shows His love for us. He does this every hour, every day, every month, and every year.

Whatever the circumstance we find ourselves or our families are in, God reminds us of His love by directing our attention to the Cross.

God gave His Son. He did this without regard to how we may not appreciate His action. He did it for our ultimate benefit: that we would one day be able to enter heaven and live with Jesus.

We have been, and still are, sinners. We were sinners when He chose to carry out His plan for Jesus. At that time, the disciples didn’t understand the events that unfolded before them. Present day, we don’t always understand what happens right before us. The disciples learned from the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Christ.


As we see things unfold in our world today, may we look at them through the eyes of Christ and learn from these events the lessons we need to incorporate into our lives.

Friday, February 8, 2019

David’s Plea for God’s Mercy



Have mercy on me, O God
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin!”
Psalm 51:1-2 (ESV)

David wrote the prophet after Nathan confronted David with his sin with Bathsheba. He broke at least three of God’s Commandments. Let’s look at this passage and try to understand it better.

Have mercy on me, O God,

David asks for God’s love, although he realizes he doesn’t deserve it. He asked for mercy. Please notice that David did not ask for anything else.

according to your steadfast love;

David asks for God’s mercy as God defines it. He realizes God is in control. He realizes that God’s love is the greatest we can experience.

according to your abundant mercy

He recognizes that God has a vast amount of mercy. He knows God’s mercy has no limits. Sometimes, we give conditional mercy when we forgive another person of hurting us.

blot out my transgressions.

 He asks God to erase his wrongdoing from His memory. As humans, we tend to keep certain information in the back of our minds and bring them to the forefront when we deem it advantageous to us.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity

David asked that God do a complete job of removing his sin from the ledger.

and cleanse me from my sin!

David presents his request a third way. He truly wants to be free of this sin. I read somewhere that the cleansing process of the hyssop was a scrubbing process. This could be why David dwells on the removal of his sin.



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

His Love and His Compassion


 
Sallman


I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD,
the praises of the LORD
according to all that the LORD has
granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel
that he has granted them according to his compassion,
according to the abundance of his steadfast love.  Isaiah 63:7 (ESV)

The prophet Isaiah leaves us a great message in this verse.

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD 

He tells us he will tell of the love of God toward him and others. Do we share with others what God has done for us?

according to all that the LORD has granted us,

Isaiah tells of the blessings that he
has received from God that line up with what God does for His children.

that he has granted them according to his compassion, 

Isaiah reminds the people of the reason God blessed him. God granted these blessings to him and to us because of His love. Do we communicate love to those we meet? To those we meet while doing business?

according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

God gave those blessings to Isaiah out of the overflow of His great love. Do we, as God’s children rely on His undying love to carry us through times of turmoil and doubt?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

January Reflections



January, named for the god, Janus. Pictures of this god show a face of a person looking to the left and to the right. I remember hearing that the illustration told was of one who looked forward and back in time.

This January has been almost uneventful for me. The weather has played a part in my inactivity. I stayed in from church two weekends in a row due to the snow and then the snow and ice. I have been able to do some writing on next month’s topic. I also found myself editing a script and turning sections of it into Lenten blog posts.

I also post certain blog entries as columns to the LiveAsif.org website.

I always start out the new year with great, almost grandiose, plans. This year was a bit different.Back in the fall,  I chose my word for the year, faith. I plotted out my blog topics for each month, some of them never change. I also reinstituted a practice I used to have. I chose a devotional book to use for the year. This year’s selection is “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. An added discipline I am pursuing is I plan to journal each day about that day’s message. So far, I am current with the readings and the entries.

I received an e-mail notification that I had won a writing contest on a writing group’s website. My prize is a tee-shirt with the group’s logo on it. My story was a piece of flash fiction. I had done much flash-fiction writing in several years.  Here is that story. The picture at the top of this entry is the one that we were to write about. I hope you enjoy it.

The Decisions to Be Made

He found himself walking along the beach. He mulled over the difficult news. Before he realized it, he discovered he was on the point, that spot where his life could have ended. He sat on the bench, letting his mind reflect on earlier times. His thoughts took him to a time when he was a young sea-faring man He envisioned the schooner, his ship, Point Reyes, resting on its side.

The Point Reyes had a short history. She had been christened a year earlier. A storm came up. The windblown water flooded the deck. The captain could not see the jut of land. It ran aground at this very spot. The vessel lurched with such force that the crew members were thrown overboard. He, the lone survivor, settled in the area in order to care for the site. He married and raised his family, always telling them of the crew members who were not as fortunate as he.

“God has been good to me.” He bowed his head and thanked God for all the wonderful things he received over the years. “He saved me from my sins. He guided me as we raised our family. He gave me a job that I enjoyed and was able to retire from. He also gave me precious friends.”

His children, four in number, all relocated to inland cities and towns. Susan, his oldest, lived in Atlanta, was a physician’s assistant. Jeremy lived in Nashville, pursued a career in the music industry. Heather, their globe-trotter, lived in London, England and taught at a university there. Michael, a clergyman, lived in Phoenix. Their mother, Shirley, went home to the LORD three years ago.

The doctor had run test after test. The diagnosis was not good. His prognosis was not easy to hear. The doctor shook his head and said,” I’m sorry.”

“Father God, please help me as I inform my children of this latest news. You know what happens next. I place all my anxieties in Your hands. You were there when Shirley went through her illness. I felt Your presence then. I would like my children to feel it during this time. I have decisions to make. I ask your guidance as I make them. Amen”


He rose from the bench and headed toward home to contact his children. The bits of grass looked a deeper green. The sun warmed his face and he could finally smile. The LORD would see him through as he made these decisions. He believed that with all his heart.

His Mercies Never End

Compassion, God’s Love   quiet spirit. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they ar...