Friday, July 21, 2017

A Message for All Who Believe In Jesus

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Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 (ESV)

A young girl, recently graduated from high school, used this verse in a message she gave during our worship service this past Sunday. The thought resonated with me, “And they recognized they had been with Jesus.”

            Peter and John had been placed under arrest. “Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander and the rest of the high-priestly family” (v. 6) had gathered with the other powers- that-be. Their purpose was to hear the case against Peter and John. Their ‘crime’ was of healing, “teaching, and proclaiming to the people about the resurrection of the dead.”(v. 2) 

            When our youthful speaker read this, the thoughts came to me. “Do people today recognize that we have been with Jesus?” “Do people see Jesus in me?”

            How can people recognize that we belong to Jesus in our fast-paced, hurry-it-up, look-at-me world?  The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Galatians, gives us a list of qualities that show Christ in us.

            We are to:
            *show LOVE to one another even if we don’t agree with that person on something. If we don’t like his or her behavior, Jesus still commands us to love that person.
            *be filled with JOY even when we are unhappy. Joy comes from having Christ in our hearts, while happiness comes from our outward circumstance.    
            *be PEACE lovers and practitioners in all our relationships with others. This means we are not confrontational, unless Jesus allows us to be.

             *show PATIENCE with one another. Patience is a learned response that comes as we grow in the LORD.

             *show KINDNESS to one another. When we have to wait in line for a cashier to get to our purchases and her register is not working as it should. We need to extend kindness and be as patient as we can be in this scene.

             *show GOODNESS to those around us who are in need. By sending a greeting card to someone who is ill or has suffered a loss, we show a kindness that they will remember.

             *show FAITHFULNESS. As followers of Christ, are to stand by our word. A Christian should follow through on all he or she says they will do.

             *show GENTLENESS to those in our world. A gentle word calms the soul and stems any anger another person may have in their hearts.

             *show SELF-CONTROL. I believe Paul placed this virtue at the end of his list because, to me, it seems to be the culmination of all the other virtues he highlights.

            In case you think I have it all together, I struggle with a few of these and especially that last one.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Letter I Have to Write

From time to time, I hear of someone who battles cancer. That person either is healed and gets to stay with his or her family for a while longer or receives the ultimate, permanent healing. I sometimes have told family members to write a letter to cancer. I advised a relative to keep a journal while her son-in-law fought it. Every once in a while I have to take my own counsel and write my own letter to that disease.

July 2017

I received a phone call from a friend this morning. She  told me that a young mother in her late 30’s had gone to be with Jesus. She and her family were members of our church. We and all her friends had prayed that she win over you. That’s right, cancer. We wanted her to gain victory over you. We kept asking God to allow her to raise her two young daughters and to be there for her teenaged son.

You have plagued this daughter, wife, and mother since she was a teenager. Shame on you! You bring so much grief to families and friends. You are not welcome into the lives of those in which you entangle yourself.

You bring intent sadness to so many when your dirty work is done. While you are active in a person’s life, you place a specter over all he or she does. You rob people and their families of their zest for living.  When you finally suck a person dry of all their vitality, you cause families great sadness because of your supposed gain.

However when your victim, like this young mother, knows God. It is a release and a relief that He sends Jesus down to take that person to be with Him in heaven.

I wonder how many more letters to you I will have to write before a cure will be found for the many different ways you manifest yourself.

Monday, July 17, 2017

When We Don’t Understand

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“Trust the LORD your God in all things and lean not to your own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

            I recently received a phone call from a man I knew when he a child and  a young man. Our dads were friends. His dad worked for mine. At one point his mother had also.From time to time, I babysat him and his four brothers. As they grew older, he and his brothers had also worked for my dad. . The day before, my husband called my attention to the obituaries. The man who called me did so  to let me know what we knew. His oldest brother had passed away.

            As I had read in the obituary, the deceased brother had cancer. I asked the younger brother, “How long had he been sick?” The answer he gave me was difficult for his family to accept. He had been sick for a very short time--two weeks. My caller told me the newly widowed wife was having a hard time. I understood his concern.

            As followers of Jesus Christ, we sometimes suffer heart ache from happenings that we can’t control. What can we do when we experience anguish?

We can ask God to be beside us as we learn to deal with our emotions and the many details that come our way.

*We can ask others to pray for us. People who know of our loss will not ask for any details because they most likely know your need.

*We can strive to honor the departed person in simple ways. I used to carry a change purse with a double snap  because my late stepmother used one. A woman at our church wears a certain fragrance of perfume because her late mother wore it.

*Once a friend and I visited a woman at the retirement community where she had moved to. She had a picture of a gentleman on the wall and she said, “Have you met my grandpa?” She had a small array of family pictures on the wall. She honored her departed family by displaying those pictures.

When we don’t understand why God suddenly takes someone away from us, we have to rely upon Him and ask Him to show us the way He wants us live for Him. We learn to have this type of relationship with God through the daily moment-by-moment walk we have with Jesus.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...