1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5
Those things that are hidden in the darkness can cause a lot of problems. They might be tucked away in a corner and it might feel as though it has been forgotten but satan loves to use it as a piece of “I told you so,” or “You’ll never change,” or “That was unforgivable.”
Those lies … they fester in the dark …. they linger and take root like a weed. And, worst of all, they seem to multiply and become more and more oppressive. When we insist there is no right or wrong — no Light or dark — then we find that we have to defend our position.
Even when we are dead wrong…
The way to fix any of it is to allow the Light of the world to flood in and bring His Love and Life — the forgiveness, the perspective, the peace that can only come from Jesus. It takes humility as well as knowing our place in the Universe. This allowing comes when we recognize that God is God and we are not.
May God’s love and light flood every corner of our lives and bring forth forgiveness and restoration.
He made the hearts of them all. And He understands whatever they do. Psalm 33:15 NLT
I have been reckless and destructive. I have lashed out and my words and actions have taken a toll on others.
And yet …
… He loves me.
And just as importantly, He loves YOU!
The amazing list of emotions that come from the depths of my heart: anguish, deep love, anger, compassion, justification, passion … the list goes on and on. And, once again, the knowing that He knows me just blows me away.
I am so thankful for His love and grace and provision.
This pandemic was a surprise to me, but it was not a surprise to God.
This has been a year of making plans and readjusting them about 97 times. I am ever hopeful that there will be a new normal that looks somewhat similar to the old normal. But, I confess, I am a little discouraged.
Why even bother to make plans?
I am thankful that I have been relatively calm through this season of unknowns, but I attribute it to my natural tendency to be flexible. I don’t feel the need to be in charge of a lot of things. I also have watched God work out even the yucky things in my life, so I trust His “long run” plan, even though I don’t know all the pieces and parts. And, honestly, I am pretty sure I won’t love all what is coming. But I will try to rest in His grace and mercy, trust Him to right the wrongs, trust Him to comfort me, and be with me as I move forward.
We have today, my friend. Hold your plans loosely and love generously!
For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 New English Translation
Are you frustrated with people who don’t seem to care about people? Let’s talk about loving our neighbor and who that person might be.
Step out of where you live and look straight ahead and to your left and your right. Presto bingo! You probably have neighbors — even if you live on a farm in the middle of a big plot of land, you have neighbors. We all do! Start there.
Now, let’s look around at the people who are nearby and involved in our day-to-day lives. That is what I picture when I think of the word neighbor. But that list can expand to co-workers, the people we volunteer next to or go to church with. The coffee barista, the server, the salespeople we encounter during the week. These folks are our neighbors.
When I was growing up in Ohio, we were on a space of land that didn’t have immediate neighbors around the house like I think of a traditional neighborhood. I had always wished we did. When we lived in Nebraska, we lived in a neighborhood that had a yearly block party. That was very new concept to me and I loved it! We had amazing neighbors, some we are still good friends with today!
If you really want to love your neighbor, you can be very literal about it and start with the people across the street or on either side of you. If you live in a duplex or apartment complex, it is probably easier to be annoyed with your neighbors than to love them, but you are called to love. Start somewhere. Take the lead. Maybe you are the one who most recently moved in to your home and would have loved to been welcomed into the neighborhood but weren’t — show love to your neighbors anyway. Sometimes loving means taking the first step in a relationship!
Love your neighbor. You are welcome to expand on the definition of neighbor to include the whole world. That totally works too. Just remember there are a lot of people that need love and grace in this world and they are often right next to you in line, running the cash register, in your office space. As you practice extending love to those you bump into on a regular basis God will surely expand your opportunities to extend love and grace to a greater radius!
If everyone loves their neighbors, the whole world will be a different place!
The moments of joy float in and out of my day. And sometimes the weight of the world and the day set in and try to steal my capacity for joy. Unfortunately, I can be a reactor to my immediate circumstances instead of looking at the big picture and God’s work in and through all of it.
When I am in the midst of a joy-less moment, I try to remember to think, “Lord, I can’t wait to see what you do with this!” If I don’t dwell on my circumstances and I just keep moving forward, time will pass and I will soon realize that I have made it through the muck and mire to a new place, a place where there is more.
More true joy!
There is no law against it!
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
I suspect that those easy things to love can come from within me. I can be nice. I can be pleasant. I can even be tolerant.
We are all unloveable at times, especially myself. And when I am in a situation that goes beyond my own ability and strength to love, I know that I am tapping into God’s resources. It is then I know I am getting to that “true love”. It goes beyond my own limitations and comes directly from the heart of God. When I rely on my own capacity for love, I will fall short every time.
A lack of love in one’s life might explain unloving and ugly behavior, but it doesn’t excuse it. We have opportunities each day to show love to those around us in both simple and complex ways. Even though it is easy and requires little effort, let’s not just love the loveable. That isn’t very challenging — it doesn’t demonstrate God’s ability to transform our hearts and expand our capabilities. God’s love, through us, enlarges our hearts. And this is the love the world needs!
I am thrilled to have two grandbabies added to our family since May and so I have been extra introspective about a lot of things, particularly in how one is “wired”!
The fun (and sometimes frustration) in learning about a new person in your life is understanding them. What are their needs? What makes them tick? What is their communication style?
We all have a lot of people in our daily lives and some people fit with us so easily while others take some getting used to. When I am in the midst of figuring someone out, it helps me to remember that we are all knit together, created by God — even those people that take a lot of effort for me to connect with.
If you have tiny new people in your life, enjoy the process of getting to know them. Pray for them. Love them in the way you know how but don’t be afraid to learn new ways to love!
It is so hard to hear the life stories I hear sometimes and
I can only imagine how difficult it is to live through them. There is a lot of
heartache and pain in the world. It’s difficult to be in it but also very
painful to watch. Some of what people have lived through is unfathomable – it
doesn’t even touch my worst moment. All I can do is listen. And pray.
For peace. For healing. For reconciliation. For strength.
I have walked in my own shoes but I really haven’t walked in
anyone else’s so, given a situation, it’s hard to say if I would have done
things better or worse or at all.
What has helped you most when you have been on a difficult
As we look to the empty tomb we are confident of God’s work in and through our lives. We are on the inside — receiving and thankful for His gifts.
But are hearts are heavy for those who insist on remaining on the outside. They are skeptical, hurt, angry, confused. They have had some difficult things to live through and they don’t trust or believe in Jesus. We may not understand their perspective but we pray for them. We all know and love those who have rejected God’s gift of grace.
And there are others who don’t know at all. They have not heard about the Jesus we know. Even though the heavens do declare, it is important for us to also proclaim our faith in a way that opens doors for conversation. Jesus died for all.
May we be loving to all — those on the inside the walls of faith as well as those who have stepped away or truly have never known Jesus. We don’t know the whole story. Our love and compassion can make an amazing difference in how they view God.
May we love generously with the love that has been given to us!
My husband has an excellent sense of direction when we are traveling. He also loves to use tools to help him make the best decision on how to get where he is going. So if Google Maps shows a significant traffic issue, he will make an effort to go around it. He loves to plan ahead and make a wise move with up-to-date info.
On the other hand, I tend not to fuss with technology too much when I am driving alone. Our trusty vehicle, Luna, is a 2008 Highlander (240,000+ miles) with a map program built in and is a little clunky (we have updated her maps but I-69 to Indianapolis still isn’t in there). She sports an older model of map technology and isn’t hooked up to a satellite so she doesn’t show “real time” traffic. That is fine with me – when there is a slow down I can tell because the cars are all slowing down in front of me. I don’t get the latest information on traffic issues. I experience them.
Either approach is fine. Even a good, old-fashioned road map
is perfectly fine. Or, if you have no
particular place to go, just taking off without a map is great too.
It all depends on if you have a place you need to get to within a particular time frame.
But, aside from how you get TO a specific place, how do you travel? Do you like taking direction? Do you like to blaze your own trail? Who or what guides your path? What fuels your journey? Is it anger or justice? Is it pain? Is it love or thankfulness?
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. [Proverbs 3:3-8, NIV]