Oh, come O Rod of Jesse’s stem, From ev’ry foe deliver them That trust your mighty pow’r to save; Bring them in vict’ry through the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel Translated: John Neal, 1818-66
My heart is heavy knowing so many who do not trust in Your mighty power to save. I cling to the knowledge that You do care for the unbelievers — that you seek those lost sheep. I pray for hearts to be open to hearing Your call. May the barriers to faith be removed. May there be a growing self-awareness of the need for Your Son, the Savior. Thank You for providing The Way, The Truth, and The Life in Jesus!
3 … he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.[Luke 15:3-7, ESV]
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!
Yesterday the sermon at church was based on Luke 10:25-37. I have always loved the parable of The Good Samaritan. I hate that the neighbor was robbed and blown off by both the priest and the Levite who ought to have cared more about him, but I am thankful the Samaritan went out of his way to care for the wounded guy.
There seems to be no shortage of people needing mercy these days!
“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37 ESV
I love how the Good Samaritan binds up the wounds and makes arrangements for the care of his wounded neighbor. He takes some time to directly care for this man but then he also moves on to what he had set off to do earlier, leaving behind some money for his care. I hadn’t thought about that before. He makes provision for him but isn’t the one to do all the “hands on” work.
As I dug into “mercy” just a wee bit more I didn’t get very far when I realized how many, many, many times we ask for mercy from the Lord. It’s all over God’s Word, particularly in the Psalms. It’s woven into our liturgy. Lord have mercy.Christ have mercy. But mercy isn’t just for us to request and receive. In this parable, Jesus reminds us that mercy is for us to do!
Have I ever been a “good Samaritan”? Sure. But I have more often been the Levite and the priest. And, I am definitely the one who needs and receives an abundance of mercy. I need to remember that more.
When have you experienced mercy? When have you extended it? Do you find yourself withholding mercy because a person hasn’t shown themselves worthy?
Let’s be generous with mercy. We should dole it out at least as often as we request it.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Apparently I am in a season of life where there is a lot of traveling. I enjoy it, most of the time. It is definitely different and sometimes I feel scattered. Sometimes I am scattered because the trips are back-to-back and I am bound to forget something.
Scatter(ed) can certainly be a state of being, but it can also be a state of doing.
Are you actively dispersing things as you travel through life? It might be physical things, of course, but it can also be thoughts or ideas or faith or encouragement or courage or love or a smile. If you are out there, sharing with the world, have you considered that your contributions might be neutral yet are more likely negative or positive?
Sometimes I am super grumpy or overtired or guilty. Unfortunately, those are not generally the moments when I am “feeling the love” so I scatter seeds of negativity. If I am in a really bad space, I not only embrace my own habitual skepticism, I give it away to everyone I come in contact with whether I know them or not. Those seeds can land on fertile soil and become a nasty weed, seemingly overnight. Like a virus, it can quickly pass from person to person until the space where I am (and the trail from whence I came) is littered with negativity.
When I am in a good space, I can be reckless with my giving. I share without reservation. I am patient and can hear and see and feel and can give all day long, fueled by a grateful heart. I am full of love and grace and peace. Those things can also be quickly passed along and affect those all around me.
Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. [Luke 6:44-46 NIV]
It is important to think about those things you are storing up in your heart because those concepts will come out in the way of words and actions; it will be what you scatter! Breathe in the good and exhale it. If you intake bad, interrupt the cycle by putting out good.
You might find you need to go into a place where the air is pure, particularly with all the toxicity in the world today. It’s true, there is nothing new under the sun but the rate negativity can be spread is astounding.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. [Philippians 4:8 NIV]
Our focus fills our heart and then comes out of our mouths and through the work of our hands.