How they know

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” ~John 13:34-35 (CEB)

It is sometimes aggravating how closely watched we can be as Christians. But after reading this excerpt from Henri Nouwen’s book, Bread for the Journey, I am reminded that that is exactly what we are here on Earth to do.

“Jesus’ whole life was a witness to his Father’s love, and Jesus calls his followers to carry on that witness in his Name.  We, as followers of Jesus, are sent into this world to be visible signs of God’s unconditional love.  Thus we are not first of all judged by what we say but by what we live.  When people say of us:  ‘See how they love one another,’ they catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced and are drawn to it as by a magnet.

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.”

I am to be an example of God’s love in the world. By my reactions to others, I could draw someone to Christ or I could repel them. That is humbling, especially in light of all that continues to be broadcasted in the news.

Heavenly Father, as I go about my day help me to remember that I am to be a glimpse to others of Your Kingdom. Help me to draw others to You. Amen.

Sharing the good news

Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. Many more believed because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world.” ~John 4:39-42 (CEB)

Because the woman at the well shared what Jesus had done in her life the Samaritans were receptive to hear from Jesus. They had not been receptive to the word before. It is humbling to think that there may be someone out there waiting to hear a story of what God has done. Waiting to hear how Jesus can personally work in someone’s life.

I can think of personal stories that I have heard that have helped me along my way. But we can’t just ride into heaven on other peoples’ stories. At some point, we have to make the story our own. We have to embrace the truths for ourselves. Once the story becomes ours then it is time to share it with someone else who like we once were, are waiting to hear good news.

Heavenly Father, please give me eyes to see those who need to hear the good news. Give me the courage to share that good news with them. Amen

Jesus’ prayer

“I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me. ~John 17:20-23 (CEB)

In John 17 Jesus prays. In the previous chapter, he had been trying to prepare his followers for his trial, death, and resurrection. With Chapter 17 Jesus moves into a prayer. I love this chapter. He begins the prayer giving God the glory then he begins to pray for those who will be left behind. He asks for God’s strength and protection for their continued work here on earth. Then the prayer moves to us in the future. Jesus prays for all of us in the future that we will believe and follow after him.

It is mind shattering to think that 2000 years ago Jesus prayed for me. He took time just before all he knew he was about to face to not only pray for the disciples who had been so dear, but he also thought to pray for me too. With the world, on his shoulders, he took time for me.

What I think is also amazing is that Jesus prays for us still today. When I ask anything “in Jesus’ name” it is as if Jesus is saying the prayer. His name holds power. John 14:13-14 says, “I will do whatever you ask for in my name so that the Father can be glorified in the Son. When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.” 1 John 5:14-15 also says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

So I have the comfort that not only does God hear my prayer but that Jesus also prays for me. Somehow that gives me confidence when I pray, to know that Jesus knows my heart and prays too. I also know that the Holy Spirit prays for me as well. Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Heavenly Father, it brings me such comfort to know you hear my prayers, to know that my words are not just lifted up to empty air. I also find comfort that when I do not have the words or the strength You are there praying for me. Amen.

Christian living


By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory. Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces. This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith; and to moral excellence, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, endurance; and to endurance, godliness; and to godliness, affection for others; and to affection for others, love. If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they’ll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever lacks these things is shortsighted and blind, forgetting that they were cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be eager to confirm your call and election. Do this and you will never ever be lost. In this way you will receive a rich welcome into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. ~2Peter 1:3-11 (CEB)

As a young adult, I knew there was more to being a Christian than just being saved. “But what does God require of me,” I would wonder. It was only after much reading that I began to realize that God does tell us how He wants to live out our Christian lives. Here in 2 Peter 1, we find that God has given us everything we need for life. God gives us faith, morality, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, affection for others and love. All of these are mine to claim. These verses tell me I have these things right now, but I need to embrace them and allow them to grow.

To think that I cannot do these things means I have forgotten that I have been washed clean of my past. There was a time that I may not have had self-control, but now I do. There was a time that my morality was on shaky ground, my endurance was not strong, and I didn’t always love others as I should. That is the past. Today I can claim a new faith, love, knowledge, morality, endurance, godliness and affection for others. I have been called to these things, and as long as I go after these things, I will never be lost. Following after what I have been called to enriches my life.

Heavenly Father, Help me claim anew this day the characteristics You have promised me through Your word. Give the Your strength as I  go through this day. May my steps not falter from Your path. Amen.

In desert places

The Israelites said to them, “Oh, how we wish that the LORD had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”
Exodus 16:3 (CEB)

It is easier to look at someone else’s situation and see how ungrateful they are being. Here the Lord had shown The Israelites great signs and delivered them from slavery. Not only do we expect them to be still thrilled that they have escaped their hard life but THANKFUL! Now we find them grumbling in their situation. They are not thankful to be out of oppressive slavery.

Instead, they are grumbling because this new life is hard. It is different from what they have known before and different can become frightening. The Israelites have taken their eyes off of the promise and are looking at their current situation.

How often do I find myself grumbling because change is hard work?  Do I look back to the past and wish for what I don’t have anymore? In the process of being freed from the bondage of sin sometimes I get lost in the desert and forget God’s promise. The desert is a process that I have to go through to rid myself of “bad habits” that I have acquired. It is not a stopping place but part of the journey towards the promises God has made to me.

Heavenly Father, I thank You even in the deserts of my life. Help me to keep my eyes on the Promises You have made to me. Steady my steps as I travel through deserts so that I may not get lost and wander aimlessly. Amen.

Repentance

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After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” ~Mark 1:14-15 (CEB)

“Repentance… requires two things: humility and trust. Repentance requires the humility involved in the confession that I am a sinner, one whose life is not whole and who lacks the power both to find either the direction to wholeness or the resources for wholeness on my own. Repentance requires trust in a power that can and will ultimately sustain and establish me if I let go of myself into that power’s hands. Without both trust and humility, repentance is impossible.” ~From Vision and Character by Craig R. Dykstra

The good news is I can repent. I can turn away from whatever keeps me from God and from living within God’s reign. Repenting though is not always easy. When I repent, or turn my life in another direction, it requires my will, effort and faith as I call on God to supply the strength I need. But Jesus promises the power and presence to enable me to live the good life that will be in harmony with God.

Heavenly Father, I seem to get so distracted with things. I keep so busy that I lose track of You. I thank You for new beginnings. Help me start anew this day. Amen.

Psalm 139

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Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand —
    when I awake, I am still with you.

I Thank You this day for knowing me inside out, Lord. I treasure Your knowledge of me. I thank You that when I come to the end of this day, You will still be here with me. Amen

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