Assurance

I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel. God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God. ~Phil 1:6-11 (CEB)

God is in the business of saving hearts. It may come in bits and pieces here and there but it doesn’t come over night. It takes time and it is a process. God changes our hearts through grace. It rewires us. In his book You Gotta Keep Dancin’ Tim Hansel says that we are rewired from insecure to God secure. From regret-riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid-to-die to ready-to-fly.

As I enter into this second week of the New Year I am starting to question some of my New Year’s resolutions. When I was making them there were sound arguments for the changes that I wanted to make and with the New Year it seems like a good place for fresh starts. But change comes slowly.

The same Voice that calls for me to change will give me the strength to make the changes that are needed. I just need to hold onto God’s promise, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” (Ezk 36:26) But where does this “new heart” come from? Paul said in Gal 2:20 “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior he moved into my heart, transplanting my heart for his. I may not be perfect but Jesus is and through the grace that God has bestowed on me I am being changed every day, shaped every day, strengthened every day, emboldened every day… softened every day by that grace.

I may not always see the changes in me, but scripture tells me “… the one who started a good work in you will stay with [me] to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)

So I have the assurance that maybe not in my time but in God’s timing I will one day be who I need to be.

Day by day, Lord, strengthen me, shape me, change me, embolden me and soften me so that I am always moving on towards that perfection that is promised me for the day of Christ Jesus. Amen.

In search of a star

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Matthew 2:10-12 (CEB)

Today is the 12th day of Christmas. Tradition tells us that this is when the Wisemen arrived to see the baby Jesus. How did the Wisemen know that Jesus had been born? The Wisemen knew that something was about to happen because they had been watching. They weren’t distracted by things going on around them. They were intently looking. Not only did they notice that the star began its move they also followed.

There is much I can learn from the Wisemen. I can learn to patiently watch and listen as God reveals His vision for my life. Sometimes, even when I try hard to do so, I just don’t see God in the everyday things and events. But I think this is why we are given the story of the Wisemen.

Epiphany gives me the time to remember to watch, wait, listen, look, anticipate, and discern the light, life and truth of the Lord’s presence in my midst. It reminds me that it is important that I remember to look for Him in my life. It is vital that we remember to watch. Once I see His presence in my life I should not return to who I was before. I must seek a new path for my life. How applicable that this story comes so near to the first of the year with its opportunity of a fresh start!

Dear God, Thank you for second chances and for new beginnings. Thank You for signs in our life that show us the way to go. Help me to go down a different path this year. Help me to search for you in even the smallest moments. Help me in my search to be transformed through Your never endig grace. Amen.

Freedom to love

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of a messenger who proclaims peace, who brings good news, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God rules!” Listen! Your lookouts lift their voice; they sing out together! Right before their eyes they see the LORD returning to Zion. Break into song together, you ruins of Jerusalem! The LORD has comforted his people and has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has bared his holy arm in view of all the nations; all the ends of the earth have seen our God’s victory. ~Isaiah 52:7-10 (CEB)

“I have learned how to love with great love from a little child in Calcutta. Once, there was no sugar and I do not know how that little Hindu child four years old heard in the school that Mother Teresa had no sugar for her children.

He went home and told his parents, ‘I will not eat sugar for three days: I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa.’

His parents had never been to our house before to give anything, but after three days they brought him. He was so small, and in his hand there was a little bottle of sugar. How much can a four-year-old child eat? But the amount he could have eaten for those three days, he brought. He could scarcely pronounce my name, but yet he gave and the love he put in the giving was beautiful.

I learned from that little one that at the moment we give something to [God], it becomes infinite!” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Some of the most loving, giving… forgiving people I have known have been children. If you want to know how to live as Jesus lives look to a child. Loving others is so simple, even a child can do it.

Merry Christmas!

Heavenly Father, help me to walk through this day with the faith and love of a little child. May the battle wounds I have occurred that prevent me to see as a child sees be stripped away. Help my resentments and judgments fade so that I may live as you would have me to live, in complete freedom. Amen.

To love one another

“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)

“When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them.   Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another.  When people realize that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies.

Many times this happens even without our planning.  Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it.  Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Merry Christmas!

Heavenly Father, help me this day to be free of judgements so that I may be a safe place for others. Help me to be more vulnerable so that walls can be demolished permanently. To be Your hands and feet and to love those I meet are all You ask of me. Help me to do Your will. Amen.

Behaving as God’s children

“But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.

“If you love those who love you, why should you be commended? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, why should you be commended? Even sinners do that. If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, why should you be commended? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be paid back in full. Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.

“Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing—will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return. ” ~Luke 6:27-38 (CEB)

“To the degree that we accept that through Christ we ourselves have been reconciled with God we can be messengers of reconciliation for others.  Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence.  We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label.  When we walk around as if we have to make up our mind about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we will only create more division.   Jesus says it clearly:  “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.  Do not judge; … do not condemn; … forgive” (Luke 6:36-37).

In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible.  But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

What if the world’s New Year’s Resolution was to stop judging, condemning, classifying or labeling one another. Would we then have Peace?

Merry Christmas!

 

Let there be Peace on Earth Lord and let it begin with me. Amen

For the New Year

So we try to persuade people, since we know what it means to fear the Lord. We are well known by God, and I hope that in your heart we are well known by you as well. We aren’t trying to commend ourselves to you again. Instead, we are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us so that you could answer those who take pride in superficial appearance, and not in what is in the heart.

If we are crazy, it’s for God’s sake. If we are rational, it’s for your sake. The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: one died for the sake of all; therefore, all died. He died for the sake of all so that those who are alive should live not for themselves but for the one who died for them and was raised.

So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!

All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.

So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, Be reconciled to God! ” God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:11-21(CEB)

“What is our task in this world as children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus?  Our task is reconciliation.  Wherever we go we see divisions among people – in families, communities, cities, countries, and continents.  All these divisions are tragic reflections of our separation from God.  The truth that all people belong together as members of one family under God is seldom visible.  Our sacred task is to reveal that truth in the reality of everyday life.

Why is that our task?  Because God sent Christ to reconcile us with God and to give us the task of reconciling people with one another.   As people reconcile with God through Christ we have been given the ministry of reconciliation” (see: 2 Corinthians 5:18).  So whatever we do the main question is, Does it lead to reconciliation among people?” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Merry Christmas!

Lord, in the words of St. Francis, “make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”

 

Arise and Shine!

Arise! Shine! Your light has come; the LORD’s glory has shone upon you. Though darkness covers the earth and gloom the nations, the LORD will shine upon you; God’s glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning radiance. ~Isaiah 60:1-3

“It requires a lot of inner solitude and silence to become aware of these divine movements. God does not shout, scream or push. The Spirit of God is soft and gentle like a small voice or a light breeze. It is the spirit of love. Maybe we still do not fully believe that God’s Spirit is, indeed, the Spirit of love, always leading us deeper into love. Maybe we still distrust the Spirit, afraid to be led to places where our freedom is taken away. Maybe we still think of God’s Spirit as an enemy who wants something of us that is not good for us.

But God is love, only love, and God’s Spirit is the Spirit of love longing to guide us to the place where the deepest desires of our heart can be fulfilled. Often we ourselves do not even know what our deepest desire is. We so easily get tangled in our own lust and anger, mistakenly assuming that they tell us what we really want. The Spirit of love says: ‘Don’t be afraid to let go of your need to control your own life. Let me fulfill the true desire of your heart.” ~From Here and Now by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Jesus came into the world so that I don’t have to hold onto control so tightly. He knows the real desires of my heart and only wants good for me. He sent Jesus into the world so that I could begin to see beyond the “Thou shalt not’s” to the freedom He desires for me.

Merry Christmas!

It is the call of my heart God to be close to You. Your whispering is heard as it blows through my heart giving me new life. Bolster my unbelief so that I may live life more fully. Give me freedom instead of the chains that bind me to a life I don’t want. Help me to live in the Freedom you promise if only I believe. Help me this day to rise and shine for You. Amen.  

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