Emotional Debt

Consumer debt is a tricky thing. Credit cards allow us to buy things we want today using tomorrow’s money; which not a great idea generally! Often the interest rate is high. Too many people get themselves buried in debt when they cannot pay anything but the minimum amount due. The interest continues to accumulate, compounding negatively.

Emotional debts can be like that, too. When we drag around old resentments, if we try to borrow tomorrow’s joy, we can find ourselves buried in emotional debt, a captive of unwise relational choices.

Jesus shows us a better way. In the Sermon on the Mount, we read these tough words that ask us to trust God to help us to make difficult decisions.  “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:21-26, NIV)

The Lord reminds us that keeping our emotional accounts settled up is a critically important choice. We cannot justify our hate, our resentment, our bitterness towards others by saying, “Well, I didn’t kill them; even though I wish I could!”  He tells us that allowing ourselves to think of others with contempt is emotionally corrosive and drags us from God’s Holy Presence.

I can hear the objections that you are starting to raise. 
“But, Jerry, you don’t know that idiot I married; the pain he brought into my life.” I don’t but I’m sorry, truly.
Or worse, “Jerry, you don’t know how it feels to be the victim of a sexual predator.” I don’t and my heart breaks for that person who carries such a wound. 
“Jerry, you never met my boss. She never lets up on the criticism, making my life miserable.”  I feel for you, too, really!   

Carrying on life while hating that person who hurt you, refusing to let the debt go, makes the pain constant. Jesus says that we, God’s children, can make a different choice – to forgive.  When we come to worship and memory of that old enemy comes to mind, He says, “Deal with it. Don’t put it off.”  We have the ability to choose in the matter of forgiveness.

Our decision to forgive others not only gets us out of emotional debt, it also pleases God. Jesus taught us that “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” (Matthew 6:14-15, The Message)

Let me be clear. Forgiveness is not minimizing our pain, pretending that what happened to us does not matter, or trying to just ‘forget it.’  When Christians forgive, they release the debt of another to God, trusting His justice.

What does that kind of forgiveness look like?

It is modeled on God’s forgiveness!
God actively pursued sinful humanity. He entered the world, Jesus, God in flesh, to save the world from sin. Love was His sole motive. We forgive for love’s sake, actively letting offense go, and, where possible, pursuing reconciliation.

Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation.
To live in peace with God we receive forgiveness and grace that leads to genuine repentance.  That allows us to be reconciled to our Father in Heaven, loving Him, knowing Him, living close to Him. Sometimes those we forgive do not change their ways, refuse to respond to our offer of grace. In that situation we need not feel guilty. Forgiveness is an individual’s choice. Reconciliation requires active participation of both the offended and the offender.

Forgiveness cannot be conditional.  
Christians sometimes attempt a kind of half-forgiveness. “I’ll just ignore the offender. I won’t try to punish them but I’ll put them on probation.”  God does not put us on spiritual probation just watching for us to slip up again. The Scripture says that “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  True forgiveness does not hold onto the debt or sabotage relationships.

Forgiveness is a process, not an event.
Forgiveness is an individual choice to give our hurt, our sense of debt, to God and trust Him for perfect justice! In that choice, we release the other person discover freedom from our anger. It is possible that we will feel the old hurt again, that the resentment will creep back into our mind. If it does, we forgive again… and again … in Jesus’ words “70×7!”

Are you buried in emotional debt? Do you find your joy sabotaged by resentment towards another, your ability to form loving relationships with people hindered by memories of past hurts?  Are you feuding with someone, offended by another’s actions, dealing with anxiety over an unresolved dispute?   

Jesus says that the Spirit in us makes a new way possible – the way of forgiveness. It’s not easy, nor is it a ‘once and done’ moment. In the struggle to forgive you may find yourself praying in tears, asking the Holy Spirit to soften your heart. Tell Him how you feel, what you feel, why you think you’re feeling that way.  Choose the path of discipleship, the Jesus Way, and “bless those who curse you!”   When you give the debt you carry to Him, a new sweetness of spirit will grow in you.  You will be free to be loving like our Father in Heaven.

Here’s a word from the Word to ponder today.  It’s a story Jesus told about being forgiven and becoming one who forgives.  “Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!” “For this reason, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so the king ordered that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. But the man fell down before the king and begged him, ‘Oh, sir, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then the king was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and jailed until the debt could be paid in full. “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him what had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart.”

(Matthew 18:21-35, NLT)

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O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

(This hymn is one of profound faith that makes forgiveness possible.)

O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee.
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow,
May richer fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way
I yield my flickering torch to Thee
My heart restores its borrowed ray
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter fairer be

O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O cross that lifted up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee.
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.

Matheson, George / Peace, Albert Lister © Public Domain

Are you beautifully whole?

Think about your life and the people who have helped to make you who you are. Some taught you formal lessons as your teachers. Perhaps it was someone you never knew except through the pages of a book or a podcast. Others influence through proximity. They are ‘around us’ and their ideas and values subtly transfer into our lives. I reminded my kids when they were growing up that the people with whom they chose to ‘hang out’ would have an influence on them. Your friends do, too, regardless of your age!

Jesus speaks to our influence in the world using two easily understood metaphors. The words are in His Sermon on the Mount. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16, NIV)

Salt, for us, is mainly a flavoring in our food. The right amount makes that bowl of soup delicious. In Jesus’ day, salt was incredibly valuable. Having no refrigeration, salt was a primary preservative for their food. We best understand His word to us about our influence from that perspective. Christians are not just a bit of pleasant flavor in the world, they are the preservative influence, the people through whom the Spirit pushes back hatred, restraining evil. The role is not just a passive one, it is a robust calling that engages with the rot of sin.  Are you a person God can use to make a measurable difference in your world?

Light does so much more than dispel the darkness. I am glad that I can flip a switch and walk through a once darkened room, now lit up, without falling over the furniture. I am glad that the floodlight on the side of my house lets me come home in the dark of night and see if the local bear or skunk is hanging around my garage! I would not want to stumble into a close encounter with either of those creatures.

But, light does more. Light brings out beauty! Think of the sun’s rays shining through the atmosphere at sunset. The colors created by the refracted light are a delight. So, too, Christian, as God, the Holy Spirit, fills us with light we shine into the world and bring beauty. Do you?  Are you cognizant of His presence and shining in a way that causes others to ‘see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven?’

A frequent phrase in my prayer, both public and private, is “Lord, by your Spirit working in me, help me to make a measurable influence in my world.”  My desire is to defeat the rot and reveal the beauty of life! The answer to that prayer requires that I choose to be involved, that I use my head and hands to serve others. 

Sometimes that is accomplished with concern.  Note the weary or worn and offer a word of encouragement. Take time to speak with that person who spends life largely in the shadows. Are those life-changing choices? Maybe not, but they are ‘salt and light’ choices. When you can wisely engage someone who is living a lie, chasing the wrong dream, or ignoring God by sharing the truth, in love, you are being salt and light. Honestly, I’ll admit that life is simpler if I choose to remain ignorant of need, if I hide my eyes from suffering, if I choose not to see sin around me; but my Lord demands that I care.  

No matter how wise and gentle we are, as Christians, we must expect a reaction when we are genuinely practicing our faith. Jesus, who was Love Incarnate, provoked reactions ranging from adoration of a woman who washed His feet with her tears to hatred of Pharisees who plotted His death. Salt brings out the flavor of the soup and it stings when used to cleanse a wound. Light shows the way through the dark and it reveals hidden sins. 

So, are you having a measurable influence on your world?
When you’re around do people feel the love, see the light, and react?

Some will love you, some will hate you. That’s as it will be.
Jesus was clear about this. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18, NIV)

The word from the Word is that same text quoted before, this time from The Message, a contemporary paraphrase of the Gospel.  Jesus says, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.

God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-15, The Message)

Let’s make a measurable difference in our world for Christ – with consistently loving, holy lives, full of God’s beauty!

_____________________

Holy Spirit

There’s nothing worth more that will ever come close
No thing can compare You’re our living hope
Your Presence

I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
In Your Presence Lord

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your Presence Lord

Your Presence Lord
Your Presence Lord
Your Presence

Oh God how we love Your Presence Lord
Let us become more aware of Your Presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness (Lord)

Bryan and Katie Torwalt © 2011 Capitol CMG Genesis (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Jesus Culture Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

Yahweh Shalom – the Lord is peace

The reality of the ‘next step’ settled on me yesterday.  In December, 2019, I began the process of preparing the church which I have served for 21 years for my stepping aside from the pulpit. Yesterday, the congregation elected  a man to that position who will begin his service, on September 1st.  There is ample evidence that God has worked in amazingly wonderful ways over the intervening 18 months – with many participating in this process behind the scenes.  

But, change is difficult for most of us, not the least for me, so I as the moment of decision approached I internalized anxiety. Until … I finally released the church and my future to Him anew.  I felt the whisper of the Spirit – “Let the peace of Christ rule your heart… live in peace… be thankful!” (Colossians 3;15) Don’t you love it when God hands you a prescription for spiritual health? He invited me to receive His peace. I did, again. Before I left the church building my new Pastor prayed for me. I went home from the meeting, restful in heart, and fell into a deep and peaceful sleep. 

Peace can be an elusive quality of life. Pressure, problems, change, people, and challenges can give us knotted muscles, sleepless nights, and restless hearts. If we believe, as many do that peace is circumstantial- only found if we are able to change situation.  God promises that for the faithful there is a peace “which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”  (Philippians 4:7) Will you choose to live in His promise?

The ancient Israelis named God in many ways. One was Yahweh Shalom – “the LORD is peace.” Raiders from the neighboring country of Midian overpowered them driving them into the hills where they hid in caves. Desperation was everywhere! Gideon, who was a farmer, needed to feed his family in spite of the raids and attacks in Israel. So he ventured from the caves, down to the fields. Judges 6 tells that he was hiding out near a winepress, threshing grain, fearing for his life. Suddenly he felt aware of a Presence and heard a voice! “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” (Judges 6:12 NLT)

Gideon was anything but a mighty hero. He was desperately trying to avoid detection at that very moment. He asks “Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:15, NIV) He goes further and questions God’s messenger about the desperate times that his people are experiencing. But, when he saw the evidence of God’s power and received the promise of God with faith, Gideon’s heart changed. “Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!” But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. (Yahweh Shalom){Judges 6:22-24 NIV} That Hebrew word, shalom, is a rich one that speaks to a state of wholeness, serenity, and satisfaction.

Shalom is possible in any situation, IF we will choose, by faith, to live in the Presence of God. His Spirit produces a serenity that allows us to rise above situations that cause others to panic or to fall apart. Life’s circumstances will rob us of the peace of God if we forget that He is Lord of all. If we attempt to exert control over situations, if we become a little ‘god’ attempting to impose a ‘peace’ of my own design, it likely that our frustration will deepen, our sense that life is beyond meaning will be overwhelmed.

God invites us to come to Him.  In Him we re-center our soul, waiting in quiet prayer.  He says “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV)  We can, without words, let Him take charge, and find renewed peace.  My experience has taught me that even when the “situation” remains exactly the same, I am changed.

God does not ask us to detach ourselves from reality or that we live in foolish denial of reality. He sends us into this world as His people who are fully engaged with life. Our mission is to create beauty, to be bearers of His healing to the broken, and to resist evil wherever it brings death.  Though the task can exhaust us, we can live in peace! “Endure hardship like a good soldier,” Paul says.  That endurance is not a stubborn refusal to retreat!  We endure because the Spirit lives in us, His strength steadies us, His voice speaks and quiets our fear.

Restless? Troubled? Uncertain?  That’s quite human.
Take the invitation of Jesus and find a place to retreat into the Presence of God.
Meditate on His Word, commit yourself and your circumstances to Him.
Invite the Spirit to use you as a agent of the Kingdom of Heaven wherever life takes you throughout this day.

When you find yourself tensing up, feeling the pressure, breathe a prayer for peace—“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

The word from the Word is my prayer for us as we begin a new week; one focused on Him.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21, NIV)

____________

Wonderful Peace

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm

Peace peace wonderful peace
Coming down from the Father above
Sweep over my spirit forever I pray
In fathomless billows of love

What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace
Buried deep in the heart of my soul
So secure that no power can mine it away
While the years of eternity roll

Ah soul are you here without comfort and rest
Marching down the rough pathway of time
Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark
O accept this sweet peace so sublime

Warren D. Cornell

Public Domain

Yesterday’s Gone!

A Facebook ‘memory’ showed up on my news feed from 8 years ago, pictures of a summer vacation in Florida that did not go so well. Looking at them I felt a flood of regret. I wondered what would I have done differently had I known it was the last summer trip that Bev and I would enjoy before her cancer arrived?  Do you ever slip into that place of wishing for a  ‘do-over’ for past decisions, thinking about words said or perhaps that you wish you would have said?  Are you paralyzed in the present by ‘yesterday?’  

Allowing regret to own us will throw a strong chain around us holding us back today’s opportunities. 

We will certainly miss out on this moment if we are trying to relive yesterday – whether to fix it or to enjoy it again.

We can learn much about looking back from the experience of the Israelis who were called out of Egypt to the Promised Land. In spite of many experiences of both the faithfulness and power of God, they missed the purpose of God because they allowed regret to take control.

They remembered Egypt, but inaccurately. “The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11:4-6, NIV)  God was feeding them everyday, miraculously, with perfect food, manna. They were full and fed but not happy. Why? They forgot the slavery and only remembered the food. The memory of their dinner table was without context. Perhaps there was greater variety in their diet, but their sons and daughter were without hope, enslaved and consigned to poverty! They seemed to forget that important detail of their past lives.

Memory is selective and the regret we feel is probably without context, as well. So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.” (Hebrews 3:7-9, NIV)

We do not have to erase the past. Memory is important. Celebrating those loved, special days, shared accomplishments, and so much more, enriches our lives. A prime example is the celebration of Communion, remembering the Cross, experiencing the mystery of Christ in us. We also learn from the past when we recall history’s lessons. But, yesterday’s gone! Celebrate the wins. Forgive the wrongs. Learn from the mistakes. Then, LIVE today.

The word from the Word is a familiar passage, words of Paul who had done some regrettable things in the past. There were also some high moments of spiritual experience in his life. Note what he teaches us about the PRESENT. “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. (Philippians 3:12-14, NLT)

“We have this moment to hold in our hands,
And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand,
Yesterday’s gone, and tomorrow may never come,
But we have this moment today!” – Wm. Gaither, 1975

Truly Blessed 7 – Persecuted but Glad

Because of my faith in Christ Jesus and the convictions that come from God’s Word, I often feel like a stranger in a foreign land these days. That really should not surprise me because people who truly love God have never ‘fit in’ with the world; not in the past, nor in the present. Preparing this thought today gave me some pause, because I know some will take these words to justify political positions that have little to do with being a disciple of Christ.

This is not about the political party with which you are aligned, nor is it about enjoying favored status by the government.  My words today are not about being weird or offensive and calling that ‘Christian.’  It is much deeper, about loving Jesus in such a way that you are ‘left out’ or marginalized, even by family perhaps, because your life is radically committed to love, life, hope, and healing rather than self, money, comfort, or security.

Jesus said  “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12, NIV)

Many American Christians confuse ‘righteousness’ with noisy opposition to the increasing secularization of the nation. It is true that Biblical values are quickly disappearing from our culture. However, persecution is not the same as losing ‘majority’ status, though many confuse the two. 

Persecution is knowing rejection for His Name’s sake. Being right with God is about loving Him, living for Him, being a person who is surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. That way of life will inevitably put a person at odds with the world in which he lives and may lead to genuine persecution.

Jesus says when that rejection comes, not because we have acted as obnoxious fools but because we are committed to Him above all else, we are in a place to find God’s joy, to know the comfort of living within His Kingdom embrace. Ah, Christian, we cannot, must not, become defensive when we feel attacked, rejected, or marginalized. Jesus says that if such things are coming our way because we love Him, we should ‘rejoice and be glad’  because of the assurance that God keeps the real score and His reward is rich and eternal.

Christian, we must learn to deal with our fear of being persecuted, quietly securing ourselves in the Love of God. Fearful people become defensive, shrill, and angry.  It is time we read, with new understanding, the story of those first Christians recorded in Acts that show us that God keeps His Church alive. They lived in a hostile world, often hated, but they were not angry or complaining.

Because of the new life of the Spirit they were “humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”   They did not fear being overcome by the darkness in which they lived.  They believed that the Light they knew would always dispel the darkness.  Their witness was not to protest the cruelty of Rome or the unfairness of the local magistrate, it was about the grace of Jesus that made those dead in spirit alive to God!

The Truth in which we live is unyielding to cultural pressure, unconcerned about polls or acceptance, but it is never arrogant. As the people of God we must learn to show that same compassion that Jesus showed for the wayward and lost people that He encountered. Did He attack the adulterous woman that ‘religious leaders’ dragged to him for judgment? No! He met her with loving acceptance, offered a new way, and pointed her to God’s redemption so that she could  ‘go and sin no more!’  Did He demean Zacchaeus, the collaborator with Rome, a tax collector, and a cheat? No! He scandalized the ‘religious community’ when He went to his house for dinner and, while there, laid out the message of God’s redeeming grace.  What happened?  The greedy crook was transformed and gave away his ill-gotten wealth!

Our Gospel is about Christ Jesus, about finding life in the Spirit. Jesus did not tell us to go wave banners, form coalitions, or elect people to office to protect our privileges. He told us that we are “the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-17, NIV)

Yes, loving God and His Word, will put us at odds with the world. That has always been the case. We need have no concern about our ‘relevance’ or public acceptance. We must be people of integrity who are committed to living His Word in its entirety.  God’s people will value the gift of life, but not just when it comes to abortion.  They will be resistant to war, to systems that deprive people of their lives through oppression.  God’s people will care deeply about the covenant of marriage and demonstrate their love of God by preserving their own family values rather than noisily attacking same sex marriage.  God’s people will love those of every color, welcoming all into the fellowship of the Lord.

Christians major on the Gospel because they know that real transformation is not a legislation issue, but requires a new heart given by God through His Spirit. We preach Christ, not rules.  He makes us righteous and should others turn on us because we bear His name with humble integrity, we are quietly glad.

Here’s a word from the Word.  “Be happy if you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God will come upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his wonderful name! … So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.” (1 Peter 4:14-16, 19, NLT)  Now there is food for thought.

________________

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Keith Getty | Stuart Townend © 2001 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055

Truly Blessed # 6 – Peacemaking

I so enjoy being invited into a home where I discover a refuge, an emotionally warm place that says ‘Welcome.’ Over the years Bev and I opened our home to many people, some for a day or two, others for longer stays. We often heard others say, “Your home is a place of peace.” Now before you jump to the conclusion that there were no angry words or hard days, I hasten to say that we had our moments, like any couple.  

But, a prime desire we shared was that our home would be welcoming, to us and others, a place to which we loved to go. We worked to create a place of peace, a safe place from which to step out of the hustle of life.  Many things contributed to that peace- loving God and inviting the Spirit to be with us, creating order that kept out chaos, and prioritizing family time were some of those choices.

Serenity does not just happen, it requires effort.
Jesus says that one of the ways we know God’s best, one of the keys of blessings, is to be a ‘peacemaker.’  “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, KJV)  The joy I feel when I help someone find peace with God, through faith in Jesus, is indescribable. Similarly, I rejoice when I have the opportunity to encourage resolution to conflict in a marriage or between people who have had an argument. Truly it is a blessed thing to be a peacemaker.

A key to knowing the joyous blessing of peacemaking is to be at peace!
When we are in turmoil, when our lives are chaotic, when we are not walking in harmony with God, our Father, it is not very likely that we will lead others to peace.  When I am pre-occupied, busy, or stressed, I am not a man of peace, nor do I bring peace to situations. Instead my inner storms tend to raise tension, causing others to turn inward, to become closed, perhaps even defensive. In contrast, when I am full of the peace of God I am able to share that peace with others.

We are reconciled to our Father through Christ Jesus! He is our peace. But, we must receive His peace by faith. ” God … reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, NIV)  We need not feel ‘distance’ or ‘distress’ when approaching the Lord. Our sins are forgiven, our debt is fully paid, so we are at peace with Him. Is your heart and mind at rest, in the peace provided by Christ Jesus? That is basic to peacemaking.

Peacemaking also requires self-forgetfulness
I love the story of Jonathan and David though tragic. Jonathan was King Saul’s son, the crown prince of Israel. But, because of his father’s rebellion, God had removed His blessing from Saul’s household. Saul’s heart was full of chaos and rage.  David, who distinguished himself as a hero in Israel came to the court to play his songs and soothe the king. “David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.” (1 Samuel 16:23)  As time passed, it became clear that David had won the heart of the nation, that he would be her next ruler. The conflict between David and Saul sharpened to such an extent that he attempted to murder David and then pursued him with the army on several occasions, seeking his life.

Jonathan was an amazingly selfless man! Instead of trying to hold onto his place, he worked at making peace. “Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly.” (1 Samuel 19:4, NIV)  The prince put himself at great risk to intervene on David’s behalf and the two became close, sharing a deep love for each other. In time, tragically, Jonathan died in battle along with King Saul, but David never forgot his efforts.

If we want to live Jesus’ words about peacemaking, we will have to forget ourselves, set aside ego, and take up the challenge of the Word. “Be … like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:2-4, NIV)  God does not ask us to think of ourselves as worthless, or to become rugs under the feet of others. He does ask us to trust Him to secure us, to care for us, so that we can seek the best for others even when it comes at a cost to us. This is a basic component of living as a peacemaker!

Human beings, in their natural state, are contentious. Every culture, every society, every family, every church has gone through times of conflict, even war. Hate seems to come to us as naturally as breathing. But, in Christ, we find a new way, a way of love, that seeks peace. Are you a peacemaker?  Do you stir the pot of conflict and chaos OR do you take the way of Jesus?

Here is a word from the Word. “Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say, “If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others.” (1 Peter 3:8-11, NLT)

Lord, help us to receive Your peace and to work to make peace. Amen.
_____________

Joys Are Flowing Like A River (Blessed Quietness)
(a dated presentation of a timeless hymn)

Joys are flowing like a river
Since the Comforter has come
He abides with us forever
Makes the trusting heart His home

Blessed quietness holy quietness
What assurance in my soul
On the stormy sea He speaks peace to me
How the billows cease to roll

Like the rain that falls from heaven
Like the sunlight from the sky
So the Holy Ghost is given
Coming on us from on high

What a wonderful salvation
Where we always see His face
What a perfect habitation
What a quiet resting place

James M. Kirk | Manie Payne Ferguson | W. S. Marshall

©Public Domain

Truly Blessed, Part 5 – Pure

One of life’s blessings, taken for granted by most of us, is access to clean water. We go to a faucet and draw a glass of water to drink without a thought of being sickened. The water that sustains life is available to us in abundance, pure and clean. The city of Flint, Michigan, changed the source of the municipal water supply about 5 years ago. All seemed well until people became sick.  Testing revealed impurity, particularly high levels of lead. The water that was drawn from the Flint River and fed in the older pipes of the city caused corrosion of those pipes and made the water impure, with terrible health consequences for hundreds of people.

I want to take two concepts from Jesus’ teaching for our thoughts today.

The first is His word about finding God’s best, true joy, through purity of heart. He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8, NIV) The word He used in the original text was used in several ways, among them, the refining of precious metal by fire. Pure silver only emerged from the ore when melted in intense heat so that the base metals could be skimmed from the molten mix. The word was also used for the work in the vineyard, when pruning away excess leaves and branches created a vine that would be most fruitful.  Purity of heart is a process that makes us useful to the purposes of God, that allows us to see and desire the work of God. In that state, we are ‘blessed,’ enjoying the best of live in God’s will.

So what is purity of heart?  

It is a true desire for God that replaces lesser desires in us.  When we pursue Him, love Him, worship Him, follow and obey Him- we are made whole, holy, pure. It IS NOT something we can accomplish solely through our own effort.  We come to Christ, acknowledging our impurity, those things that corrupt us – pride, lust, and greed for example – and in our confession we are cleansed by Him. 

We must treasure this gift of grace that John explains this way:   “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 1:8-2:1, NIV)

If we attempt purity on our own, the result will inevitably be hypocrisy and/or legalism, a superficial, self-made ‘purity’ that is really not pure at all, though it make appear to be.  We cannot rid ourselves of the sinful nature by discipline, accountability, or self-denial.

Do those things have a place in our lives? To a degree they may but only after we have been ‘purified’ by Christ’s gift of salvation, made alive to God, the Holy Spirit, with a new heart. Then, we ‘walk out’ our salvation, learning to respond to the Spirit’s leading as He replaced the impurity of the old nature with His life and Light.

Do you struggle with impurity?
Do you find yourself feeling guilty or ashamed because of selfish and sensual habits that you know are not of God?

Know this – you are of incredible worth to Him and He does not throw you away in your failure. IF we confess our sins (own them and speak of them as God does) HE forgives and purifies.

This brings me to the second idea.

A pure heart is a source of refreshing to others which makes us joyful, happy Christians.  Jesus said “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, NIV)  Do you want to become a person who encourages others? Do you want to be a person who makes the world a better place?  Do you want to be life-giving, with healing and hope in your words?  Then, pray for a ‘pure heart.’ 

If our inner person is toxic with hatred, selfishness, racism, bitterness, unforgiveness, or sensuality – we may conceal it but those things will taint the overflow of our heart as surely as the waters of the Flint River poisoned the people of that city!  How I love the words that Jesus shouted, a promise of a new way of life. “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:37-39, NIV)

Yes, we are truly blessed and happy, and bring the gift of joy to others, when we overflow with the Spirit, spilling living water into a world that is dry and dead! But, the source must be pure, not tainted. We can be ‘pure in heart.’

Here is a word from the Word, full of promise. May the Truth capture our mind and heart today. “Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:21-24, NIV)  Christ, our great Priest and sacrifice, makes us pure, a spring of the water of life.

_________________

One Pure And Holy Passion

Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession
Jesus give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after You

To know and follow hard after You
To grow as Your disciple in the truth
This world is empty pale and poor
Compared to knowing You my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after You
Lead me on and I will run after You

Mark Altrogge

© 1988 Sovereign Grace Praise (Admin. by CURB | Word Music Publishing)

Curb Dayspring Music (Admin. by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.)

CCLI License # 810055

Truly Blessed, part 4 – Merciful

It was a busy day and I was keeping on schedule. The music in my car was loud, the road wide open, the day a sunny one.  All in the same moment I saw the police cruiser sitting just off the road, glanced at my speedometer, and realized that I was about to hear those words – “License and registration, please.” 

Sure enough, the patrol car pulled out behind me and after following me for about a mile, the lights came on and I pulled over. I did not need to ask why. I knew my speed was well over the limit for that stretch of country road.  He took my documents, returned to his car.  A few minutes later, he came back, handed me my documents, warned me to ‘slow down,’ and I drove away relieved. 

Strictly speaking, I deserved to be fined, but I found mercy.

In His message about finding the life God desires for us, Jesus included this instruction –Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7, NIV)

Mercy, what is it? Is it just being lenient? Is it compassion? Is it being kindly? When is it appropriate to be merciful and when should we give others what they deserve?  The answer is not simple or obvious. As a parent I waffled between mercy and ‘justice.’ Sometimes I just wanted to overlook the times when my children were disrespectful or disobedient; others I sent them to bed early! Too often what passed for ‘mercy,’ depended on my mood, not on any kind of fairness.

So, how should we understand Jesus’ words to us? When and how should we show mercy to others? He is our model! David says – “The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.” (Psalm 103:8-11, NLT)  

He does not say that God is incapable of bringing us to justice! He says that God’s first desire is to show us love, in the form of mercy and grace.Paul reminds Christian believers of their access to the heart of the Father.  “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV)

IF we got what we had coming, IF God treated us with pure justice, we would perish. Who can claim to have loved Him perfectly, served Him well, or done what He desires without flaw? No one! For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NLT)  My merciful Father pulls me closer to His side when I wander. He convicts me, letting me feel the sting of conscience, but He does not call me worthless or turn me away.  

This is how we find the joyful life in our relationships with others, too. If we are harsh, condemning, demanding, and quick to judge, we will bring hurt and crush the hearts of others. If we are merciful, able to speak honestly to failure and sin but with the desire of restoration and renewal, we heal and give hope.  I know that many will insist that showing mercy encourages irresponsibility. 

In the Christian world there are many voices that will object to ‘cheap grace,’ saying that a merciful heart just lets others off the hook.  Jesus says otherwise. He shows us mercy and says that we will find it – from God and others – in the measure with which we give it!

Are you merciful? Is your first impulse to punish?
Or will you cultivate a heart like the heart of God, full of mercy and compassion?

Here’s a word from the Word. Learn it, love it, live it. I use a contemporary paraphrase today to help hear, in a new way, the familiar instruction of the Lord.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matthew 7:1-5, The Message)

The merciful are truly blessed!

_________________

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness
There is no shadow
Of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever wilt be

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
New mercies I see
All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Summer and winter
And springtime and harvest
Sun moon and stars
In their courses above
Join with all nature
In manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness
Mercy and love

Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thy own dear presence
To cheer and to guide
Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine
With ten thousand beside

Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William Marion Runyan

© Words: Public Domain

Truly Blessed, Part 3, Hungry?

Do you ever get a craving for ‘that’ kind of food? A plate of lasagna, a grilled burger, an ice cream sundae? A few days ago I just wanted a hotdog, not any hotdog, but one from that place on Route 46 just outside of Belvidere, NJ called “Hotdog Johnny’s.” I don’t what they do to a hotdog, but every now and then, I just want a couple, served with mustard and pickle.

Let’s talk about soul hunger. It is as real as your body’s hunger. We hunger to know peace, security, meaning, and purpose. People chase after all manner of things to satisfy that inner hunger;  achievement, recognition, admiration, sex, fun, religious devotion … to name a few.  Nothing and no one will satisfy our soul hunger like Jesus Christ!

The Word says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6, NIV)  Peterson’s contemporary paraphrase of the Bible puts it this way – “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” (Matthew 5:6, The Message)

We know that we were made for more than working that job, building a home, falling in love, having kids. Do you realize that? Have you done ‘life’ and still find yourself restless, feeling unfulfilled? Only God, through Jesus Christ, can satisfy that craving. When we receive Christ, by faith, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, making us alive to God, responsive to His will, able to more fully appreciate the world in which we live for what it is. Spirit-filled believers should love better, hear the music of life with greater appreciation, and live in joyful hope.

The life describes is found in Jesus and sustained as we ‘feed’ on His Presence. “Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NIV)  Jesus met a woman who had chased her cravings and made a mess of life. She was at a well in Samaria, midday, drawing water when she met Him. He saw her need, engaged her in conversation (a scandalous choice in that time), and told her this – “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, NIV)  

As we learn to commune with Him, the refreshing, satisfying ‘water of life’ becomes like an artesian well inside of us. We don’t have to run here or there, chasing some new experience, to find satisfaction. We know peace with God and He satisfies our soul thirst.

Are you spiritually hungry today?  You don’t have to go somewhere, find somebody, or do some great thing. He is here now!  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20, NIV)  We can come into His Presence, meditate in His truth, experience His love – anywhere, anytime.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can only find dinner spiritually in church or at a Bible study. We can; indeed, we must, learn to sit down with Him each day – to pray, to wait, to know, to be satisfied.

Only Jesus makes us truly ‘righteous,’ which means being right with God, something we want to be. When we are reconciled to Him, forgiven, and restored – we know life to the full.  When we share the things that weigh us down with Him in prayer, it eases the burden, and changes us so we can meet the challenges. When we offer up worshipful adoration, it renews our hope and helps us to remember why we exist. When we meditate on the Scripture, we are made wise and filled up with soul food that keeps us strong for the journey.

This life, full of responsibilities and temptation, will keep us from His Table.  Jesus warns of allowing “your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life. ” (Luke 21:34, KJV) In other words, “Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping.” (The Message)

Soul hunger is universal! Just as our bodies require constant nourishment and develop an appetite daily, our spirits hunger, too. In the same way that we can temporarily satisfy our hunger with empty calories, and some do to such an extent that they lose their taste for meat and vegetables, we can fill up our spirits with endless pursuit of pleasure, games, and even more sensual satisfaction until our spiritual appetite for the true Food of Heaven is gone.

Here is the word from the Word. As you read it, may you turn to the only One who can really satisfy your soul.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; hear me,
that your soul may live.
(Isaiah 55:1-3, NIV)
_________________

Satisfied

All my life long I had panted
For a drink from some cool spring
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within

Hallelujah He has found me
The One my soul so long has craved
Jesus satisfies all my longings
Through His blood I now am saved

Feeding on the husks around me
Till my strength was almost gone
Longed my soul for something better
Only still to hunger on

Well of water ever springing
Bread of Life so rich and free
Untold wealth that never faileth
My Redeemer is to me

Through His blood I now am saved
Through His blood I now am saved

Clara Tear Williams – Public Domain

Truly Blessed, Part 2

I ordered a salad for lunch and when I picked it up, it was a small bowl, a few pieces of chicken, on a bed of not so fresh spinach leaves. “$8 for this?” I growled. Almost the moment I said it, I felt some regret. My words, while not unkind, were sharp. An inquiry about the value and quality of the salad was just fine, but not my tone or attitude. I failed, in that moment, to live as a man surrendered to Christ, in the spirit of meekness.

In His words about finding a life in God’s blessings, a life that enjoys the richest of Spirit-filled abundance, Jesus says this: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5, NIV)  Ah, that is challenge for us, isn’t it?  As we think of the word, ‘meek’ almost at the same time, we think weak.  The meek do not inherit the earth, they get run over, used, and discarded – or do they? 

Jesus’ words about meekness have nothing to do with weakness or servility, as we might believe. Jesus invites us to know Him, to be secure in His love, so that we can lower our defenses, open our hearts, and become gentle, tender, and vulnerable. The meek are willing to empathize and identify with the least, to weep with those who are ground down by the powers of this world. 

The model of meekness is Jesus. He did not have to subject Himself to suffering at the hands of cruel people, but He did!  He chose to leave Heaven’s love and perfection for us. He surrendered himself to the Cross, taking our sins on Himself, so that we could be restored to our Creator Father.  Of Jesus the Word says, “he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him!” (Philip 2:8)

He was called the “Lamb of God” a primary reference to the sacrificial lamb of Exodus that gave protection to the faithful from death in the Passover.  Life came at the cost of death! “Lamb of God” also describes His meek nature.   A lamb is virtually defenseless.  It cannot run fast. It has no armor. It does not live in a shell. The only safety for a lamb is with the flock and the care of a shepherd

The Word teaches us that “our attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.” (Philippians 2:5-7, NLT)  

Become one with him. … no longer count on (your) own goodness or ability to obey God’s law, but trust Christ to save …  For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. (then you will) really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.  …. learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that, somehow,  (you) can experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:9-11, NLT) Those of us who live ‘in Christ’ must, like Him, drop our defenses, love those who hate us, submit ourselves to others, as we trust in our Shepherd alone.  And, God empowers us, but not with worldly strength.

Meekness is a work of the Spirit, a choice He enables us to make.  Jesus was “God, in flesh.” He could have crushed His enemies, but He chose to be ‘sheep-ish.’  Will I, will you?  “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.” (Matthew 5:5, NLT)  Will you give as good as you get, demand ‘respect’ you feel you deserve; or will you choose meekness, and in that choice become a person from whom love is spilled?  

Yes, I repent for growling about a salad, and all those times when I fail to have a life and heart fully submitted to the Lamb of God. I want to be gentle enough to be approachable, tender enough to care about those the world throws away, strong in the strength of the Lord, who is my security. In this, I will find life richer. Will you join me in seeking meekness?

Here’s a word from the Word. It is both beautiful and challenging. May the Spirit call us to greater meekness. “Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins!” (Isaiah 53:1-4, NLT)  

“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7, NLT)  “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” (Isaiah 53:11, NLT)

_____________

Gentle Shepherd
(let this song, a prayer, touch you this day)

Gentle Shepherd come and lead us
Gentle Shepherd come and feed us
For we need Your strength from day to day
There’s no other we can turn to
Who can help us face another day

Gentle Shepherd come and lead us
For we need You to help us find our way

Gloria Gaither | William J. Gaither © 1974 William J. Gaither, Inc.