Monthly Archives: August 2018

A Simple Guide for Behavior

Simplify in word collage

1-5 “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.

“Don’t be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege.

7-11 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

12 “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.

Being and Doing

13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

15-20 “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.

21-23 “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

26-27 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

28-29 When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

Matthew 7 The Message (MSG)

AMEN!

 

God’s Grace is Enough

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:  I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” Genesis 9:12-17

It was late afternoon, and I struggled to understand where life was taking me. I was confused – thinking that God’s plan was taking me one way but now doubting that I had heard correctly. I have come to learn that this kind of self-awareness of His plan is a warning – a warning to slow down and “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.

It is a time to remember God’s sovereignty – to remember His promises – to remember to turn to the one who gives life so abundantly. It is a time to be quiet – a time not to speak or complain or analyze. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. Christ-awareness always eliminates self-awareness and produces peace.

And then it happened. A stunning double rainbow – a symbol of God’s covenant with the earth and with me. It spoke of His control over His creation – of the link between heaven and earth – of His promise to overcome the storms with a beautiful display of His Grace. It pointed me to Him – reminding me to trust in His plans for me – For I know the plans I have for you – plans to prosper you and not harm you. – plans to give you hope and a future.  Jer 27:19.

Powerfully Prepared to Serve

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 NIV

Or said another way:

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.

 But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.

John goes on to say:

All who indulge in a sinful life are dangerously lawless, for sin is a major disruption of God’s order. Surely you know that Christ showed up in order to get rid of sin. There is no sin in him, and sin is not part of his program. No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin. None of those who do practice sin have taken a good look at Christ. They’ve got him all backward.

So, my dear children, don’t let anyone divert you from the truth. It’s the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah. Those who make a practice of sin are straight from the Devil, the pioneer in the practice of sin. The Son of God entered the scene to abolish the Devil’s ways.

People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God, nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister. A simple test.

For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other.

We must not be like Cain, who joined the Evil One and then killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because he was deep in the practice of evil, while the acts of his brother were righteous. So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time.

The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together.

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.         1 John 3 The Message

Since Jesus “showed up” to get rid of sin and did indeed conquer it, we are saved from it. That is the freedom we have. We are free to love unconditionally – no strings attached! No fear! No worry! Just existing to love God and others.   It is a simple life goal and yet it becomes complicated if we succumb to our human tendencies and accept the temptation to turn from God.

For although satan has lost the war, he is alive and roaming about the earth, tempting us to turn away from God. That is his sole purpose – to tempt us to separate ourselves from God. But do not fear, for we have the Holy Spirit – a gift from Jesus – to combat the temptations. The same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us and is quite capable – to steer us clear of acting upon the temptations of life.

Therefore, go forth with confidence that you are fully empowered to be God’s servant today – free of fear and worry – ready to love God and love others – guided by the powerful Holy Spirit!

Madeleine L’Engle

Does Wrinkle in Time ring a bell? Some of you may have seen the movie but you need to read the book by Madeleine L’Engle.  It is part of a triology that includes Wind at the Door and Swiftly Turning Planet.

Madeleine has long been a favorite of children, but her books for children, are just as wonderful for adults!  Madeleine was faithful follower of Jesus and able to put that into her characters much as CS Lewis did in his Chronicles of Narnia.  It is there in a non-obvious way, but in a way that has you think and re-think.  Born in 1918 and died in 2007,  she was married to a soap opera star, Hugh Franklin and they lived in Conneticut.  She was also writer in residence at St John the Divine in New York City.  Among her friends was Lucy Shaw, also a great Christian writer.

She not only wrote for children but also has for adults–some books on writing itself.  It may interest you to know that Wrinkle in Time was rejected more than 30 times before it was published.  (Never give up on a gift that God has given you and wants to use!)

She also wrote  a series called “Crosswick Journals”:

Irrational Season–that goes through the seasons of the church year

Two-part Invention–about her marriage

A Circle of Quiet–her attempt to find balance in her career and family life

Summer of Great Grandmother–looks at the care of our parents and the bonds between mother and daughter.

I have not found a book of hers that I didn’t like. Have fun!

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