Category Archives: Monday Musings

THIS WEEK – Sacrifice

Sacrifice – The surrender of something valued or desired, especially ones life, for the sake of something regarded as more important or worthy , or in order to avoid a greater loss.

(Oxford Dictionary)



Sacrifice is an unpopular concept in modern American thought. We have been conditioned to think that we must sacrifice nothing, and that sacrifice is a sign of weakness. To the contrary, people who know how to sacrifice are some of the strongest people in the world.

Let me tell you the story of an obscure Japanese Ambassador.

Chiune Sugihara was born on a day of new beginnings January 1, 1900. As a boy, he cherished the dream of becoming the Japanese ambassador to Russia. By the 1930s, he was the ambassador to Lithuania, just a step away from Russia.

One morning, a huge throng of people gathered outside his home. They were Jews who had made their way across treacherous terrain from Poland desperately seeking his help. They wanted Japanese visas which would enable them to flee Eastern Europe and the Gestapo.

Three times Sugihara wired Tokyo for permission to provide the visas; three times he was rejected. He had to choose between the fulfillment of his dream as an ambassador and people’s lives. He chose the latter. He dared to disobey orders. For twenty-eight days he wrote visas by hand, barely sleeping or eating. Recalled to Tokyo, he was still writing visas and shoving them through the train windows into the hands of the refugees who ran alongside. Ultimately, he saved six thousand lives.

Sugihara was not only a courageous Japanese, he was also a committed Christian. He spent his remaining days in Japan, humbly selling light bulbs. When his story was finally told, his son was asked, “How did your father feel about his choice?” The young man replied, “My father’s life was fulfilled. When God needed him to do the right thing, he was available to do it.”

Most of us will not be faced with the level of sacrifice that was thrust upon Ambassador Sugihara, but if we were, I hope that we would all be able to show his level of courage and commitment. The true meaning of sacrifice is to be able to give up something precious for the sake of someone else. We should not spend our lives looking for that great sacrifice but preparing for when it comes.

We may never be called upon to make an ultimate sacrifice, but we need learn to make those small sacrifices that define out lives. A life that is defined by selfishness and greed has no joy. God created us for joy and abundance and the realization that we are all our brothers’ keepers. In order to live life to the fullest, we must be willing to make sacrifices. There are sacrifices to God and to our neighbors.

Sacrifice does not bring scarcity but abundance. The fruits of sacrifice are blessing, joy and fulfillment. As we condition ourselves to be willing and able to sacrifice with this knowledge, we begin to see a new and greater world.



Quotes BannerLove proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers, and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.

~~~Thérèse of Lisieux

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.

~~~Pele

Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice and is never the result of selfishness.

~~~ Napoleon Hill

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

~~~Edmund Burke

Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.

~~~Mitch Albom

As my sufferings mounted, I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.

~~~Martin Luther King Jr.

The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.

~~~Gaylord Nelson

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.

~~~Thomas Merton

The happiness of love is in action; its test is what one is willing to do for others.

~~~Lew Wallace 

Truth often sacrificed for the sake of stability and peace.

~~~Toba Beta



Scripture BannerSo Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

~~~Hebrews 9:28

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

~~~Luke 9:24

To do what is right and just

is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

~~~Proverbs 21:3

Honor the Lord with your wealth,

with the first fruits of all your crops.

~~~Proverbs 3:9

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

~~~Romans 6:13

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

~~~Matthew 20:28

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

~~~John 15:13

And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

~~~Ephesians 5:2

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

And call upon the name of the Lord.

~~~Psalm 116:17

When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.

~~~Leviticus 22:29Prayer BannerLord, Sacrifice is a hard thing. I was born with a nature to keep and accumulate, but you taught me by your own sacrifice the value of giving for others. Let your example be the blueprint and guide for my life. I ask you this day to give me the courage and strength to sacrifice for others as the need arises. May I learn the blessings of living a life of selflessness.

Amen

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This Week-Gift



Gift – The voluntary transference of property without anything in return. A faculty, power, or quality bestowed; a virtue or endowment looked on as an emanation from heaven.

(Oxford Dictionary)



A gift is the voluntary transference of property without anything in return. Each year at Christmas time we begin to search for the right gifts for those who are close to us, but with that definition are we really giving gifts? Christmas is a traditional time of giving, but we must remember that a true gift expects nothing in return. We must understand that the gifts of the Christmas and birthday sort are the acknowledgement of the worth and value of our relationship to the receiver only if we do not expect quid pro quo.

To better understand the concept of gift, we must look to God’s gift to us. He created us and gifted us with this world, and when we rejected it he still loved us and gifted us further. From the time we rejected his gift, he began to try to win us back. He was determined to recreate his creation. When all else had failed he came himself and offered us a path of grace. God is the ultimate example of a gift giver. The quotes and scriptures I have published in this piece examine the many facets of the word.

We are gifted with the ability to do certain things in life. There are those who can make beautiful music or paint beautiful pictures, and others who can write prose and poetry. All these and more are natural gifts which were bestowed upon us by God when he created us. We would do well to be grateful to him for what he has given us and use our talents and gifts for the betterment of his creation.

There are other gifts that are not as easily visible or understood. Paul said to the Corinthian church,”And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” Simply put, God has equipped each one of us with the gift we need to be his partners in the salvation of his creation. This is most “other worldly” to think that God has given you something of himself that resides in you in a special way, and giving it with the free will to exercise it or to neglect it. He did give us a gift without expecting anything in return.

That is our challenge when we give to others. We are to learn to give without expectation of return. Just as we are overwhelmed by the grace of God, it is our hope that as we show our love to others it will be returned. That is the greatest gift of all.





Quotes Banner

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

― Mary Oliver

May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.

― J.R.R. Tolkien

What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.

― Hans Urs von Balthasar

Everyone has a gift for something, even if it is the gift of being a good friend.

― Marian Anderson

A friend is a gift you give yourself.

― Robert Louis Stevenson

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.

― Jim Valvano

Every problem is a gift – without problems we would not grow.

― Anthony Robbins

You can do something extraordinary, and something that a lot of people can’t do. And if you have the opportunity to work on your gifts, it seems like a crime not to. I mean, it’s just weakness to quit because something becomes too hard.

― Morgan Matson

Buy a gift for a dog, and you’ll be amazed at the way it will dance and swerve its tail, but if don’t have anything to offer to it, it won’t even recognize your arrival; such are the attributes of fake friends.

― Michael Bassey Johnson

A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.”

― Jonathan Lockwood Huie

The great art of giving consists in this the gift should cost very little and yet be greatly coveted, so that it may be the more highly appreciated.

― Baltasar Gracian

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, lie detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.

― Ernest Hemingway

Being present to yourself in love and with kindness is the ultimate gift.

― Amy Leigh Mercree





Scripture BannerAs each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

~~~1 Peter 4:10

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

~~~Romans 12:6

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.

~~~1 Corinthians 12:4

For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

~~~2 Timothy 1:6

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

~~~Ephesians 4:7

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~~~Romans 6:23

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

~~~James 1:17

Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.

~~~1 Timothy 4:14

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

~~~John 4:10

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

~~~1 Corinthians 12:28

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

~~~Psalm 127:3

Prayer Banner

Lord, The greatest gift you have given me is yourself. Now I implore you to give me the gift of giving to others in the manner you have given to me. With that gift I can begin to set the world right. Allow me to be your servant of giving, so that I may help spread joy and happiness to the world. In some small measure, help it to become what you intended it to be.

Amen

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This Week-Sorrow



  Definition

Sorrow – The outward expression of grief; lamentation, morning, physical pain or suffering. 

(Oxford Dictionary)





The year 2020 has brought with it a lion size load of sorrows.The sorrow of the pandemic, the sorrow of the social division of our country, the sorrow of the many who have lost jobs or businesses, and of late, the sorrow of an unseasonable hurricane. This small list may be only the tip of the iceberg. We must be reminded that grief and sorrow are an integral part of life. We can never escape sorrow, but we can learn the role of sorrow in our lives.

Sorrow is a time of discovery. During our time of sorrow we become aware of our essential needs of life. Before we experience sorrow , grief or loss we feel that we need every toy, trinket, person or status that we enjoy. The sorrow of loss then allows us to discover who we are without some of the trappings and people that we had so depended upon. This is a discovery that can make us stronger than we were before.

Sorrow is a time of cleansing. As we experience the sorrow of disappointment or loss, we can cleanse our lives of the unnecessary things or relationships that may be harmful to us. As we cleanse ourselves, we come to understand the necessary and cleanse the discretionary. Our lives become less weighty and much more uninhibited.

Sorrow is a time of healing. Undeniably, sorrow is a heavy burden. It comes with loss and disappointment. Our souls cry out in our times of sorrow for healing. This healing can only come through our faith. When we allow our faith to become the healing catalyst, we open the door to a complete healing of the soul. Through this process of healing, we find ourselves newer and better people.

Sorrow is a time of perspective. When sorrow enters our lives we take a fresh inventory and begin to sort out some things. This sorting brings some new perspectives that cry out for change. As we shift into the post-sorrow paradigm, we can become different people. Life takes on new meaning, new energy and new direction. Some things that seemed so important are now very much relegated to a different place in our lives.

Our time of sorrow is a time of learning and growth. No one ever invites sorrow into their lives, but it will come. During our time of sorrow we must look for the purpose of the sorrow. As the Sufi mystic, Rumi, tells us,”It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. “

Be aware that sorrow will be followed by joy.





Quotes BannerWe need never be ashamed of our tears.

― Charles Dickens

Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.

― Elizabeth Gilbert

Those who do not weep, do not see.

― Victor Hugo

Deep in earth my love is lying And I must weep alone.

― Edgar Allan Poe

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

― C.S. Lewis

She was a genius of sadness, immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.

― Jonathan Safran Foer

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

― Kahlil Gibran

Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.

― Charles Dickens

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.

― Rumi

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

― Kahlil Gibran

Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.

― William Faulkner

Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.

― J.R.R. Tolkien





Scripture Banner

Why did I ever come forth from the womb

To look on trouble and sorrow,

So that my days have been spent in shame?

~~~Jeremiah 20:18

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

~~~1 Peter 1:6

For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.

~~~Philippians 2:27

And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him,

~~~Acts 20:37

Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him.

~~~Genesis 50:1

Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.”

~~~Luke 8:52

By the rivers of Babylon,

There we sat down and wept,

When we remembered Zion.

~~~Psalm 137:1

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted

And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

~~~Psalm 34:18

Prayer BannerLord, There are times when I despair in sorrow, but I know that you will allow me to emerge from that sorrow with new purpose and understanding. I ask you now to help me to navigate this time in such a way that I still have hope. I put myself into your arms of mercy and love, and ask for relief that only you can give.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – JOY



Joy – A declaration or assurance by which a person undertakes a commitment to do or refrain from doing a specific act. A divine assurance of future benefit or blessing.

(Oxford Dictionary)



Joy, what a word! Unfortunately, we all too often restrict the word joy to Christmas. The Christmas season is the time that we say ,”joy to the world,” but there are many other times that we should be overflowing with joy. A feeling of joy overtakes us when we see a child walk for the first time, a person experience healing after being ill, or even when we succeed at a difficult task. I believe joy has a supernatural quality about it. The feeling of pure joy cannot be easily explained but must be experienced.

Paul said to the Philippian church,” Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” Joy is not an option for a Christian but should be a state of being. It is with a profound joy that I can say that I am a creation of God and saved sinner by the grace that Jesus attained for us. There are so many things to be joyous about that we really can’t be sad. but we are sometimes.

Our sadness comes because we have neglected the gift of the spirit that we received at our baptism. That Holy Spirit is “God with us,” and he never leaves. Our challenge is to believe that fact from the bottom of our beings. We must not allow ourselves to be dragged into the pit by the evil and negativity of the world. That evil, that mistrust, that negativity is the devil’s way of winning, and we must not allow him to win. The scripture also reminds us,” For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The devil is a “joy thief” and God is an extravagant giver of peace and joy.

This week go out and experience joy to the fullest because you are a child of God who bears the presence of the spirit within you. That is a most unbeatable combination.



Quotes BannerThere are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

—Khalil Gibran

Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

—Mark Twain

Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.

—Helen Keller

Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.

—Mahatma Gandhi

We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.

—Joseph Campbell

If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.

—Carlos Santana

Let your joy be in your journey—not in some distant goal.

—Tim Cook

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.

– Joseph Campbell

When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

– Buddha

Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

– Mother Teresa



Scripture BannerIf you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

~~~John 15:10–12

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.

~~~1 Chronicles 16:26–27

And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

~~~Matthew 2:9–10

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

~~~Psalm 16:11



And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

~~~Luke 1:43–44

May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!”

~~~Psalm 20:4–5

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

~~~Luke 2:10–11

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

~~~Psalm 30:4–5



May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

~~~Romans 15:13

For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

~~~Psalm 63:6–7

Prayer Banner

Lord, I praise you for the gift of inner joy. That is the gift You bestow upon me by the presence of Your spirit within me. You are never far from me, because You are always present in me. Let me tap into that source of joy each day and never neglect or doubt Your presence, because You are a faithful God who never abandons His creation.

Amen

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This Week-Promise

Promise – A declaration or assurance by which a person undertakes a commitment to do or refrain from doing a specific act. A divine assurance of future benefit or blessing. 

(Oxford Dictionary)



Jesus made a promise to you and me when he said, “I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” A promise is comforting in times of need. A promise is something we can rely on when times are bad. A promise is an assurance that we are never totally alone. A promise is a diamond in a pile of coal. A promise is our last best hope.

We take promises so lightly that they begin to become meaningless. Jesus did not. He carried his promise through the humiliation and suffering of the cross. He continues that promise by the presence of the Holy Spirit in each of us. I know that my Savior is with me -no matter what.

Today, I want you to look at the promises that you have made to God, yourself and others. Do we live in the presence of our promises? Are they the guides of our lives? As people of the promise, we must know how to make a promise and how to keep it.

That brings me to the uncomfortable part of my thoughts on the word promise. As sinners, saved by grace, we have and will break promises. God has told us he will be with us always, and that is good to know. He keeps his promises when we have broken our own, but we must not take his assurance lightly. When we break a promise to God or another person there must be a time of penance and reflection, because such a time allows us to own our sin. God forgives us only when we take responsibility.

This forgiveness is only the beginning of being a child of the promise. The promise is his presence and guidance in our lives. God’s guidance makes possible things that are impossible for us. When we have fallen, we need not feel alone but simply down for the moment. He is there and will reconcile us to him and to the world.

Try to take a promise inventory this week. Look at the promises of God and thank him for them. After you have done so, look at the promises you have made to him and what is required of you to be faithful and true. The next step is to look at the promises you have made to others and your consistency in keeping your promises.

A promise is a declaration of commitment to an action.

How are you doing with your promises today?



Quotes Banner

Don’t promise when you’re happy. Don’t reply when you’re angry and don’t decide when you’re sad.

~~~Anonymous

Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future.

~~~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

It is a promise which eminently deserves our observation that all who are united to Christ and acknowledge Him to be Christ and Mediator will remain to the end safe from all danger, for what is said of the body of the Church belongs to each of its members since they are one in Christ.

~~~John Calvin

Promise yourself, no matter how hard it gets, you’ll never give up on your dreams

~~~Anonymous

The future is as bright as the promises of God.

~~~William Carey

I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.

~~~Andrew Jackson

Grow in the root of all grace, which is faith. Believe God’s promises more firmly than ever. Allow your faith to increase in its fullness, firmness, and simplicity.

~~~Charles Spurgeon

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

~~~Robert Frost

Beauty is the promise of happiness.

~~~Edmund Burke

Success is full of promise till one gets it, and then it seems like a nest from which the bird has flown.

~~~Henry Ward Beecher

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, and cries it shall be done.

~~~Charles Wesley

One of the greatest gifts we can give people is the hope that their death is nothing to fear – you know, not that it has no fear in it, but the promise of scripture is that God will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.

~~~Max Lucado

Scripture Banner

See, the Lord God comes with might,

   and his arm rules for him;

his reward is with him,

   and his recompense before him.

~~~Isaiah 40:10

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’

~~~Deuteronomy 31 :8

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’

~~~John 16 :33

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;

   I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

~~~Psalm 32:8

Our steps are made firm by the Lord,

   when he delights in our way;

though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,

   for the Lord holds us by the hand.

~~~Psalm 37:23-24

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

~~~ Matthew 11 :28-29

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

~~~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

 ~~~Jeremiah 29 :11

Prayer Banner

Lord, I know that you keep the promises that you have made to me. Give me the strength and insight to follow through on the promises I have made to you. Let me become a person of promise who keeps the promises I have made to others. I pray for the wisdom to be able to follow your example as I journey through life. I look forward to the day when I will receive the ultimate promise – when I dwell with you. Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – BLESSING



‌Blessing – The bestowal, declaration, or invocation of divine favor and prospering influence; consecration hallowing ; a favor, a present.

(Oxford Dictionary)



I recently came across some writings of John Green who is a social activist in Chicago. His primary mission is to fight human trafficking. In his book, Street Walking with Jesus, he says, “The degree to which I am blessed staggers me… the degree to which I take that for granted shames me.” Green works with some desperately down and out people on the streets, and it struck him how nonchalant he was about the many blessings he had been given in life. Most of us are lot like Green about the blessings we have received. I often wonder why?

We do not see or realize our blessing because we just expect to be blessed. Many of us have had no real deep-seated difficulties to work out in our lives. For many of us, our greatest problems were self-inflicted perhaps because of our ego or selfish pride, still others by our greed. Amid living in that mode we seldom see what has been given to us.

We have been blessed by being given a place to live, a roof over our head. We have been blessed by having family and friends. We have been blessed by having a church where we can worship God and enjoy the company of like-minded people. We have presumed that these things are just natural.

The challenge for today is to reexamine our lives and become people who are searching for the blessings that surround us. It is quite common in the South to have a cashier at any store says these words, “Have a blessed day.” I know for them may be just a habit, but to me it has become an inspirational reminder. The amount I am blessed everyday is proportional, not only to my actions, but to my awareness.

Awareness of blessing is a task for most of us, because we were trained to be problem solvers. We only look for the problems of the day and completely overlook the blessings. It is quite American to just fix things. Sometimes fixing things begins with the awareness of blessing.

Take the time to watch the sunrise and sunset, see the beauty of the flowers that surround you and feel the breeze that crosses your face. These are all natural blessings that God has sent our way. Count your friends , family, church community or any support group that has come your way and thank God for the blessings that you have received through them.

We are surrounded by the blessing of God. Let us relish it!



Quotes BannerReflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

― Charles Dickens

When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.

― C.S. Lewis

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.

― Thomas Paine

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.

― Henry Ward Beecher

When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness… all the good things.

― Maya Angelou

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.

― Thomas Goodwin

Some people come in our life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons.

― Mother Teresa

God bless us, every one!

― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

The degree to which I am blessed staggers me… the degree to which I take that for granted shames me.

― John Green- Street Walking with Jesus

If [God] send me no husband, for the which blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening .

― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing



Scripture BannerBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

~~ Ephesians 1:3-4

all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God:

~~Deuteronomy 28:2

The Lord will make you the head, and not the tail; you shall be only at the top, and not at the bottom—if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today, by diligently observing them,

~~Deuteronomy 28:13

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

~~Galatians 5:22-23

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

~~Jeremiah 29:11

Those who are attentive to a matter will prosper,

   and happy are those who trust in the Lord.

~~Proverbs 16:20

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

~~2 Peter 1:3

Happy are those whose way is blameless,

   who walk in the law of the Lord.

Happy are those who keep his decrees,

   who seek him with their whole heart,

who also do no wrong,

   but walk in his ways

~~Psalm 119:1-3

May those who sow in tears

   reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping,

   bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy,

   carrying their sheaves.

~~Psalm 126:5-6

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

~~2 Corinthians 9:8

Prayer BannerLord, Give me the insight to recognize the blessings that you have given to me this day. Allow me to see that you have so much more in store for me than I can ever imagine. Guide me to ask for the blessings that you want to give to me. Grant me the courage to believe that you are truly a God of love and grace.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – LISTEN

Listen – Give attention with the ear to some sound or utterance or to hear attentively and understand a person speaking; make an effort to hear something.
(Oxford Dictionary)





It is hard for me to imagine what the world would be like if we would truly listen to one another. Often the concept about the word listen is one we were taught as children. It is,” Listen to me. That means do what I tell you, because I am always right. I believe that Steven Covey has that concept in mind when he said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Because of our conditioning we are always ready to defend ourselves, because if we really listened we might change. All of us have some resentment bottled up on the inside that roots back to those “listen” days.

Let us capture the true meaning of “listen” which will allow us to hear the words of those we encounter. The art of listening is not obedience but becoming fully aware of the world around us. We then see people as they really are and understand their feelings and natures. We hear the cry of the needy and learn from the wise. Our lives are deeply enriched when we begin to listen.

Just imagine what would happened if you listened to every word that was uttered to you. Suddenly you would discover the heart of the people that you interact with daily. They would become much more alive to you. Their stories would be a part of your story, and I would expect that your story would become a part of theirs. To listen is the giving of the heart. Hearing the words of others is the greatest gift that you have to give.

How do you learn to listen? I believe it begins when we fully believe that everyone is created in the image of God. After we climb that hill, we are ready to hear with the ears of our hearts the messages of their hearts that they are trying to relate to the world. In a less mystical way, I would suggest three things. The first is eye contact. Look at the person that is speaking to you in the eye. The second is to always give a slight pause or take a breath before you reply to the other person. This pause will give you time to digest what was said and make that person feel you are listening. The third is to try to feel what the speaker is feeling. That is called empathy, and for some people this is very difficult. I believe that, even if you are not naturally empathetic, it is a skill you can develop if you take time to truly listen to those that come your way.


Quotes BannerWhen people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.

― Ernest Hemingway

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

― Stephen R. Covey

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

― Leo Buscaglia

If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.

― Brené Brown

We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.

― Zeno of Citium

Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.

― Bernard M. Baruch

It takes a great man to be a good listener.

― Calvin Coolidge

There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.

― G. K. Chesterton

You’re short on ears and long on mouth.

― John Wayne

The word ‘listen’ contains the same letters as the word ‘silent’.

― Alfred Brendel

You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.

― M. Scott Peck



Scripture BannerThe way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

~~~Proverbs 12:15 ESV

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

~~~Proverbs 18:13 ESV

Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

~~~Proverbs 19:27 ESV

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

~~~Proverbs 18:2 ESV

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;

~~~Proverbs 2:2 ESV

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

~~~Proverbs 17:28 ESV

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; …

~~~Proverbs 5:1-23 ESV

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

~~~Proverbs 21:23 ESV

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

~~~Proverbs 19:20 ESV

Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

~~~Proverbs 25:12 ESV

Prayer BannerLord, Give me listening ears that hear what you are trying to tell me. Give me listening ears when you send your messengers my way. Give me listening ears when someone in need comes to me. Give me listening ears even when I want to be the center of attention. I know that the more I listen, the more I grow.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – Home



Home – The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household; affect place of residence, representing the center of family life . 

(Oxford Dictionary)



It is said that home is where the heart is, but what is home? The philosopher, Kahlil Gibran, said, “Let your home be your mast and not your anchor.” He captured the true purpose of home, because home is not a place but a guiding force. In baseball the player begins at home and challenge the of running the bases is over, he returns home and is safe. That is where all of our lives begin. They begin with a source, a home, a place, an attitude that is of God’s making. We wander to many places in our lives but we, like the baseball player, are always searching and seeking to return home.

Home is where are comfortable and welcomed. Our home is where we find love and security. Home is a place that we can be ourselves. Home offers us a time when we can be weak and know that others will give us support and safety. Our homes are the foundations of our lives. The scripture says, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Just as Jesus is the cornerstone of our spiritual lives, so our home is the cornerstone of our well being as we journey through life. Without a home we are rudderless and meandering from place to place.

God built into us a natural instinct to set a course to return home when we are lost and lonely. I read recently of the story of Bobby the Wonder Dog who found his way home in a rather miraculous way. Bobbie the Wonder Dog was a dog who covered 2,551 miles on his own to return home to Silverton, Oregon, after he was lost while his owners were visiting family in Wolcott, Indiana. Bobby set his course toward home and succeeded, and so can you.

Are you feeling lonely or lost? Has the life you have found been less than what it should be? If so, it is time to go home. Some people do not have a place that they can really call home, but God gives us a way to make one. Joshua , a humble disciple of Yahweh, made a simple decision when he said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve –but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” That is the way we can make a home. A home is a place where the principles of God are the cornerstone of life. A home does not have to be a place of origin, but rather it is a place of being.

The reason many people never find a home is because they never build one. They perhaps have run away from the one they once had and are looking to build one that is absent of the cornerstone. A home will never be made in a selfish and conceded way but must be a place of sharing and love.

God wants us all to have a home and he is ready to help us build it.

Quotes Banner

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

― Robert Frost

The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

― Maya Angelou

How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

― William C. Faulkner

Home is the nicest word there is.

― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Home is where somebody notices when you are no longer there.

― Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project

If Light Is In Your Heart

You Will Find Your Way Home.

― Rumi

Man wanted a home, a place for warmth, or comfort, first of physical warmth, then the warmth of the affections.

― Henry David Thoreau

You haven’t really been anywhere until you’ve got back home.”

― Terry Pratchett

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.

― Confucius

Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.

― Billy Graham

One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.

― Margaret Mead



Scripture BannerFor every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

~~~Hebrews 3:4

My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,

   in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.

~~~Isaiah 32:18

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’

~~~Joshua 24:15

He knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.

~~~Matthew 12:25

The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,

   but he blesses the abode of the righteous.

~~~Proverbs 3:33

Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue for ever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed for ever.’

~~~2Samuel 7:29

Unless the Lord builds the house,

   those who build it labour in vain.

Unless the Lord guards the city,

   the guard keeps watch in vain.

~~~Psalm 127:1

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,

   who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress;

   my God, in whom I trust.’

~~~Psalm 91: 1-2

By wisdom a house is built,

   and by understanding it is established;

by knowledge the rooms are filled

   with all precious and pleasant riches.

~~~Proverbs 24:3-4

Prayer BannerLord, I know that you have given me this house. May you now bestow upon me the grace to make it a home – home where there is rest and safety, a home where there is love and security, a home that offers hospitality to those in need and comfort to the troubled. Make this house into that home.

Amen

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This Week–INSPIRATION



Inspiration – The prompting of the mind to exalted thoughts, to creative activity, also , a quality of a thing that shows creative activity.

(Oxford Dictionary)





Inspiration is the beginning of all the work that we do. Without inspiration we will wander aimlessly through life and never fulfill the intent of God. He created us with meaning and purpose. We all have trouble finding that meaning and purpose, but when we do we are motivated beyond our imagination. Let me share a story that I adapted from sermons.com.

During World War II, Winston Churchill as Prime Minister was traveling around his country. He was trying to motivate and inspire his fellow citizens. He was willing to go almost anywhere to encourage people in the war effort. He would, of course, always visit the troops. But he also visited those who worked on the farms and in the factories. He knew that the odds against them were great, and that he must continue to help keep the morale high.

There was one group he had not yet seen. It was the coal miners. Someone asked him if he would be willing to see these men, who spent most of their time below the ground in such dangerous conditions. One man told Churchill that the miners did not feel that they were doing very much in the war effort. He said that no one ever gave them any credit for the work that they did. Would he visit them, he asked. The Prime Minister told the man that he would be pleased to visit these men.

When Churchill visited the coal miners they were absolutely amazed that he was there. They could not believe that he would come to see them. All they could do was to stare with their dirty faces at the man who would lead Britain to victory. His words will never be forgotten by those who heard him on that day. “We will be victorious!” he said. “We will preserve our freedom. And years from now when our freedom is secure and peace reigns, your children and your children’s children will come and they will say to you, ‘What did you do to win our freedom in that great war?’ And one will say, ‘I marched with the Eighth Army!’ Someone else will proudly say, ‘I manned a submarine.’ And another will say, ‘I guided the ships that moved the troops and the supplies.’ And still another will say, ‘I doctored the wounds!’ ” The men sat with rapt attention wondering what he might say about them. “They will come to you,” he shouted, “and you will say with equal right and equal pride, ‘I cut the coal! I cut the coal that fueled the ships that moved the supplies! That’s what I did. I cut the coal!”

What are you cutting in your life?

Quotes Banner

Inspirations never go in for long engagements; they demand immediate marriage to action.

~~~Brendan Francis

Inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic energy striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly and all the time.

~~~Brenda Ueland

Families are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.

~~~Brad Henry

Inspiration does not come like a blot, nor is it kinetic energy striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly all the time.

~~~Brenda Euland

We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory.

~~~Marcus Tullius Cicero

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.

~~~Bertrand Russell

The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.

~~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Confidence imparts a wonderful inspiration to its possessor.

~~~John Milton

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

~~~John Quincy Adams

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.

~~~Plato

Selfishness is one of the qualities apt to inspire love.

~~~Nathaniel Hawthorne





Scripture Banner

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

~~~ Isaiah 40:31

Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’

~~~Mark 10:27

But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’

~~~Matthew 19:26

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that in the LORD your labor is not in vain.

~~~1 Corinthians 15:58

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

~~~Proverbs 3:3-6

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

~~~1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Give thanks to the LORD for He is good: His love endures forever.

~~~Psalm 107:1

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~~~Jeremiah 29:11

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

~~~Psalm 34:8

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

~~~Romans 8:2Prayer Banner

Lord, Allow me to receive inspiration from the scripture I read, the people I meet, the life I experience and to know that it is all from you. For in this knowing, I can live in a way that spreads your wisdom and goodness to a world that so desperately needs it. Let this and every day be a day of divine inspiration.

Amen

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THIS WEEK -Compassion

CompassionThe participation in another’s suffering; fellow-feeling, sympathy and pity inclining one to show mercy or give aid.

(Oxford Dictionary and Bible)





Monk and mystic Thomas Merton said, “Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.” Compassion is the ability to show mercy, forgiveness, make peace and continue to live life amid the confusion that comes in this world. Without the attribute of compassion, sickness and disease would run rampant and war would never cease. As God shows his compassion to us and we share it with others, our lives are forever changed and our world becomes a better place. It would be difficult for me to see our existence without compassion.

Compassion is the life-giving force that God has planted in us. It gives life when we touch the broken hearted with the love of God and man. Compassion allows us to understand in ways that only God could give to us. Compassion is the God force in us that makes us the salt and light of the world. Without compassion the world is a dark and tasteless void.

Compassion is the desire to see others rise up out of despair. God saw us through a lens of compassion. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Sheep without are shepherd are confused, lost and in despair. Jesus saw this and had compassion on all of us. He made things right for us, and we can help others by sharing in the heart of compassion that God bestowed upon us.

Compassion is a life-giving force that we possess. When God touched us and gave us the gift of His Spirit, we were forever changed. We now have understanding and insight that eluded us in past times. We have knowledge that can only comes to those who trust in God. This life-giving force gives us the responsibility and the ability to show compassion to those around us. Compassion is the visceral participation in and the alleviation of the suffering of another. It is a life-giving part of God that he has shared with us through grace.

Let us use this, our time, to seek out and be compassionate to one another. If we live such a life, we will be blessed internally and externally. Let us appropriate compassion in our home, work and world that God has entrusted to us as caretakers.

Quotes BannerA kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.

~~ Steve Maraboli

Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.

~~Dalai Lama

There is a nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness.

~~John Connolly

Compassion is about giving all the love that you’ve got.

~~Cheryl Strayed

If you want to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

~~Dalai Lama

Until you have real compassion, you can not recognize love.

~~Bob Thurman

Look for a way to lift someone up. And if that’s all you do, that’s enough.

~~Elizabeth Lesser

Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth, and your heart for love.

~~Anonymous

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

~~ Dalai Lama

Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.

~~~ Amish Proverb

Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.

~~ Thomas Merton





Scripture BannerBe kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

~~~Ephesians 4:32

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

   for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

   great is your faithfulness.

~~~Lamentations 3:22-23

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

~~~1 Peter 3:8

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

~~~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

~~~Colossians 3:12

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

~~~Zechariah 7:9-10

As a father has compassion on his children,

   so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

~~~Psalm 103:13

“I will strengthen Judah

   and save the tribes of Joseph.

I will restore them

   because I have compassion on them.

They will be as though

   I had not rejected them,

for I am the Lord their God

   and I will answer them.

~~~ Zechariah 10:6

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;

   therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.

For the Lord is a God of justice.

   Blessed are all who wait for him!

~~~Isaiah 30:18

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

~~~ 1 John 3:17

Prayer BannerLord, One of the most needed things in our world today is compassion. We all need to receive it and know how to give it. We know that you are a God of great compassion and mercy and ask that you will instill in us the qualities that you possess. A very small amount of compassion can make great things happen. Please bestow upon me this gift of being able to show compassion to all who are in need.

Amen

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