Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Listen


 

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

This morning I was thinking about how little people see each other.  I don’t mean that we aren’t together. It’s more of a level of observation thing.  There are people in our lives who cross our paths every single day.  Do we truly see them? Think of the person closest to you, someone you see every day. What is that person wearing today? What did he/she wear yesterday?

          I will never forget picking my oldest son up from Junior High, many, many years ago.  At that time I worked in an elementary school and so, left the house before he did. Getting to his school that afternoon I realized that I had no idea what he was wearing and in the sea of faces pouring from the building that would have been very helpful information.  The longer it took him to come out to the car, the greater the need to know grew. What if he didn’t come out and I was asked what he was wearing? I had no idea but I was fairly certain that “red sweat pants and a big t-shirt” aka pajamas, was not the correct answer. 

          I know what my husband is wearing today even though it isn’t his typical work outfit only because I commented on the shirt.  Small details that we don’t notice can make a huge difference in our relationships. So, I’ll ask again. Do you really see the people closest to you?

          How about the Holy Spirit? Do you see Him? Hear Him? While we may not be looking for a physical being, we should be able to see, feel and hear God.

          I was humbled about eight years ago when my granddaughter Faith shared something God had spoken to her. I asked if God spoke to her often.  She said in her sweet little six year old way, “Gram-gram, God talks to everyone all the time. Adults just don’t listen.”  Ouch!

          Then just last week my granddaughter Margaret said that God tells her what’s important and what isn’t. In her amazing five year old wisdom she said, “If God says it’s not aportant, I stop thinking about it.” Wow! Good for you Margaret!

          I asked her if she could hear God’s voice and she told me no. She said that he talks to her, “in her heart.”  She went on to say that He talks to her the same way He talks to everyone else. “Can’t you hear Him Grammy?”  Obviously not well enough angel girl and that is on me.

          It’s on you too.  Our relationship with God should be the most important or “aportant” one we have. No, I will never be able to tell you what He’s wearing but I should know what He wants me to say, do or think about.

My girls got it right. We need to slow down, listen and be more observant. We should never take that relationship for granted.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Spread Grace


 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Matthew 5:43-44

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Colossians 4:6

Grace and peace be ours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2

 

There’s a lot of talk, too much talk, right now in the world about germs and viruses and the spread of both. This morning I am expecting to see five of my grandchildren. As I was praying to be a blessing to them today a thought occurred to me, it’s a little silly but hear me out.

          When some of the children are here it’s as if I’ve grown a third leg.  I can easily stop and have some little body slam into me, they stay that close. Often when I’m washing dishes or washing my hands, there’s a little one at my elbow.  To be silly with them, I sprinkle a little water their way.  Most of them love it, all of them anticipate it.

          Thinking of that and seeing the image of one of my granddaughters right at my side I said a prayer.

          “Lord, please, let me sprinkle my grandchildren today, not with water but with Your grace. Help me, in my words and actions, to show them a glimpse of You. Amen.”

          What if we approached everyone that way? Certainly I want to sprinkle, splash, douse my grandchildren in grace but what about their parents? My own children, all adults now, can get under my skin quite easily.  I don’t feel terribly gracious toward them in those moments. I don’t feel grace toward them but what if I sprinkled it anyway?

          Further, what if I sprinkle grace toward the irritating co-worker or the rude clerk at the store or…. Everyone?

          The negative thought or comment is too often easy to find in any interaction, at home, at work and in our social events. I don’t want to bring the negative. I also don’t want to come empty handed. Saying or doing nothing is often just as bad as saying or doing something harmful.

          After saying the prayer above I realized that is how God wants me and most likely you, to live. We need to walk around our world sprinkling grace, especially on the most graceless people we see.

          As far as my grandchildren go, it’s twofold. They will receive grace and love from me and hopefully learn from my example as I am learning from Jesus, the personification of love and grace.

 

 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Think About Such Things


 

But he was pierced for our transgression, he was crushed for our iniquities: the punishment that brought peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Jesus is perfect. He was perfect even when he walked the streets of this imperfect world. He is/was perfect and also crushed and killed because of sin. Can you make that make sense?

          I bake. I love to bake! I especially love it when one of my grandchildren asks me for something specific. When their birthdays come around, actually weeks or even months before, I get the request.  Through the years and all the grandbabies, I’ve done cakes based on movies, animals, toys, pirates, books and whatever else they can imagine and ask. Sometimes along with the big cake I make cookies or cupcakes to match the theme. When I do there always seems to be one that just doesn’t look right (at least one) and that one, that photo worthy one that is just perfect. Perfect!

          Now I have things that look great but how do they taste? Bring in the always willing taste testers. Do I give them the one(s) that may not look so great or the one that is perfect? Silly question, right? I want that perfect one on display when party time comes.

          Read the verse above again. He, Jesus, was pierced and crushed. He was perfect. We are not perfect, except in His sight and that of His (our) Father. Jesus walked this earth and healed people, comforted people, brought light to the darkness and through it all did not commit a single sin.

          I can’t really speak for you, but I know that I have never healed anyone. (Don’t tell my grandchildren. They believe my kisses can heal their booboos.) While I have brought peace to certain situations and comfort to some people, I can guarantee that I have also caused angst and hurt innocent bystanders. I like to think that I can bring light into darkness but I’m not the Light. So, I ask this. Does it make sense that perfect Jesus was betrayed, pierced and crushed and I now get to live under His protection?

          If I need healing, comfort, provision or love, I ask my Father, in Jesus name. Why? Jesus paid the price for me. The perfect creation destroyed to protect the hot mess. How upside down is that?

          Philippians 4:8 says, Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things.

          What is truer, more noble, better, purer, lovelier, more admirable or excellent or more worthy of praise than the knowledge that the perfect One suffered, died and was buried so that you, not so perfect, could receive grace, mercy and healing?  

 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Being Liked


 

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Several years ago my kids listened to a song that included the lyric, “we all want to be loved.”  In scripture we read over and over again about God’s love for us. As our faith grows knowledge of that love becomes a constant in our lives. God loves me. We wake up and we’re breathing. We get out of bed and begin our day with ample amounts of food, clothing, water and air and we know God loves us.  Even on the days when we feel ill or sad, somewhere in our heart we can grasp the idea, the hope of God’s love. But…. Does God like me? Does He like you? Yes! Yes, He does.

          Think for a moment of that difficult person in your life, parent, child, spouse, sibling, whoever he or she may be, think of that person.  You love them, some days you love them simply based on whatever relationship status they hold in your life. “I have to love her she’s my _____.”  But do you like her? Maybe. Maybe not.  Again, based on the relationship, blood or marriage, you’re compelled to show love to that person whether you feel it or not. You’re called to be there for her regardless of your emotions in the moment. You love your person, but you don’t necessarily like her or him.

          God is not like that.  In his book “Ruthless Trust” Brennan Manning tells the story of a man celebrating his eightieth birthday. When asked by his nephew why he was always happy he responded, “The Father is very fond of me.”  Manning goes on to say that our lives would be much fuller if in fact we could grasp the idea that God not only loves us but actually likes us.

          We know what it is to love and be loved. Love is wonderful but in some ways being liked and accepted is even better. Doesn’t it make you smile; make your heart expand, to know that God, the God of the universe, likes you?

 

“I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:15b-16