When we become part of a group we often want to show people how important we are. We want to be important in everyone’s eyes. We want to be special and accepted. So we set out to do things that make us stand out. The part we forget is it is not those things that make other people see us. It is our caring and our sharing of ourselves and our possessions and our love that set us apart. We gain the respect and admiration of others by how we show our caring.
We have been called to love our neighbor as ourselves and it is in this way that we are granted affection and love in return.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
8 So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
[ The Call of Matthew ] As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
We have heard this verse many time. So much that it might just wash over us. What does Jesus mean? In this case it meant leaving everything behind and just following Jesus without another thought.
It is so easy for us to sit in our churches each Sunday and say that we are following Jesus….but are we really? Do we give up things to follow him? Do we help when others need help? (not just our friends and neighbors but the unlovely also?)
Do we offer to fix things for widows and those who are alone and can’t do it themselves?
Do we offer to clean the house of a shut-in who can’t move around much?
Are we willing to go get the meds needed for a single mom who can’t leave her children?
Will we make dinner for someone who has spent their money on medicine and has no food?
Will we even seek out these needs in our community?
If not we are not following Jesus.
Doubt can be a scary word. As children we are taught that some things are just true and we accept that. As we grow older we begin to realize that not everything we were taught is true. Our exposure to the world makes us begin asking questions. Some of the truths that held us up are taken away. We find ourselves in a dark place.
Many of us believe that doubt is the opposite of faith but I don’t think that. I think the opposite of faith is disbelief. Doubt is not sinful. It is a nudge to push us forward. It makes us question and by doing so…grow. It makes us search for God and look in places we have not explored.
Don’t be afraid of doubt. Embrace it and look deeper, listen more, learn and grow.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
and was saved from every trouble.
I don’t know about you but I tend to worry. I know that I should turn my worries over to the Lord and let them go but I am not good at it. I will turn it over and then pick it back up again. I do this over and over. How ridiculous this is!
God will hear us when we cry to him. He will answer. Don’t keep picking things back up. Worry is a waste.
Religion tends to prefer and protect the status quo or the supposedly wonderful past, yet what we now see is that religion often simply preserves its own power and privilege. God does not need our protecting. We often worship old things as substitutes for eternal things.
A study that I attended was about how people view God. Each of us has our own view and to define it can be difficult. There are some people for who God is part of something visual. They may feel closer to God in the church they have attended all their lives. The only difficulty comes when something in that building is changed. The connection can be shaken. That is why changing something we have associated with our faith all our lives can be so distressing.
We can’t stay connected to the past. We have to live in the present. The words of the service may change, the building may change but our faith must stay connected to Jesus Christ himself.
We have Halloween coming our way. It is sad that all religious connection has been lost. People only think of parties with costumes and children trick or treating. Even the churches which offer alternative options don’t usually talk about the origin of the holiday. It is fine to have fun with the day but we should not forget the connections with our faith. Here is the history of that day from History.com.
Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2019 occurs on Thursday, October 31. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating sweet treats.
We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. …
We are all human. We make mistakes. Not one of us is perfect. Always be ready to ask forgiveness for the things we do wrong and know that Christ has died to grant us forgiveness.
In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was a prayer. Sometimes my prayer was ‘Help me.’ Sometimes a prayer was ‘Thank you.’ What I’ve discovered is that intimate connection and communication with my creator will always get me through because I know my support, my help, is just a prayer away.
A friend of mine always said that the person that you know best is the one you spend the most time with. It is true. This should encourage us to spend time with God. God already knows us but we have much to learn.
Speak to God, pray to God, take him along every day.
Philippians 4:8 [Full Chapter]
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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 do we spend our time thinking about? I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the time it does not fit the list above. Too often we are concerned about what someone else has done. We are quick to point out flaws in others. We can also concentrate on all the negative things instead of the positive.
Consider the good things. Remember the gifts that we have been given by God and praise him!