Sometimes I wonder about how ideas about Jesus and his way are interpreted. While my youngest child was in elementary school and got sick the teacher told her to ask herself what she had done wrong to bring on the illness. When I picked her up from school and she told me about this we went back to discuss this with the teacher and our minister. (the school was renting a building from our church)
That kind of thinking pictures a stern God who is just waiting to punish us for our sins. I am sorry that some people see God this way. Instead I see a loving God who wants the best for us. This God helps us to find our way through the bad things in life and stands with us when we struggle. I could not survive if I did not have God with each and every day.
Prayer: God, I know that you are with me and will hold my hand through all of my fears. You give me strength when I have none. Continue to give me your loving presence each and every day. AMEN
3 …………… we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Reading this morning this jumped out at me. I am so stressed but rely on God to keep me in his care. I wouldn’t have managed this long without him. This verse reminds me that all this is not wasted but will result in the glory of God. I have always believed that everything that we go through readies us to use our experiences to help others. My knowledge of how to weather the storm can be passed on. And what I pass on is filled with God’s love as that is what brings me through.
I lean on the hope that this too will pass and there will be better times in the future. I have been so supported by my family that I can never repay the love and caring shown to me. Their love has been added to God’s to uphold me. It is what has sustained me.
My husband also knew what must be done in spite of his desire to stay in our home. I think he knew what was coming and wanted me safe and secure. His love has also given me strength. I miss him but know that he helped me to do what was best. His love supported me for almost 59 years and will continue to do so. I know that I was and am loved.
Lately I have been thinking about the word grace. It is one we don’t often talk about but it is an important word.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
So what is this grace? It is an example of God’s love for us. By grace he accepts us as the flawed human beings that we are. He understands how we can go astray and be unkind toward one another. He understands the hatred and the violence. He understands the discrimination toward others not like us.
God gets it all. But there is that word “grace.” The word that holds his love and understanding of all that we do. With faith we have been saved from ourselves.
Religion is a way of walking, not a way of talking. Dean William R. Inge
Too often we spend a lot of time talking about our faith. We tend to forget that talking is only the very smallest part of what we are to do as Christians. It’s what we do when we walk out of the door of the church that matters. People know us by our actions.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
There are so many divisions that separate people. We will join a cause…one that seems just to us and forget that we are to love the people on the other side. Injustice calls us to take sides but we can’t forget that on the other side are people that Jesus accepted and loved.
With so many divisions, many of them violent, it is not only hard to not take sides but also to see the other side as being human like us.
Jesus has mad it clear that there is no other choice. He does not ask us to forget about injustice. He calls for us to end violence and hatred but at the same time forgive and love those who we would easily chose to hate.
When I think too much of myself, Turn my thoughts toward someone else. Anonymous, twentieth century Japan
I have been using prayers from the book Woman Prayers by Mary Ford-Grabowsky. There are some wonderful prayers in this book. This one jumped out at me today. I have so often been concentrated on myself and my problems and not thought enough about others. It is an easy trap to fall into.
Turning our thoughts to others will add perspective to our own life. Look around you at those whose needs are great. See those whose pain may be hidden. See those who are afraid to ask for help.
See others and take the focus from yourself.
I give you a new commandment, that you loveoneanother. Just as I have loved you, you also should loveoneanother. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for oneanother.”
This time out of time has really been a test. We have all learned things. Some we never wanted to know and some that moved us forward on our journey with God. God didn’t bring this virus but we have all moved through it in whatever way we could. It has been harder for some than others. Loved ones have been lost. Many are grieving. But through it all God has been present. His loving arms have reached out to us. His peace has been offered. All we had to do was to cling on to him.
As this state of the crisis moves on we will experience new things both good and bad. God wants us to have learned from this. Our life is his. His love holds us always.
I was blessed with a mother, a special aunt and amazing grandmother. This verse from proverbs sums up their lives.
The True Wealth
13 Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, 14 for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. 15 She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.
Those who read this blog know that music is the thing that turns my heart and soul toward God. Today I was thinking about how much help others need now and when we are again able to gather together. We are called by Christ to help each other. I have sung this song so many times and for so many years but it still speaks of how we should live.
He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
The verse says that this is the first and greatest commandment. It is also the most difficult to follow. By neighbor it means everyone. Not just the people we like but everyone! Not easy to do. There are so many people that for one reason or another I would rather not love but God calls me to do so.
I hope that God teaches me every day how to love those that are hard for me.