Cats in the Garden

Disclaimer #1 – I love all God’s creatures. Disclaimer #2 – my being a dog person does not mean I don’t like cats. But before either being a dog or cat person, I am a gardener. I have roses, wildflowers, honeysuckle, geraniums (BIG ones), succulents (we do live in Tucson), and so much more. Every year my children tell me I have no more room for plants, and every year I find, or make, room for more. While all my plants are special and each has a story, my vegetable garden gets by far the most attention.

Every year in the winter I’m turning my compost bin into the garden to prepare the soil. I spend time getting the soil, space, and fencing repaired, updated, and ready. I fertilize depending on what I intend to plant and then I’m off to the races. However, each spring I have the same problem, neighborhood cats finding a way into my garden bed. It’s like they know just when to come to the yard and dig up all my hard work. I put up nets and confidently plant, only to come out the next day and see my hard work completely torn up. Holes dug, seeds displaced, new plants strewn aside, and little brown presents left in the wake of the chaos. So, I begin again, putting up more netting, filling each hole, and replanting, only to have it happen all over again. This year I GAVE UP! The cats won, I had no more ingenious ideas or energy to start over. I stood in front of my newly destroyed vegetation, shook my head and walked away. There would be no vegetable garden this year.

Instead, I focused on the rest of my yard, the other raised beds, flowers, herbs, and trees. I no longer looked, I no longer fertilized, I did not weed, or water. The garden lay a destroyed empty plot of dirt… or so I thought.

This week when I went out to enjoy my morning coffee and turn on the sprinklers, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Green shoots coming up out of the disheveled and displaced soil. Plants mixed up and misplaced were beginning to sprout and grow in my well cared for and fertilized soil. Gone were the neat rows and straight lines, but the beginnings of the harvest were evident.

My garden reminded me of the parable Jesus told of the Sower and the soils in Luke 8:4-15. The Sower is God, the seed is His word. Both, I was reminded recently, are perfect. The soil is us. The state of our hearts is represented by the different soils, the last being fertile and ready to receive the seed. Funny, it never said the soil is perfect, only that it was good. Good soil is all that is needed for the Holy Spirit to grow in you.

As a gardener I know that the better I can condition the garden space and keep it secure from animals, insects, too much sun, too much/little water, the better my harvest. What I sometimes forget is that I may be the one planting the seeds but its God who ultimately helps them grow. Good seed (God’s Word) can grow in imperfect situations if the soil is ready (good).

All too often I’m afraid we make excuses, we’re not good enough, we’re not worthy enough, we’re still broken, we’re not smart enough, successful enough, we have too much baggage, or we’re just not ready. We think that because we don’t have a perfectly secure garden with straight rows and strong fences that nothing will grow. We’re focusing on the wrong thing! All we really need is an open and willing heart, messy as the garden may be, the soil is still good.

Paul tells us if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved, Romans 10:9. Paul didn’t say we have to be perfect to be accepted, Jesus actually said He came to save the sick, “I came not to call the righteous but the sinner to repentance.” Matthew 9:13. Jesus died for us while we were still broken sinners, piles of unfertilized dirt. The Holy Spirit creates the conditions for the seeds to grow, we need to have faith and know that what God plants in us will bloom when we allow Him to work in our messy imperfect lives.

The cats came and dug up my garden, but the seeds were still there, the soil was messy but good. With water and sunshine, it will yield a crop a hundred-fold. Just like the work Jesus is doing in our lives if we let Him have His way. The seeds will germinate and grow, the seeds are His perfect will and words they cannot fail their purpose, if we are willing.

Let God surprise and bless you in 2021 as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

1 Million Followers

My 9- and 10-year-old love following people on Youtube. There is one young couple and another young family who spend their days playing hide-and-seek in the strangest of places. Both my children like to tell me how many followers they have, how many likes their latest video received, and how cool and popular they are. This is inevitably followed by how they want to be cool like that by having their own Youtube fame. But, when you ask them why these people are cool, famous, and popular the response is because, “they have like a million followers, mom!”. They’re cool because people follow them, not because of who they are.

It seems to me that we (myself included) are raising a generation of children and youth who are finding their value, their identity, and their validation in an arbitrary number representing the volume of reactions they get from a nameless, faceless, multitude. The more shocking the behavior the greater the reaction. To beat out their ‘competition’ for the prize of the largest number of followers, they need to perform more reckless, heartless, dangerous and damaging feats…and there seems to be no ceiling or depth limit. There seems to be no limit to how they will behave and expose themselves to get to the coveted 1 million followers.

In the book of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul provides a list of historic heroes of the Bible. Those whose stories we’ve heard told from Able and Noah, to Samson and David, not to mention all the prophets who placed themselves at the mercy of their enemies to remain faithful and obedient to God. They didn’t care what those around them thought, nor did they seek their approval, they lived their lives for a higher purpose regardless of the outcome. Talk about a radical lifestyle!

“They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:37-38

None of them chose their life to please themselves or others. Each chose their path because they found their identity in God alone.

“If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15

They neither looked for nor wanted the approval from others, the approval of the crowd is fickle and fleeting. The moment you stop being more shocking than the next person they turn on you and from you. Look what happened to Jesus, He makes His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and by Friday some of the same crowds are calling for His death.

When our identity is wrapped up completely in Jesus, then the storms of change, chaos, uncertainty, and fear cannot sway us or cause us to lose our way. Our eyes are fixed on the eternity that He promises us, not in the temporary and finite world we now live.

There is one group of fans, however, I’d like to call your attention too. After Paul lists several Biblical heroes, and their many trails, and the favor found in their obedience to God, He begins Chapter 12 with an amazing encouragement.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

When you consider all those in the world and throughout history who have stood firm in their faith through persecution, humiliation, torture, and death, those numbers far exceed any you may, or may not, get to like, follow, or share your worldly identity today. That is the great cloud of witnesses that are cheering you on, not because of what you do but because of the faith you’ve found in Jesus.

When you chose to align yourself with Jesus, to stand with Him, not only do you have the God and creator of the universe guarding your back, but you also have a ‘posse’ walking with you that have seen and done it all. You’re never alone. You’ll never face something new. You are 100% guaranteed to win in the end. No matter the outcome in this world you are assured a place with Jesus forever.

There is a post on Facebook that I’ve kept, it was posted by Lecrae. I’ve used it before, but I think it’s very pertinent now.

“If I’m wrong about God, then I’ve wasted my life. If you’re wrong about God, then you wasted your eternity.” When you identify and find your value in Jesus, you will live a better life here on earth and your eternity will be greater than you could ever imagine. If you identify with this world, with the crowd, with the followers, with the fickle, broken, hurting, and sinful, not only will your life on earth be hard, but your eternity will also be harder than you could ever imagine.

Choosing Jesus, you’ll never stand alone. Choosing the crowd, you’ll never know who will be standing with you tomorrow.

Let God surprise and bless you in 2021 as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

God loves me the best…I win!

“I love you mom”, “I love you too son”, “I love you the best, I win!”

Then I say, “no, I win”, then he says, “no, I win.” And, so it goes until I claim, “I win cause God gave me you for my son.” “No, mom I win cause he gave me you for a mom.” This is a very regular conversation in our home, who loves who best, who is more blessed because God gifted us the other. However, on this night Marcus added something new. “Mom, I think God loves us the best…so doesn’t that mean He wins?” I smiled and gave my amazingly intuitive 10-year old a  big hug and said, “actually, Marcus, I think because God loves us best…we win.”

We win! Powerful words, it also happens to be the title of one of my favorite Mercy Me songs. Can you think of any time, circumstance, or action in your life where regardless of who you are, what you’ve done (or are doing), you are totally, unconditionally, and recklessly loved?

We read in in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We all have heard or read this passage of scripture at some point, if however, this is the first time…take a minute to really read it again/anew. God shows (present and continuing tense) His love, that while we were still (present and continuing tense) sinners, Christ died for us. In our worst most secret, shameful, and sinfilled moments…in those very moments, Jesus Christ died for you. In fact, later in the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul states that there is nothing ever in time, past, present, or future that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:35-39)

So, if God loved us at our worst and tells us that NOTHING can separate us from that love, then why do we still walk through life living as if we don’t have it? We turn from God out of shame and fear, when He sacrificed His life to free us from shame and fear. We turn from God because we don’t feel we’ve done enough good to deserve it. When, in fact, there is nothing good enough in us to do enough good to deserve God’s love. We have to remember something very important, His love is never dependent upon us, or our deservedness, it is always dependent upon His goodness.

We win because He loved us best. Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13.

First we receive Jesus’ command, love one another as I have loved you, (unconditionally and recklessly). Then He give us the example of what this love looks like, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. He did just that. And, because He did…we win.

Jesus’ love is so great that it is blind to what we see as flaws. We see our physical defects and try to hide or change them, He sees the beauty of His creation, each detail, an intentional artistic decision. We see our character defects, our habits and behaviors, and try to hide or gloss them over. He sees the potential of who He created us to be, a beautiful reflection of God, a light to shine on the world and point to Him.

What we see, or what others see as bad, broken, imperfect, and unworthy, God sees as beautiful, whole, perfectly created, and wholly loved. I know it’s difficult to comprehend that the creator of everything we can and can’t know loves us unconditionally, but that is the truth, without exception or amendment.

The next time you are having a conversation with a loved one, or with yourself about who loves who best remember, God is the source of all love. We couldn’t love without Him, and we can’t out love Him. All love flows from Him, through us and to the world. We are the recipients of the greatest gift of all time, God’s unconditional love, it’s there for each of us, will you accept it today?

Let God surprise and bless you in 2021 as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

Like, share, comment, and add your email to receive blog posts, podcasts, and more!

come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

Day 3 Valentines Week – Brotherly Love

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

As I thought about what I wanted to write today, I wanted to find the best way to express this love that we have towards on another. Specifically the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ but also for our family and friends. This kind of love which in Greek is Phileo or Philadelphia what we think of as fraternal affection. It is a love, a familial bond between brothers and sisters in Christ, who might not otherwise share an affection. More simply it is the love we share as adopted sons and daughters of God.

Tonight as I was leading our youth, I sat there speaking with them about James chapter 3 and how our words, and actions, stem from the condition of our hearts. While I was speaking I felt an affection for each of these young people, some of whom I’ve known for most of their lives. They are like family to me. I know their parents, I’ve walked with them through tragedy, joy, rights of passage and seen them grow into the young Christians they are. Several of them are my children’s best friends, they are as welcome in my home as they are in my heart. While they are not my children, biologically speaking, I feel a great sense of pride in their accomplishments, I hurt when they hurt, I smile when they smile, I exalt in their success and try to uplift when they are downtrodden. It truly does take a village (or the Body) to raise children, and I am humbled and privileged to be part of that village.

God calls us to love one another with brotherly affection and this is what He is speaking of. Jesus tells his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 How we love each other will be our witness to the world that we belong to Christ. The world is watching to see how we treat one another, do we really walk what we talk? Or do we treat our family in Christ the same as everyone else? Do they see us standing up for one another when one of us is being targeted? Do they see us defending our brother or sister when their integrity is being questioned? Do they see us seeking and speaking only loving word about those with whom we walk this road every day?

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:12-17

We are not Christ’s servants but his friends and He has called us to love as He did. He laid down His life for us. He commands us to love each other, let brotherly love continue (Hebrews 13:1), love one another deeply from the heart (1 Peter 1:22), and to add to faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love (2 Peter 1:7)

In some translations the words agape and philia are used interchangeably. Agape being God’s love for us and philia being our love for one another in the body. Just as above Jesus command to us is to love one another as He loved us. While we are incapable on our own to love as He loved, He does give us the criteria He’s looking for, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Yesterday, I wrote about the love parents have for their children and how we would gladly give our lives for theirs. Jesus takes this one step farther, that we would lay down our lives for any of our brothers and sisters.

When Jesus describes His love or the Fathers love, the term Agape is used. It is His  unconditional love that flows from His very nature, perfect and complete. The nearest we can express back to Him is what is described here, a preferential love that acknowledges the best in others regardless of their flaws, is not dependent upon that affection being returned, and wells up in us, by its God given nature, the ability to give selflessly of ourselves even unto death.

As broken vessels we are incapable of exemplifying God’s perfect love perfectly. Perhaps, this is as close as we can get, this side of heaven? The love we feel for our brothers and sisters in Christ should be the nearest thing we can express to God’s love for us. Relentless, unyielding, always seeking to see the best in others, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The love that is described above is not a suggestion  for us to try and follow. It is the very definition of who God calls us to be, especially to those with whom we share our faith. Love is a choice, it is a feeling, it is a matter of will, it flows from a heart transformed by the Holy Spirit.

This week when you look at the faces of those in your life, either via zoom, video chat, or where possible in person, chose to love them as Christ loved you.

 

Is There More Than One Kind of Love?

There are as many books about the topic of love as there are definitions for the word. As I mentioned yesterday, I found no less than 3, and as many as 7 different definitions of love in Greek and Hebrew alone. But while I was reading, I thought, is it possible, that there really is only one love, just as there is only one God? Is it also equally possible that there are multiple facets of the same love just as there are three different parts to our One Triune God?

C.S. Lewis states in his book, The Four Loves, that “The human loves can be glorious images of Divine love.” All our expressions of love come from a single source, without whom we would be unable to express anything remotely related to love. Without God, without His divinely created imprint on our very person at the deepest most basic level, we would be incapable of love.

The first expression of love that comes to mind when I reflect on the word, is that of a parent to a child. I have 5 children, 4 of whom are still living. I don’t believe I could express in words how I feel about my children without using the word love. My love for them does not depend on their behavior, their attitudes, or their obedience. My love for them remains when they are mad at me, wish I was some place else, wish I was someone else, or when the completely turn their back on me and say terrible things.

My love for my children is not dependent upon them, it is dependent upon me. I’ve had two biological children and three adopted children. I would gladly give my life to save any of theirs, and recall a time when I made that offer to God in a desperate attempt to keep my oldest from suffering. I would do it without thinking, as any parent would. The Greek word for this is storgē. Storgē is a natural affection between members of a family. It is used in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” In this instance the word being used is philóstorgos, this is a devoted love shown by family members, a special affection shared between members of God’s family, divinely adopted, and serving the same heavenly father.

A devoted love shown by family members, shared affection in the family of God, divinely adopted! When I think of how God loves us the best example I have is that of a loving father. One who loves out of His own goodness, not out of the deservedness of His children, but because of who He is. His love is in NO WAY dependent on us. We can do nothing to earn His love, therefore we can do nothing to lose His love. It is there, the great constant of the universe. His love is so constant that even in the midst of our most terrible moments of disobedience, He sacrificed Himself to save us the pain of living our lives in a broken world, separated from Him, without hope of ever being restored to what we were mean to be. He left heaven, and came to earth with the sole purpose of bringing us home, so we can be healed, so we can be whole, so we can be restored, not because we deserved it.

On the cross Jesus didn’t cherry pick who He died for, He died once for all, (Romans 6:20).

The love I feel for my children is an imperfect reflection of the love God feels for me. The very ability I have to love my children is because He created me in His image and He loved me first. He imprinted upon my innermost being His love, that in turn makes me capable of loving others as He does. The closer I grow to Him, and strive to be like Him, the closer the love I show will resemble His.

We love our families, natural and adopted, the way God loves us. Our love is imperfect, and flawed, and often taken for granted. We get angry and say things we don’t mean. We turn our backs and walk away, we withhold love because we don’t feel the warm fuzzy glow of it. But, in the end love, the kind of love God shows us, is a choice. We love others because God loved us, not because it feels good (because often it doesn’t when love isn’t being returned), not because it’s what we’re supposed to do, but because God loved us. From that deep and infinite well of love we can’t help but share it with those around us.

This week, make sure that those in your family, natural, adopted, forever, and otherwise experience God’s love through your actions. Show your love to them in real tangible ways, let them know that no matter what they do, you are devoted to them and that special affection you have is a gift from God, just as they are.

Let God surprise and bless you in 2021 as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

Like, share, comment, and add your email to receive blog posts, podcasts, and more!

come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

 

Love, Its Not About You

It’s Monday night and day 1 of Valentine’s week. Yes, I said week. I was reminiscing today, when we first started dating, the big deal I made of Valentines Week for my husband. I used to go on my lunch break over to his apartment and decorate his door. I thought I was being cute, ultimately I wanted him to know I was thinking about him. Didn’t spend lots of money (didn’t have lots of money) got wrapping paper and cheezy stuff from the dollar store and went crazy. It was fun for me to surprise him and I loved doing it, not for any reason other than I knew it would make him smile.

So, in the same spirit, during Valentine’s Week, let’s talk about love.

We read throughout scripture about love; love of God for man, love of man for God, love of man for family, friends and fellow believers. We read about love between a man and a woman, and we read about the love parents have for their children. In Greek and Hebrew there are as many as 7 different words used for love and more than twice that number of definitions, depending on which theologian you ask. What it all boils down to (and we’ll get into the love gumbo of definitions as we move through the week), is that love is never about you.

Yes, you heard me right, and yes, I did say that. Love is not and never will be about you. I may know what you’re thinking, God’s love is about us. Well, it is for us absolutely, but it’s about Him. All love is about Him, being made in His image our very ability to love comes from Him. Without Him we would not be able to love others. Love begins with Him and finds it’s completeness in others, it’s never about us.

Agape love (Greek AGAPAO) means unconditional love, it is not love based on the goodness of the beloved, or upon natural affinity or emotion. Rather it is a benevolent love that always seeks the good of the beloved. God’s love for us is not based on our goodness, our deservedness, our righteousness, or anything we can or will do to earn it. God’s love is a benevolent and unconditional love that always seeks our good. WOW!

Love is not based on whether or not someone deserves or has earned our love, it’s not based on our emotions, it is based on a desire to always seek the good of others. This reminded me of a song that is often playing in my head, by Cory Ashby. It’s called Reckless Love and the chorus states:

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99
And I couldn’t earn it
I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

God’s love for us is indeed reckless, unfair, limitless, and totally inconceivable. His love encompasses all the other kinds of love that are expressed throughout scripture. It is the purest, deepest, longest, strongest and most complete expression of goodness, and there is nothing we can ever do to earn it, or deserve it. God’s love is a reflection of who He is, not a reflection of who we are (thank goodness).

God’s love is also not dependent upon our response, its there always waiting for us to turn to Him. Even when our back is turned He is always working for our good, when we are the most undeserving His love is still seeks our good. There is nothing that can stand in the way of God loving us, not even us.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

As we kick of Valentine’s Week 2021, remember there is one whose love for you will never fade, never end, never falter. His love will always be true, and for your benefit. His love will not end on February 15th, or once you’ve finished your last chocolate, and watched the last Hallmark special. His love is eternal and will last throughout every day, of every year, for all time, and beyond.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

Let God surprise and bless you in 2021 as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

Like, share, comment, and add your email to receive blog posts, podcasts, and more!

come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

Lemonade is best when shared

You just never know when something happens in your life, how God might use it.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Our troubles, our trials, our temptations, our pain and suffering, all our experiences pleasant and unpleasant, are never wasted…Not Ever!

Every experience we have, God can, and will use – none of them are by accident or coincidence. They are by our choice, the choices others make, or by God’s design. but no matter how they come about they are no surprise to God. Nothing get’s past Him.

My favorite scripture, the one I quote the most is Romans 8:28, “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.” Everything in our lives God can, and will work for good, EVERYTHING! There is nothing that has happened, is happening, or can ever happen, that God can not sovereignly craft into good. God is good, He can only bring forth that which He is. God can’t bring forth evil, only good. It’s like the saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” God created the trees the lemons fell from, the juicer you used to squeeze them, and the abundant sweetness of His grace to bring out the flavor.

Sometimes those experiences that bring us the most pain and anguish are the very ones He’ll use to bring us the greatest joy, often by being able to help others. Just as the scripture tells us, Jesus comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. I was reminded of this recently when I had the opportunity to share some of my experiences with someone walking a very similar path. I was able to share with them what God did for my family in the situation, how He walked us through a very dark and difficult time. I was able to offer comfort to others in their troubles, just as God had comforted me in mine. He comforts us, so we can in turn, comfort others.

God allows us to walk through hard times so we learn to rely on Him, and then to share that experience as a help – a comfort to others. Just as lemonade is sweetest when shared with others, God’s work in our lives is even more of a blessing when we can use it to help those around us. It’s never about us, its always about Him – Him, inviting us to come along for the ride and be part of this incredible Christian journey – a journey we’re on together.

Next time things get hard, instead of asking, ‘why God, why this, why now, why me?’, ask how can this help others, how can you use this God to help me grow, and what can I learn from this? God will not let any of your experiences go to waste, there are people who will be comforted by you sharing with them how God comforted you.

Let God surprise and bless you in this new year as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

Like, share, comment, and add your email to receive blog posts, podcasts, and more!

come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

 

Language of 2021

Could you imagine just 12 months ago that some of the words so commonplace today would commandeer so much of our daily conversation?

As a child of the 80’s when someone made the comment, “they tested positive”, it held an entirely different meaning. You may have a preconceived idea, HIV, Ebola, Bird Flu, but inevitably you’d ask, “positive for what?” However, in January of 2021 you wouldn’t have to ask that question because the answer is so well known.

Terms like, testing positive, shelter in place, virtual classroom, socially distanced, lockdown, quarantine, and vaccine, all bring to mind very similar meaning and images. We don’t really need to ask what anyone means when these words are mentioned because the entire planet is embroiled in a global pandemic. We’re all facing similar challenges, though in varying degrees. Can you imagine any time in world history where the entire human population had so much in common? Unfortunately, it seems, in this unprecedented time of commonality we are more divided than ever.

I’ve struggled this year with the disconnection between what we are capable of doing when we work together and what we are capable of doing when we’re driven by our differences. On the one hand we show extravagant generosity by reaching out and supporting one another in unprecedented ways and numbers. Demonstrating our ability to love, support, uplift, and help one another. On the other hand, we continue to demean, divide, and devise ways to debase, and destroy those who think differently than we do. People we don’t even know become our enemies because of something we read, or heard, or saw on the internet or TV. How can we be at once so capable of love and at the same time capable of such hatred?

We read in scripture that when we build our lives on the truth of Jesus, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

When we choose to build our lives, live our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ, our hearts full of love can change the world. When we choose to build our lives and live our lives on a foundation created by this world, created by our own hearts and hands, it will come crashing down around our ears. We’ve all witnessed it this year.

Right now, our commonality is based on a common enemy. That enemy is not other people, it’s an infection. Our common enemy is not a politician, political party, or policy, it’s an infection. Instead of fighting over who is right or wrong and creating greater division amongst people who are equally affected, lets decide that we are not each other’s enemy and allow God to work in our lives through these trying times.

Let’s decide to make our common language with words and actions guided by the Holy Spirit, not by words derived from this world.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:19-26

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, if these were to become the words that we all have in common and all understand, without question or confusion, what would our world be like? What could we accomplish, what would our conversations be? Even during a global pandemic our world be a better place than it is now because we’d work together as a united family to overcome and grow through the trials placed before us. No longer as enemies, but as friends and beloved family.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:31-35

Let God surprise and bless you in this new year as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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