Burden Sharing

One of the most attractive aspects of Christianity, one of the most cherished promises of Scripture, is in 1Peter 5:7 (Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.) Over and over , we go to the Lord in prayer, acknowledging that the cares of our life are over-whelming. To the best of our ability, we follow the instruction of this verse and give God our concerns.

And, faithful to His word, He lifts those burdens from us. He allows us to continue our daily life with optimism and freedom from fear.

Then our daily prayers can begin and end with expressions of gratitude for this load-lifting, burden-removing promise. We praise Him, privately and publicly, for His faithfulness.

But Galatians 6:2 puts new light on burden-sharing when Paul tells us we are to “Bear ye one another’s burdens.”

Burden-sharing is to be horizontal as well as vertical. Just as the Father helps us carry our load, we are instructed to help others carry the weights their life has given them. Our motive for this should be our love for them. Our willingness should be indicated by an attitude and question of “May I help you?” toward everyone we meet…and really mean it.

We hesitate to become burden bearers because we fear we will be overwhelmed by the load someone might pass to us. We don’t trust Paul’s assurance that “I can do all things through Christ which  strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13). Such lack of faith often prevents from being obedient to his command.

We must learn to trust that our Father will not give us a heavier load of our burdens, or the burdens of others, than we can carry with His help.

Bits, Pieces, Odds, Ends -14

As children of God we should look back and thank Him, look forward and trust Him, look around and serve Him, look inward and find Him.

Desperation is often the starting point to getting a passing grade in Grace 101.

Patience is developed, often slowly, by waiting. We need to be patient while the Lord teaches us patience.

Too often we try to impress people rather than serve people.

When we pray God is more concerned with what our heart feels than what our lips say.

Our greatest test of faith is believing God loves us, even when He is not blessing us like we feel He should.

Dear Christian, if as the song says, this world is not our home, why do we spend so much time and money building houses in it?

About 2000 years ago God had a gift to give me, but Jesus had to die before I could open it.

Being God's servant is an honor because He chose me for the position.

The spiritual success of my interaction with other people is largely dependent on the intensity and extent of my prior interaction with God. 

The Past Is Past

Every person has made mistakes that can never be corrected. This is true because there are certain things that can be done only at one specific time. Once that time limit has passed there is no second chance.

For example, if we want to be part of our daughter’s first day of school we cannot do so after she begins the second grade. Or if we want to have influence on our son’s decision to buy his first home, we cannot do so after he has signed the papers and moved in.

When we look back and see all our mistakes, we want to change them. This may be out of a desire to reduce the pain we caused others or it may be an effort to reduce our own anguish.

Often, because of the time factor, we have only a limited opportunity to help those we have harmed. We owe them an apology, along with a sincere offer to make some sort of restitution. But their acceptance or rejection of that apology is out of our control.

Only they know how much forgiveness they are ready to give. They may not be at all interested in helping us reduce our guilt. They may have long ago gone past the failure that plagues us and therefore have no desire to revisit the incident in order to help us repair our emotional damage.

We must learn to live with the fact that we have made mistakes. We must learn to live with the pain those mistakes have created in our lives and the lives of others. Then we have to learn how to prevent that damage and pain from handicapping us and stealing today’s joy. The Holy Spirit will do this within us if we just invite him to do so. God does not want our present and future joy to be reduced because of our past. He has forgiven each of our sins. Now we need to forgive ourselves.

My Sunday Responsibility

As a Christian, what is my responsibility toward the Sunday morning worship time? What does God expect of me concerning that one hour of “holy huddle” each week?

It begins with prayers on Monday morning. I need to set aside time each weekday to pray for the pastor and each person who will have a leadership roll during the next worship service.

Then I am to ask God if He wants me to invite anyone to attend the next service with me. Do I know anyone who needs what He will provide then?

I should also begin to pray for myself that I will learn what God wants to teach me during that time. I need to give the Holy Spirit permission to start preparing my mind and will to receive His message.

Throughout the week I should plan my weekend so that nothing interferes with my attendance at God’s house. It is my responsibility to control my time to guarantee I will be in my place.

On Sunday morning I must get out of bed early enough to be on time without any hassle, rush or last-minute confusion. The self-discipline of time control is vital.

When I arrive at the worship site I need to focus on God. I must yield my will to Him so I can be taught and molded. The actions of the pastor and worship leader should be secondary to my understanding of God’s word and will. The Holy Spirit will speak to me during the worship time if I want Him to and if I block out distractions.

Throughout the worship time I should be in prayer for others. I should be asking the Father to lead the pastor to say only the things He wants said, praying that all of us hear clearly and correctly.

Lastly I am to continue praying for myself that God’s message will produce His desired results in my life during the coming week. Then, with gratitude for the opportunity to worship and for those who have helped me do so, I must remember the Golden Rule as I drive out of a crowded and confused parking lot.

Miracles or Signs?

During His stay on earth Jesus did many things we call miracles. John, in his account of Jesus’ life here, called them signs. Which term is correct? Both!

To us they seem to be impossible. Our knowledge is so limited we cannot explain or understand them.They remain a source of confusion for those who seek scientific explanations of Jesus’ accomplishments. And they were miraculous.

Jesus intended to ease the pain and suffering of those who were sick, hungry, frightened and demon-possessed. He cared about their conditions and He had a desire to help.

However, each of his actions had a larger, more eternal purpose. They were signs to show his followers, then and now, that He was God incarnate. Only the same God who had created the universe and instituted the laws that govern it could alter those laws whenever He chose. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary and Joseph, was Jehovah. The miracles were signs of that truth.

When we read the gospels if we understand no more than the earthly results of his actions, we miss the message He intends for us. The outward, physical results were temporary. Each of the people He healed eventually died. But the larger ramifications lead us to eternal issues.

If we are not born-again children of God we have a spiritual sickness as real as the physical ailments of those Jesus healed. He offers to heal us of that sin-sickness and welcome us into his family for eternity. And that is the most wonderful miracle of all.


God wants my life to be a miracle that shows his power and love to the world.

GOD’S WILL NOW OR LATER

God’s will is often time specific…that is some of the things He intends for us to do must be done within a specific time period.  He has a “do it NOW” will for each of us. If I want to know that will and if I search for it correctly and consistently, He will reveal it.

However, a delay in carrying out that will often becomes disobedience, because it can not be done at all if it is not done on  his time schedule.

As his servant my task is always to do exactly what He wants as soon as I understand what that is.  Often when I delay and miss his schedule I lose out on a chance to help someone else and I don’t hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Such disobedience can be harmful to me and others.

I can also be disobedient by doing something before He tells me to do it. He may be intending to further prepare me for the task He is planning for me to do later. Or other people involved in the assignment may not be ready. Certain circumstances may need to be further prepared. Only He has the knowledge to know exactly when the time is right.

When He says  “Now” I must act immediately. When He says “Later” I must patiently wait.

Numbers 14:40-45

 

 

WHO AM I?

As a born again, covered-by-the-blood Christian, just exactly who am I?

Am I a child of the King, a prince of kingdom? Am I a servant of the most high? Could I perhaps be a soldier in God’s army or maybe an ambassador to foreign kingdoms?

YES! YES! YES! YES! I am all of those, but it is easier to announce that answer than to fully understand and explain it.

My position in God’s kingdom is that of a son, a privileged prince who can claim all the blessings and perks available to one of such high status. Yet I am His servant, standing ready to eagerly fulfill His every wish. As a fully-armed soldier in His army I am ready to do battle, clothed in the armor He has provided for me. And my position as an ambassador sends me into the streets and alleys inviting the needy of this world to his banquet.

It seems impossible to successfully fill any one of these roles, let alone all four at the same time. And it is impossible – totally and completely impossible – if I try it within my own power and wisdom. Only the Holy Spirit, working through me can successfully perform this balancing act.

Daily Footprints

Last night we had a two inch snowfall in my community. Everyone who walked in the park behind my house left footprints, a temporary record of their passing.

It is now evening and I have just finished living another day. Like strollers in the park, I also left a trail to show where I went.  I left emotional footprints that show how I affected other people. Did I successfully follow Paul’s admonition to live peaceably with all men? (Romans 12:18)

I left intellectual footprints which attest to my wise or unwise choices. When I lacked wisdom did I consult God?  Did I try to be an attentive student and learn all God wanted to teach me? (James 1:5)

In such sloppy weather I tried not to track snow onto the clean floors of my home. But I was unsuccessful and dirt ended up inside. Was I as concerned about keeping undesirable thoughts out of my mind, which is God’s home? (I Corinthians 6:19)

I left communication footprints. What did I talk about? What did I listen to? Did I speak of and point to Jesus? (James 3:1-10)

Most importantly I left spiritual footprints which attest to my priorities as I went about my assigned and chosen tasks? Did my life point to eternal issues or temporary concerns? (Colossians 3:2)

Tomorrow I will again leave a record of my presence in the lives of others. God calls me to walk so that those impressions will honor and glorify Him. I pray that with the help of the Holy Spirit I will be successful.

Rules vs Relationship

Many people try to please God by obeying the rules He gave rather than by enjoying a relationship with the Son He sent.

The tendency to do this is strong because rule-keeping is more concise and specific. It lets us keep track of the good deeds we do and leads to self-satisfaction and self-importance. It gives us ammunition when we try to convince God we are worthy of His blessings.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were rule followers. They were very good at it.  They never “walked up the down staircase.”  But in their blind, narrow version of obedience they missed the thrill of knowing Jesus as friend and brother.

Establishing an intimate relationship with Jesus can be unpredictable. Some days we feel He is near while at other times He seems distant. (The difference is always of our doing.) Does Jesus care if we break the Father’s rules? Sure He does. But if we confess and repent He continues to protect and provide. Our relationship with our Savior can never be broken.

The Holy Spirit guarantees every child of God a life of comfort and pleasure if we obey Him out of love and gratitude rather than an attitude of blind rule keeping.

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After Adam and Eve sinned they ran from  God. After we sin we should run to God. (Hebrews 4:16) Why? Because only from God can we receive mercy, grace and forgiveness. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit can I learn to accept that forgiveness from God, let Him show me how to forgive myself and discover ways to avoid doing it again.

Has God Ever?

Has God ever cried?  He did at Bethany (John 11:35)

Has God ever cooked breakfast? He did on the sea shore. (John 21:9)

Has God ever gone to a party?  He did at Cana. (John 2:2)

Has God ever washed feet? He did in the upper room. (John 13:5)

Has God ever scolded slow learners? He did on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:25)

Has God ever defended sinners? He did at the temple. (John 8:10)

Has God ever had dinner with sinners? He did with Zacchaeus. (Luke 19:7)

Has God ever physically attacked sin? He did in the temple.(John 2:15)

Has God ever been tired? He was in Samaria. (John 4:6)

Has God ever gone hiking? He did in Galilee. (Mark 1:35)

Has God ever been hungry? He was in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:2)

Has God ever told anyone to mind their own business? He did Peter. (John 21:22)

Has God ever led a parade? He did in Jerusalem. (Mark 11:7-11)

Has God ever been thirsty? He was on the cross (John 19:28)

Has God ever gone sailing? He did on the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 9:11)

Jesus is fully God and fully man. He understands our humanity because He experienced it.