Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 21

Jehovah knew we could never understand a god who could create galaxies, control storms and harness the tides. But He thought maybe we could understand a god who washed feet, loved children and cried at funerals. So He sent Jesus.

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Should we study God’s word so that we can be informed or transformed? Are we as willing to be confronted and challenged as we are to be comforted and calmed?

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In my efforts to please my Father and be like Jesus, do I emphasize rules or relationships? Have I allowed myself to settle for a reasonable degree of success in the “Thou shall not” part of Christianity while allowing myself to fall short in the “Cup of cold water aspect”?

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Lost people don’t need to see good people working for God; they need to see a good God working through people. And these good people need to be aware of and acknowledge that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables them to do that work.

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What specific things did I do yesterday that said to the world “That man loves God”? What will I do tomorrow that says the same thing?

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The Father decides.    The Son delivers.    The Holy Spirit defines.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 20

Love is giving your place in line (#1) to someone else and then going back to the end of the line (#50) to start over again.

Until we realize we are desperate without Christ we can never be complete in Christ.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus was the most popular person in Jerusalem. He soon made enemies of the town’s businessmen and religious leaders by honoring his Father. Popularity was never his goal, but intimacy with hurting people was. Are we willing to establish our priorities the same way?

The most horrible condition on the planet is “God forsaken.” Jesus must have felt the first touch of this in Gethsemane. Knowing he would feel it much stronger on the cross must have made the hours between his arrest and death almost unbearable.

The privilege of prayer is one of the best things God has ever given us. It allows us to access Him anytime, anywhere, for any reason.

PRAYER

My prayers of gratitude and praise should be as frequent , intense and lengthy as my prayers of need and request.

  • Short prayers:
    • Thank you
    • Help
    • I will
    • I’m sorry
    • I won’t
    • I love you
    • Forgive me
    • Use me
    • Protect me

Dear God, don’t let my lack of understanding about you lead to an absence of faith in you, a reduction of love for you, an unwillingness to obey you, hesitancy to share you, and fear to praise you.

* * * * * * * * * 

When Samuel said “Speak, for your servant hears” he was not referring only to physical hearing, but also to a willingness to obey whatever he might hear. Too often my reaction is “Speak, and your servant will consider hearing.” But when that is my attitude I’m really not being a servant, am I?

The Unique Gift

Are you stymied for gift giving ideas? Giving gifts can be problematic in our society of affluence when trying to find something for those who “have everything.” Here’s an idea for consideration. The ideal gift is yourself.

That’s right, give away some of yourself:

Give an hour of your time to someone who needs you.
Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down.
Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family.
Give a listening ear to someone who is lonely.
Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss.
Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is overlooked.
Give a gentle response to the frustrated.
Give a quiet push to someone needing encouragement.
Give the benefit of a doubt to the misunderstood.
Give a second thought to someone else's opinion.
Give forgiveness to those who have harmed you.
Give a second chance to someone who has failed.

God gave Jesus to us on the first Christmas morning. Jesus gave his life for us on a cross of disgrace. How much of ourselves are we willing to give others this Christmas season?

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends-18

     Luke 2:49 indicates Jesus had unusual spiritual sensitivity. Does it mean He knew then He was the Messiah? Maybe and maybe not.
     But it does mean He understood that God had a specific, personal claim on his life to one degree or another.
     And what did He do about it? He went home and correctly played his proper role as a family member (Luke 2:51-52). He continued to do so for the next eighteen years (John 2:3-10).
     My first and greatest opportunity to behave in a Christ-like manner is at home with my family. If I don't follow his example there I won't follow it anywhere. 




     Genesis 4:26 states the people began to "call on the name of the LORD".
     Do I call on his name in surrender as often as I do in request? Do I call on his name asking that He change me as often as I ask him to change others?




     In my efforts to please my Father I need to emphasize relationships more than rules. I must not allow myself to settle for reasonable success in the "Thou shalt not" category of Christian living, while ignoring the "cup of cold water" part.




     Joshua 24:15 says "Choose you this day whom you will serve". I think we are also asked each day to decide who we will "worship."  This will be determined and demonstrated by which TV shows we watch, what internet images we download, which magazines we read, how we spend our money, which gossip we listen to, what attitudes we reinforce, which priorities we develop and what parts of our culture we embrace.    

Christian Capitalism

In a capitalistic economic system every person is encouraged to accumulate all the wealth possible. Success is largely determined by the size of portfolios and bank accounts. Money earned today is to be used in a way that will produce more assets tomorrow.

By the same token, an individual’s poverty is of no concern to anyone else. A person is allowed to lose all his wealth without interference from anyone else. Birth-to-death poverty is common.

Such capitalism is a disaster unless it is guided by “Do unto others” (Matthew 7:12) and “Feed the hungry” (Matthew 25:35-36). Only these Christian principles can shape the system to benefit all income levels.

There are, of course, many times and places that Christians can give to people who need help. The Holy Spirit will lead in determining when, where and how such caring and sharing should take place. Certainly Jesus called on his followers to give help one-on-one.

But in today’s world there is a need for large-scale institutions that strive to produce economic equality. For the most part our churches have not stepped up to the plate to help fill this need. One of the least offered prayers during Sunday morning services is “God, do you want me to give more?”





Q.  Does God want the poor in my community to have more of this world's resources?
A.  Yes.
Q.  What is His plan for getting more to them?
A.  The generosity of Christians.
Q.  Does God want me to have more of this world's resources?
A.  Only if I will pass on these additional blessings to the poor.(Or maybe only if I pass on   more of my currently held resources.)

Prayer Thoughts

     Prayer and love tend to unite people. Perhaps we need to do more of both at church on Sunday. 


     Prayer should be a never-ending two-way conversation.


     Perhaps my most frequent prayer request should be "Lord, teach me to pray properly and what to pray for." Maybe knowing exactly what to pray for is what James had in mind when he said we should pray for wisdom. (James 1:5) 


     What does God do when I pray and ask for something that is against His will? Nothing! He simply ignores such requests and gives me what is spiritually and eternally best for me. But if my prayers always include a sincere request to learn to pray better, He will grant that request and I will not offer as many ill-conceived petitions.


     
     In order for a prayer to be effective, the attitude must be correct before the words are spoken. To "say" a prayer without having the proper attitude is simply "word uttering" and is worthless.


     Passionless people pray powerless prayers.


     My prayers must not be so much an attempt to get God's attention, but rather a response to the fact that He has already gained my attention. He knows me completely before I pray, but I need to clearly identify and express my wants and needs so He can show me the difference between them.

Use All of Me

     A man hired a carpenter to build him a house. He described the house he wanted and told the carpenter "Give me a list of everything you will need. I will get it all delivered."
     Six weeks later all the material was assembled and the carpenter went to work.
     A week later the man drove up to the site with a spray can of red paint. He started walking around the stacks of lumber marking some of them with the paint.
     The surprised carpenter asked "What in the world are you doing?"
     "You cannot use any of what I am marking. If it has red on it, don't use it."
     The carpenter did as he was told and finished the house as best he could with the limited material. When the owner saw the house he was disappointed and complained about the carpenter's work.
     Do we do this with God? He has provided all that is necessary to make us into the person He intends for us to be. Then we withhold part of ourselves - our attitudes, preferences, opinions, prejudices, habits, likes, dislikes - and wonder why we are not as happy and content as we would like to be.

Becoming Christlike

My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I love every person in my life all the time.
My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I want to help every person I love.
My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I learn how to express my love to people as individuals, not just as a group.
None of this growth will take place until I yield to the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.
     God sends us into the world with a trunk full of love to give to others. We are to dip into that trunk and scatter love to everyone we meet. That love takes the form of listening, sharing, teaching, patience and forgiving. (That short list is not exhaustive.)
     That trunk has compartments that contain all the forms of love. He also gives us the wisdom to use the most effective form of love with each individual we meet.
     When I find myself running low on the motivational drive to be a "love scatterer" I must remember how empty my trunk was before He filled it, how small my qualification was to be a receiver of that love, and how much better my life is now because of that love.
     The best, most effective, most accurate way I can glorify God is to let the Holy Spirit make me like Jesus. "God...decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son." (Romans 8:29, The Message Bible)
     The Holy Spirit will do the shaping of the way I am. My role is to allow such changes to happen and then behave in ways that exhibit my new shape.
     Do we Christians spend more time, money and energy trying to change our physical "shape" into the way the world says it should be than we do allowing the Spirit to alter our spiritual shape into the way God wants it to be?