For the least of these = for Him

for the least = for Him.png

 

Yesterday, May 21, 2017, was the Global Day of Prayer to end Famine. It was declared the day of prayer by the World Council of Churches, World Evangelical Alliance and All Africa Conference of Churches and several other organizations. Here are some facts shared by World Vision about this humanitarian crisis:

  • More than 20 million face famine
  • Famine has been declared in areas of South Sudan, with Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen on the brink of famine.
  • Millions more in Kenya and Ethiopia are suffering from drought and food shortages.
  • 1.4 million children are severely malnourished. If left untreated, more than one-third of these children will die from starvation and disease.

What contributed to this humanitarian crisis? A combination of conflict, recurring severe drought, and high food prices.   

The need is grave and help is needed immediately. The magnitude of the need can create the sense that there is nothing one person can do to make a difference. Not so. Each person reading this post can do three things: pray, give, and encourage others to do so. Pray for those in need and for organizations such as World Vision that are working effectively to meet immediate needs and facilitate sustainable change.  It is true that the Global Day of Prayer to end famine is over but prayer is not restricted to one day. And neither is giving. No amount is too small.  Please click here to give. Every dollar can make a difference. Thank you.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40, NIV; emphasis added)

 

Like a weaned child with its mother

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“Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

(Psalm 131:2, NKJV)

I read Psalm 131:2 and drew the following from it: There is only a need to calm and quiet my soul when my soul is agitated, storm tossed, uneasy, anxious, railing, raging, swollen with distress, or experiencing a similar emotional state.

I turned my mind to list the things or circumstances which can trigger and sustain these emotional states in me. But before I could name them I realized that, regardless of the diverse nature of the things or situations, they all have this in common – the way out is to turn my attention from the thing or situation, to my Father. The only way to truly calm and quiet my soul is to turn my attention from the thing or situation, and focus on my Father. And doing so sometimes requires me to wean myself from self-reliance or dependence on others.

And I think of Jesus’ words, recorded in Matthew 18:3, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (AMP).

Then I read these words from Charles Spurgeon (as cited on the blog, Mortification of Spin):

David… was like one who was able to give up his natural food, which seemed to him absolutely necessary, and which he greatly enjoyed. The weaned babe has given up what it loved. By nature we hang on the breasts of this world, and only sovereign grace can wean us therefrom, but when we give up self-righteousness, self-confidence, the love of the world, the desire of self-aggrandizement, when we give up trusting in man, trusting in ceremonies, trusting in anything but God, then has our soul become like a weaned child. It has given up what nature feeds upon, that it may feed upon the bread of heaven (8).

I read Charles Spurgeon’s words and prayed, “Abba, help me to become the weaned child described here.” 

for the days when you’re in over your  head, in rough waters, and/or between a rock and a hard place

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“Don’t be afraid.”

These were the words handwritten after my name, beneath the bright yellow smiley in a card I received recently. The card was from a fellow participant in Round 11 of Five Minute Friday Snail Mail. (Also know as #fmfpartysnailmail; see link at end of this post for a description).

I read it and had two simultaneous thoughts. (Okay. Not actually simultaneous but they occurred in such rapid succession that they seemed to occur at the same time).

One thought was, “I am not aware that I am afraid.”

The other was, “But there have been times when you did not know you were holding your breath until you exhaled.” Point taken.

And I have lived long enough to know that HE can send me resources and truth before the trial comes. And it is only after the fact that I realize something that came to me in a season of relative quiet, turned out to be the rope I needed to hold onto, the firm place I needed to stand on, the safe place I needed to hide when the storms hit, and my world is shaking.

The handwritten note contained most of The Message translation of Isaiah 43:1-3. I read the verses and was encouraged. So, just in case you can use some encouragement right now, I want to share the portion of this passage which was shared with me. Even if things are going well, perhaps you can hide it in your heart for the days when  you’re in over your  head, in rough waters, and/or between a rock  and a hard place.

” …Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God…”

(As promised, here is the link which explains the hashtag fmfpartysnailmail.)

 

 

 

His Resurrection: Historical and Personal

His Resurrection.png

Two weeks have passed since I joined with millions around the world to celebrate Easter. I realized, sometime ago, that I have not celebrated the Resurrection of Christ Jesus in as similar a manner as I celebrate His birth. But the truth is, it is the Resurrection of Christ Jesus that gives Christmas its true meaning. Isaiah 9:6 declares,

For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Christ Jesus, the Child who was born and the Son who was given, came to redeem us and our redemption required His brutal death and His glorious Resurrection. We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:14-20 (AMP) that, without His Resurrection,  our faith is “vain [imaginary, unfounded, devoid of value and benefit—not based on truth]” and “worthless and powerless [mere delusion ].” Furthermore, “ If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hoped only in this life [and this is all there is], then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied.  But now [as things really are] Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, [and He became] the first fruits [that is, the first to be resurrected with an incorruptible, immortal body, foreshadowing the resurrection] of those who have fallen asleep [in death]. “

I desire that the truth of Christ’s Resurrection permeate my daily living. That I meet every challenge and celebrate every victory with this truth, “But now [as things really are] Christ has in fact been raised from the dead …” Upon reflecting on what the Resurrection of Christ Jesus means to me personally, four things come to mind:

1.     I am redeemed completely and am a dearly beloved child of God.

2.     I am forgiven and His Blood cleanses me from all sin.

3.     I do not have to fear death.

4.     I have a High Priest.

I find myself dwelling on the fact that I have a High Priest and on all the benefits of this truth, as highlighted in Hebrews 4:14-16 (AMP):

14 Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. 16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].

The Resurrection of Christ Jesus, a historical fact with personal meaning. What does His Resurrection mean to you? Please share your thoughts in the Comments. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Five Minute Friday: More

more

Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday Community, for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “More.”

Dare I believe it?
That You want me to imagine more?
Ask for more?
Dream more and bigger dreams?
To believe that You have more in store for me, for us?
The more recorded in Ephesians 3:20?
The “superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams}.”
That kind of more?

Dare I believe it?
Dare I ask for more
when I,
too often,
am not thankful enough
for all that You have already bestowed so freely?
Dare I believe?

The answer is, “Yes.”
You can do more and want me to believe for more.
Because Your purpose is bigger than I can conceive.
And can only be accomplished when I access more of You.
Because the starting point,
the middle point,
the end point,
of all that is good and worthwhile,
and eternal,
is You.
And what I will always need is not things. 
Not even what You can do through me.
But more of You.
 

Five Minute Friday: Sing

sing

Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community (on Saturday) for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is “Sing.”

GO

 “How shall we sing a song of the Lord; in an alien land?
(But how can be sing a song to the Lord, in a foreign, or a strange, land?)
(Psalm 137:4, Wycliffe Bible)

“Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song in this wasteland? (Psalm 137:4, Message)

I can almost feel their heartbreak, the heartbreak of the children of Israel who had been led captive to Babylon because of their sin, their prolonged disobedience to God. They were asked by those who had captured them to sing one of the songs of Zion. They felt unable to do so.

And there are seasons in all of our lives when the idea of singing, of singing a song of the Lord, of singing a song to the Lord, in the place where we are, seems inconceivable. For where we are seems like a “wasteland,” “a foreign place.” But it is in those places and in those seasons that we must sing; we need to sing a song of the Lord, of His goodness and His unending grace of His mercy and of His faithfulness. Of His love and His promise to always be with us, when He seems most far away. It is then we must sing a song to Him.

STOP

Declaring to Him, “You are faithful. You are gracious. You are full of compassion and plenteous in mercy. There is no one like You. Your loving-kindness endures forever.” Because singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, worshipping Him focuses our attention on Him. Reminds us Who He is. And when we remember Who He is, we are reminded of who we are in Him, and of His promise to be with us always … in the fire, in the water, in the flood, in the wilderness. And work everything together for our good. He gives us the strength and the grace in the wasteland. And sometimes He transforms the wasteland, the wilderness, into a place where flowers blossom. Sometimes He transforms us in the wasteland, in the foreign places. Sing.

“… and Peter”

_... and Peter ..._

A drowning person’s life flashes before his or her eyes.
Or so I have been told.
And if there is truth in this statement,
I wonder if Peter’s life with Jesus flashed before his eyes
as he drowned in an ocean of shame, horror, pain, and disbelief
after doing what he had sworn he never would,
that is, abandon Jesus, the One he had left all to follow.

I wonder if he saw the moment when Jesus called to him and his brother Andrew
as they were casting a net into the Sea of Galilee, and said,
“Come follow me and I will send you to fish for people”?
And when He touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law as she was lying in bed with a fever, and the fever left her?

I wonder if remembered vividly the moment his feet touched the water after he asked, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water,” and Jesus responded, “Come”?
And when he responded to Jesus’ question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” with the revelation given to him by the Father, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter.

I wonder if he saw the thousands being fed with a little boy’s lunch, and Lazarus coming out of the tomb after he had been dead four days, and Jesus’ transfiguration on the mount?

I do not know but the One Who knew Peter would deny Him, not once but thrice in a short space of time, and loved him still, He made sure that Peter knew that there was forgiveness, and redemption, and restoration for Peter.

First, He sent the message of His resurrection through the angel, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
“… tell his disciples and Peter.”
“ … and Peter.”

Later, He would pose a question to him three times, “Do you love Me?”
And by the end of the conversation had commissioned him and, as He had done in their first encounter by the Sea of Galilee, called him to follow Him.

Like Peter, I have been guilty of denying Him,
Sometimes with my words.
At other times with my silence, behavior and choices.
Like Perer, I have been guilty of denying Him.
Perhaps you are too.
Thanks be to God, we can all be certain that,
no matter what we have done,
the same forgiveness,
redemption,
and restoration that Peter was given,
is also available to us.

Five Minute Friday: Empty

empty

Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “Empty.”

“He emptied Himself.”
He who is the Word.
He who was in the beginning.
He who has always been God.
He emptied Himself.

He, by whom, all things were created in heaven and on earth.
Visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.
He emptied Himself.

He, in whom is all the fullness of the Godhead .
He who holds all things together.
He emptied Himself.

He emptied Himself and became flesh.
He emptied Himself.
And allowed Himself to know hunger and be tempted.

He emptied Himself and became the man of sorrows,
intimately acquainted with grief.
To be rejected and despised.
As John notes, He came unto His own but His own did not receive Him.

He emptied Himself and because He did,
we who “were once estranged
and alienated
and hostile-minded toward Him,”
are now reconciled to God through His physical death.
We now “may have and enjoy life,
and have it in abundance,
to the full,
till it overflows.” 
All because He emptied Himself.

Every Step

every step

From the moment of His birth, every step Jesus took brought Him closer to Golgotha and the Cross,  where He would willingly pay the incomprehensible cost to redeem you, me, the world. Every step. The trip to Jerusalem at age 12, where, after searching for Him for three days, Mary and Joseph “found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions,” astonishing all who heard Him (Luke 2:41-47, NKJV). To the Jordan River to be baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17). Into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1-11).

Every step. By the Sea of Galilee on numerous occasions such as when He called the first disciples (Matthew 4:18-22). Up on a mountain where He taught his disciples many things, including what we know as “The Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:1-12). In Capernaum, where He spoke the word that healed the centurion’s servant and drove the fever from the body of Peter’s mother-in-law with a touch (Matthew 8:5-15).

Every step. To the country of the Gergesenes, where He set two demon-possessed men free (Matthew 8:28-34). To the house of Jairus where He raised his daughter from the dead (Luke 8:41-56).

Every step. Through Samaria and to the Samaritan woman who came to draw water and met the Messiah, the Living Water (John 4). To the tomb of Lazarus where He demonstrated that He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:1-44). Every step.

And every step you and I take moves us closer to the purpose for which God created us, or away from it. Every step. Every choice, every decision matters. May we heed more than ever the instruction in Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP):

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].”

And with the assurance that He directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9) may we pray like David, the psalmist and king,

“Establish my footsteps in [the way of] Your word;
Do not let any human weakness have power over me [causing me to be separated from You]” (Psalm 119:133, AMP).

P.S.

I want to invite you to join me and thousands of others across the nation and in other countries to use your feet to make a difference, by participating in World Vision’s Global 6K for clean water, on May 6, 2017. Please watch the video below and click here for additional information. Thank you.

Made right

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Today I am mulling over the incredible truths in Romans 5:1-17. Let us read the New Living Translation of these verses together.

5 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

There truly is no explaining or understanding the love of God for us. There is also no earning His love. There is no doing enough to make Him love us more or not doing enough that will make Him love us less. He loves us unconditionally and perfectly. He chose to love us and demonstrated His “great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (verse 8).

We. Have. Been. Made. Right. In. God’s. Sight. By. The. Blood. Of. Christ.

No more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). That guilt and shame that haunts? Baseless. Total forgiveness is ours because of Christ Jesus, as is the grace to turn from sin.

We. Have. Been. Made. Right. In. God’s. Sight. By. The. Blood. Of. Christ.

And if that was not enough to praise God unceasingly for, we also have peace with God, and stand, “in a place of undeserved privilege” (verse 2).  These blessings enable us to know there is purpose to our trials and challenges.

We. Have. Been. Made. Right. In. God’s. Sight. By. The. Blood. Of. Christ. 

Thank You, Father. Thank You. Give us a fresh and true revelation of this truth so that we never again read, hear, sing, or speak of what You did for us without a sense of wonder, worship, and profound gratitude.