For the least of these = for Him

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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)

 

Five Minute Friday: Empty

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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.

Isaiah 53: Redemption in one chapter

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53, NKJV)

For coming, thank You

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He sat on the colt,
and rode on its back in to Jerusalem,
on a road covered with a mixture of palms and clothing,
the shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,”
ringing in His ears and
echoing through the streets.

But He Who knows the hearts of all men
knew that many of those shouting praise,
would a few days later,
shout, “Crucify Him,”
and ask for a murderer and an insurrectionist to be released instead of Him.
He knew.

He knew. 
And He knows that my praise too can be inconsistent,
rapidly changing into whining and complaining,
fueled by doubt and unbelief.
Calling Him, Lord, in one breath.
Having a tantrum with the next.

He knows.
And still He loves
unwaveringly.
Works in me patiently.
Changing me.
Drawing me.
Empowering me to do what pleases Him.

So, for His faithfulness,
His abounding grace,
His mercy,
His incomprehensible love,
and because He is forever worthy,
I whisper, “Halleluia. Thank You, for coming, Lord.”
”Thank for choosing to suffer and die.
And for making it possible for me to know You as Savior,
and to know God as Father. 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.  

 

 

Advent Week 4: Day 7 – LOVE

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It is Christmas Eve. What does a verse about the genealogy of Jesus have to do with Christmas Eve and what does it have to do with love? Everything.

Centuries passed after Adam and Eve believed the Serpent’s lie that God was lying to and defrauding them, and they made the choice to disobey Him. Centuries passed after He told them the consequences of their sin and He told the Serpent the consequences of his deception.

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15, NKJV)

Centuries passed from that moment to the time that the angel Gabriel spoke God’s words to Zechariah and to Mary and to Joseph. And Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem. And “the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn”  (Luke 2:1-7, NKJV). And an angel said to the terrified shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2: 8-12, NKJV). Centuries passed and God kept loving us and kept executing His plan of redemption through generations of men until His plan of redemption was fully accomplished.

It is Christmas Eve. What does a verse about the genealogy of Jesus have to do with Christmas Eve and what does it have to do with love? Everything.

May you awake on Christmas Day full of anticipation and gratitude for God’s incomprehensible love for us. For you. Merry Christmas.

Advent Week 4: Day 4 – LOVE

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Prayer

El Elyon. El Channun (Gracious God). Father. Thank You for reminding us through this verse that the true proof of Your love for us is what You did to redeem us, not our circumstances. Help us love as You love us.

Advent Week 4: Day 3 – LOVE

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Lyrics for “Good, Good Father” can be found here.

Prayer

Adonai. El Shaddai. Father. You have lavished Your love on us. That You have done so because You chose to and adopted us into Your family, is beyond our understanding. Our true identity is found in You and this truth is the antidote to insecurity and despair. We are Your children and You are the Good Father. Thank You.

 

 

Advent Week 4: Day 2 – LOVE

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Prayer

Almighty God. Omnipresent One. Father. Thank You that we do not have to earn Your love because we never can. Thank You for loving us and sending Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Thank You, Father. Thank You.

 

Week 4 Advent 2016 – The Love of Advent

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“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”

(Isaiah 9:6, NKJV)

 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17, AMP)

The full lyrics of this hymn can be found here.

Prayer

Elohim. Eternal God. Everlasting Father. Thank You. Thank You for Your love. Thank You.