A Call to Love

If there was ever a time when we are called to show an extraordinary display of love for God and each other, it is now. I’ve been questioning what we as Christians are doing to show love during these hectic times.

Reading the following scripture, I tried to put a filter in place to determine whether modern-day Christianity actually survives the test of Jesus’ definition of love. Let’s read this together and ask the Holy Spirit to help us answer that question.

The Great Commandment

 Matthew 22 (English Standard Version)

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 

This is the great and first commandment. 

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Along with these scriptures, we would be remiss not to read and understand God’s further definition of love.

1 John 4:20 (English Standard Version)

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So, let’s ask ourselves:

  1. Do we treat everyone with this kind of love? Does it matter whether they have the same color of skin as ours, speak with the same language that we use?

2. Are we prejudiced in any way?

3. Do we encourage hate of any person?

4. Do we support bullying?

5. Do we reach out and pick up the peaceful person that was just beaten down–by fists or guns–or words? Or do we join in?

6. Do we judge a person by whether they are poor, or not?

7. Do we act out, in any way, with disdain, judgmental thoughts or actions, or do we try to understand a person who is different from us? who may have a different religious affiliation? a different way in describing their belief system? Or do we think that we are the only people who have all the answers?

8. Do we agree that requiring servitude by anyone is ok? is loving? is the way Jesus would treat people?

I think this is a somber time in all of our lives when we should quietly sit and reflect on these questions. If we fall short of the definition of love as Jesus describes it, we have an imperative to go to Him and ask forgiveness, turn away from that wrongful attitude, and humble ourselves as we seek God’s guidance in remedying our actions. That way He will be glorified rather than being ashamed of us.

Are we really Christians?

If we don’t display the love and light from our Lord, then we should stop using His name–in vain!

Your sister in Christ,

Sharon

We are the World! Happy New Year!

Praying for blessings to all of you around the world. May we all come together to find what is best in each of us. Love surely is better than hate. Working together, standing together, loving together will make the difference. If you are upset about something, find your voice. Go on Twitter, Facebook, start a Website, care and share positive ideas and progressive thinking instead of crying in a corner. We can all light the place where we stand and that light will shine enough to change things.

Be blessed with much love, joy, and happiness!

Sharon & Erick

We are the world!

There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And its time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can’t go on pretending day by day
That someone, somehow will soon make a change
We are all a part of Gods great big family
And the truth, you know,
Love is all we need

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So lets start giving

God’s Agape Love

Paul reminded the church at Corinth the kind of love Christ offers to us– Agape love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” Don’t we need the same prescription today? Don’t groups still fight with each other? Don’t we flirt with those we shouldn’t? Aren’t we sometimes quiet when we should speak?

Someday there will be a community where everyone behaves and no one complains. But it won’t be this side of heaven. So till then we reason, we confront, and we teach. But most of all we love. Such love isn’t easy. Not even for Jesus. Listen to his frustration in Mark 9:19: “You people have no faith. How long must I stay with you? How long must I put up with you? How long? Until it kills me!  Jesus bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, and endured all things! Even the cross.

From A Love Worth Giving
A-Love-Worth-Giving

Loving Like God Loves

 

Need more patience? Is generosity an elusive virtue? Having trouble putting up with ungrateful relatives or cranky neighbors? God puts up with you when you act the same.

Luke 6:35 says, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” Can’t we love like this? Not without God’s help we can’t. Our relationships need more than a social gesture. Some of our friends need a flood of tears. Our children need to be covered in the oil of our love.

But if we haven’t received these things ourselves, how can we give them to others? Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that apart from God, “the heart is deceitful about all things.” We need help from an outside source. A transfusion. Would we love as God loves? Then we start by receiving God’s love!

~ Max Lucado

From A Love Worth Giving
A-Love-Worth-Giving

The Lost Art of Listening

Incourage.Me

I was listening to a podcast recently by two of my favorite human beings — Emily P. Freeman of Chatting at the Sky and Myquillyn Smith of The Nesting Place (this podcast is called, Hope*Ologie and I recommend it as a sort of Vitamin D for the soul). Anyway, they were each taking a turn answering listener questions but soon discovered that while one was sharing their answer the other was inevitably not listening because they were too busy trying to think up their own answer.

It made me laugh.

It made them laugh.

Listening to friends laughing while you’re folding laundry is a great way to start a week.

But it got me thinking.

Because some days I think friendship feels like that — one person sharing and another person thinking about what they’re going to say. Instead of listening to what’s being said.

Some days a friend is trying to share and instead of laying down all the things we’re mentally fiddling around with and focusing our heads, hearts, eyes, and mouths at our friend, we’re actually preoccupied with a sort of mental gymnastics planning what WE want to say next.

Sometimes I imagine those conversations like this:

Friend: Gah, I’m so sad today. I feel stupid and dumb at my job, and there’s this weird nagging loneliness I can’t seem to shake.

Me: (internally thinking: Oh man, I know EXACTLY how that feels — this week has been the WORST. Just wait till I tell her about how I blew that deadline and how I’m sure my boss thinks I’m stupid and why won’t my kids go to bed on time anymore.)

Friend takes a breath: —-

Me: Oh man, I know EXACTLY how that feels — this week has been the WORST. Just wait till I tell you about how I blew that deadline and how I’m sure my boss thinks I’m stupid and why won’t my kids go to bed on time anymore.

Friend: (stranded and without a way to steer the conversation back to the encouragement they so desperately need just feels even lonelier instead).

The thing is, sometimes it’s not our turn to talk.

“Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.” {James 1: 19-21, MSG}

Sometimes, listening is the most powerful gift we can give a friend. Especially when they’re trying to share something that feels vulnerable to them or that feels vulnerable to us — for example, when they feel misunderstood and they’re trying to tell us about it.

Because sometimes our determination to speak before we’re properly done listening is an act of self-defense. We load our responses, our arguments, and our words up in front of us to block out what’s being said and lob our own point of view out into the conversation instead.

Nothing will shut down true communication faster.

But nothing will disarm a friend more than the grace you grant them when you listen with palms up and walls down — inviting their hurt or their joy, their exhaustion or their delight, their fear or their fun, into your own self so you can understand it from the inside out.

Nothing is more powerful than giving someone the gift of truly hearing them without tagging on your own conditions, explanations, or justifications.

Here are three easy ways to put this into practice:

1. Listen to the whole story before you start formulating a response.

2. Ask follow-up questions.

3. Repeat the key parts of what you heard, empathizing with them.

Question for you: What makes you feel truly heard? Let’s crowd-source some of the best ways we can revive the lost art of listening well. 

God will guard you from the evil one

riday June 27

Today’s promise:

What do I do when Satan attacks?

Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith.Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.

James 4:7-8 NLT

Not the real thing

 

Wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness; you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness. You can do a kind action when you are not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty was wrong — only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him. In other words, badness cannot succeed even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself; badness is only spoiled goodness.…Evil is a parasite, not an original thing.

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
Quoted in The Quotable Lewis edited by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root (Tyndale) p 193

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

Have a blessed New Year!

Just wanted to wish you all a blessed New Year…full of happiness, love, warmth, encouragement, healing, discernment, wisdom, praise to our Lord, humility, gratitude, forgiveness, grace, mercy, hope, faith, spiritual growth, victory, and all the good things our Lord has in store for each of us.

 

Sharon & Erick

Verse of the Day – Let’s not let generosity and concern for those less fortunate be a once a year thing!

VERSE:
When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf,
do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless
and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the
work of your hands.
— Deuteronomy 24:19
http://www.SearchGodsWord.org/desk/?query=Deuteronomy+24:19

THOUGHT:
This is clearly a passage old Scrooge hadn’t seen! God has
always set aside a provision for the poor. In this time of the year
when many people the world over take special time to look after those
who are less fortunate, let’s open our date books and schedule a
week to dedicate time for special generosity in May and in August
to go with a heart committed to be generous all the time. Let’s not
let generosity and concern for those less fortunate be a once a
year thing!

PRAYER:
For all of your wonderful gifts of kindness and grace, I thank
you, dear Father and God. Please stir my heart to care for others
as you do. Please help me keep that spirit of concern alive all
year long and not just around Christmas time. In Jesus’ name I ask
this. Amen.

http://www.heartlight.org/cgi-shl/todaysverse.cgi?day=20111213

Verse of the Day – God sees trouble and grief

VERSE:
You, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it
in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of
the fatherless.
— Psalm 10:14
http://www.SearchGodsWord.org/desk/?query=Psalm+10:14

THOUGHT:
Those who take advantage of people who are powerless, who are
down on their luck, or who are in compromising situations, need to
know that God sees their actions and will hold them accountable.
Those who are in distress must keep their faith in God, trusting
that he sees, cares, and will send his help at the right time.
Those of us who fit neither category need to be working for the
deliverance and blessing of those who are facing difficulties and
hardships.

PRAYER:
Gracious God, please bless several people I know who are in
times of real distress and heartbreak. Please use me to minister to
them. But please, dear Father, fill them with your Spirit so they
will have the strength and courage necessary to endure. Bless them
with deliverance that is clearly from you, so that all will know
your grace and give glory to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.