When the Pharisees heard how he had beseted the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question that hoped would show him up: ’Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, ”’Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. ’This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.” These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22: 34-40 (Message)
Prayer: O Lord God, you are the holy lawgiver, you are the salvation of your people. By your Spirit renew us in your convenant of love, and train us to care tenderly for all our neighbors, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
“But Jesus said.”Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them. For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” And he put His hands on their heads and blessed them before He left.” Matt. 19:14-15
We don’t often read in the Bible of our relationship with God. He is our Father and we are his children. I never fully understood nor appreciated what that meant until I had children of my own. Children are a wonderful and amazing gift from God. Each new life that is created is such a miracle.
However, all of us who have been parents know that children challenge up to the absolute limit at times. That independent streak blossoms at two years old and often grows dramatically during the teenage years.
My children have taught me many lessons about willingness to follow God’s leading or flexing my ‘independence.”
One of the most memorable lessons I learned when my son was about three years old. It was a sunny, brisk day in March, I took my son in his wagon for a walk up the street. He decided that he did not want to ride in the wagon. He would rather pull the wagon himself. That was fine until I spotted a large puddle in the street ahead of us. I gently put my hand on the wagon handle and started to guide my son away from the puddle. He resisted and pushed back in the direction of the puddle. The more I tried to lead him away the more he headed directly in the puddle. As the cold water started to surround him, he sat down in it and cried.
There was a small voice that said, “This is a lesson for you. You want to do things your own was even as I try to lead you safely past trouble. Once you have yourself in a big mess, you sit down and cry and want to be rescued.” As a loving parent, I picked my son up and comforted him. I took him home, gave him a warm bath and fresh clothes. He was my child.
That is what Father God does for us—He will guide us if we will follow. He picks us up and comforts us when we fall. He washes us with the blood of Jesus and the waters of baptism and gives us new garments. We are His children. Praise is to God.
Prayer: Dear Father God, thank you for the privilege of being your child. Help me follow your guidance and gentle leading. Thank you for being there to comfort me and wipe away my tears when I have gone the wrong way. Amen
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husband so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2 (NIV)
The labyrinth behind the church is so representative of my life. As I look back I can clearly see the times when I have been further away from Christ and the times I have been close. The times I have been close to Christ are the times I have been diligent about Bible study and prayer. What amazes me is that He is always there; it us we who move away.
My husband was lost and depressed, and I could not reach him. He was way out on the perimeter path needing what was at the center of the labyrinth, but not knowing it. Encouraging him to come to church sounded like nagging and just pushed him away. I got to the point that I didn’t talk about it for fear of him feeling jealous of my relationship with Jesus. I had a friend ask me how my husband was handling my illness, and I replied that he wasn’t. Her response at the time baffled me. She said, “Live your Christian life in front of him.”
Around the same time I read this passage in 1 Peter. Until that moment, I truly believed that God would not use me to reach him, but that He would use someone else—how little faith I had in our Lord. I not only began reading the Bible and Christian books in front of him; I began praying for him. Prayer is the ultimate love language and what happened when I stopped trying to “save” our relationship and instead entrusted our relationship into God’s care was better that I ever could have imagined. My husband has since been rescued from living life his way and is now committed to living for Jesus. He has thanked me for loving him enough to pray for him. I celebrate this miracle every day.
Since we put Christ at the center of our relationship, the blessings have been abundant. We enjoy a greater sense of intimacy, deeper conversation, and truly enjoy each other’s company.
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for the council of godly people and authors. Enable me to let go of any resentment and anger, as much as I want to hang onto it because I feel it is justified. Show me when top speak and when to keep quiet and pray. Help me to conduct myself in a way that will win others to you without a word. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
“Then Jesus said,” Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
The days rush by
Where does the time go?
We hurry and hurry
Handling chores to and fro?
Is this what’s important?
Demanding schedules with no rest?
God, can you help us
to make our lives the best?
Our families are suffering
and we are too.
Please help us, O Lord,
to set our sights on you.
Help us to forget the demands of the world
and to focus on each other.
To nurture the gifts you give us
and share these with one another.
Help us to grow together as a family
Share burdens, sorrows and joys.
We look to you for guidance
as we raise our girls and boys.
When my family was young I remember being caught up in the daily schedules of getting everyone where they needed to be and doing all the household chores that needed to be done. Today life is even faster paced and instantaneous than it was when my family was growing up. In recent years I have learned how to pace myself, and that is what I wish for families these days/ Worship together as a family. Decide what “busy ”activities you can do away with. Take time to spend with your family doing nothing particular, but just being together. Talk to each other. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Work to relax and enjoy the life and blessings that God has given you.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we are all given the same amount of time each day and it is up to us to determine how was spend it. Some times are set for us and are not in our control, but we do have times that we can use as we wish. Help us to use this time in nurturing, relaxing ways, so that we can rejuvenate ourselves for the rest of the day to come. Everyone needs some down time, even you did, Lord. Thank you for all the blessings you give us, especially the gift of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)
Twelve days at the Cleveland Clinic, seven in intensive care, no feeling from the waist down, no feeling from my elbows to my finger tips…Why me Lord? IV treatments…they should help, you may never walk again, and this as good as it may be…In a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Why me Lord?
I’m no longer critical enough for the clinic. Move to a “rehab” center. All these people are “old and feeble.” Why me Lord?
A change for the good…crutches instead of a wheelchair. I can “handle” this. A four month stay in a rehab facility turns into a four week stay…Monthly trips to Cleveland for two days of treatments and out-patient therapy in Sandusky.
Fifteen months later…I can feel, I can walk, and I can even run. I’m discharged from the Cleveland Clinic and labeled “A Miracle.”
Today many people would never believe this story. Praise God it has a “Happy Ending.”
As I reflect, one passage of scripture plays over in my mind. Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Even when I had the “why me?” blues, my brothers and sisters in Christ reminded me to hold on to God’s promise of hope and that he will keep his promise of never leaving us. When my body would not respond, God moved my muscles, healed my nerves and carried me
Prayer: Dearest God, when I am overcome with darkness and despair help me to open my heart to your message and presence. During my trials help me to increase my compassion for others who suffer. Amen
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty…I can do everything through his who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11:13 (NIV)
For as long as I can remember I’ve been worried or stressed out about something, whether it be keeping good grades, finding time to squeeze school, sports, and learning musical instruments into my life, or just trying to find my direction in life.
I’ve struggled with prioritizing and deciding whether to put the things that should be my priorities, like school first, or to put what really are my priorities like playing golf and guitar first.
The result of this mess is unbelievable stress that seems to take over my head some days. Trying to keep everything in control is definitely hard for me, being a 13 years old girl with little or no major life experiences, but it’s become much easier for me since I’ve begun to pray more and become closer to God.
I feel as if my prayers have been answered and a huge burden has been lifted off my back. I’ve learned that eventually everything works out and turns out okay. Life’s too short to spend it all worrying, God is and will always be in control of my life and I am confident that no matter what, He will take good care of me.
Prayer: Dear God, please help me to be freed from stress and worry and help me to realize that you are in control. Amen
“Be grateful for the good things that the Lord your God has given you and your family…” Deuteronomy 26:11 (TEV)
I had a very hard time writing this, but then I thought about sharing how the Lord has worked in my life. I came to know the Lord at the age of eleven when I attended a Mother-Daughter luncheon with my Mom.
When I was growing up, my Dad was in the hospital having back surgery. We ladies lived on peanut butter. One day when we got back from visiting with Dad there were groceries at the door. One Christmas, we were not able to get groceries for the Christmas holidays, but oh boy, did we get a surprise basket filled with Christmas dinner. I have seen the Lord provide over the over again.
A friend invited me to attend ALPHA at church. One session we had a lesson on prayer. Pastor was the small group leader and he asked if there were any needs. I said ‘yes’. We were going through a tough time at home and we were down to one jar of peanut butter but I knew the Lord would provide for our needs.
I trusted my Heavenly Father to provide. I thought nothing of the prayers we prayed at ALPHA until the phone rang and it was a friend saying the Lord provided funds for my family for groceries. I cried happy tears. We were able to get groceries. I have learned to trust the Lord in my growing up.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for providing for my family’s daily needs through the service of others. Amen
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)
I did the best I could.
I worked as hard as I could to fix it.
I repeatedly did what was right.
I listened to your needs and tried to meet them.
I laid awake nights thinking "what more can I do?"
Feelings of frustration and utter despair are settling in. Is all for naught?"
I'll watch television as a distraction.
I see violence, murder, economic depression, politics, poverty-not very uplifting.
Where do I find relief? I read the Bible. There are many encouraging passages filled with God's promises for His children. My favorite is found in Galatians 6:9-10. The footnote in my study Bible sums it up this way. It is discouraging to continue to do right and receive no word of thanks or see no tangible results. But Paul challenged up to keep on doing good and to trust God for the results. In due time we will reap a harvest of blessings.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Gracious Lord, Let me never forget that You are in charge of all. Then "I" do what "I"can do and it seems to no avail, let me stop and put my faith and trust in You, knowing that "I" am not alone and resting in the assurance that that if I continue to do good and trust in You, I will reap a harvest of blessings. Amen