THE STORY OF THE VIRGINS
“God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bride groom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.’
“In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bridegroom’s here! Go out and greet him!’
“The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some if your oil.’
“They answered, ‘There might not be enough to go around: go but your own.’
“They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.’
“Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying: ’Master, we’re here. Let us in.’
“He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’
“So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.’ Matthew 25:1-13 (Message)
Prayer: O God of justice and love, you illumine our way through life with the words of your Son. Give us the light we need, and awaken us to the needs of others, through Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord. Amen
ALL IN GOOD TIME
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)
I was going through my coupon keeper recently and it occurred to me how small, mundane things like coupons can illustrate the drastic transitions we humans make over our lifetimes. Where, at one point in my life, I had an entire section in my coupon keeper specifically devoted to baby items (diapers, formula, baby food, wipes, etc.) I now have nothing of the sort. Today I’m much more apt to cut coupons for individually packaged items to make it easier to pack school lunches or to provide a snack for the whole t-ball team. I imagine in the future I’ll be clipping coupon s for bulk items se as to adequately feed three hungry teenagers and their friends after school. And, of course, there will surely come a time soon when I’ll be collecting coupons for hair color kits and age defying skin creams.
I read somewhere recently that human beings are hardwired to resist change. The dear on the unknown and the unfamiliar can often be unbearable to many. I see this nearly everywhere I turn lately to it at work or home or in my kid’s schools or even at church. Most notable, however, I see this resistance within myself. I often find myself wishing I could stop time and savor the moments for a much longer period than I have been naturally given. This can sometimes lead to a deep feeling of sadness and “longing” for what used to be.
Yet, God’s gentle reminders (like my coupon organizer) show me He is in control of the passage of time and it is He and He alone who knows the pace at which it should pass. He knows the what, when, and how of life and it is my job to rely on faith to allow it to happen as it should. All of what I have, including my time, is a precious gift from Him. No, matter how it is packaged, I am thoroughly grateful.
Prayer: Dear God. Thank you for the gift of time and change. Help me to appreciate the subtle messages you send intended to show me who’s really in control. Help me to learn to accept that change is good and purposeful. Amen
PASS IT ON
“I am reminded of the sincerity of your faith, a faith which was alive in Lois your grandmother and Eunice your mother before you, and which, I am confident, lives in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:5 (NEB)
Have you ever been asked, “Who taught you to pray?” “Who instilled in you the importance of placing your trust in Jesus?” Was it a God-fearing parent, grandparent or another who wanted you to know and love Jesus.
In 2 Timothy 1:5 Paul implies that Timothy’s faith was a result of his grandmother and mother passing on to him the heritage they had receive. It is important to “Train a child the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) This training is most important in bringing up our children in Christian instruction. We should be an example of God’s love through our daily actions (going to worship), words (Bible study) and teachings (Sunday School ). We who have come to know God’s love in Christ should be privileged to pass it on to our children. Pass it on daily.
Prayer: O God, help us by your word and example to show our children and others your love in Christ. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
WALK WITH GOD
“ The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil: for thou are with me; thy rod and staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over .Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23 (KJV)
In our lives, we often wonder what life would have been like if we had chosen the other path. When accepting God into our lives, we sometimes take the path less traveled. With our faith we follow the path which has been chosen for us. It may not always be easy, but with God’s help he will see us through. Remember God will not give us more than we can handle. If life or troubles are becoming too much, ask God for help and he will be there. You will feel the pressure ease up. It may not right away, but in the time frame in which God has chosen. My favorite Bible verse is in the 23rd Psalms. It has brought me peace when I need it in my life. It is a reminder that God is with me and to put, my trust in him.
Prayer: Lord, you have given is so many different ways to understand our life’s journey. I reflect on this as I read “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be a traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for than the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how ways leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. Amen
JUST AS I AM
“ For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13(NLT)
A song by Francesco Battistelli entitled “Free to be Me” says “Cause I got a few dents in my fender, got a couple rips in my jeans, try to put the pieces together, but perfection is me enemy, but on your shoulders I can see I’m free to be me.”
In my life, I have wanted to be like other people. I became a clone of how I see that person. One day, I went home thinking about how I feel like I’m not myself anymore. Then, after a few moments of looking at old pictures, I realized I wasn’t the same. I wasn’t myself. I was her. I took a few moments to ask God to give me the strength to be my own person. That stage of my life is now over, so now I can look back and think of those days as the path to becoming who I really am. I haven’t completed my journey yet, but I’m almost there. And it’s all thanks to Him (God).
“Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am; thy love unknown
Has broken ev’ry barrier down;
Now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
Prayer: Dear Gracious God, thank you for giving me the strength to wake up every day and get up out of bed and be who I want to be. Give me the strength to believe and accept myself as who I am. Please be a part of me in everything I do and am. Amen
CARRY EACH OTHER’S BURDENS
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”. Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
“The law of Christ is, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 (NIV)
When I was first introduced to Stephen Ministries in 1997 at a half-day workshop, I became interested in how this ministry would be utilized in our church. Not only would trained Stephen Ministers help Pastor by providing long-term care for anyone who is experiencing a crisis, but would also bring the message from the Stephen minister to these people of the hope in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we have learned through the Stephen Ministries program, we, children of God, are servants of Jesus Christ when we give Christian love, care, concern and empathy for our fellow human beings. He taught us through the scriptures how to love and minister to those who are hurting or going through a crisis situation. While we are caregivers to others, Christ is truly the “caregiver”. He is the one who can show the way to complete healing and a loving relationship with God.
In 1998 two other people in our congregation and I went for a week of training with the Stephen Ministers organization. Since then we have trained twelve Stephen Ministers who have given Christian care to many people in our congregation, as well as community members. All of the people involved with our Stephen Ministry program have used the gifts that have been given to them to reach out to those in need, thus fulfilling the “law of Christ”.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come to you with praise and thanksgiving for the gift of your Son and of the Spirit. In your love for all humankind you have commissioned each of us to love one another as you love us. You have given each of us special gifts to do your work and bring all people to your loving care. We accept your command to carry your healing love to all people. Give us the faith and humility to follow Jesus’ example of caring servanthood and the love needed to care for those who are heavily burdened. We ask this through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen
BELONGING TO GOD
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 (RSV)
To God’s people in captivity God speaks words of promise and hope. Not captives in a foreign land, we may still feel captive to the circumstances of life. Global conflicts, natural disasters, economic chaos can make us feel hopeless and abandoned. Into our lives God’s Word comes to us. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.”(Isaiah 43:1) Hear God’s promise of life for each of us. See it in Jesus. Touch and taste it in Holy Communion. Feel it warm our hearts as the Holy Spirit enlivens God’s speech with us through the Scriptures. God loves us, gives himself to us in Jesus Christ, and says “You are mine.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, when life seems chaotic and we feel hopeless, cheer us with your words of life and hope. Keep us centered of Jesus our Savior and Lord. Amen