For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Friday, April 29, 2011

More than Facebook Friends

Philemon 1:6-7
I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

I signed up for a Facebook account a few years ago so that I could see pictures of my grandchildren, great nieces and nephews and my friends’ growing families. During the time I’ve been a member of Facebook, I’ve received several friend requests. Many from family and folks from my church, and quite a few from people I went to school with.

This week my friend Janice suggested that several of our college buddies and I “friend” one of our mutual college pals, Kim. I remembered that she married one of the guys from college, so I was acquainted with both of them. When I visited her page, I found out that her husband was in the hospital with serious medical issues. He was in need of prayer. Soon these friends who reconnected sent up prayers for Joe and typed words of encouragement to Kim. I have not seen these people in more than thirty years, yet God brought us together again so that we could lift up our brother and sister in Christ to him and pour our love over them. God knew that Kim and Joe needed encouragement and he knew who to send their way. He does that for all of his children. I pray that he continues to give me opportunities to refresh and encourage the hearts of his people.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Celebrate Easter

Luke 9:47-48
Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him.
 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

My daughter Sara invited me to attend the Easter program she was directing at her church. Dylan, my five-year-old granddaughter had her first speaking part ever, and I was excited for her. When I arrived at the church, I sat down with Maggie, Zeke and Eli ready to be entertained by an enthusiastic group of children. With microphones in place, they stood before the crowd anxious to begin. From the very first note to the praises at the end, those young hearts glorified Jesus as they told the story of his crucifixion and resurrection with a sincerity that only a child could have.

About midway through the program, Dylan spoke her well practiced line, “It’s amazing to think what Jesus did, just for us.” From the heart of a child, the truth that sets us free flowed with joy. As the children continued to raise their voices and sing about Jesus, I sat humbled and grateful to be in the presence of the one who died for me. Celebrate Easter this year with the sincere heart of a child, praising Jesus for his great gift.

Friday, April 15, 2011

God's Gift

Ephesians 2:8
For it is by
 grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
Romans 5:15
But the
 gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

Walking through the yard in spring, I am delighted to see one of my favorite flowers. The purple, forest violets pop up among the scraggly green grass, greeting me and reminding me that warmer weather is just around the corner. These little blossoms sprout up without any help from me. They grow and take care of themselves. God waters them and shines the sun on them. They are a free gift that I never have to labor over.

Much like the grace that God gives freely to his children, the violets bring hope. Jesus died for me. He wrapped my sin around him and took it to the cross, and Praise the Lord he rose again. I cannot earn grace. I cannot buy grace. I can only accept grace as God’s loving gift. With Palm Sunday approaching, I am reminded of the way Jesus suffered so that I might live. I pray that as we approach Easter that our thoughts go to Jesus and the promise of heaven. He is the way, the truth, and the life. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kick it to the Curb

Ephesians 1:6-8a
…to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. 

On Friday morning the garbage trucks weave in and out of our town’s streets. They stop by house after house picking up the trash left out the night before. On Thursdays we gather up all of our rubbish and fill our cans with the unwanted junk, everything from used tissues to the science experiments that grow in my fridge (not as much as when the kids were home). My wonderful husband rolls the can to the curb to await pick-up, leaving us thankful that the stuff is taken away and not left to smell up the neighborhood.

Our sin much like the trash could be left to fester and stink, destroying our lives and hurting the people around us. But, God says in his word that we need to lay down our sins at his feet and ask for forgiveness. He wants to lavish us with his grace. He wants us to recognize that he forgives us. He wants us to kick our spiritual trash to the curb so he can take it away and bury it forever. God sent Jesus to earth as a sacrifice for our sins. He loves us and wants us to know that his grace covers us. Praise the Lord for his love and grace.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Voice of Truth

Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

The library where I work has two floors. Students seeking quiet study space go to the second floor. And on the first floor the voices sail around the room at a low roar. From my desk, I hear people laughing with their friends and some groaning over a poor grade. Many are studying in groups and others are talking on their phones. Just hearing all of those voices makes me want to cover my ears and stop listening.

Sometimes, I feel that way in life. So many voices call to me, and try to influence me; the news, emails, commercials, co-workers, family, friends and on it goes.  Only one voice speaks the truth, the Bible which God inspired to be the book that guides our lives. Sometimes I get discouraged because my understanding comes at a slow pace, but then God opens his word and shows me his desire for my life. Casting Crowns sings one of my favorite songs, The Voice of Truth, which tells me “do not be afraid”, because above all of the other voices, I can choose with confidence to believe God’s voice of truth.