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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

And the Fruit of the Spirit is Love

Romans 12: 9-10
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

The holidays bring out the best in us and sometimes the not so good. As I say good-bye to another Thanksgiving and hello to Christmas, I want to focus on the fruit I'm to produce as a follower of Jesus. 

I was telling my husband the other night, as we checked out a few early Christmas lights, how much I love the spirit of the holidays. Happiness that seems to float in the air. The holidays are a time of love. A time to honor family and friends. And a time to give love to the people we don't know by giving. God calls us to love, not just those who are easy to love, but all people. I need to pour my love over each person as in turn I spill out Jesus' love.

Jesus tells his disciples, in John 13, to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He knew that when he went to heaven he needed to leave his followers with a direct command. Those words are for us, too. Jesus wants us to love each other and to show that love by listening, showing compassion, meeting needs and sharing Jesus. Loving others is not always easy, but God gives us the tools we need. If we tap into his tool box, the Bible, we find love enough to share. 

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Jubilant Little Tree

Hebrews 12:28
...So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. Let us worship him with deep respect and wonder.

As I drove up the long, winding driveway to the college where I work, I noticed a tree. Not a profound statement I know. The grounds are covered with several wooded areas. But something stood out to me about this little tree. The golden leaves still clung to it, even though we're halfway through November. The deciduous trees that surrounded it had lost their leaves over the course of the previous month. But here in the midst of the bareness stood a pretty golden-leafed tree. 

My heart filled with joy and wonder when I drove around the curve and caught sight of the jubilant little tree. With leaves still glowing, it was like it was shouting, "see what our amazing God can do. He can turn my leaves into rays of glory." The next day I stopped and took a photo of the beauty I'd seen. And again I witnessed the incredible creativity of the God who loves me. The natural world is full of God's extraordinary imagination. I hope as you celebrate Thanksgiving this week you take a moment and worship the God of wonder. Praise God for the beauty he created and the joy it brings!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What is Unseen

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving
 to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The music from the chimes on my back porch tinkles through the air. Dried leaves bustle across the lawn. The bush's branches sway and shake. All of this happens because of an element of nature I can't see. A crisp autumn wind plays a note as each tube strikes the chimes' clapper with its own note. The flowing air whisks brown, yellow, and red leaves about like children playing tag. A brisk breeze shakes the almost bare branches. The current of air that flows through on this fall day moves all of these objects. I can't see the breeze, but I know it exists.
The Apostle Paul shared with the Corinthian church his thankfulness for the unseen. He understood that whatever happens on this earth is temporary. He appreciated the grace that was given by the sacrifice of Jesus. As a result he kept his eyes on the unseen, on eternity. I can't see the breeze that moves my chimes, nor can I see eternity in life on earth. But I can place my hope in and fix my eyes on Jesus, the King of life. Today I am thankful for God's plan for eternity. I'm thankful God loves his people enough to prepare a home in heaven. Praise God for his sovereignty!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Some of my friends have taken the November challenge. They're writing a thankful post each day and sharing on Facebook. This is a great practice and I find it uplifting considering the negative and controversial posts I've seen. As I follow along and read all the wonderful things people appreciate, I can't help but consider my own blessings and trials. Yes, I said trials.

Jesus' brother James penned these words in James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” As I am thankful for the good God pours in my life, I'm appreciative of the trials that make me stronger. Without them I wouldn't be as satisfied with life or able to struggle through day-to-day challenges. Because God strengthens me, I want to enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Praise God for the opportunity to show gratitude and grow in him!

What are you thankful for?