Week of Prayer 2020 – Monday

Thanks for joining us for day two of our week of prayer as we join with the Assemblies of God and the  theme, “Leveling the Praying Field”.  

Monday Prayer Focus

As I present needs and concerns to You. O Lord, may I be content to leave the results to You.

Monday Prayer Activity

In the book, “Leveling the Praying Field”, the author Donna L. Barrett shares the below challenge:

On the playing field, what if we played like we were winning even if the scoreboard were covered? On the praying field, what if we prayed with confidence that God is responding even when we can’t see the results? What if we gave up the need to be the arbiters of God’s will because we understand that His plans are far above anything our most astute minds could dream up?

When there’s a good team leader, each person on the team only needs to carry out the assignment given to them and the group wins. General Motors makes cars on an assembly line. There may be an employee who puts four bolts on the floorboards of cars all day long, but never gets to see the finished shiny car on the showroom floor. If he faithfully completes his assignment, he knows he helped to build that final product. In a similar way, we’re on God’s team and our assignment is to pray for His purposes to be fulfilled. We need to pray faithfully knowing we have a Creator God who is doing His part to answer our prayers.1

Ask yourself if there are areas in your life in which you are not trusting God for His best results. Write about that situation and ask the Lord to help you to relinquish the control of that situation over to Him. Trust that He has your best interest in mind and rest in the knowledge that He is for you and not against you.

Monday Scripture Focus

Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

References:

  1. Barrett, Donna L. Leveling The Praying Field: Helping Every Person Talk To God And Hear from God. Gospel Publishing House. 2019. 50-51

Week of Prayer 2020 – Sunday

I want to invite everyone reading this to join with my church, Grace Community Church, and the Assemblies of God as we start our year strong with a week of prayer Sunday 1/5 through Saturday 1/11.  Our theme this year is “Leveling the Praying Field”.  The book with the same title, by Donna L. Barrett, is a great resource and is available at Amazon and other retailers.

At the beginning of each year, I like to seek the Lord for what He has for me as a focus for the coming year. This year my focus is on 20/20 Vision. When you have an eye exam and discover that you do not have that perfect 20/20 vision we all desire, there are specific lenses that are useful to correct your vision.  One of the best places to start correcting spiritual vision is through prayer! It is so important that we establish the priority and right perspective of what our personal prayer life can be. Watch for our daily focus updates each day this week and use this time to refocus your attention to making prayer a priority in your life in 2020.

Sunday Prayer Focus

Strengthen in me. O Lord, the commitment to regularly talk with You and hear from You through prayer.

Sunday Prayer Activity

I encourage you to take some time today to make a commitment to dedicate specific time to pray this week and then carry this new commitment into the year.  Write down your plans and do your best to stick with it. Remember that communicating is more than talking; it also involves listening. Train yourself to spend time before the Lord listening to what He has to say to you.

Often we make prayer so difficult, but refocus on making prayer more like a conversation with your best friend. Tell your best friend how wonderful he is, ask about his plans for your life, ask for his help and protection, then listen and follow his advice.

This may seem oversimplified, but it is a very basic outline of the prayer Jesus demonstrated in the passage below.

Sunday Scripture Focus

Luke 11:1-4 NKJV

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Psalm 27:7-8 NLT

Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

What Will You Do With Black Friday?

Today marks the beginning of a new holiday season. As with many of our holidays, the once simplified celebrations have become much commercialized.  For many, Thanksgiving, which we celebrated yesterday, has become about “Black Friday” which now really begins Thursday.

I am not here to criticize anyone who takes advantage of the sales of black Friday, even if it is on Thursday, but what I do want to do is look at a parallel story in Scripture.

I always struggle with that term “Black Friday”.  Originally, this was used because it is the day many retailers finally move from the red to the black, or become profitable, because of the large amount of shopping for the upcoming Christmas Holiday.

However, when I hear the term “Black Friday”, it just sounds like a dark thing.  Don’t you think it is interesting that another Friday that was a dark day for many is called “Good Friday”?

Indulge my play on words here for a moment, because I want to show you what a man named Peter did with his “Black Friday” that most call “Good Friday”.  This is the place in the story, where if you were watching it on TV or at a movie, you would see the words flash across the screen “ABOUT ONE MONTH EARLIER”.

Who is this man named Peter?  We first learn about Peter in Matthew 4:18-20:

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

We learn here that Peter was the first man Jesus called to follow Him.  The Bible says that he and his brother IMMEDIATELY left their nets and followed Him, even though they didn’t know anything about Him.

This is the first clue we get about what kind of man Peter was.

     1.  He Was A Man Of Faith

We must use faith when we do not know the outcome.  Peter shows here that he is willing to use his faith to follow Jesus.  We read a few chapters later where Jesus named him the first of his twelve disciples and empowered him for ministry. (Matthew 10:1-2)

The next thing we learn about Peter is that he is:

     2.  A Risk Taker

A familiar story is found in Matthew 14:25-32 (NKJV)

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

It is easy to criticize Peter for having this moment of weak faith and doubt, but I have always said it this way, “I WOULD RATHER BE A WET WATER WALKER THAN A DRY BOAT TALKER!!!”

Peter was testing his sea legs, he took the risk, and I am sure that his faith and his character were strengthened by it.

The next key scripture we read about Peter is found in Matthew 16:13-19 NKJV

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus tells us the next characteristic of Peter he is:

     3.  A Rock

Again, we see here Peter is at the head of the class.  Jesus asked the question and Peter is the one who spoke up!  If you remember from the first passage we read, his name was Simon and Jesus called him Peter.

The word “Peter”, in Greek, means “a rock”. Christ gave it to Simon when he called him to be a disciple.

There are many different opinions of the interpretation of this passage, but let me tell you my personal thoughts.  When asked who Jesus is, Peter says that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God…..Jesus is pleased with Peter’s response and tells him that he is blessed because this information has been REVEALED to him by His Father in heaven!

Basically, Jesus is saying that because Peter expressed His true character by calling Him the Son of God, He also, has given Peter a name expressive of his character. He called him Peter, a rock, denoting firmness, solidity, and stability.

Further, I believe Jesus is telling Peter that this REVEALED KNOWLEDGE OF WHO HE IS COMES WITH MUCH AUTHORITY!

Peter’s learning curve continues just a few verses later in Matthew 16:21-23.

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Here we see the next characteristic of Peter.

     4.  He Was A Passionate Man

The definition of passionate is, “capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feelings.”  Peter clearly shows in this passage that he is capable of intense emotion, he shows he was dramatically affected by what Jesus described that was going to happen to Him, and he was intense in expressing those feelings!

Peter was a passionate man.  He had left everything to follow Jesus.  He recognized Him as the Son of God, I am sure he did not expect that the Son of God would suffer and die!  I am sure Peter could not bear to think of Jesus’ death, He most likely expected a triumphant Messiah and couldn’t imagine how death fit in that plan.

Has your passion ever gotten you into trouble?  Mine has.  There have been times I have felt so passionate about something at work that I just didn’t know when to be quiet.  It could be perceived here that Peter was in trouble with Jesus for expressing his passion.

For many, this would have been a good quitting place.  A place to get disillusioned and to stop being part of the Jesus team!  Not Peter.  He didn’t quit; he received the rebuke from his Master.  He had to learn that his passion was in opposition to the master plan of salvation for all of us.  He learned submission and continued with fervency.

In fact, we read that six days later he took that same kind of passion up on the mount of transfiguration.  You can read about it in Matthew 17:1-8.  Peter wanted to stay in that place of God’s presence and passionately expressed this desire.

You just have to love Peter.  He tries so hard!  We have already seen he isn’t afraid to move in faith, to be a risk taker, and to express his passion.  He is trying to get it right this time.  He says to the Lord, “It is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Peter recognized that this was a place in God’s presence he had never experienced before….it was a good place!  What he still had to learn is there is always purpose for the presence.  They would need this experience in the coming days.  Furthermore, if they had stayed there, not only would their purpose not have been fulfilled, but also the boy at the foot of that mountain would never have been healed.

This is the place in the story where we began before going back and looking at the previous month’s activities.  Now we find Peter is sitting with Jesus and all the disciples as they celebrate a Passover meal, much like we sat around tables in the last few days with our loved ones celebrating Thanksgiving.

Scripture tells us that they ate, they sang a hymn, and then left for the Mount of Olives.  Just as Black Friday began on Thursday this year, this was the beginning of Peter’s Black Friday.

Let’s pick up reading the story from here.

Matthew 26:31-35 NKJV

Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:  ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”

If you keep reading, you see where Jesus led them to Gethsemane.  Again, just like at the mount of transfiguration, he only took His three closest with him, this time asking them to join Him in prayer.  Peter was the first he asked.  If you know the story, it is in this garden that Jesus is arrested and taken away to face his accusers

Now let’s read about Peter’s “Black Friday”

Matthew 26:69-75 NKJV

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”  Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

We have learned that Peter is:

  1. A Man of Faith
  2. A Risk Taker
  3. A Rock
  4. A Passionate Man

But now we see that He is:

     5. A FAILURE!

This is the place in the story where we ask the question we began with….

“WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH BLACK FRIDAY?”

“What will you do with that moment of failure?”

The one thing I am confident of is that each of us have all had times in our life where we felt like a failure.  Maybe you started as a man or woman of faith, but a situation came in your life that caused you to lose hope/lose your footing/ and your faith failed.

Maybe you were the risk taker….you were the one willing to step out of the boat against all odds only to lose sight of the goal and sink ending in failure.

Perhaps you are the one who is always a rock, your stable, your fixed, your tenacious, yet that one situation caused your rock to crumble ending in failure.

Possibly, you are the passionate one.  The one who is capable of expressing intense feelings and because of your intense passion, a season of failure hits you the hardest.

You can put your own name on “Black Friday” it comes in many forms.  It could be a personal failure, but it could also be a major trial.  Maybe a family issue, maybe a health concern, the list goes on.

THE QUESTION IS, “WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH YOUR BLACK FRIDAY?”

Let’s go back and look at what Peter did with his.  Maybe you have heard the phrase, “It may feel like Friday night, but Sunday is on the way!”  Jesus died on Friday but He arose on Sunday, which afforded us the opportunity to make every failure a victory.

Not long after Jesus’ resurrection, we read where he was meeting with His disciples for breakfast…

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”  He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”  He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”  And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.  (John 21:15-18 NKJV)

I may not have any Bible scholars see this passage the way I do, but let me tell you what I see….

First, I think it is interesting that Jesus called him Simon.  He had named him Peter that means “Rock” yet here for the first time that I know of, He goes back to his given name Simon.  I personally believe that Jesus knew how Peter was feeling.  He knew that he felt like such a failure and didn’t deserve the name given to him by Jesus at that moment.  He knew Peter didn’t feel like a rock and He was reaching out to him in his current state of despair.

The second thing that stands out to me is the fact that Jesus asked Peter the same question three times. “Do you love me?”  I believe He purposefully did that because he was giving Peter the opportunity to “feel” forgiven for ALL three times he denied Him!

Now we see that Peter has a new characteristic.

     6.  Peter is Forgiven!

The third thing I see from this passage is Jesus’ response to Peter each time.  He tells him to feed and tend to My sheep.  To me, this speaks of Peter’s purpose.  He was the first man Jesus called to follow Him.  He had a plan for Peter’s life.  He wanted to take this man’s faith, his ability to be a risk taker, his stability, and his passion and turn him into a mighty minister to spread the gospel.

BUT FIRST, HE HAD TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH HIS BLACK FRIDAY!

Would he let this failure, this disappointment, this difficult day be the end of his purpose or would he allow this black day to propel him into his intended future?

If you know Scripture, you know the answer to this question.  After Jesus ascended  to heaven it was Peter who preached an amazing sermon.  Take the time to read it in Acts 2:14-41.  There were over 3000 people saved that day!

Now we see the last characteristic of Peter, he is:

     7.  An Overcomer!

You can continue to read in the book of Acts where he was used by God to perform many miracles, he ministered to the Gentiles, he was imprisoned and delivered, and he wrote two of the books of the Bible!

So what did Peter do with his “Black Friday”?  He allowed a day of great disappointment, great disillusionment, and great failure to propel him into his divine destiny.

It isn’t all about falling; it is about getting back up.  So the question I have for each of you today is, “What will you do with your “Black Friday”?

Cycles

How do we stay in faith in all the different seasons or cycles of life? I thought a practical way to consider this question is to use the analogy of laundry cycles.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly enjoy doing laundry, but the alternative is worse, which would be wearing dirty stinky clothing, or stepping out of the shower to a sour smelling towel.

Jesus said this to the disciples in John 16:33 NLT:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

With this strange analogy, we could say that just as in this world, we will have trials and sorrows; in this world, we will have dirty laundry.

Just as there are cycles in life, there are cycles to doing laundry. We live in a world of changes, and sometimes these changes seem to go to extremes, from one end of the spectrum all the way to the other.

    • In Missouri where I live, we typically enjoy four seasons of the year. There are changes that come with each of those seasons.
    • In the natural sense, we have
      • Day time and night time
      • Rainy days and sunny days
      • We celebrate the birth of a new baby and mourn the loss when another dies

Perhaps you are familiar with the most quoted passage of the Bible about this subject of seasons. You can read it in Ecclesiastes 3. This chapter describes the seasons we face in this life. As we cycle through these times of extremes, there is a place to stand in full confidence that you are never alone and God is on your side.

Some of the cycles are an act of God; some relate to the will of man. I also believe some are strategies from our enemy, who as we know is out to kill steal and destroy. That chapter tells us that everything under heaven is changeable, however, we can adapt to this because if we are a Christian, we serve an unchanging God.

Even though we find ourselves in different cycles of life, we do not have to cycle from faith to fear or faith to doubt.

THE WASH CYCLE

Using our analogy, let us consider the first cycle we typically start with, the wash cycle. I want you to try to go inside that wash machine in your mind and think about this cycle, it isn’t just water dumping in on top of you; there is agitation!

If we consider Joseph’s life in Scripture, he is a great example of someone who endured some agitating cycles in life. His brothers wanted to kill him by throwing him into a pit, but then decided to make a profit instead by selling him into slavery. He came out of that difficult season into one of blessing where he is elevated to leadership because of the favor of the Lord that was on his life.

Then later, after a false accusation by his Master’s wife, he found himself thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit! He still had the favor of the Lord on his life, which enabled him to interpret dreams. The use of this gift provided a way of escape from the prison and elevated him to a position as an overseer for the whole land of Egypt.

Sometimes the unpleasant cycles in life  complete a work that otherwise could not be accomplished. We see this in the life of Joseph. God used the cycles of agitation to create something clean and wholesome in Joseph that prepared him for the work He had for him to do. In the end, Joseph acknowledged that it was God, not his siblings, who sent him ahead to Egypt (Genesis 45:5: 7-8).

Another example of this cycle is how a pearl forms. It starts with a foreign object like a parasite or a piece of shell that accidentally lodges itself in an oyster’s soft inner body. It causes agitation and irritation to the oyster, but the result is that the oyster excretes a smooth hard crystalline substance around the irritant to protect itself. Over time, this coating creates a lovely and lustrous gem called a pearl.

THE SPIN CYCLE

The second typical cycle of laundry is the spin cycle. Have you ever felt like your world is spinning out of control? Just like agitation, if I am facing the spin cycle I want to find the good in the situation. Spinning can create an opportunity to stir some things up in us.

I love the way the Passion Translation reads James 1:2-3:

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.

How many of us feel power stirred up within us when we are faced with difficulty? If we are honest, we may say sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

I equate this concept to my analogy by comparing it to a big cover I put in my washing machine. After starting that cycle, I go on about my business and when it hits the spin cycle I start hearing this awful clunking sound. When I go in there and pause the cycle, I discover that the cover has gotten OUT OF BALANCE!

What I am saying is the spin cycle has the opportunity to stir up the power that is in you through Christ Jesus to endure all things, or the spinning can create an “OUT OF BALANCE” situation in your life.

I personally believe that how we respond to the spinning is what determines the difference? The devil likes to use the spin cycle of life to get you out of balance! That is why we are encouraged in 1 Peter 5:8 to be well balanced, because our enemy is looking for every opportunity to devour us!

Let me share a tip for keeping your balance during the spin cycle of life. We can learn this from figure skaters or professional dancers, who spin at unbelievable speeds, yet never lose their balance. They employ a technique called “Spotting”, where they keep their body moving at a constant speed but fix their gaze on one spot. These professionals have to train to overcome the response our eyes have to this kind of movement.

When you are in the spin cycle of life, the key is to fix your gaze on God, who is the author and finisher of our faith! This does not come naturally, you have to train yourself to focus on God and not the problems.

THE RINSE CYCLE

The next typical cycle of laundry is the rinse cycle. It is during this cycle that many add fabric softener. I personally like the way adding Downey to my rinse cycle makes my clothes feel and smell, but I really hate how messy it can be. The compartment used for this purpose often becomes all gummed up and difficult to clean. Some people may have the attitude that the benefit just isn’t worth the effort.

When you come out of the agitation and then the spin cycle, you have an opportunity to become bitter or better. I believe the latter is the correct choice. The key to this cycle is to allow life’s difficulties to soften us, not harden us! This can be a challenging goal to achieve but I believe the solution comes through an optional cycle that I have not mentioned yet.

PRETREAT AND SOAK

Before you go into the wash cycle with agitation, even before you go through the spinning, and before you go through the softening…..you can pretreat and soak.

I personally like to pretreat with a product called “Shout”! This is true in my spiritual life too! Before I face the cycles of life, I make a habit of spending quality devotional time with the Lord, shouting His praises, and soaking in His presence. It is in this discipline that I quickly remember that I am never alone in any season. He is with me in the good times and in the bad. My God is bigger than any cycle I will face and He cares about the things we endure, and He can use all things for good.

I hope my laundry analogy has caused you to see a difficult season of life from a different perspective. Try to always remember that it is in your shout and your praise, it is in your intimacy with your God that you are enabled to not only survive the cycles of life, but thrive in them and develop the character and endurance that is needed to walk out the destiny that God has for you!

 

 

[RB1]

Mountain Moving Faith

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Have you ever faced a mountain so big that you felt like you were trying to move it with a plastic spoon? I have described challenging times that way. Sometimes life is full of difficulties and in our own strength, it is much like that description, trying to move this huge amount of earth with a flimsy little plastic utensil.

If you feel that way today, I want to encourage you to take a step back and realize that no striving in your own strength will get it done, even if you have a bulldozer! There are times when only our faith can move the mountain that stands in front of us. Jesus said it this way:

Mark 11:22-24 NLT

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”

When you feel as if the mountain is crushing you, it can be difficult to pray and believe that it will be lifted up and thrown into the sea. This is the moment that we choose faith over doubt, or faith over fear. I am not suggesting that we ignore or deny that the circumstances exists, but rather that we use our faith to stand on the promises that are provided for us in the Bible. Faith recognized that a mountain truly exists, but presents it to God. When we do this, we trust Him and we turn our striving into believing that His promises are true.

Abraham is a great example of this behavior. He didn’t pretend that Sarah wasn’t facing a mountain of bareness. Instead, he chose to believe the promise of God. He was ninety-nine years old when the Lord appeared to him and told him that He would be the father to countless descendants (Genesis 17:1-8). If you are still childless at ninety-nine years old, it takes great faith to believe this promise. What an amazing example for us to follow. The Bible tells us that Abraham never wavered in his belief that this promise would be fulfilled; in fact, we read that his faith became stronger as time passed.

Romans 4:16-21 NKJV

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed — God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

One of the keys to staying in faith instead of fear is referenced in the emphasized portion of the Scripture above. “God calls things which do not exist as though they did”. Abraham began to call himself a father long before he became a father. This is what faith looks like. We call things the way the promises of God describes them, even before we see them that way in the natural. We hope for the promises of God even before we see them with our eyes (Hebrews 11:1).

This principle also works the opposite way. When we start calling things that are not as though they are from a negative perspective, we create worry and fear. When we start using our voice to declare doom and gloom or even just to keep rehearsing the problem we are facing, the result is not faith; it is fear and worry. Stop and consider what you are declaring!

If you feel like a mountain is crushing you today, don’t lose hope, instead, tell your mountain about your God!

 

Footprint

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used the phrase “Footprints on the sands of time” in one of his poems to describe the mark that great individuals leave on history. You may say that you are not a great individual, but I would argue that we all have an opportunity to be great in some way and to someone. With that thought in mind, I want us to consider a very important question. What impression is your footprint leaving behind?

The word footprint can be used many ways.

  1. In detective work, a footprint can be evidence that is left behind to show what happened in the past.
  2. In archaeology, footprints have been found preserved in fossils that document prehistoric life.
  3. In the Tech world, we have a digital footprint that we usually unintentionally leave behind that often opens us up to identity threats
  4. Today we hear much about our Ecological or Carbon footprint in understanding how our earthly resources will last
  5. The one I am most familiar with is a corporate or business footprint

I completed my college degree and spent the majority of my career in Health Care Management, so this was a common focus for me. From a business footprint perspective, I want to share a quote from an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “A Strategic Guide to Adjusting Your Corporate Footprint”.

“Assessing the enterprise footprint and executing the recommended realignments are not small endeavors. Footprint optimization can be costly and time consuming. But companies able to do so are realizing short-term financial benefits and are likely better positioning themselves for long-term success.” 1

Why did I share this? Because every single one of us are leaving behind a footprint, if at the end of this blog you realize that you want to change your footprint, the good news is, you still can!

This article states that from a business perspective, it can be costly and time consuming but worth it to realize both short term and long term benefits. In our natural and spiritual walk, we too have an opportunity to assess our footprint and determine if realignment is needed.

Our lives and how we live them, all fashion a series of footprints we leave everywhere. Additionally, our spiritual lives also leave an important footprint. Perhaps you don’t feel that you were provided the kind of legacy that you want to pass on, or you feel like you are currently failing in some area, but the good news is today is a new day and the changes you make today can positively impact everything that comes after this. If you didn’t have good footprints left for you to follow, don’t let that become an excuse. Let your footprints be the ones that change the course for all future generations that follow you!

I want to consider four of the important actions we can take to assure that we are leaving behind the optimal footprint God desires us to leave.

  1. We should live a life of godly character and conduct.

Basically, think about the example that you are setting.

Proverbs 13:22 NLT

Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly.

This text deals with leaving an inheritance to our children, which is a good thing, but if all you leave your kids is a MATERIAL inheritance without leaving them a SPIRITUAL legacy, they will be impoverished, no matter how large the inheritance.

Proverbs 22:1 NLT

Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.

We live in an age of moral decline, where it seems like character hardly counts anymore. Sadly, this general lack of character and proper behavior has crept into Christianity. The character and behavior of Christ-followers is often hardly distinguishable from that of unbelievers today.

2 Peter 1:5-9 NLT

Make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

Our character and conduct should be so exemplary that we shine as lights in a dark world. As a Christ-follower, we should be different and we should act different than those who don’t know the Lord as their Savior.

Our speech should reflect that, our work ethic, and even our fiscal responsibility should be above reproach. We are a King’s kid and we should act accordingly!

1 Peter 2:9 NASU

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light

  1. Love extravagantly!

The second important actions we can take to assure that we are leaving behind the optimal footprint is to love extravagantly. Jesus defined this kind of love as being willing to lay down your life for others (John 15:9-10; 12-13).

Jesus displayed the ultimate love when He laid down his life for us.  For most, we will never be in a situation where we will be required to lay down our life for our family, but if faced with the choice most would do it without hesitation. Extravagant love takes this kind of love and expands it across the sea of humanity.   It requires our hearts to love others as we love our immediate family, even the unlovable and our worst enemies. Look how Jesus describes it in this passage.

Matthew 5:43-44 NKJV

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you’”

This kind of extravagant love requires God’s love to flow through us. We have to ask for help from the Lord to love this way, but it is this kind of love that will provide an optimal footprint. In the last verse of the famous “Love chapter” found in 1 Corinthians 13, we learn that three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  I particularly like the way the Message Bible translates that verse.

1 Corinthians 13:13 Message Bible

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

  1. Model Commitment

The third important action is to model commitment. Commitment is dedication to a particular organization, cause, or belief, and a willingness to get involved. People who are committed to an organization or effort truly believe that it is important, and they show up, follow through, and stick with it. With commitment, comes greater momentum to get the job done.

It seems that commitment is not as important to most people as it once was. This is especially true for the younger generation.  We seem to struggle with commitment because we live in a time that has so many choices. The fear of making the wrong choice puts people in analysis paralysis and they end up not committing to any choice.

Another reason for lack of commitment is we have trust issues. In order to trust people we have to connect with people and open ourselves up to love people. We live in an age where most are only connected with their phones and pretend to be connected with people on social media.

The problem with commitment is it requires reciprocity. That means mutual exchange or giving as much as you are receiving.  Too often, we fail at commitment because we are only interesting in receiving and not giving.  For example, I am committed to God and that makes me want to give Him praise, I want to give Him my life, my time, my talent, and my obedience. I am committed to my husband.  I strive to give in that relationship as much as I expect to receive. I am committed to my job. I don’t just show up expecting to receive a pay check when I don’t commit to perform my job. I am committed to my children, to my grandchildren, to my family and friends, and I am committed to my church! I don’t just show up when I feel like it and I try not to show up expecting to receive more than I am willing to give!

Paul describes commitment as keeping your eye on the prize and pressing toward the goal, look at how that passage reads in the Message Bible.

Philippians 3:13-16 Message Bible

13b By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward — to Jesus. 14 I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 15 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision — you’ll see it yet! 16 Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

Commitment leads me to the last action I want to discuss in aligning our footprint.

  1. Contend for the Supernatural

Contend is a strong word and it means to strive or to fight even against difficulties.  We need to contend or fight for the faith or the spiritual legacy that we must leave behind.

Jude 3-4 NKJV

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jude is specifically warning to contend against distorted or deceitful teaching in this passage. I think the verbiage here “certain men have crept in unnoticed” is interesting, because that is exactly what happens when we don’t contend for the supernatural, things creep in unnoticed that take priority over the things we should be contending for!

At the beginning of this year, the Lord told me to contend for the unprecedented. The things which eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and our minds have not imagined. There is such a temptation presented to us to just settle, to accept the status quo, but if we will do what Jude tells us to do and build ourselves up in our faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping ourselves in the love of God, we will be empowered to CONTEND FOR THE SUPERNATURAL (Jude 20-21). It will provide the spiritual footprint we want to leave behind!

There are some spiritual things we cannot afford to stop contending for!

    • We need to contend for the lost souls all around us to be saved
    • We need to contend for revival and for a move of God to sweep this world
    • We need to contend for the unprecedented

THERE IS TOO MUCH AT STAKE FOR US TO SETTLE!

I want to close by asking you a thought provoking question. If you are on Social Media of any kind, I want to challenge you to scroll through your timeline and ask yourself, “What does your Social Media footprint look like?”

Long after we depart earth, messages, actions, and images will be left behind for future generations to see. If this social media footprint of yours was the only information the world had about you, ask yourself,

    • Is the footprint represented accurate?
    • What does it say about you?
    • Is it the footprint you want to leave behind?
    • Is it the way you want to be remembered?

While I think we could all learn a lot about our priorities by reviewing our social media posts, more importantly I want you to think about your personal and spiritual footprint. Is it the footprint you want to leave behind? If the Lord tarries, what will your children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren tell about you? What stories will those who know you as a friend or coworker, or fellow church member or neighbor say about you? This question is important not only because we are concerned about what people will think and say when we are gone, but more because we are still here and have an opportunity to make adjustments if they are needed.

    • We have an opportunity to inspire, encourage, and motive others to live godly lives.
    • We have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and for the Kingdom of God,
    • Our decision can please our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ so we will one day hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”!

I ask you one more time to consider this important question. What impression is your footprint leaving behind?

 

References:

  1. wsj.com 5/6/19 (Wall Street Journal April 9, 2012)

 

Take this Cup

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As we enter into the time of year when many will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, I wanted to urge you to consider more closely the events that led up to the day we celebrate called Easter.

The specific event that I am referencing is when Jesus took his disciples to Gethsemane to pray. He told the men who were closest to him that his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow, and he asked them to keep watch with him (Matthew 26:38).

After instructing his disciples to watch, Jesus went a little farther where he diligently prayed to the Father. The passion of his prayer is evident as one of the Gospels records that he fell with his face to the ground as he prayed (Matthew 26:39). Another records that during this time of prayer, he was so anguished that his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44).

The words that he prayed three different times, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In between these desperate pleas, Jesus would return to his disciples to find them sleeping and unable to fulfill his request to watch and pray with him.

At this moment in time, Jesus was in the flesh, subject to all human physical and emotional pain as he walked out the unusual and cruel destiny he was born to experience. While the disciples slept, he understood clearly the price he was about to pay for you and me, and with that divine understanding, he pled with his Father to take this cup from him.

We often think about the horrific physical torture and suffering Jesus bore for us as he was beaten to the point he was unrecognizable. We remember the crown of thorns that was pressed deep into his head, the heavy cross he was forced to carry, the nails that were driven through his hands and feet, and the spear that was thrust into his side.

We may even think about the emotion pain Jesus was subjected to, as he was mocked and ridiculed and even spit upon. The grief he must have felt as some of his closest friends rejected him when he refused to defend himself even though he was totally innocent.

Instead of only remembering these events, take a moment to go back to Gethsemane. This was the pivotal moment where we see the anguish of a decision. “Take the cup!” Jesus pled. Yet, what comes next shows his obedient character, “Not my will but yours be done!” What a significant decision Jesus made in that moment. One that forever impacted the eternity of all mankind. Jesus made the decision to walk out his destiny, which was that he was born to die! He came to this earth in human form to pay the price for our sins, to become the perfect sacrifice that provides each of us the opportunity for eternal life.

If you know the rest of the story, after Jesus suffered and died for us, he was placed in a tomb. He wasn’t there long because three days later he was resurrected, and not long after ascended back to heaven. That same power that raised Christ from the dead is now at work in us who believe in him!

Ephesians 1:19-22; 2:4-7 NLT

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

This weekend as we give thanks for our Lord’s great sacrifice and celebrate his resurrection; may we also remember Gethsemane. Can we learn from Jesus’ example to pray, “Not my will, but yours be done!” Let us choose to follow our Savior’s lead and walk out our God-given destiny no matter the cost, accessing that mighty power that is available to us because he was willing to take this cup.

 

Offense

Welcome to the part two of my blog post. Earlier this month, I published part one called, “Defense”. I shared of my experience earlier in life as a High School volleyball coach, and things to consider about offense and defense in an athletic competition. I used this concept to drive a spiritual point that I feel benefits all of us. Let me remind you of a couple key points.

When we think about one team being on offense and the other being on defense during a given portion of a competition, we could think about many concepts, but the one I want us to focus on is opposing forces with the end goal of winning.

53236207_565845720580033_4070223743438290944_n

Unfortunately, if feels that we are constantly surrounded by division. We find it in politics, in the workplace, in homes and families, and even in the church. This type of opposing forces can come with a greater price than just the loss of an athletic competition. With a variety of opinions comes an opportunity for us to become offended or defensive. While a strong offensive and defensive strategy may be critical to win in sports, allowing a spirit of offense or becoming overly defensive could cause you to lose big in your natural and spiritual life.

Since these two issues can take such a toll on our love walk and our peace, I divided this topic into two parts. If you missed the first part, you can scroll down on the web site to read it at secretplacerevelation.com. Today, I want to continue the topic by looking at the offensive side.

In our humanness, we have opportunities every day to offend others or to become offended by someone’s actions or words. Many times those situations are totally unintentional and misunderstood. I can certainly say that there have been times I have been sharing a heartfelt message, only to listen back and hear that my word choices didn’t portray the message I intended to share at all.

There are times of misunderstanding because of the perceptions of the hearers and unfair expectations of others. Adding more complication, we live in a world with countless electronic communication methods, where our written and voice messages, or even lack of response to a message, can be interpreted in many ways.

While some situations that could cause offense are very innocent, we must also face the reality that many truly are cruel. I have often said that hurt people hurt people. When we are suffering physically, spiritually, or emotionally, our actions and words may become offensive.

Regardless of the intent of another person’s actions or words, we personally have a choice whether to pick up an offense or let it go. I like to think about it like picking up rocks. I grew up in the country, and as a young girl, I played outside much of the time. I remember picking up rocks for my dad to clear for mowing or even to use to build the outline of a pretend house. I would use my shirt to gather all of these rocks, stretching the fronts and staining them as I added more and more rocks to take back to my place of building.

If you pictured every offense you are currently carrying as a rock, how heavy is your load? The reality is simple; offense hurts the one receiving it much more than the one who caused it, whether intentional or not.

I believe we are to choose to try to see the best in others. I am thankful that so many have done that for me when I have unintentionally caused pain. I also believe it is important to forgive even when the offense was intentional. Let’s face it, we all make mistakes at times. This passage from the Bible makes this clear.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15 NLT

When we feel the sting of the hurt others have caused us, this passage can be challenging to follow. When the offense feels too big to forgive, just remember that Jesus is our perfect example. He was innocent, no one could find any fault in him, yet he endured such inhuman treatment when he was beaten and sent to the cross. He bore every hurt we could imagine, and he sees and understands your pain. When you are willing to let it go, he will help heal those wounds.

I am not understating the “offense” you may have endured; I am suggesting that you have a choice to make in what you do with it. You can react to it, by holding on to it and becoming bitter or you can do better by responding with love and forgiveness.

Will you lay down your rocks? Will you choose bitter or better? One of the wisest writers of Scripture said, “Love makes up for all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12b NLT). With God’s help, I prefer to throw down my rocks and choose love instead. I hope you will too!

 

Defense

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Earlier in my career, I had an opportunity to coach High School Volleyball. I joked that after five years of this activity, I decided to give up coaching and keep my Christianity. In all honesty, it was something I enjoyed for a season and I am thankful for the experience. I have been able to look back on those years and apply both the positive and negative lessons learned in many aspects of my life.

53236207_565845720580033_4070223743438290944_nThere are many things to consider about offense and defense in an athletic competition. I want to use this concept in a very different way to drive a spiritual point that I hope will benefit all of us. When we think about one team being on offense and the other being on defense during a given portion of a competition, we could think about many concepts, but the one I want us to focus on is opposing forces with the end goal of winning.

Unfortunately, if feels that we are constantly surrounded by division. We find it in politics, in the workplace, in homes and families, and even in the church. This type of opposing forces can come with a greater price than just the loss of an athletic competition. With a variety of opinions comes an opportunity for us to become offended or defensive. While a strong offensive and defensive strategy may be critical to win in sports, allowing a spirit of offense or becoming overly defensive could cause you to lose big in your natural and spiritual life.

Since these two issues can take such a toll on our love walk and our peace, I want to divide this topic into two parts. Today, I specifically want to talk about the defensive side.

Have you ever been caught off guard by your own unintended defensive reaction in a given situation? Perhaps you received some unsolicited feedback or criticism about your personal passionate projects. Maybe you are in a discussion where your opinions are overlooked or deemed unimportant. Regardless of the situation, defensive feelings and more importantly the root of the cause of those feelings are painful.

Defensiveness can be a serious problem. It can limit your growth and isolate you from risk taking, which might be required to walk out your God-given destiny. Additionally, defensiveness may limit your ability to mature as a Christian and to be used by God in ministry opportunities. As a Christ-follower, we should want to see forward momentum in our relationship with our Savior and in our efforts to share His love. If we are isolated behind a wall of defensiveness, how can we accomplish this goal?

I recently had an unplanned opportunity to face this challenge. I was in two different situations during the same time where I found myself reacting defensively. I didn’t like the way it made me feel, and I certainly didn’t like the limitations it put on my opportunity for growth. I began to ask myself why I reacted this way. In the first situation, I had to realize that not all feedback is intended to be negative; often its purpose is to help you grow. When we have received hurtful or unfair criticism in past experiences, we can unintentionally put up a wall of defense that is meant to protect us from that type of pain, but it also protects us from advice that may help us succeed.

In the second situation, I had to realize that my initial reaction was related to a passionate belief; however, I needed to take a step back and respond instead of react.

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”  James 1:19-20 NLT

My key take-away from this experience is this. My situation was unlike an athletic event, no one had to win! I began this blog defining the key concept of the athletic competition I was referencing as the opposing forces with the end goal of winning. It is an unreasonable expectation to think that everyone will agree with your opinions, and the reality is others are as passionate about their way of thinking as you are.

Much of our defensiveness could be avoided if we did as James instructed in the above verse and become better listeners and slower to speak. When we can put ourselves into another’s perspective, we may see things more clearly from a very different vantage point. This is the place where compromise and growth begins and hate and division can be obliterated.

Next time you find yourself feeling overly defensive, stop and ask yourself if you are reacting or are you responding. Remember to listen for the opportunity not just the criticism, realize that you are who God says you are and don’t allow yourself to be defined by others, and lastly, relax and realize that you don’t have to defend everything. The emotional consequences of being overly defensive are simply not worth it, and the ability to relax and understand that others have the same right to their perspective is liberating.

Stay tuned for part two coming soon about offense!

Enduring Love

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As we approach the month of February, a month known for being a time for expressions of love, ask yourself what you are personally conveying to those around you. True love “Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

My heart hurts from the lack of enduring love that I am witnessing all around me. Never in my adult life have I observed the level of division and hate that I see before me in so many forms. As Christ followers, I believe we are to express something greater. I am not talking about a compromising faith, but I am referencing a love that can endure differences of opinions. I believe we can stand firmly on the promises and instructions provided for us in the Word of God and continue to express love to those who disagree with our stance.

I believe this starts within ourselves, for what is in us will eventually come out. I always like to pose this question, if you are in imminent danger, with only a few seconds to respond, what is the first thing that comes out of your mouth? I would argue that your response is an indicator of what is inside of you. When impurities are heated up, they tend to rise to the surface. I learned this watching my husband make fishing lures. He melts lead to pour into molds during this process. As the metal gets hotter, the impurities rise to the top for him to scoop off.

There are moments in our lives where things are heated up. Perhaps it is a difficult situation that you are walking through, a challenging relational issue, or even a political or ethical stance that is challenged. Regardless of the cause, what comes out when under pressure is an indicator of what is inside. If you take inventory and do not like what is coming out, there is a better way. The Bible tells us, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). He can help us to love in unlovable times and in the most challenging of situations. He teaches us unconditional love.

In the New Testament, Paul addressed the Corinthian church, which had become full of envy, strife, and divisions. He told them that these behaviors were evidence that they were living like mere unchanged individuals. They were not living the “Greater” life they could be demonstrating as Christ followers. In fact, he even tells them that he couldn’t share all that God had for them because of their childish state. He said he had to feed them milk instead of solid food! He challenged them to realize that each of them were co-workers, who should labor together with and for God. He told them that they were God’s field and God’s building! (See 1 Corinthians 3)

Paul’s instructions to the New Testament churches are applicable to the “Church of God” or all believers. We should be not only the field, which God cultivates, but also the house, which God builds; a house in which He intends to dwell! When we take inventory, if we find that we are full of strife and division, we can learn from these instructions that there is a better way.

Later in this same book of the Bible, Paul describes enduring love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Could we as believers strive to develop this kind of love for others? Could we instill and demonstrate this kind of love for our children, grandchildren, and all we touch? Could we imagine a world without bullying, without hate for those who look, believe, or act differently than we do? I am not suggesting that we should not have strong convictions about the clear instructions that are provided for us in the Word of God. However, we should equally have strong conviction to love those who believe differently, even while opposing what they believe in.

Jesus demonstrated the greatest love when He laid down His life for us. He did not come to bully and spew hate at those who didn’t believe as He did. He loved in such a selfless way that He endured unbelievable torment for ALL. My passionate plea is that if we call ourselves His follower, we could demonstrate His love during a time of great strife and division in our country. I am praying and asking God to invade our lives in such a way that His love is shown in and through us.