Loving Others

Being Jesus

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (MSG)

In the Book of Job, Job was going through a really hard time. He had lost everything. He lost his family, his wealth and even his health. He was miserable. As he sat in ashes with sores all over his body, three of his friends decided to come comfort him.

As they sat there, they started talking. Unfortunately, what they said was not helpful. Instead of coming along side Job and lifting him up, they started telling him how he must have messed up. They told him the calamities that he was facing had to be his fault. He must have done something to deserve this.

To add insult to injury, they told him God was punishing him. And then they started misrepresenting God in their conversation.

At the end of the book God says this:

“I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me—not the way my friend Job has.” 42:7 (MSG)

God was angry with Job’s three friends because they misrepresented him. They didn’t help Job at all with their words. Maybe they were just trying to provide an answer but in doing so, they hurt Job and God’s image. Often when we come across people who are hurting, we feel that we need to say something and in grasping for the right thing to say, we say things we shouldn’t.

Maybe we should just come alongside and be. Be present, be silent and be loving. We don’t need words for that. We need a heart that has traveled through pain before (haven’t we all?). We need a relationship with Jesus so we can share the comfort he has shared with us.

If you encounter someone who is hurting today, say a quick prayer asking God for His Spirit and be….

Heaven Looks Like This

He is the embodiment of our peace, sent once and for all to take down the great barrier of hatred and hostility that has divided us so that we can be one. Ephesians 2:14 (VOICE)

This week I have been privileged to attend a Christian conference. This conference is about growing God’s Kingdom. It’s about how we, as Christians, are to follow God’s mandate to “Go.” We dive into the Bible and see what God has charged us to do and then we talk about it (in lots of different forums.)

Each year God impresses me with the next step in my journey and to tell you the truth, I have not met one person that has not experienced God impressing something on their heart while here. But that’s not what continually amazes me.

My absolute favorite part is that Gods Kingdom is represented by many nations, tongues, races and denominations. When we come together to celebrate, the room (about 5,000 people) is full of people from many countries, who speak various languages, who have different beliefs and who look different on the outside. But not on the inside.

On the inside we all have one desire; we are here for one thing. We are here to celebrate Jesus but we are also reminded of our mission. Our mission is to love each other and see each other as brothers and sisters. Our mission is to take our love and share the gospel with as many brothers and sisters as we can because the King of our lives told us to.

As I stand in a sea of people and hear the Word of God, as we sing and praise together, I am reminded that this is what Heaven will look like. All of God’s people standing together with one purpose….to worship our King.

I truly wish that our world would live like this. That we would remember that we are all God’s children. We are all beautiful Masterpieces in the Father’s eyes. I long for the day when we stand together united, loving one another and celebrating each other.

We are not in heaven yet but we can have heaven here on earth. It starts with each one of us who believe in the sacrificing love of Jesus Christ living that love in our world. It starts with us refusing to give in to the lies that permeate our world that tell us we have to be separate because we are different. We must live the way Jesus lived. Loving everybody always.

Imitating Perfect Love

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 1 John 3:1 (NLT)

Recently I was spending time at my daughter’s house loving on my two grandsons. This, by the way, is one of my favorite thing to do! I was holding the new baby and telling him what a precious boy he was and my oldest grandson suddenly looked at me and said “Yiayia, I still your boy?”

My heart melted. I said “Yes! You will always be my boy. Always. You are also Mommy’s boy and Daddy’s boy and Papou’s boy”….and I listed other people in his life that he adores. He was reassured by that answer and continued doing what he was doing.

Made me think of us and God. Sometimes we wonder how God can love us each equally and so intimately. It seems impossible doesn’t it? But that’s because we are only seeing with our human hearts. Think about it.

If we can love many people with the same intensity, can’t God do even more? If our hearts can grow every time someone is added “to the family” or to our world, can’t God exceed that capacity? If our faulty hearts can do that, can’t God’s perfect heart love perfectly?

But it gets even better. When we enter into a relationship with Jesus and we spend time with him, our capacity to love increases and the way we love becomes more and more selfless. Maybe that’s why God tells us to love him first and then our neighbors. If we tried to do it the other way our love would surely not be Godlike.

My grandson needed to know that he was still the apple of my eye. He doesn’t understand yet that I can love many people with all my heart. Maybe we don’t understand that about God either. But, my grandson trusts me when I tell him that he is mine. Perhaps that’s where we start with God too.

Timing

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Lately I’ve been spending time with my daughter who just had a baby. Anyone remember the chaos a newborn brings to a household? Add to that the antics of a three year old who is trying to adjust to this new version of family, things can get pretty hectic. On top of this, a project at work needed attention so I was seriously juggling.

You know how it goes. Trying to make sure the new baby is doing well, making sure my daughter is doing things like eating enough and drinking enough water. Paying attention to my grandson so he settles into the new “normal.” Keeping the house picked up, cooking meals and running errands …. and oh, i have a telephone meeting in 10 minutes.

One day as we “handled” everything; we were walking out the door for a toddler Family Valentine’s Day Party (I forgot how hard it is to get two kids ready on time), I was feeling pretty good about the morning’s accomplishments. I looked down as we walked out of the room and saw the evidence in the potty chair that the three year old’s potty training was working. Geesh! How did I miss that?

This made me laugh. It seems like no matter how you think you have it together, you probably don’t. Especially if you are a caregiver. It doesn’t matter if you are taking care of a newborn, a toddler, a sick relative, an elderly parent or _____________ (you fill in the blank.) Things go wrong or you just can’t get it all done.

That’s when I decided to take some Biblical advice. There is a time for every activity under the heaven. A time to work, a time to rest, a time to love. In these very hectic last two weeks, I decided to cherish the moments. Moments of sitting and talking with my daughter. Moments of laying on the floor and pretending I was a runway as my grandson piled airplanes, cars and boats on my stomach. Moments of staring into the face of a newborn baby sleeping peacefully in my arms.

The other chaotic stuff comes and goes. But the memories we share with people will last forever.

A Not-So-Subtle Difference

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. Esther 4:1 (ESV)

King Xerxes kingdom was a powerful machine. And the people that worked with him and for him knew this all too well. One of the men, Haman, had King Xerxes’ ear. Haman didn’t like Mordecai. As a matter of fact, because he didn’t like him, he didn’t like all Jews. He told the king that they were different. They didn’t do things the same as everyone else. They didn’t believe the same as everyone else. So they should be destroyed.

The King agreed and a proclamation went out announcing the date of the destruction. Maybe it was like a “get your affairs in order.” kind of thing. Can you imagine being a Jew and reading that notice?

Mordecai read the decree and immediately kicked into action. He didn’t try to have meetings at the palace. He didn’t try to let the local media know where he stood. He didn’t try to cause discord between the two groups of people involved. He went to God. He and all the people began to fast and pray. He did do one more thing. He sent a message to the one person he could reach asking for help.

Esther, although reluctant at first, also began to fast and pray. She then decided to stand up for what was right and try to get help from the person she knew that had influence, the King. God intervened and the Jews were saved.

So often we feel that we cannot impact what is happening in our world, our country, or our neighborhood but we can. Each and every one of us can make a difference where we are. Be a Mordecai. Do something. The difference you make might impact one person or it might impact many.

We may not be able to influence people in power but there is something we can do. The Bible is clear on what really makes a difference. .Loving each other. Loving each other will produce an immediate, long-lasting result. We can’t stand around watching the world hurt and choose inaction.

When we seek God and ask “What do you want me to do today?” the answer will always start with love. Let’s reach our world, even if it is only one human at a time.

Counting The Cost

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. Acts 3:6 (NLT)

As Peter and John went about their day, they came across a lame man. The man was calling out asking for money. When Peter and John stopped, the Bible says he looked up at them expectantly, hoping to get the same thing he always got.

Peter said to him, I don’t have any money but I do have something else to give you.

Lately, I’ve been praying for guidance during the shutdown of the US Government. There are so many people being hurt by this situation. Government workers, contractors (if the government is not working neither are they and they are also not getting paid) and business owners who rely on the government staff to generate business so they too can pay their bills.

I own a business that is impacted by this shutdown. In my humanness I want to hunker down and pull everything in so we are impacted as little as possible. But that is not what I feel God is saying to do. As I was praying about how to help folks who are going through this situation, I was talking to God about the financial implications of something he put on my heart. I was explaining to him that it didn’t make fiscal sense.

Two texts flashed into my mind.

One text was Acts 3:6. I might not have silver or gold (or paper money for that matter) but I do have Jesus and a peace in knowing that if I follow God’s directive, it will work out for his glory.

The second text was Matthew 25:40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” If I reach out to help people, I am helping Jesus. If Jesus were standing there, would I say, “Well Lord, you are asking alot. It is not logical.” NO! I would not. So why would I not respond to others in the same way when he makes it clear that if I help people, I am helping him?

I am not sure what the future holds in this situation (and you better believe I am praying about it) but I do know this. The most valuable thing I have is my relationship with Jesus. How do you weigh the cost of sharing that with folks? Even if it does cost all of my silver and gold, wouldn’t it be worth it if they saw just a tiny glimpse of him?

Living Love

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17 (NLT)

I own a business. There are many days I wonder why. Especially on days that I am supposed to be on “vacation” but I am working. My husband has the same problem. His family has owned their own business for years and you are never really and truly not on the clock. It is something that is understood. When something happens, you step up.

I was thinking about this over the holidays when I didn’t get to “have my vacation” because things kept happening. Over the years I’ve heard a lot of Christians say this too (me included.) I’m on vacation or it’s my day off so I can’t ______________ (fill in the blank.)

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with resting and I definitely think I should do more of it (in a constructive way - which is another post.) But, I think we do a disservice to God when we try to compartmentalize what he is calling us to do. You see, what he’s calling us to do is love one another. He is calling us to take care of each other. When we try to say “I can’t go help that person” or “I’m on vacation today so I’m not going to reach out,.” it seems like we are trying to put our number one role in life on a schedule.

I am reading the book Everybody Always by Bob Goff (great book by the way) and he says this:

"We don’t need to call everything we do “ministry” anymore either. Just call it Tuesday. That’s what people who are becoming love do."

I love that line. What would happen if we did everything we are supposed to do with the idea that this is our business? Our business is to love God and each other before ourselves. What if we owned that like we own the other things in our lives? What if we stopped distinguishing between what our “jobs” are and what our life is supposed to be? What if we lived love in everything we do? Even when we are on vacation…..

I think maybe the world would look really, really different.

Living Life With

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23 (NLT)

There we sat in the Emergency Room. We had gone to church and as we were leaving my father-in-law started having some problems. We thought he was just over tired. He lived with us so we headed home to let him rest. When we got to the house, it was apparent that it was more than that. In his own strength he could not stand up. So, we loaded back into the car and went to the ER.

As we sat there, I sent a text to the prayer chain and asked for prayer. People started texting prayers and good thoughts immediately. We were comforted by their thoughts. Then about 30 minutes later, some of our friends from church showed up with pizza and a cooler full of snacks!

They realized we had gone straight from church to the ER and had probably not eaten all day so they brought us food. Can I tell you that totally changed our outlook and it warmed our hearts. Our friends looked at our situation and decided to walk through it with us instead of watching us walk through it on our own.

Jesus did the same when he came as a baby. That act of love was Jesus coming to be with us. He came to walk with us, eat with us, hurt with us, face temptation with us and then he died for us. It’s a special kind of love that puts aside what is easier to “live life with”. When Jesus did it, we took notice and because of his involvement, we know we are special to him and to God.

Is there someone you can “live life with” today, this week and especially this holiday season? Do what Jesus did. Come along side someone and walk with them. The ripple effect can be eternal.