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Archive for July, 2010

Sin and Grace

Galatians 5:19-25 (Today’s New International Version)
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

I think I avoid quoting verses 19-21 sometimes, but we also need to be reminded that there are things we do that are sinful. Maybe we can’t identify with some of the things on the list in those three verses, but I suspect we can find a few things there that may need forgiveness and work in our lives. That’s where the next four verses come in. When we live our lives as faithfully as possible and follow the teachings and example of Jesus, as well as accept his presence and guidance through the Spirit in our lives, we can find the fruits of the Spirit. They will become more noticeable and evident the longer we spend time with God, pray, talk, and trust in God’s grace and blessings in our lives. Today I talked about living with an attitude of gratitude and suggested that we all keep a “blessings journal” – maybe just writing a blessing a day on our calendars would help us to live in an attitude of gratitude. We can be grateful that, no matter how sinful our lives are, and how many times we separate ourselves from God, we have the door of repentance, forgiveness, and acceptance to walk through. As we grow in God’s grace and recognize and experience that grace in our lives, we grow in the fruits of the Spirit. May you live with an attitude of gratitude and may you grow in God’s grace today and every day. Blessings, Deb

Start your engines!

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

I have a tape that I listen to as I’m walking on the treadmill at the gym with one of the songs based on this scripture passage. Actually, the song comes at the end of the tape, and it is well placed since I need to remember that all my sweat and hard work will one day produce good results and bring me to my goal of weight loss and a healthy life style. But there are days when I really don’t want to go to the gym. I have to talk to myself, make sure I have time in my schedule, and put forth a lot of effort to get there. As it is, I often don’t manage to go more than twice a week, which leaves me “on my own” at home. That’s when I’m distracted by housework, the computer, phone calls, or other work that has to be done, so it is easy to put the exercise on the back burner.

But when I read this verse, I have to stop and think about how God is ALREADY at work in me. God has already BEGUN the good work in me, but it is my responsibility to follow through, knowing that God wants me to be healthy and be a good steward of my body, mind, and spirit. If we think about it, we need to ask ourselves the question, “What has God already started in my life?” “What has God already started in our church?” “What do we need to bring to completion or at least move forward with in our lives – our church life?” God has already started. Now it’s our turn to partner with God to make it happen.

HMMMM. That means we have some responsibility in our faith journey! For me that puts a whole new spin on it. I don’t want to let God down, so maybe I need to be just a little more diligent in whatever it is that I choose to do that will make my life and the lives of others better. God has already started! Let’s grab God’s “hand” and figure out where it will lead us! Have a blessed week, and remember that God and your companions in Christ are with you on this journey!

Life is Short

I just had a call from a funeral home to do a service for a woman who was 43 years old. She just didn’t wake up Tuesday morning. Once again I’m reminded that life is short. Why do we waste our energies on complaining, finding fault, and pettiness at times. We should be loving and supporting and caring as much as possible. Even though I realize it isn’t always possible (we are, after only human!), I think our goal should be to build up, to say “I love you” more often, to not have any regrets so that when our day to not wake up comes, we are ready to meet our Creator knowing that we have done our best to care for God’s creation, including our brothers and sisters on this earth. I hope I can continue to strive to never take a day or a relationship for granted. I want to live in an attitude of gratitude and to let others know how much they mean to me. Life is short – life on this earth, anyway. We have a reason for being here, and I think it is to make the world a better place. I hope I can always do my part to help that happen.

Friendship

July 5, 2010

Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home.  Where you go, I go, and where you live, I’ll live.  Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God — not even death itself is going to come between us!”  Ruth 1:16-17

   This summer I am looking at women of the Bible and thinking about what we can learn from them.  Ruth and Naomi inspire me to think about friendship.  Although there are many issues that can come up in this passage, the focus for me at this point is how Ruth became a loyal and true friend to Naomi.  In spite of their ethnic and cultural differences, in spite of the risk Ruth would take to go to Bethlehem with Naomi as a foreigner and outsider in Israel, in spite of the hardships they would endure as two widows without any male head of household, Ruth took the harder path in choosing to stay with Naomi.

   Of course, Naomi was also her mother-in-law, and in spite of the derogatory jokes we often hear about mothers-in-law, I have also witnessed great friendships that form between a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law that last a life time even when the younger couple divorces.  But the friendship between Ruth and Naomi goes farther than being just friends who love and respect each other.  There is also a spiritual type of friendship.  Ruth must have seen something in Naomi that inspired her to choose the God of Israel over the gods of Moab. 

   I wonder about my friendships and how I might witness my faith to my friends.  Although many of my friends are pastors or already actively involved in churches and have a strong faith, maybe there are times when someone who is a potential friend might need to see how God works in and through me.  I know my friends always inspire and challenge me to grow in my life and in my faith. 

   Maybe the questions really are:  Am I supportive enough?  Do I tell them often enough how much they mean to me?  Am I willing to challenge them?  We can look to Christ as an example for friendship, too.  Jesus was caring, connected, trusting, yet sometimes frustrated with his friends – his closest followers.  In his human life, he experienced the same joys and frustrations we all experience in our relationships.  Yet, he was steadfast in his love and support, in his patience and loyalty, in his tolerance and encouragement of them.

   According to the genealogies, Ruth was Jesus ancestor.  The qualities run in the family!  My prayer is that I can learn from Ruth and her example as well as Jesus and his example.  Maybe I need to let my friends know more often how much they mean to me and to find ways to support and encourage them better in their journeys.  Most of all, I need to keep them in my prayers and connect with them in significant ways.  Lots of food for thought!

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