“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ‘ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22: 37 – 39
Each Christmas, I pass out Christmas cards and candy to my co-workers. It is my way of showing my appreciation for their camaraderie and to bring a smile to their faces. A few years back at a previous employer, the last thing I wanted to do was pass out cards and candy. There had been a falling out and I was no longer a part of one team in the department. I had been moved to a different team with a different job responsibility. My former team had a get-together and made a point of letting my new team and me know that we were not invited or welcomed to attend. It hurt; I had been a part of that team since I started with the company three years prior and had considered my former teammates friends. My new team held it’s own get-together a couple of weeks later. We did not make it private and invited everyone to come enjoy the treats we assembled on a table in the back area. The teammates declined the invitation.
So, when the holiday season approached and I was purchasing the cards and candy, I had no intention of including anyone on my former team. Why should I? They had moved on and so should I. But there was something deep inside that prevented me from evening the score. I purchased cards for each of them and bought German chocolates and candy canes. I placed cards and candy on each co-worker’s desk. My new teammates thanked me; one person from my old team sent a thank you email. As I passed by their desks later that day, I saw some of my former teammates had thrown their cards into the trash. I remember feeling like a fool to have even bothered.
At the end of the workday, I stayed behind to finish a project while everyone else filed out. A member of my old team stopped by my desk. He confided that he was going through an acrimonious divorce. His wife had moved out with their children. He hadn’t seen them in weeks. He said my card was the only kindness he had been shown in a long time and would probably be the only present he would receive this Christmas. He thanked me for thinking of him.
It was at that moment I realized I wasn’t foolish for extending myself to my former teammates. The one who needed it was reached. Don’t ignore what the Lord places on your heart. It may seem foolish in a worldly sense, but spiritually you may be planting seeds of faith, encouragement and love. Your intention may be for many, but God may only need to reach one. Allow Him to use you to accomplish His will.
May the Lord be with you today.
“‘Where is your faith?’ He asked His disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him.'” Luke 8:25
Today’s forecast calls for a 70% chance of storms. In fact, for the past couple of days, this area has been under periods of heavy downpours and dangerous lightning. In my prayers this morning, I asked the Lord to provide a safe passage for me through the storms, those that are physical and also the spiritual storms I will encounter during my lifetime. I prayed for the Lord to be my Guide as I navigate through the dark, foreboding clouds, sharp flashes of lightning and deep rumbles of thunder that were to greet me during my morning commute. I shouldn’t let the storm outside distract me; my attention needs to stay firmly on the road. Just as we shouldn’t let the storms brewing inside distract us from the path in front of us. Place your faith in the Lord today. He will protect and guide you through life’s most difficult moments, whether it is from the dangers of a physical storm or the weariness and dissatisfaction of a spiritual one.
God bless you today and always.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” Luke 6:37-38, NIV
You can’t judge a book by its cover, as the saying goes, yet we do it everyday. It’s human to take another’s outward appearance and instantly believe we know their circumstances. That unkempt man over there must be a homeless beggar; the woman in the nice business attire must be on her way to work. In reality, that unkempt man may the president of a bank returning from volunteering to repair homes for the elderly. The woman may be wearing a donated suit and going on her first job interview after years of being homeless.
And that’s the danger of judging and condemning others. We don’t know what someone has been through or is currently going through. By judging them or condemning them, we actually bring judgment and condemnation on ourselves. Our output dictates our input. If you spend your time judging and criticizing others, you probably receive a fair amount of judgment and criticizing in your life. The box or category in which you place others will often turn out to be the box or category in which you are placed. If someone’s constant critical judgment of you hurts your feelings, then know your constant critical judgment hurts others as well.
Don’t stay caught in a vicious cycle. If you are tired of being criticized and judged, stop criticizing and judging others. Forgive those who have hurt you and start this day anew, free from the yoke weighing you down. Start dispensing love, encouragement and acceptance to all and the same shall be extended to you.
May God bless you today and always.
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” James 2:14
Do you live your life in a way that reflects your in faith in Christ? Do you believe in Him, yet don’t imitate his ways?
It is not enough to only believe, but your works should reflect that belief. As James 2 further states: “You believe that there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder (v 19)”. Yes, even demons know who Jesus is, but they do not obey Him. Conversely, deeds without faith are just as pointless. Faith and deeds should work together in our lives because our deeds are a reflection of our faith. If you are easily angered, show indifference to your neighbor and possess an unforgiving heart but profess an undying faith in Christ, your deeds are not a reflection of your faith. Christ is forgiving, loving and accepting to all, regardless of race, creed or social background. We, as His followers, should be, too. Honestly examine yourself today. Do you talk a good talk? Or, are you walking the walk?
God bless you today and always.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6
Very few people access the Internet to read Christian devotionals. Most people, when given the choice between the Word or gossip, would choose gossip as the way to start the day. Just as if given the choice to read the Bible or watch Internet pornography, most would choose pornography. Most people think the Bible is too judgmental and has too many antiquated rules. Some feel it is merely a collection of ancient folktales that have no bearing on today’s society.
We, who study the Word and meditate on it, know this is not true. Our love of God and our knowledge of his precepts propels us to share what we know with others. In doing this, we often engage in conversations with non-believers. While we should spread the Word, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to stay in situations that may jeopardize our belief. The non-believer will attempt to poke holes in every statement we make. If we converse with them long enough, we may find ourselves questioning why we believe. In these instances, I am often reminded of the mustard seed. If faith the size of a mustard seed is all that is needed to move a mountain (Matthew 17:20), then doubt the size of a mustard seed may be enough to destroy all the Lord has built inside us. No, we should follow the Lord’s instruction when encountering others who reject the Word: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” Matthew 10:14. Shaking the dust from your sandals represents separating yourself from those who steadfastly reject Christ.
Because of free will, we cannot make non-believers accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Let’s pray for wisdom and discernment to know what to teach and to whom so that we do not become weary in our walk.
May the Lord be with you today.