My sun porch

My sun porch

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sunrise lessons...

best dog blog, champion of my heart, sunrise photo with highway in the foreground

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." -- Colossians 3:16

Going to work I drive east in the morning, usually right directly into the sun. And I drive west to go home, and again, right directly into the sun. Going both directions, when there are no clouds, the sun can be blinding! It can be overwhelming, especially when the sunlight is reflecting off newly fallen, bright, white snow. However, lately, there have been too many clouds, and the sunlight and the blinding light have been hidden.

Driving to work this morning, I thought about that. The sun rises every morning and sets every night. The sun doesn't go is ALWAYS there! The clouds can change how the sun appears, but it doesn't make it go away even if it can't be seen.

Isn't God like the sun? He is ALWAYS there. He doesn't go anywhere. There are times He shows himself to me and I feel his presence. There are times He is so bright and present in my life, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and gratefulness! Those times I am almost overwhelmed by how blessed I am. I can see God, hear his promises and really KNOW He is there.

And then, there are those times when I let the clouds and storms of my life cover God's light. I have trouble feeling his presence. I search, but I can't see him behind the wall of my worry, doubt and fear. I feel as though he has left me and I long for his warmth and comfort. Some of those times have felt like a long winter that just never seems to end!

But, just as the clouds part and the sun shines bright again, God reappears in my life! I am reminded of his love and power and I push the clouds of worry, doubt and fear away. I once again am practically blinded by the warm light of God's presence in my life and I sing His praises!

Knowing that the clouds come and go, but God's light never leaves is the hope that I hang on to each day. During those moments when I think winter will never end and I long to feel the warmth of God's light, I remember that this season will pass and the sun will come out again. This is wisdom that comes from experience...experience in God's light and love. Because God granted me that wisdom I can sing with joy!

Father God, You are my sunlight in the morning! You rise in my heart and warm me, even when the clouds roll in. Thank you for showing me your faithfulness over and over and allowing that experience to grow in my heart so I can call on that wisdom when the clouds hide your light from me. Today, may I allow your light to shine through me so another can feel your warmth and be led to your bright light as well. Amen

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Follow and serve...

"Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." - John 12:26

John 13:1-17 is to me, one of the most precious of all Jesus' stories in the Bible. In order to illustrate to his disciples what he was doing for them and all of mankind, and also to teach them the importance of service to others, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Peter protests. He does not want the one who he believes is the Son of God to do something so menial and lowly as to wash his dirty feet. But, THAT is the key to what Jesus tries to teach them and us as well. None of us are above the menial and lowly tasks that are needed from us by our fellow man. Jesus didn't put himself above washing the dirt and crud off the feet of his friends, no matter where he was from, and neither should we.

Jesus wants us to see and learn that we have to "be there" for others. We need to follow his lead and serve others as he did. In order to be where Jesus is, we have to open our eyes and be aware of the needs around us.

Don't we all get so wrapped up in our own daily tasks and troubles that we don't see the needs of others? Do you go into your place of work each day and just "do the job" in your cubicle or in your office and just get through the day so you can go home? When we just "do the job" we might miss seeing the tear stains on the cheeks of one our coworkers. We might miss the sound of bravado in the voice of a customer that is hiding the fear and shame that comes from knowing there's not enough money to cover the bills this month. We might miss the loneliness that is screaming at us from the shy and quiet coworker we pass in the hallway every day.

We miss all those signs...But what are we to do for these people, even if we did see the signs? How can we help the sad, the frightened, and the lonely people we come in contact with each day? We can follow Jesus' lead and serve them. No, I don't mean bending down and taking off their shoes and washing their feet. That might get you fired! But we can listen, talk, smile offer words of wisdom and BE THERE for them. We can pray for them. We can put our needs aside for a few minutes and open our eyes to the needs of someone else. When we make ourselves available to those around us, and serve them in any way we can, God sees this and will bless us as well.

Dear Jesus, thank you for setting an example for me. Help me to follow your lead willingly and cheerfully and open my eyes to the needs of others around me. Bless me so I can be a blessing to someone else today. Amen.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The blessing of using God's gifts to serve others...

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering god's grace in its various forms." -- 1 Peter 4:10

God gives such great gifts to his children. He blesses us with talents that others can see and experience, and he also blesses each of us with spiritual gifts that others may not know we have. WE may not be aware of all the gifts God has blessed us with.

Then, of course, most importantly is God's gift of grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that grace is an undeserved gift that we cannot earn. Because it is a free gift to us, we should thankfully accept it and then willingly and freely be giving that same grace to all we meet.

Learning to be aware of and alert to the gifts that God has blessed each of us with is very important. How we handle those gifts is also very important. Why? In order to willingly and freely show grace to others, we need to serve others with our gifts. Freely and willing giving to others...harder than it sounds.

We are greedy people. We love gifts...God gives and gives and we take and take. We love to take those gifts and then many times use them for our own benefit. This leads to ambition, vanity and conceit. It becomes all about us, and letting the spotlight shine on us. "Look at me!"

Many verses in the Bible deal with the topic of humility, or being humble. We are to "clothe ourselves in humility." In return, God saves, guides, teaches, sustains, crowns, shows favor to, lifts up and exalts the humble. So, on top of giving us wonderful gifts, when we are humble in using those gifts, God REALLY blesses us!

A humble person values others more than herself and looks to the interests and needs of others instead of doing things out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. (Philippians 2:3-4) That doesn't sound like what our American culture teaches us, does it?

Showing grace and humility to others may have other advantages as well...advantages that have NOTHING to do with us! Being forgiving and putting others first is hard and counter-cultural. People aren't used to seeing that in our "dog-eat-dog" society. So, when we ARE humble and GIVE forgiveness and grace to others and SERVE others first with our God-given gifts, people are AMAZED! They wonder how we are able to do it. They wonder what we have that they don't have that enables us to be so giving. Then...they WANT what we have and reach out to God for his blessings as well.

This world is not HOPELESS! God is still touching others through his blessed children. You and I can be the instruments God uses to reach more of his children.

Dear God, Thank you for being so loving and giving to your children! Most of all, thank you for your gift of grace! Help us to thankfully accept the gifts you have given us and help us to learn how to use those gifts to willingly and joyfully serve others. Teach us to be humble and think of others before ourselves. You will bless us in so many more ways! Amen.