In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us imposters. 2 Corinthians 6:4,6,8 (NLT)
I used to drive aggressively, swerving around cars cautiously turning right, using the shoulder to pass cars turning left, groaning when drivers slowed for yellow lights. Although I never honked my horn, my thoughts blared.
In an attempt to live my faith, I began showing kindness, inviting cars to go ahead, waiting for turning cars, and pulling over to let tailgaters speed along their way.
Amazingly, I still get where I’m going and I feel calm.
When the church was just starting, patience set Christians apart from others in society. Patience meant waiting well, but also encompassed endurance, non-violence, and trust. They didn’t pounce on debtors who paid late and sometimes forgave loans. When insulted, they didn’t retaliate but responded with kindness. They loved their enemies and wore their oppressors out with patience. Impatience showed a lack of faith.
He does not compel belief, but patiently hopes to draw us close. Jesus epitomized patience. He kept a low profile, shouldered criticism and challenges to his authority, forced no one, ate with anyone, and rejected violence. His accusers mocked and spat on Him, but He did not call down angels in defense.
Patience is grounded in trust, a certainty that God will make everything right. We need not retaliate. God will judge. We need not worry. God will provide. We need not argue with critics. God will illuminate the truth. We can wait and trust God’s timing.
Would you be attracted to such a community?
How can we stand apart from the mainstream by exhibiting more patience?
But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)
Have you ever wondered how the Old Testament God could be the same as the New Testament God? You’re not alone. (tweet this)
The Old Testament God seems so angry, yet Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor and our enemy. If God loves people, why is the Old Testament so violent? It’s disturbing and confusing and I don’t have an answer. But I will plant a few Seeds.
We probably all agree that love is one of God’s fundamental characteristics. God is also unchanging. Even when we don’t understand (or agree with) His ways, God is always holy, loving, just and merciful.
Combining God’s love with His justice creates a problem. He deeply loves us, but we are sinful. As hard as we try, we cannot avoid unloving thoughts and self-centered behaviors.
Only God can resolve this grave discrepancy. In His love and mercy, God provided a way for us to reside in His presence in spite of our sinful nature. Jesus. We survive God’s justice because Jesus suffered our punishment.
These few words scatter full Seed packets. Instead of sprinkling Bible references throughout, the colored phrases link to scriptural claims. Click to dig deep and plant!
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment or email me.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)
We remember life’s fragility when someone dies tragically.
Human life is beautiful and fragile. Eventually, we all die and death does not always wait until our lives feel complete. A long life is not guaranteed. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
I don’t want to die anytime soon. I love my life, this place, and my people. I grieve the thought of leaving loved ones. Departing with meaningful goodbyes might help, but that opportunity is not guaranteed.
Yet as significant as this life appears, it’s merely a brief stop.
We are foreigners on earth, just passing through. Heaven is our real home. Our lifelong efforts to spread God’s kingdom on earth are crucial, but in view of eternity we are like grass or flowers, briefly beautiful and quickly gone (1 Peter 1:24).
Heaven, however, is magnificently superior. The Bible describes a place of healing, peace, joy, and beauty. We anticipate reuniting with loved ones. But we sometimes forget the best part: God will dwell with us (Rev 21:3)!
But God’s presence presents a problem. God is holy and nothing imperfect can live in His presence. So Jesus shed His blood in order to remove the sins of those who believe His blood has this power. The blood of the Lamb permits entry to heaven.
Do you believe Jesus’ blood has the power to forgiven sin?
I believe. I am a sinner in need of Jesus.
This concept can be difficult to grasp. If you’d like to know more, please email me (email@example.com) or explore these other posts:
David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” 2 Sam 24:10 (NIV)
What makes David a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14)?
We remember that David slept with Bathsheba, another man’s wife, and had her husband killed when his plan to hide her pregnancy failed. How could God bless this deceiving adulterer turned murderer?
Our judicial system would put David in jail. Israel’s law required death for both adultery and murder. David committed major crimes on top of sins that seem less offensive, yet God selects him as a model follower.
Prior to today’s verses, David admired his own accomplishments and bolstered his sense of security by counting the size of his army. This violated God’s instructions (Deut 17:16) to trust Him alone. It also insulted the One who had protected Israel and delivered victories over many enemies.
Why does God honor a man who can’t trust Him? Reread today’s scripture and notice David’s response.
God loves David’s heart because when David sins big, he repents big. (tweet this)
David grieves over his disobedience. He doesn’t dismiss the command as applying only to Moses’ generation. He blames no one but himself, calling his lack of trust a great sin. David humbles himself before God and repents. In a servant’s posture, he begs for God’s forgiveness, knowing he deserves punishment.
God loves David’s heart. David makes mistakes like all of us. But because he accepts responsibility and shows remorse, he is a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). We can learn from David:
Accept God’s faultless instructions
Identify and own our disobedience
Repent with humility and receive forgiveness
We all sin. With hearts like David, let’s spend some time repenting before God. Will you join me?
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:17 (NLT)
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
This familiar marriage scripture has double purpose: first to define marriage, then to describe God’s love for us, the bride of Christ.
The marriage piece begins in the Biblical creation story when God creates the woman by removing a rib from Adam’s side. Adam declares her bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Gen 2:23). God establishes this model:
When two people marry they prioritize their relationship over other family bonds.
They become one flesh as if they were made of one flesh like Adam and Eve.
In this personally intimate, intensely connected relationship the couple shares the joy of exclusive love. Our imperfect marriages pale in comparison with God’s perfection, but our experience of this deeply personal relationship helps us grasp the intensity of God’s personal love.
Using this scripture, the Apostle Paul (Eph 5:28-32) says the marriage relationship describes Christ’s love for the church. Jesus loves us as a husband loves his wife. We, as individuals and as a church, are members of His body, like Adam and Eve are one flesh. Christ left the Father to live on earth with us. He describes himself as the bridegroom (Lk 5) and He will come again for His bride (Rev 19:7).
Our response to this personal relationship is to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind because He demands exclusive ‘marital’ devotion. Adultery in our marriage to Jesus equals idolatry.
Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Ex 34:14)
May [the Lord] give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests. Psalm 20:4-5 (NIV)
Are you making New Year’s resolutions?
It’s that time of year when we reflect on the past and look to the future. Turning the calendar to a new year presents a fresh start that inspires us to push reset and seize the opportunity for change.
How do you make New Year’s goals?
A Google search yields a variety of step-by-step instructions, one of which begins “just start”. We can dream big, make them attainable and measurable, or set goals we’ll enjoy. There’s another list for help keeping our resolutions which advises us to start small, involve friends and build in rewards.
The lists all miss a key component – prayer.
Whether we bring our intentions for the New Year to God or we allow God to inspire our goals, praying about them dailyincreases our chance for success. In our prayers, let’s:
ask God to direct our goals so they align with His will
[Jesus said] Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
I chuckle at this perfectly timed verse. Couldn’t we all use some rest after the Christmas festivities? But Jesus is offering much more than unscheduled time to sleep late or relax with a good book. His invitation continues:
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (v29-30)
This isn’t a carefree life but life with a different perspective that comes by accepting Jesus’ yoke. So what is a yoke and what does farm equipment mean for us?
There’s no getting around it—a yoke is an instrument of submission. It binds a person or animal to another. An oppressive iron yoke causes pain, but the shape of a carved wooden yoke eases the workload to minimize discomfort.
In addition, when two oxen are bound together, one is older, seasoned, and well trained in the work routine. The second is young and inexperienced. By sharing the same yoke, the veteran leads the way and trains the younger. Gentle, humble Jesus invites us to yoke ourselves to Him.
But why yoke ourselves to anything? Can’t we live unbound? In truth, we are bound to something – a relationship, buying happiness, achieving success, or something else.
Jesus says come to me if you’re weary. Work alongside me. Learn from me. I am loving and good. My way of life gives rest for your soul. (tweet this)
Couldn’t we all use some rest? How does following Jesus give your soul rest?
Do you know someone who needs to hear these words? Would you share with them?
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:8-10 (NIV)
Who were the first to see baby Jesus?
Who would you tell first? It’s the most amazing event in your whole life, in the entire universe! Would you tell your spouse or best friend first or would you post it on social media? Would you celebrate with a random person nearby or the most important person in your life? With whom would you share the good news?
God chose the shepherds (after Mary and Joseph, of course). Only society’s bottom tier heard directly from God’s angel. Shepherds were the youngest or weakest of the family, the crippled, those incapable of other jobs. They lived in the field, perhaps in community with other shepherds. The field was their home which reminds me of those sleeping on the streets, those discarded by society.
Why did Godchoose these men of low statusas the first to see baby Jesus? Why were they his special, most honored ones? They certainly welcomed and spread the good news, but did the town’s people believe? Would we believe?
God hand-selected the shepherds to receive the angelic birth announcement. How does this affect our view of those at the low end of society? (tweet this)
But perhaps there’s a second reason God chose the shepherds. The lambs used for Temple sacrifices were born and raised outside of Bethlehem. Let’s connect the dots. These shepherds were the first to see nearly every lamb sacrificed in the Temple. How appropriate that they would be the first to see God’s sacrificial lamb!
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. Matthew 1:18-19 (NLT)
Ah, the sweet Christmas story.
Since we know it by heart, let’s take a different view. Let’s consider Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, a good man.
By merging several Bible translations we learn that Joseph was righteous, noble, just, and followed Jewish law. Indeed, he was a good man. Before Mary’s big announcement, Joseph dreamed of their happy life together in a cozy home with many children under foot. Joseph would succeed as a carpenter and support his family well.
Then Mary became pregnant and Joseph’s dream imploded.
Can you imagine? Joseph was probably angry and confused and grieving the loss of what could have been. This wasn’t supposed to happen to him! His solution was to erase the problem. Even though he loved Mary, surely he could find another wife and fulfill his dreams for a family – a normal life on the traditional path.
We know that in a dream that night, an angel told Joseph to marry Mary and name her son Jesus. The message was undeniably from God, so he obeyed. Joseph, the righteous and noble Jew, watched his dream die as he accepted the shame and disgrace of Mary’s unexpected pregnancy. He sacrificed his reputation along with Mary. Can you imagine the village rumors?
Joseph sacrificed his dream and trusted God’s difficult plan.
Has your life gone according to plan? If not, can you let go of the dream and trust that God has a better plan?
Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. Luke 1:39-45
Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, is barren and beyond childbearing age. In fulfillment of the angel Gabriel’s pronouncement, Elizabeth is six months pregnant with John the Baptist. She must be ecstatic! Certainly her husband Zechariah communicated the role their son will play in preparing the way for the Messiah. God is doing a great work.
As soon as Mary learns of her pregnancy, she travels 8 days to visit her cousin. Elizabeth doesn’t yet know that Mary is pregnant so it would be natural for her to greet Mary with her own excitement. But Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, recognizes the mother of the Lord, and puts all the attention on Mary. Her joy is completely for Mary and Mary’s baby. What an intimate moment between two women and two boys! I imagine hugs, dancing, tears, laughter, and praise. Yes, lots of praise.
Elizabeth’s response is remarkable. She humbly passes the spotlight to Mary even though God is doing a great work in her as well. She validates the identity of Mary’s baby which certainly reassures Mary. Finally, Elizabeth encourages the “work” Mary is doing for God.
Excitement. Joy. Affirmation. Encouragement. May our response be the same when we see what God is doing in other people’s lives.