Friday, October 30, 2015

God's Household (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 2:19-22

It’s such an amazing thought: We are part of God’s household. We are sons and daughters of the King of Kings. Christ is the cornerstone of the church, and we are its members. And that’s amazing, too.

But, I especially love the thought of being God’s daughter. I love my earthly father, but we don’t have that strong of a relationship. For a while, I struggled with the idea of a loving father, one who cared for me no matter what.

When I finally recognized how much God loves me—unconditionally loves me—I understood what a Father really is.

He is gentle, compassionate, and caring. He protects His children and provides for them. He’s a refuge when things are difficult.

I can crawl on my Father’s lap when I’m sad. I can reach my hand to Him for His strength when I don’t have any of my own.

And I can’t wait until I see my Father face-to-face. What a moment that will be—in the arms of my Abba—my daddy.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Three-In-One God (Ephesians 2:17-18)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 2:17-18

“Through Him [Christ] we both [Jews and Gentiles] have our access in one [Holy] Spirit to the Father …”

Do you see the significance of the words in this verse? We who believe in the God of the Bible believe in a three-in-one God. It’s one of those mysteries that we won’t fully understand this side of heaven.

But we believe in God the Father—Creator, Sustainer. We believe in God the Son, Jesus Christ—Redeemer, Savior. We believe in God the Holy Spirit—Intercessor, Indwelling Strength. One God acting in three persons.

And so I can go to my Father, my Abba, and praise Him for this amazing world He created and for His loving plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11). I can thank my Lord Jesus for His incredible sacrifice that allowed for my salvation (Romans 5:8). I can ask the Holy Spirit to speak to the Father through my groaning (Romans 8:26).

I’m not sure exactly why God—the three-in-one God—is how He is … but I don’t have to know. I just have to trust in His word. And know He is everything I need.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Jesus ... Our Peace (Ephesians 2:14-16)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 2:14-16

Jesus provides reconciliation for everyone. Everyone. He “broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” between Jew and Gentile. He brought peace to all people.

And He’s still the Giver of peace. We can call the Father Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is peace.

One of my favorite verses about peace comes from one of my favorite books. Philippians 4:6-7 commands us to: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (NKJV, emphasis mine).

I often speak on Jeremiah 29:11-13, and when I get to the part about God’s having a plan for our lives, I say:
Do you know what this verse says to me? When I’m focusing on God, when I’m asking in His name, when I’m praying for His will, I can be assured of two things: I don’t need to be anxious for anything, and I will have peace—a peace that surpasses anything I could experience without God in my life, a peace that surpasses anything that I could get from my earthly relationships, from my job, from my church, from my family . . . from anything else. Isn’t that what you’re looking for? A peace that surpasses anything you’ve ever experienced? Ask Him. Ask Him now. Give your plans, your timelines, your dreams to Him. Trust Him to bring about that perfect will in your life. Then, and only then, will you have that peace. You will have that peace. I promise. More importantly, He promises.
Are you seeking God’s peace? First, you need to know the Giver of peace. And then just ask Him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Having No Hope ... (Ephesians 2:11-13)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 2:11-13

Separate from Christ … strangers to the covenants of promise … having no hope … without God in the world …

What tragic words. Words that described each of us before we met Jesus and accepted the gift of salvation. And they describe millions of people throughout our world today.

I can’t imagine living without Jesus in my life. I don’t know how I made it through my twenty-year rebellion without him. Without the confidence that God has a purpose for my life, a purpose for the pain, a purpose for the trials, I’d be … well, I might just not be at all.

These days, my only real hope comes from my relationship with my Lord and Savior. It hurts my heart to see people I love who don’t have that hope. I wrote in my book, The Best Laid Hands:

Why in the world would I, would you, want to look forward to another day on this earth without hope that every new day would bring the peace that God promised? God does promise us a future filled with hope. A synonym for hope is “expectation.” God promised us a future full of expectation for His provision, for His comfort, for His protection, and, yes, for His peace. I often wonder how those who don’t know Jesus have hope. What is it they hope for? Is it wealth? Is it possessions? Is it a relationship? And when money or things or people let them down, then what do they hope for? I’m ever-grateful for my Lord, who welcomed this prodigal back with open and loving arms. I’m ever-grateful that I am no longer separated from Christ, that I’m no longer a stranger to God’s covenant of promise, that I have hope, and that I am a beloved daughter of the Father.
Where are you? Are you separated from Christ, without real hope? God the Father is waiting patiently for you to open the door of your heart. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Grace Alone (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 2:8-10

If you ask people if there’s a heaven, most will answer yes. If you ask those same people how you get to heaven, many will answer, “Be good” or “Do good things.” And if the good outweighs the bad, they'll get through those pearly gates.

While doing good things is certainly important, the Bible makes it very clear: Doing good things (what Paul calls “works”) doesn’t save us. Salvation comes only through faith. God’s grace—His unmerited favor—is offered to us freely, and when we accept His gift, we are saved from our sins and we can be confident of eternal life in heaven.

Good works are still important for those of who follow Christ, however. As James wrote,
My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don't do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you? If you know someone who doesn't have any clothes or food, you shouldn't just say, "I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat." What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help? Faith that doesn't lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead! (CEV, 2:14-17)
But make no mistake, works alone won’t get you to heaven. They won’t save you from your sins.

So if anyone asks you how to get to heaven, tell them the truth. Tell them the good news of salvation through faith. Maybe you’ll be the one who leads them to a relationship with their Savior!

Friday, October 23, 2015

God's Richest Blessings (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 2:4-7

Yesterday, I wrote that if we’re not following God, we’re following His enemy. We’re “dead people walking.” But when we commit our lives to Christ, we are “made alive.” And it’s because of God’s love, His mercy, His grace, and His kindness.

God loves us so very much, and He freely showers us with mercy, grace, and kindness.

Mercy … “
compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power.”

Grace … “
unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”

Kindness … “the quality or state of being kind; favor; benevolence.”

We don’t deserve any of these precious gifts. We don’t deserve being “seated with Him in the heavenly places.” We don’t deserve His love.

But He does love us: "
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die" (CEV, John 3:16). That’s how much He loves me. That’s how much He loves you.

Have you accepted God’s amazing gifts of love, mercy, grace, and kindness? He’s waiting.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dead People Walking (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 2:1-3

I have no desire to be who I was. Although I asked Jesus into my heart when I was six years old, I allowed circumstances to take me away from my child-like faith. I made very deliberate, very poor choices, and I became a “dead woman walking.”

I reveled in what the world offered—partying, drinking, dancing ‘til dawn. I indulged the lusts and desires of my flesh. It was all about me.

As I think about it now, I realize I’d changed my alliance. Instead of serving the God of the universe, I was serving the “prince of the power of the air.” Just writing those words just about breaks my heart. It’s one thing to say I chose not to follow God’s leading; it’s quite another to say I chose to follow His enemy.

Jesus was so very right when He said we can’t serve two masters. And if we’re not serving God, we’re serving Satan.

No matter whom we are now, at one time—before we chose to follow Christ—we followed Satan. The question is, how obvious is it that we are serving God? If someone were to look at us as we’re standing in a very long line at the grocery store, would they know we’re Christians? If they read our Facebook page, would they see Christ shine through us? If they heard us joke with our friends, would they hear the love of God?

Would the world still see us as “dead people walking”? Or would they see something different. Something appealing. Something like Christ.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Healthy "Body" (Ephesians 1:20-23)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 1:20-23

Jesus is “seated … at [the Father’s] right hand in the heavenly places …” And one day, those of us who follow Christ will join Him in those heavenly places. Whether it’s through the end of our earthly lives or when Jesus returns to bring us into the very presence of God, we will spend eternity in worship and service to God—Father, Son, and Spirit.

Jesus is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion …” I don’t know about you, but there are days when it seems like “power and dominion” of this earth are winning. And yes, sometimes they’re winning the battles. This world continues to decline—more perversion, more corruption, more pain, more suffering. It can make me want to throw up my hands and cry out, “Jesus, take me now!” But we can be confident that even though some battles may be lost, our Lord and Savior has already won the war! (See John 16:33.)

Jesus is the “head over all things to the church …” We who follow Christ are part of the church, His very body. And I have to ask: Is this “body” healthy? Are we daily communing with our “Head”? Are we striving to know Him better through study and meditation of the word of God? Are we spending time with other members of the body, strengthening and challenging each other?

Jesus is definitely alive and well, and He’s ready and willing to work in the lives of those who choose to follow Him. Let’s praise Him for what He’s done for us, let’s follow the will of the Father, and let’s strive to be healthy members of Christ’s body.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Hope of His Calling (Ephesians 1:18-19)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 1:18-19

God has a calling for each of His children.

Some are called to be preachers. Some are teachers. Some are encouragers.

Each of us has a place in His kingdom. Each and every one of us. No matter who you are, no matter what you can—or cannot do—God will use you.

It’s easy sometimes to think that, because we aren’t a preacher standing in front of a church, we’re just not that important. Or because we’re not a world-renowned evangelist leading hundreds and hundreds of people to know the Lord, we’re not impacting the kingdom.

But that’s not true; that’s not what the Bible tells us. The apostle Paul tells us that each gift is important—even critical—to the healthy function of the body of Christ:
But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism [division] in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1Corinthians 12:24b-26).
You can have hope in knowing that God will call you to use the gifts that He’s given you.

Do you believe that God has called you to serve Him? Do you know how He’s gifted you? If you do, use those gifts to serve and glorify Him. If you don’t, ask Him to reveal your gifts.
(from Hope: Devotions for Finding Hope in Every Situation © 2007 Sauni Rinehart)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Spiritual Nourishment (Ephesians 1:15-17)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 1:15-17

Without proper nutrition, we cannot grow well physically. Malnourishment affects every part of the body.

It’s the same with our spiritual growth. If we’re not properly nourished in God’s word, we remain stagnant … and sometimes even decline.

Paul prayed that the Christians in Ephesus would have a “spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.”

Proverbs 2 outlines the importance of godly wisdom. It should be a “hidden treasure” that we search for diligently, and when we find it, we will “understand
the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God” (v. 5).
Moreover: … knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
      Discretion will preserve you;
      Understanding will keep you,
      To deliver you from the way of evil … (vv. 10b-12)
And where do we gain knowledge? Through God’s word. Daily study and meditation is imperative.

Think of it this way: If you’re planning to be a doctor, you will be diligent in your study. You may even have to curtail other activities in order to have the time and energy to devote to learning. Right?

It’s the same as a follower of Christ. If you want to grow in Christ, if you want to have godly wisdom, if you want to truly know God, you need to spend time in the Bible. It shouldn’t be an afterthought. Rather, it should be the first priority of your day.

What are you doing that would be better spent gaining wisdom and knowledge of your Lord? Nourish yourself daily so that you will be spiritually healthy.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Never Alone (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 1:13-14

Do you ever feel lonely?

I sometimes do. With my family spread throughout the U.S., with my California friends so far away, and my new Tennessee friends busy with their own lives … sometimes, I feel quite alone.

But then I remember, I’m never alone. Never. I’m God’s beloved daughter, “sealed … with the Holy Spirit of promise …”

My trusty commentary says: "… t
he Holy Spirit, which is promised to them who believe on Christ Jesus, was given to you, and thus you were ascertained to be the children of God, for God has no child who is not a partaker of the Holy Ghost, and he who has this Spirit has God's seal that he belongs to the heavenly family" (The Adam Clarke Commentary). I am part of God’s family, and the Holy Spirit is within me.

Thank You, Lord God, for the reminder that I’m never alone. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for living in me. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

So Many Blessings! (Ephesians 1:7-12)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 1:7-12

In Him … In our Lord Jesus Christ … We have been given so much.

As we learned yesterday, God had a plan to make redemption and forgiveness available to both Jew and Gentile.

In God’s perfect plan, anyone who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior and accepts the free gift of salvation, receives God’s grace and mercy. These verses remind us of other blessings:

We receive redemption. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary,
Redeem means to “buy back,” to “release from blame or debt” or to “free from the consequences of sin.” Because of our Lord God’s love for us, we are “free from the consequences of sin.”

We know the “mystery of His will.” While God may not reveal all of His will to us, if we ask Him to direct our paths, if we surrender ourselves completely to Him, He will guide us.

We can be assured that He has a purpose for our lives. And sometimes, for me at least, this is the one that gets me up in the morning. If I didn’t believe God had a purpose for my pain, I’d never get out of bed. So many days when the pain level is high and the energy level is low make me long for heaven, “... having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). But I know God isn’t finished with my earthly journey yet; He still has a purpose for me.

And so I crawl out of bed, praising Him that I can do so. I praise Him for redemption. I praise Him for His will for me. I praise Him for His purpose.

He is such a good God!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Elect (Ephesians 1:3-5)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 1:3-5

We have been blessed beyond measure as children of God. No matter what we’ve done, no matter where we’ve been, no matter how poor the choices we’ve made, we can be pure and clean in the eyes of our Father.

Praise our God!

Now we come to a more controversial part of Paul’s letter. God “chose us before the foundation of the world …” and “He predestined us to adoption as sons [and daughters]” …

Some argue that this is in direct contrast to the idea of free will—that we choose to follow Christ.

One of my favorite commentaries clears this misconception up for us. Until Paul began preaching to the Gentiles, the Jews:

considered themselves an elect or chosen people, and wished to monopolize the whole of the Divine love and beneficence. The apostle here shows that God had the Gentiles as much in the contemplation of his mercy and goodness as he had the Jews; and the blessings of the Gospel, now so freely dispensed to them, were the proof that God had thus chosen them, and that his end in giving them the Gospel was the same which he had in view by giving the law to the Jews, So when Paul wrote about predestination, he was writing about the Gentles as a people group, and thus used that word to “point out God's fixed purpose or predetermination to bestow on the Gentiles the blessing of the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ” (from The Adam Clarke Commentary).
What this means is that God’s grace and mercy is available to all people. All people. But Jesus is still waiting patiently at the door of countless hearts. We still have to open the door (see Revelation 3:20).

Have you opened the door? Have you invited Jesus to be Lord of your life? Then and only then will you experience the “kind intention of His will.” His loving, gracious, merciful, righteous will.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Write a Letter (Ephesians 1:1-2)

Today's scripture: Ephesians 1:1-2

As we continue our look at Paul's epistles, we now begin a journey through another of one of my favorites: Ephesians. I look forward to learning more about my Lord and Savior. I pray you’ll do the same.

Letter writing is a lost art. With texts and emails, FaceBook status updates and instant messaging, tweets and Instagram, no one sits down to put pen to paper. And I think it’s sad.

Just think. If Paul had had access to today’s technology, he would have sent off his letters via cyberspace, and who knows where they would have ended up. Instead, he took quill and ink, and left for us his God-inspired words. Words that have impacted generation after generation.

That’s why I love to journal. Not that I expect my words to impact even one generation, but there’s something satisfying—and sometimes cathartic—about actually writing about what’s happening in my life. I journal about what God has taught me through His word. I meditate on verses that inspire me—or convict me. I write out prayers.

And maybe someday, someone will read my “letters.” And be impacted in the smallest way.

So as we begin looking through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians—and to us—I pray for you as he did: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Monday, October 12, 2015

Brand-marks (Galatians 6:17-18)

Today's scriptures: Galatians 6:17-18

As we end our journey in Galatians today, let’s focus on Paul’s last words to his fellow believers.

First, he states that he has the “brand-marks of Jesus” on his body. We know of the physical suffering Paul withstood for preaching. He was whipped and beaten several times, and he certainly would have scars. Scars he proudly wore as “brand-marks of Jesus.”

When I think of brand-marks, my thoughts go to cattle (not very romantic, but that’s the vision …). When calves are branded, they’re branded for life. Paul’s brand-marks were evident to any who saw him.

What “brand-marks” do you have? Do I have? Perhaps our brand-marks are physical, as Paul’s were. But perhaps they’re emotional or spiritual. Perhaps we’ve been “branded” as a troublemaker at work because of our faith. Or a friend has turned her back. Or fellow students have ridiculed us.

Can we wear them as proudly as Paul did his?

Second, Paul prays that the grace of the Lord Jesus be with the spirits of his readers. As we wrap up this book, with all its God-inspired wisdom, I pray the same for you.

May you experience abundant grace and love from our Savior and Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

See you tomorrow as we begin a walk through the book of Ephesians!

Friday, October 09, 2015

Boasting ... (Galatians 6:11-16)

Today's scriptures: Galatians 6:11-16

Some of us boast in our accomplishments. “Look at what I did,” we say. We take pride in the number of committees we’re on or the ministries we belong to. We love that our plate is full of the things we do for God.

Others boast in relationships. We’re proud of the number of friends we have or who we know. We love to tell others how we’ve encouraged our friends or helped them in times of need.

Still others boast in how well we follow God’s word. We memorize scriptures and diligently study God’s word—and make sure others know we do.

Doing good things for God, nurturing our relationships, or spending time in God’s word aren’t wrong. In fact, they’re wonderful—if done with a right heart.

We cannot boast in anything we do or are. We can only boast in the “cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, everything we do should point to our Lord. Never should we desire the eyes of others to be on us. They should gaze directly on the face of our Savior.

He is the only one about whom we can boast. For He is the only one who truly deserves our praise.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Do Good to All ... (Galatians 6:9-10)

Today's scriptures: Galatians 6:9-10

“… do good to all people …”

Sometimes it seems we try, really try, to do as Paul commands. But sometimes it’s easy to lose heart. We smile and wish a good morning to that cranky checker, and she sneers. We write a nice note to our child’s teacher, and all we get is a “can’t you keep your child under control?” call in return.

We cook our spouse’s favorite dinner, the one that takes hours to prepare, and he wolfs it down before plopping down to watch the game—not a “thank you” to be heard. We patiently listen to our parent’s weekly tirade, and then even more patiently listen to her complaints about us.

Or we volunteer to work on that church committee, and the first twenty minutes of the weekly meeting is spent sharing the latest gossip.

Oh, yes, it’s easy to lose heart and grow weary.

When I was a child, my mom would always tell me that if I didn’t let people’s meanness or selfishness get to me, often they’d stop what they were doing—at least to me. It took me a while, but I finally got that old adage: It’s easier to attract flies with honey rather than vinegar.

Kindness—doing good—really does impact people. And not playing the martyr or sighing in self-pity. If we genuinely strive to do good to all people, sometimes they’ll be influenced to do good to us.

Eventually, that checker might smile back. That teacher may say, “Thank you.” That spouse may cook instead. That parent may say, “I’m proud of you.”

But even if they don’t, we can be assured of one thing: Our heavenly Father is smiling—and He’s very proud.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Sowing and Reaping (Galatians 6:7-8)

Today's scriptures: Galatians 6:7-8

Sometimes, we know some Scriptures so well, they become clich├ęs rather than truths. How often do we say or hear “You reap what you sow”? Sometimes we even joke about it.

But this is no joking matter.

“God is not mocked,” Paul asserts. What we do on earth has eternal repercussions. We can’t do our own thing and satisfy the flesh, and then expect to show up in heaven. Yet that’s exactly what the world thinks.

You ask the average American if they believe in God and heaven, and (even today) a relatively high percent will say they do. You ask them how to get to heaven, and most will say, “Be a good person.”

And who defines “good”? Most would say if the good things they do outweigh the bad.

That is not what God says. He demands and deserves our total surrender to Him. We cannot receive eternal life with Him just by trying to do good things or be a good person. We are to “sow to the Spirit.”

But what does that really mean? Sow to the Spirit?

When we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we accept His sacrificial death for our sins, and serve Him as our living Savior, we are part of God’s family. We have the Spirit residing in us. And we begin to live according to the Spirit’s leading and the Father’s will.

Then we sow to the Spirit. We manifest His fruit. We strive to do, not just “good” things, but godly things. We love our neighbor as ourselves. We become burden-bearers. We use our God-given gifts to serve our heavenly Father.

And we’ll reap eternal life with God—Father, Son, and Spirit!

If we’re only living for ourselves and hoping that our good outweighs our bad, we’re actually sowing to our flesh. And what will we reap? Corruption. And eternal life separated from God—Father, Son, and Spirit.

What are you sowing? And, even more, what will you reap?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Sharing with Those Who Teach (Galatians 6:6)

Today's scriptures: Galatians 6:6

I had to read today’s verse a couple of times to understand its true meaning. At first, I read it as those of us who have been taught the word are to share the word with others.

Then I read it again, and that’s not what this verse says. Of course, we are to share the good news of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection with others, but read this particular verse again.

It’s telling us that we’re to be sharing “all good things with the one who teaches” us.

Paul’s telling us that we’re to share what we have with our pastors, our teachers, our priests. I believe this means we’re to support those who instruct us. And that means through our treasures and our time.

When you put your tithe in the offering basket, do you do so joyfully knowing that part of your gift supports the basic living needs of your pastor and his family? Have you ever invited your pastor and his family for a summer bbq? Or offered to babysit his kids so he and his wife could have a much-needed evening alone?

Those who teach us have devoted their lives to learn about the Bible, about faith, about God. And they work hard. They study. They write. They counsel. They visit the infirm.

And they deserve our support—financially and otherwise.

Do you share all good things with your pastor/teacher? Your prayers. Your time. Your money. Your gratitude.

Something to think about.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Pride ... (Galatians 6:3-5)

Today's scriptures: Galatians 6:3-5

Have you ever done something or said something that made you stop and think to yourself, “I’m pretty talented or smart or clever”? Your chest expands with pride. You stand just a little taller. You may even compare yourself to others and think, “I’m better than they are.”

That’s pride. When we think we can do something great, we’re being prideful. In fact, we are nothing without the gifts and talents God has blessed us with. We are nothing even when we think we’re something. And we’re deceiving ourselves.

Each of us has been given work to do by our Father, and we must focus on completing that work. At the beginning of each day (and I so often fail to do this), we should ask God to use us that day. We should strive do to His assigned work. Then at the end of each day, we can look over that day’s work and be content with what He’s done through us.

Not comparing ourselves to others. Not preening about what we have done.

Rather, delighting in the knowledge that we’ve followed His will, done His work, helped to build His kingdom.

We aren’t responsible for anyone else’s load. We are only to complete the tasks He’s given us, and complete them with joyful hearts.

And be thankful He’s chosen to use us at all.

Then we can boast in our heavenly Father and what He’s done through us—not what we think we’ve done on our own.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Burden-Bearers (Galatians 6:2)

Today's scriptures: Galatians 6:2

How grateful I am for the burden-bearers in my life. Those people who pray for me, who care for me, who love me. If it weren’t for them, I sometimes wonder how I’d survive. Oh, I know my strength comes from my heavenly Father, and I know it’s His grace that covers me.

But sometimes we need to see Jesus “in the flesh.” Know what I mean? Sometimes we need a hug or a shoulder or an ear. We need to be embraced, not only by the love of our Father, but also by arms of flesh.

And I’m so blessed to have people in my life who, just with a request, pray for me and support me. Most of all, my wonderful husband, who isn’t a follower of Christ … He is my greatest burden-bearer. His love and care and support are irreplaceable—and I am so very grateful for him.

Not only do I have my own burden-bearers, but I’ve also been blessed to bear a few burdens for my friends. And that too is such a blessing.

I pray you have burden-bearers in your life. And I pray you’re a burden-bearer for someone else.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Restoration Not Condemnation (Galatians 6:1)

Today's scriptures: Galatians 6:1

We Christians tend to be judgmental. Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true.

We love to point out that speck in someone else’s eye, and we feel somehow superior when someone is “caught in any trespass.”

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. We should grieve when a brother or sister sins, and we should seek their restoration.

Rather than point fingers or—even worse—gossip about someone’s failings, we should quietly and gently walk alongside her to bring her back to a right relationship with the Lord. And as we do, we need to be extra alert so we aren’t tempted to fall into the same sin.

Righteousness, not sinfulness.

Gentleness, not ridicule.

Restoration, not condemnation.