Today’s verses discuss the importance of hearing. Note that in Mark 5:27, we read that the reason the woman sought out and touched the clothing of Jesus is because she first heard. Romans 10:14 reminds us that if we do not hear, how can we believe? The woman heard of Jesus first, and this knowing of Him and this hope she had prompted her to seek Him for healing.
Consider today who has heard this week from you about Jesus. Consider who has observed you this week as you were living life and saw Jesus. Consider who heard about the happenings in your life this week in “real life” or on social media and heard of Jesus—meaning when something happened, you glorified God. Who heard?
I am not writing to shame you on the lack of testimony happening in your life, nor to point out that we all fall short in life. Instead, I hope this encourages you to consider the “having heard” moments in life—the opportunities for you to share the goodness of God. One of the best ways to share His goodness is to embrace His goodness and let it overflow in love and grace in your life. It’s not about a program or a rigid list of things to say. Love. Have they heard?
“Having heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothing.” – Mark 5:27 [CSB]
“How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14 [CSB]
Today’s verse speaks of who truly honors God – “whoever offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving” (NASB). The Message translation calls this living the “praising life.” The Bible says that we were created to glorify God (see Isaiah 43:7). Psalm 50:23 makes it clear that we are living out our purpose to glorify God when we live “in the gratitude of grace.” The real question is how well are we bringing God glory with our gratitude of grace?
If we are honest about this question, if we are honest about the thanksgiving we have lived out today, it is likely the thankfulness is not very evident. We spend so much of our time thinking we have earned what we have, that we are entitled to certain things. We overlook our daily blessings because we do not spend time considering life without them. When something good comes our way, our initial response usually isn’t to thank God for provision, for blessings, for protection, etc. Though God is alive and active, and very much moving in the world today, we oftentimes allow God to be boxed up, whereas we only need interact or thank Him when we have a grand request. Everything is separate. Everything else we can handle in our own strength.
Without our life lived in the gratitude of grace, our testimony of the Gospel is silenced. If we do not spend time praising Him, pointing to Him, honoring Him, etc., what does everyone see? When we aren’t pointing to God, our fingers are always pointing elsewhere—to ourselves, to others, etc.
How can we truly live in the gratitude of grace? We can devote more time listing reasons we are thankful, spending each day trying to find more reasons God deserves all praise and glory. We can receive the Gospel daily to remind us of the free gift of God’s grace. We can pour out that freshly received grace to others as we go about our day. We can pause to breathe in God’s grace and meditate on His goodness. What are you thankful for today?
“The life that pleases me is a life lived in the gratitude of grace, always choosing to walk with me in what is right. This is the sacrifice I desire from you. If you do this, more of my salvation will unfold for you.” – Psalm 50:23 [TPT]
I’ve been struggling with a fever for days. Today I found myself on the floor at the foot of my Christmas tree, which happens to be a cross. As I looked up at the well-light, decorated cross tree, I considered the goodness of God.
Our God, holy and almighty, stooped down to us. Not only did He stoop down, sending His one and only Son to live life in this broken world and die on the cross, but He continues to stoop down again and again, meeting us where we are in this broken world.
This is grace. Reaching down and lifting up to where you are. No one demonstrates grace like our Father. We cannot earn salvation. We don’t deserve it. Yet He gives it freely to all who believe. When we believe, we are called children of God—and co-heirs with Christ. We go from sinner to saint, from dead to alive.
Every day, we need this reminder of His grace. You may feel down today, but you will not be down forever. You may feel pain today, but you will not feel pain forever. Breathe in some grace today, and then pour it out as well. We all need grace.
“He stooped down to lift me out of danger from the desolate pit I was in, out of the muddy mess I had fallen into. Now he’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place and steadied me while I walk along his ascending path.” – Psalm 40:2 [TPT]
Everyone gets offended. Lately it seems like it happens at every turn. I am offended. This offends me.I remember when I was younger, I had issues with self-control stemming from my AdHd, and I had difficulty relating to others. I found myself often blurting out things and my words would offend others and resulted in many awkward moments. I had great difficulty making real friends, and some things I said were held against me. Two stories I remember not-so-fondly from my childhood include my encounter with an overweight nurse while getting burn treatment for my arm, and an episode with a relative regarding cigarette smoking. Some of my words never were forgotten or forgiven, despite my lack of understanding the issue with them.
Over the years, I have learned more about self-control. I have made many changes and formed many habits to help with my AdHd. Though I still have some struggles with relating with others, I certainly have improved. Yet, I look around and I see that so many people still are getting offended—but it is much worse. The sad truth is the result of the offensive words and deeds. People hold it against others. People take something someone said and misinterpret it, and forever the person is disliked. Forgiveness is far from being found.
Yet as we think about the truth of the forgiveness of God, and we think about how people cling to anger and bitterness, we are found in contempt. We have offended God. Again and again, we have offended God. We will continue to offend God. Even so, He forgives us completely. He never holds it against us for our ignorance. He never lets our selfishness or lack of control taint His love for us. He does not tell us we are no longer welcome and out of His social group. He does not let the offense cause a break in the relationship—instead, God fills the gap with His love and grace. Today, consider what offenses you may be clinging to, and who needs your forgiveness. You may find that you need to forgive even more than the other person needs your forgiveness.
“For no matter how hard they try, God finds no pleasure with those who are controlled by the flesh.” – Romans 8:8 [TPT]
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:13 [NLT]
I had to chuckle the other evening as I drove home. I came across a deer-crossing street sign and someone had put a red nose on the deer. I said, “Look, it’s Rudolph,” as I passed by the sign. Then I pondered over what some may say when they see the same sign. I know that the sign is the property of the local government, and so technically the nose could be seen as defacement of property. Legal actions could be taken against the person who chose to apply the nose to the sign. At the same time, I found it comical. Please do not get me wrong—I am not in any way saying it’s okay to deface or damage property. What I am trying to express is how I saw this and had a laugh at the cute, comical image.
Over the years, I have found myself on a roller coaster ride with grace. When I was younger, I was happy about grace. I was glad that God gave me grace. I wanted grace. I was stingy and wanted to keep all the grace I could handle. As I got older, I started to learn more about the Law. I started to find myself a bit proud. I started to think better of myself. I sat myself up high. I was smug. I felt somewhat superior to some others. This grew as I attended university and increased my knowledge of the Bible. It’s interesting how we can grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and separate ourselves so much from grace, because we stand on knowledge. We hold tightly to Scripture, but so tightly that we miss the common thread of love. We like the feeling of being right, being justified, being a child of God. We miss the “all fall short” and the “love others” and “honor everyone.” We become a Pharisee and can be blind to it for a long time, even years later.
As the years pass by, I slowly find myself more broken. I find myself understanding grace more. I find myself needing grace more. I look back on the person I used to be and see how God has changed me. He has shown me that I was sometimes a stumbling block when I should have been a bridge. He has reminded me that the grace I receive, is the same grace that I should pour out to others. He opens my eyes to love simply and deeply—to not make life so difficult and draining. I have long ago realized that the greatest threat to my relationship with God is not Satan; it’s me. I am a long way from the follow-the-rules-down-to-the-last-letter kid I once was in school. I have learned to live, to love, to laugh. I have learned that a Rudolph nose, despite the defacement of property, is funny. I have decided to love anyway, to laugh often, to forgive freely. Life is short. We need a few more Rudolph noses and a lot more love. We desperately all need Jesus. Oh, how sweet the sound of His amazing grace!
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” – Ephesians 1:7 [ESV]
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24 [ESV]
I love going to the gym as much as my schedule permits. The gym is my happy place. I put on some music and spend an hour trying to push my body. One thing that bothers me at the gym is when people sit at machines and do not exercise. The last time I was at the gym, I was exercising on the elliptical machine and peered out to see a handful of people sitting on the weight machines with cell phones in hand. The people sat at the machines the entire time I was on the elliptical machine. I became curious as to why the people would even come to the gym if they were not going to work out.
The people who sat at the machines could tell people that they went to the gym. Perhaps some of the group checked in at the gym on Facebook. Perhaps some of the group will tell friends or family that they were at the gym. They will even tell themselves they were at the gym. But to be at the gym and to actually work out at the gym are two different things. Anyone can go to the gym, but not everyone uses the gym equipment. People can see the check in on Facebook and believe their friend is getting buff, and in the end, their friend was scrolling their Facebook newsfeed. To the blind eye, it appears the person is getting fit; reality says something different.
This same façade is true in the life of a “Christian.” There are many people who claim to be Christians but when outsiders observe their lives, they are not seeing Jesus. There are people who attend church on a regular basis and people who do good deeds, who unfortunately do not know Jesus. These people may know of Jesus, but they never had the blessing of enjoying the presence of God in their lives because they were too busy trying to show everyone they had everything in order, too proud to lean into God, or too blinded by their own façade that they missed the grace so freely poured out. It is sad how many people still today think that they must try to earn their place in heaven.
We are each on a journey. We all need Jesus. Let us not sit at the machines pretending to be Christians. Instead, may our eyes be fixed on Jesus. May our words and our deeds point to Him. May we stop trying to cling to the title of Christian, and instead invest our time in following Jesus by responding to the great commands to love God and love others. Love is not a façade. It’s honest. It’s real. It’s vulnerable. It’s messy. It’s certainly not easy. Love God. Love others.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31 [NIV]
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- Love is Patient… fill in gaps with GRACE
- Love is Kind… do GOOD & be GENEROUS to all
- Love Rejoices with Truth… DELIGHT in truth
- Love Always
“Love Always”… used to use this as my signature for cards and letters
Realized that I do not “Love Always.”
Always means ALL THE TIME
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7 Living Bible (TLB)
7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
1 Corinthians 13:7 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.
1 Corinthians 13:7 The Passion Translation (TPT)
7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Love BEARS all things – Love BEARS always
YOU WILL BE LOYAL TO HIM NO MATTER WHAT THE COST
YOU WILL NEVER STOP BEING PATIENT
LOVE COVERS… PROTECTS
1 Peter 4:8 (NASB)
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Charles Spurgeon noted that… “This love both covers and bears all things. It never proclaims the errors of others. It refuses to see faults unless it may kindly help in their removal. It stands in the presence of a fault with a finger on its lips.”
Love BELIEVES all things – Love BELIEVES always
YOU WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE IN HIM
Expect the best of others (of what’s in them now)
You recognize they are made in the image of God — you see the very best in them now
You believe in someone until you are shown otherwise – give benefit of the doubt
Romans 12:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Faith in what God has made available now
Love HOPES all things – Love HOPES always
YOU WILL ALWAYS EXPECT THE BEST OF HIM
Expect the best of others (of what is to come)
You recognize that God has a greater purpose in a person’s life, a plan & purpose of His design — you see what God wants to do in a person’s life.
Love looks forward with confidence & grace
Trust that expects fulfillment of the future promises of God
1 Timothy 4:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
Romans 8:24 The Passion Translation (TPT)
24 For this is the hope of our salvation.
But hope means that we must trust and wait for what is still unseen. For why would we need to hope for something we already have?
Love ENDURES all things – Love ENDURES always
YOU WILL ALWAYS STAND YOUR GROUND IN DEFENDING HIM
YOU WILL NEVER GIVES UP
To endure – To remain under
Perseveres despite situations / circumstances
No matter what!
1 Corinthians 9:12 (NASB)
12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
In Closing, look to God to understand what it means to LOVE ALWAYS…
Love Bears… God bears… He pours out grace & mercy despite your sins and shortcomings. Your sins cannot stand up to His grace.
Love Believes… God believes the best in you – God designed you for His good purpose & God sees you as His Son.
Love Hopes… God has your future beautifully orchestrated & God sees who you will be – the beautiful masterpiece
Love Endures… God loves NO MATTER WHAT… He truly LOVES ALWAYS!
We live in a broken world, a world filled with pain and suffering and things that are not right. From the very beginning, when God created the world, He foreknew that sin would enter the world. He knew that brokenness would be a way of life for us. He knew that nothing could be done to save the brokenness without Him moving in a mighty way.
God sent His one and only Son to save us, to redeem us, to pay a price we could not pay. He reached out to restore us and bring us back into a relationship with Him. Every day we have the opportunity to enjoy a relationship with our heavenly Father. Because Jesus suffered the wrath that was to be our punishment, we can enjoy His “wrap-around presence.” This is because God has stooped down to us to bring us back into His holy presence.
When the world is beating you down, when you are lost in your brokenness, be reminded of the stooping down gentleness of God. Who am I that He would even consider me? Yet, our God moves through the brokenness with gentleness. He does not attack our brokenness, but beautifully works through it and makes us new. Strange enough, when we take something broken and try to repair it, the end result is never something better. Superglue and duct tape only go so far. But we serve a God of the impossible. With God, we are a masterpiece. He makes us great—better than we ever were. With Him moving through us, navigating through the brokenness, each day we are made more into the image of His Son. All because He has stooped down in gentleness.
“You empower me for victory with your wrap-around presence. Your power within makes me strong to subdue, and by stooping down in gentleness you strengthened me and made me great!” – Psalm 18:35 [TPT]
Week 3 – Add Fabric Softener
CARING LIKE BARNABAS
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. [NLT]
GENEROUS – Acts 4:36-37 – Barnabas sold land to provide for fellow Christians
ACCEPTING – Acts 9:26-28 – Barnabas took a chance with Paul when the other’s weren’t accepting him.
ENCOURAGING – Acts 11:23-24 – Barnabas was glad to see what God did through others and encouraged them to all remain true to God.
GRACIOUS – Acts 15:36-41 – Barnabas extended grace to John Mark, not giving up on John Mark.
Embrace – Encourage – Equip – Empower
Put yourself aside and let others get ahead (Philippians 2:3-4)
Speak what is helpful for building others up (Ephesians 4:29)
2 Timothy 4:11 – Paul later requested John Mark because he was profitable to the ministry.
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read Acts 15:36-41 and Philippians 2:3-4. How does this passage in Philippians relate to the narrative in Acts 15?
2) Read Ephesians 4:29. What does Paul describe in this passage? How do we live this out?
3) Read Romans 15:1-6 Who are we to please? What does this passage describe as the relationship between the strong and weak? How can we live this out?
4) Read 1 Timothy 2:1-3. What does this passage say is most important, and why is this most important?
Handle with Care is a 6-week series focused on studying God’s Word and responding with care. The six weeks of messages may sound like instructions for laundry care — but you will soon find Handle with Care beckons you to examine within, to gauge how you truly love God and love others, and to grow inward and outward. Caring starts with the heart and pours out into the community.
- Week 1 – Stain Removal – Caring for God’s glory
- Week 2 – Do Not Bleach – Caring for Truth
- Week 3 – Add Fabric Softener – Caring like Barnabas
- Week 4 – Fasten the Zipper – Caring for Unity
- Week 5 – Empty Pockets – Caring for Treasures
- Week 6 – Iron Low Heat – Caring without Complacency