In life there has always been an us and them division. Over the years, this division has continued. Even in the most diverse gatherings, we see smaller groups and cliques that promote a lack of unity. In Philemon 1, we read in verse 6 of a “participation in the faith,” a faith that “we hold in common.” In this letter, Paul is telling Philemon he should be gracious to Onesimus because of God’s goodness towards him. He reminds him of the mutual partnership that we all have as part of the faith. Remember, we are all part of one body as believers – all connected – all part of the body of Christ. There is great diversity within the body of Christ, and yet, this diversity should never cause a lack of unity. We are all on the same team. It is through God’s creativity, through each of our separate skills, personalities, etc., that God is most glorified.
Only through love and forgiveness can there be an acceptance of our brothers and sisters. For our faith to be fruitful, it must be shared. The sharing of our faith is not simply sharing of the Gospel with Bible verses but living out the goodness of God—allowing the overflowing of God’s goodness through every good thing within us in Christ. The things we do point to Jesus. Our words, our deeds, our “participation in the faith” can only be effective if Jesus is recognized. This requires us to humble ourselves and each together let all that we say and do point to Him. It is never about us or them—it is always about Jesus.
Today as we see all the division around us, can we truly claim that we are sharing of our faith, or resources, our love? Can we see that we are together in partnership, together in unity? If someone looks at you, will the person recognize Christ? Are we effective or are we indifferent? Is God glorified or are our efforts self-boasting? Paul prays that Philemon may become effective through knowing the good things. Take some time today and ask the Spirit to remind you of the good things He has placed within you. May this reminder help motivate you to good works in Christ Jesus. May Christ be recognized in all you do and say.
“I pray that your participation in the faith may become effective through knowing every good thing that is in us for the glory of Christ.” – Philemon 1:6 [CSB]
“And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it.” – Philemon 1:6 [MSG]
Today’s fortune cookie is very timely: “He who throws mud loses ground.” I have seen and heard a lot of ground being tossed around lately. Look at the news or on social media. People have surely forgotten the phrase often shared by parents or grandparents – if you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all.
Titus mentions the importance of trying “to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (3:2 ESV). We all are God’s creation and we are all valuable in His eyes. He designed each one of us with special gifts, each one of us for a purpose. God loves everyone. God’s desire is that we honor each other—that we value each other. This means you recognize that each person is important, each person matters. Even further from this, we are to love each person – every single person.
Unfortunately, it often seems as if we throw mud instead of extending a hand and two ears. Instead of forming relationships with people that we may not agree with on some or many areas, we point out their flaws, attack them at every turn, and choke ourselves. Yes, we choke ourselves. Proverbs 1:31 speaks of eating a bitter fruit because of living our own way, and even choking on our own schemes. Remember, we always harvest what we plant (see Galatians 6:7). If you are spreading seeds that include name calling, half-truths, verbal tongue lashings, etc., you will enjoy a not-so-uplifting harvest. The question to ask today is: What am I planting? The next question to ask: Is what I’m planting today going to give me the harvest I desire?
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Ephesians 4:29 [NLT]
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:2 [NIV]
Consider how often you pray. Do you pray only when you are in church? Do you pray before meals? Do you pray only when you need something? Maybe you pray every morning or every evening. Consider your prayer life.
The Psalmist speaks of prayer life as just that – his life. For some, this may sound like a strange concept. Though the Bible tells us to pray continually (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17), we typically see prayer as another resort or a good habit rather than a lifestyle or life itself. This is a problem for us as long as we see prayer as words to recite or a legalistic act to fulfill.
This verse speaks of God’s love for us, a love that God has promised us. His love for us is unfailing and overwhelming and unchanging. His love for us is not impacted by anything that we do or say. When we look at prayer, we need always to remember this love—His love for us—and what a relationship with God means. As a child approaches a father, so it is with us and God. Stop focusing on the words you say in your prayers. Talk to your Father. Engage. Try to keep talking with Him all day as something comes to mind—about the small things and the big things. Be ever mindful of His presence, His love, and His desire to bless you with His goodness. As you continue to recognize your dependence on God and your desire for Him, you draw near to Him and He will draw near to you (see James 4:8). Perhaps one day, you will be able to say that your prayer to God has become your life.
“Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me. Through the night I sing his songs, for my prayer to God has become my life.” – Psalm 42:8 [TPT]
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]
It is easy to look around and think you are lacking things. In this age of social media, along with internet shopping, print media, commercials, etc., we are always told we need items. This can cause us to turn our wants to needs. Then the little voice in your head that says you should be thankful for what God has provided, instead is noticing that you do not have this, that, or the other thing.
Each of us can likely find things in our homes we do not need—things we could live without. Perhaps you are also like me, and you can go into your kitchen to find food to last you a month. At first glance, you may say you must go for groceries next week because you always go weekly. But if you closely examine your stockpile of food and consider what your body actually needs to live, you could seriously survive a month with what is available. This means you have more than enough. You also likely can find in your closet, clothing that would last weeks if you did not do the laundry. This means you have more than enough.
Our God is a great giver. He is the greatest giver. The Bible says that He will provide all that we need to do what we are called to do in life for His glory. When He says we will always have more than enough, we will. The argument always lies in our definition of what is enough. Sadly, that has been skewed by the world. If you have food, shelter, and clothing for the day—you have all you need for the day. Thank God for His many blessings. Live life with open hands, remembering that was truly matters is not the stockpile of stuff, but love. Love matters.
“Even in a time of disaster he will watch over them, and they will always have more than enough no matter what happens.” – Psalm 37.19 [TPT]
Every Saturday morning, I have the exciting task of filling my pill organizer for the week. This last time, I grabbed the capsules from one bottle only to find an empty capsule. The contents were missing. I stared at this finding and considered how it was no longer useful. The medicine that was to be contained in the capsule was missing. The capsule was empty, so it was worthless.
Sadly, too many people think of themselves as the empty capsule. Some people do not think they have the right ingredients within to make a difference. Some people think they are missing something that will make them special. Some people hear negativity so much it results in a feeling of worthlessness.
Fret not my friends. Though this empty capsule of mine got tossed in the trash, we live in a world where God’s math matters most. He takes each of us and does something great within. We simply need to let Him have His way in us. He placed things within you that you do not even know are there. He has given you the foundation to carry out the destiny He placed within your heart. He knows you by name, and He knows every hair on your head. You are priceless.
Today, remember this truth. Remind yourself again tomorrow. The worth of something is always the price someone is willing to pay… and when we look at that math when it comes to our relationship with God, it doesn’t make sense at all. He paid the ultimate price—the very life of Christ Jesus—what a hefty price that points to your truth worth. God loves you. Oh, how He loves you!
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” – 1 John 4:16 [ESV]
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]
My neighbor’s overgrowth of weeds has reached nearly 3 feet. It is a perfect hiding spot for a rabbit, that is, until my Labrador decides he wants to retrieve him. I keep him from having any success; however, this morning he did shock the rabbit he uncovered with his keen abilities. The rabbit, stunned and not really able to evaluate his options, ran right towards a pack of German Shepherds. He rebounded and finally found an escape route.
Watching the frazzled rabbit run from one point to the next haphazardly reminded me of how easy it is to get comfortable and feel safe somewhere only to find yourself under attack. This can happen in a relationship, at a job, in a circle of friends, and even at church. It is usually the people closest to us that hurt us most. We get comfortable. We feel safe. Then something happens. We all have moments, situations, events, etc. in life that shock us, open our eyes, hurt us, change us as people. We have the option to respond in whatever way we see fit. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we deny.
When we run, like the rabbit, we are running from something, and there’s always a place we are running toward. Maybe we attempt to nurse our brokenness with some self-soothing methods that are almost second-hand nature. Remember the Golden Girls moments when the cheesecake came out of the fridge? Perhaps your soothing is going to the gym, taking a shopping trip, having a few (or more) drinks. We all have our vices; some of us have multiple vices.
Whatever your situation may be, spend time with God. Take refuge in Him. People change; God is unchanging. People are unfaithful; God is faithful. People are broken, not-perfect, and many times selfish; God’s love is unfailing, His ways are perfect, and He pours out His blessing in abundance. As you cling to Him, may you realize you were never meant to hide in the safety of the overgrowth—you were made to soar! The people in your life are not to be your safety net, but they are part of your life to love, to encourage, to serve. The financial security of a good job and money in the bank is not for you to sit back and coast through life, but to glorify God. Often, when you are chased from the overgrowth, you are led to right where you are meant to be at this very moment. Let the Spirit guide your steps from the weeds to all that He has awaiting. It might not appear to be better than the pile of weeds, but you can trust that God has a great plan. In faith, in obedience, in love – press onward and soar!
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.” – Psalm 143:8 [NLT]
“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” – Psalm 25:5 [NLT]