Category Archives: relationships

Please Look At Me

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“Please mom, put your phone down and look at me.” The young girl’s voice was full of emotion as she answered the question about what her mom enjoys the most. Her heart full she continued to share how deeply she longs for her mom to put her phone down and listen to her. She wants her mom to see her, to hear her. When I asked her if her mom listens to her plea she said bitterly, “Yeah, about 2% of the time.” Her fantasy was to find a way to disable the Wi-Fi. It broke my heart to think of how soon this young girl will grow up and those moments will be gone. Will the hours spent on social media be worth what was lost? Those days with our children can never be recovered.

I’m not sharing this to condemn anyone but to ask us all to wake up and make sure we’re not missing what’s priceless for a few bites of cotton candy.

This little girl’s cry rings in my ears. “Please, just look at me.”

 

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Love is Everything

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S – “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law…whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8-10

O – Paul repeats this several times to emphasize that love is the fulfillment of the law. How often have we as Christians been “law-keepers” with an attitude of judgment, resentment, or arrogance toward “sinners”. But that isn’t fulfilling the law at all. If we don’t love, we fail.

A – If I don’t love, I fail. What law could I keep that would matter if I don’t love others? I grew up thinking if I kept this list of ‘rules’ then I would be right with God. But most of those rules were all about me: don’t drink, smoke, dance, do drugs. Also, keep sex for marriage but that involves other people. Some of those rules might be wise choices for healthy living but that is not the debt I owe. The debt I owe is to love others as Christ has loved me. The focus should be loving others and doing what is best for them not focusing on myself and keeping rules that make me proud. It’s not about making myself better so I can be proud. It’s about losing myself to serve others in the name of Christ. “Love does no harm to a neighbor”. It’s about living to do what is best for others.

P – Father, forgive me. Please forgive me for so often getting it wrong in my life. Especially in the early years but I still lose the right focus. Please help me to love others as myself and to be determined never to do harm. Even the harm of neglect, of not giving what I could give, of not acknowledging others when the opportunity comes. You know my heart Jesus, even better than I do. Please forgive me for selfishness, pride, judgment, and being unloving. Help me. Holy Spirit please love through me. In my own strength, I’m nothing. Please let your love flow through me. Help me to walk yielded to you.

SOAP Bible Reading

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Love Everyone?

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Anyone who says they hate in the name of Jesus is deceived.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” James 6:27-28

Does that mean love the white supremacist? Yes. Does that mean love ISIS members? Yes. Love Donald Trump? Yes. Love Hilary Clinton? Yes. Love Democrats? Yes. Love Republicans? Yes. Love all races? Yes. Love those you disagree with? Yes. A follower of Jesus is called to love ALL in His name.

That doesn’t mean we agree with all. It doesn’t mean we believe the same way. It doesn’t even mean we never stand up for what we believe or that we never fight evil.

Having hate in our hearts is something else.

Hate destroys the one it abides in.

Jesus goes on to say in Luke 6:35-36, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

We all were enemies of God but He loved us anyway and sent Jesus to die for us. He shows us mercy every day. We are to pray for those who are caught up in hate and evil. We are to pray for our leaders. Having hate in our hearts won’t change anyone except to change us into bitter, angry people.

We can’t do it in our own strength but Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us. With His power in us, we can love all, even our enemies.

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To Do or To Be? That is the Question.

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I like having a “To Do” list. Following the list instead of getting overwhelmed thinking about all there is to do is encouraging. I check things off as I go and see my progress. And a completed list feels good! But is a “To Do” list the most important? There are lots of tasks that demand my attention. Vacuum the house, do laundry, go to the bank, buy groceries, and the list can go on forever.

What about my “To Be” list? Do I think about that? When I wake up in the morning, my to do list is already in my head. Do I wake up thinking about what I’m to be?

If I made a “To Be” list for today, what would it look like?

To Be:

Be patient on the road, in the grocery aisle, waiting in line.

Be loving to those who wait on me today, to those who crowd the aisles, to those who “interrupt” my tasks.

Be kind and gentle with each person who crosses my path even when they irritate me or block my way.

Be self-controlled not over indulging with food and drink, not giving in to temper fits, not being lazy.

Be joyful walking in praise and thanksgiving to my Father who has given me this day of life.

Be faithful to Him. Putting Him first. Listening to and following His Spirit.

Be prayerful. Praying without ceasing.

Don’t forget to put on compassion and humility!

What if by following my “To Be” list, I can’t accomplish all that is on my “To Do” list?

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

How do I put my “To Be” list before my “To Do” list?

Begin the day with Jesus.

Slow Down.

Listen.

Follow.

Take a breath and pray before each task.

Open my eyes and see.

When I don’t focus on what I’m to be, I rush into my day working on my list, ignoring people who wait on me, getting irritated with those who get in my way, showing impatience to those who are “slow”, and acting prideful as if I’m the only one who matters.

It matters much more to God that I show patience to the checker than if I arrive home on time. He is more concerned about me giving someone a smile then how long it takes me to accomplish my task. He doesn’t care how long it takes me to do my list. He cares how I treat others as I go. Ouch! That hits home with me.

Jesus, please open my eyes to see those around me. Help me to remember what matters. You said if I seek you first above all that you would add the rest. Help me to make loving you and loving others my utmost priority and to trust you with everything else. I can’t do this in my strength. I confess that I am weak. Please Holy Spirit, move through me to show others your love.

I first published this at Internet Cafe Devotions.

 

 

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Encouragement is the Word

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S – “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

O – Paul writes to assure us that all who believe in Jesus will be with Him forever. We will either be with Him when we die or if we are alive when He comes back, we will join Him in the air. Either way, we are with Him forever. Our job is to encourage each other with this truth and build each other up.

A – Am I doing my job? Am I encouraging others daily? Reminding them that whether we are awake or asleep, we will always be with the Lord?
P – Jesus, thank you that you will return one day. Thank you that I am yours forever and nothing can take that away. Help me live to encourage others and remind them of this truth. Help me to encourage someone today. I love you Lord.

SOAP Bible Study

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With a Thankful Heart

 

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S – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

O/A – Let the word of Christ abundantly live in you. His word should fill my heart to overflowing. When His word fills my heart, I can teach and admonish others with wisdom as they teach and admonish me. To admonish is to warn, exhort, or caution. When His word fills us then we are able to teach others with wisdom. At the same time singing praise to Him, singing the Psalms and being filled with thankfulness in our hearts. My heart should be filled with thankfulness, not worry, complaints, judgments etc.

I need to let His word abundantly fill me and live in me.
I need to teach and exhort others.
I need to sing psalms and hymns continually in my heart.
My heart needs to be filled with thankfulness to God.

P – Jesus, please help me live this way. Help me make your word an absolute priority in my life so that it fills my mind and heart and comes out in exhortation and song and thankfulness. Thank you that you are so incredibly patient with me. I love you Lord.

SOAP Bible Study

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Fiction That Gives Hope

Jennifer Slattery writes fiction that’s entertaining and keeps me turning the pages but at the same time manages to teach me about God’s grace and challenges me to reach out to those around me who are hurting.

    Restoring Love is a follow-up to Jennifer’s first novel, Beyond I Do. Restoring Love shows us what happens to Ainsley’s mom, Angela several years after the events in the first book. Angela is a woman who has made lots of mistakes in her life and had stopped believing her own life could be redeemed until she sees the grace and forgiveness her daughter shows her. As Angela moves on to find a new start, God opens doors for her to show that same grace to Bianca, a struggling mom who lives across the street. With her husband in jail, a rebellious teenage daughter and two challenging young sons, her life is in crisis.

Will Angela be able to give Bianca the same kind of help she herself once desperately needed? And what about Mitch? Why has God allowed this man into her life? Why would any decent man be interested in her ever again? With her history of promiscuity, abortion and manipulation of others, she feels unworthy of love. This story makes me wonder how many people around me are hurting in ways I can’t imagine and who around me needs a word of encouragement or for someone to be willing to give sacrificially. Restoring Love is a love story, a redemption story, a story of hope, a challenge to forgive and a picture of what Jesus meant when He said others would know His followers by their love.

If you want a book that goes beyond being escapist fiction and has the potential to change lives, I highly recommend Restoring Love.

And don’t forget to read Ainsley’s story in Beyond I Do!

Find more about Jennifer Slattery and her other books here:

Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

Jennifer on Amazon

 

 

 

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