Posts Tagged ‘love’

The Sixth Commandment

Have you ever been angry with someone? Even Jesus was angry. His anger was a righteous anger, like the time the moneychangers and merchants setup shop at the temple. They thought they were offering a good service for travelers coming from far away to the annual Passover, by providing animals and doves for sacrifice. Yet, they made the temple into a den of thieves and Jesus’ anger caused Him to straighten things out by turning over their tables and scattering the animals.

 

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” Jesus’ exact words from Matthew 5:21. Paul said in Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Do you know why? If we hold on to our anger, it could grow into grudges, bitterness and malice. That means it could get so out of control that we could murder someone.

Application

While Jesus was with His disciples the last time, He said, “Love others as I have loved you.” Did you know that love is the answer to anger? By following Jesus’ commands we will obey the sixth commandment, “Do not murder,” Exodus 20:13.

 Prayer

Lord Jesus, help us in our anger to be more like You. Help us not to sin but to love as You do. Help us to straighten things out before the sun goes down. Amen.

Jesus–God’s Gift of Love

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:6-7

Did you know that these two verses, often quoted at Christmas, were written by Isaiah more than seven hundred years before Christ was born? Isaiah worked during troubling times when people had no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of His hands. God spoke through Isaiah to warn the people they would be exiled because of their life choices, but that He would bring hope and peace through one Man.

APPLICATION

While we celebrate the first coming of Jesus at Christmas, we prepare for His second coming. That means we respond to God’s amazing love by loving Him and others. Loving God means doing what is right and good. Sometimes that means standing alone. Have you ever had to do that? I have and I feel like the lone ranger Christian. Be encouraged! God says in Isaiah 7:9, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Hard words, but words that hold great hope and eternal life with God. How will you show God’s love this week? Will it mean that you will stand alone to do what God wants you to?

PRAYER

Father God, thank you for your incredible plan for us. Strengthen us to stand firmly in our faith and to reach out to others with your love, especially during this season when many people feel left out and lonely. Amen.

No Idols

A few years ago I visited a friend whose best friend died. She gave me a tour of her house and finally her eyes landed on a beautiful Indian figurine. She said, “This is my Indian goddess, and I pray to her every day.” 

I couldn’t imagine anyone praying to a wooden figurine. I said to my friend, “She’s lovely, but she cannot see you with her eyes or hear your prayers with her ears. She cannot speak to you with her mouth and she has no power to help you.”

“But I can see her and touch her. She’s real to me,” my friend said.

The second commandment says we are not to make or worship idols. Do you have a friend like mine who trusts in something other than the One True God? I tried to tell my friend there is more truth and reality in things we cannot see than in things we can see. Sometimes our idols don’t look like Indian figurines. They look like anything that comes between us and trusting God. All we can do is show love to our friends and pray for them.

Lord Jesus, I pray for those who don’t know you or trust you. Send them a word or someone to soften their hearts and show them their need for you in their lives. Amen.

Crumbling Spirit – Review

As you read about terrorist’s attacks or see news reports on television, have you wondered what it would be like if something like that happened in your neighborhood? The bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City affected thousands of people. Many parents lost their children and children lost their parents. Julia Kinser, a fourth grader at James Buchanan Elementary School, recorded her personal experience of terror in her diary. It’s in a published book titled Crumbling Spirit on American Soil by D. Ed Hoggatt. Julia turned from tears to strength with God’s love, the love of her parents and the love of her teacher.

Every American grieved with the people in Oklahoma City. We cried with them as we put ourselves in their places. Many kids in schools across the United States reached out to the kids in Oklahoma by writing letters and sending stuffed animals. Mr. Atkinson taught Julia and me that we don’t have to be victims, but we can find positive ways to reach out to each other even in the midst of our grief. We can all be survivors. For Julia it meant responding to the letters, thanking people for their thoughts, prayers and gifts. After you read the book, you will know what you can do if the times comes for you to rise above your suffering in order to survive. It will make you a stronger and more compassionate person. You can order the book online at http://hoggatt.weebly.com. You will be glad you did.

Jealous Jenny

Jenny couldn’t wait to tell her mom she won the spelling bee. They worked until 10:30 the night before on the especially hard words.

“Mom! Mom!” She called, dashing through the front door. Jenny looked in the kitchen but Mom wasn’t there. She looked in the garage and the garden, but Mom wasn’t there either.

“Mom! Mom!” she called running through the house.

“What is it, Sweetie?” Mom said from upstairs.

Jenny already knew she must be with her sister, Cammie.

“Oh, hi Jenny,” Mom said. “Just a minute.”

Mom was changing the bandages on Cammie’s foot. Saturday morning Cammie helped Mom with breakfast and accidentally bumped the coffee pot, spilling hot coffee on her foot. She screamed and their cat, Max, bulleted straight up in the air. Mom, Dad and Jenny took Cammie to the Emergency Room and the doctor said her foot had third degree burns. After he treated it, he told Mom she would have to clean the burn and change the dressing every day. Cammie cried every time Mom touched her.

Knowing Mom might be a while; Jenny changed her clothes and started her homework. Then the phone rang.

“Hello,” Jenny said.

“Hi Jenny,” said Grandma. “How is Cammie?”

“She’s crying. Mom is changing her dressing.”

“Oh dear,” said Grandma. “Would you tell Mom I called?”

“Sure, Grandma.”

“I love you, Jenny.”

“I love you too, Grandma.”

When Mom finished changing Cammie’s dressing, she started cooking dinner.

“Mom,” said Jenny.

“Jenny, I can’t talk right now. Can’t you see I’m busy?”

 “Yes, Mom,” Jenny said and a tear rolled down her cheek. Lately it seemed Cammie got all the attention. On her birthday she got the prettiest pink Barbie glasses. Jenny wanted some too, but Mom said she didn’t need glasses. And Cammie got another pair of new shoes.

“Mom, why can’t I have new shoes?” Jenny had asked.

“Jenny, we’ve talked about this. Cammie’s toes go slightly together when she walks, making her shoes wear out faster. You, my dear, have perfect feet and out grow your shoes instead of wearing them out.”

“It’s not fair, Mom. I want new shoes. These are ugly!” Even as Jenny cried she knew Mom and Dad couldn’t afford to buy new shoes for her when her shoes held up so well. Besides Dad had received a 15% cut in pay. Jenny overheard her parents questioning how they would pay house and car payments, doctor and medicine bills.

Jenny helped Mom clean up the kitchen after dinner and wondered if she would ask about the spelling bee. She didn’t. Tears welled up in Jenny’s eyes. When they finished their work, Mom said, “Now do your homework, before time to shower and get ready for bed.” Then she saw Jenny’s tears. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.” Jenny saw Mom stressing over so many things.

“Jenny, I know you don’t cry for nothing,” Mom said. She put her arms around Jenny and together they walked to Jenny’s room. “Now tell me what’s going on. Is it something at school?”

“Mom, it’s nothing. You have other things to worry about.”

“But I love you and I am here for you.”

“It doesn’t feel like it, Mom.”

“What do you mean?”

“Mom, can’t you see? Cammie’s gets new shoes a lot more than I do. She gets pretty pink Barbie glasses. And if she isn’t going to the dentist, she is going to the doctor about one thing or another. I want new shoes and glasses. I want you to love me as much as Cammie.”

“Jenny, do you think I love Cammie more than you?”

“Yes!”

“I don’t, Jenny. Cammie has special needs. Your shoes are perfectly fine. They don’t have holes in them. You can see to do your homework without glasses but Cammie can’t. You don’t have toothaches, but she does. What am I supposed to do?”

Tears spilled down Jenny’s face. “You’re supposed to take care of her, like you do.”

“But how can I make you feel better? I don’t want you to feel left out.”

“Well, for one thing you could ask me how I did in the spelling bee. Don’t you remember how hard we worked last night?”

“Oh Jenny, yes. I remember and I’m sorry. Please forgive me? I’ve been way too busy but I didn’t mean to forget you.”    

Falling into Mom’s arms, Jenny cried big sobs. Comforted, she said, “I forgive you, Mom. I don’t want to be a problem. I just want to tell you I won the spelling bee.”

Brushing her daughter’s hair out of her face, Mom said, “I am so proud of you, Jenny. You are my princess and I love you more than I can say.”

“Thank you, Mom. I’m sorry for being jealous.”

“You’re forgiven, Jenny.  Remember people, even I, will let you down from time to time, but God will never let you down. He loves you more than you can imagine and promises to be with you always. When you feel jealous, you can tell him just as you told me. He understands and will make you feel warm inside from His love.”

“Then that’s what I want to do.”

 “Would you like to start now?”

Jenny bowed her head. “Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for being jealous. Help me to feel your love instead. Amen.”

 Mom smiled and held Jenny close.

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too.”

 * * * * * * *

Have you ever felt like Jenny, that your parents loved your brother or sister more than you? I did.

Did you feel silly feeling that way when your brother or sister had special needs? I did too.

Lord Jesus, help us to know you are always with us, that you love and care about us even when we think we are being left out. Amen.

Christmas Traditions

Does your family have special things they do every Christmas? At my house before we open presents, we share what it was like the very first Christmas by using a small nativity. Then we sing a few carols. Then we open presents.

In Lebanon children make “caves and cribs” out of clay. In front of the dome-like cave are figures of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Each child plants seeds in the top soil surrounding the the nativity scene. They water the soil for two weeks and guess what happens? Grass begins to surround the clay cave, Mary, Joseph and Jesus. It represents new life–the new life we experience because Jesus came to earth and loved us enough to save us from our sins.

In Mexico for nine nights before Christmas, families visit three homes, singing Christmas carols. Then a young man dressed like Joseph asks if there is room for his wife and him to stay. The answer is “no” and Joseph explains that his wife is about to have a baby. The answer is still “no.” This also happens at the second house. When the family sings carols at the third house and Joseph again pleas for a place to stay, the host of that home invites them in and the party begins, including a pinata, gifts and dancing.

“I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

What are your Christmas traditions? Would you write them in a comment here on my blog? Thank you and Merry, Merry Christmas.

Jesus and the Rich Young Man

A rich young man came to Jesus and asked,

“What must I do to have life that will last?”

Jesus smiled at the man and answered his quest,

“Obey God’s commands and give Him your best.”

 

The man was quiet, deep in his thoughts,

He’d obeyed the laws just as he ought.

Yet something inside him was terribly missing.

He considered his life; it didn’t have meaning.

 

Jesus looked on the man with love and compassion.

He said, “Help the poor and sell your possessions;

A treasure in Heaven; on that you can depend,

A life filled with blessings without any end.

 

The young man was not ready to sell all he had.

So hanging his head, he walked away sad.

He failed to believe what Jesus had said;

And foolishly trusted his riches instead.

 

He could have had blessings and life without end.

He could have had hope of treasure in Heaven.

What would you do if given the choice,

The things of this world or hearing God’s voice?