I want to go to church. Pews weren’t meant to sit empty. Every state is different in their approach to gatherings. Many places are slowly allowing people back into the church buildings. However, my little church met in an elementary school. Since schools are closed, church is closed. I need to meet in person with my church family.
I know the church is not a building. Believers join together to form the body of Christ, it’s not a certain location. Praise God that we still meet online where I hear solid Bible teaching. We even stay around afterwards to pray for each other. It’s not the same. I didn’t realize before what a blessing it was to lay hands on people in prayer.
Recently, we had a prayer gathering where we met together in person while maintaining social distancing. The group was very small and the gym was quite large with a whole wall opened for air flow. Being in the same room was other believers was electrifying. The Holy Spirit in each of us communed with the Spirit in the others and my heart soared. That gym held the splendors of heaven that night.
My heart longs to assemble with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (NKJV). I realized the reason it feels so wrong to not get together, is because it is wrong. God’s Word admonishes us to gather together to encourage each other in the faith, especially as we see the end times approach. Satan hates the power of God that moves through His people when they assemble.
May I never take for granted the ability to go to church. Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord” (NKJV). Many churches around the world are persecuted and face imprisonment if they go to church. They meet in house churches, sometimes traveling from far reaches to be in the presence of God together. They put mattresses in front of their doors and mouth the words to praise songs to muffle the sound from the neighbors. Much of the persecuted church has experienced this reality for years. I just wasn’t expecting it in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I pray for wisdom for churches and pastors all around this country and the whole world to navigate reopening. Sadly, many churches have gotten a bad reputation for opening and then people getting infected. I am praying we can find ways to be safe and be together. My desire is to spread the gospel and not COVID-19. My parent’s church had drive-in services. I’ve heard of other churches meeting in parks outside. There are many ways we can join together to encourage each other in Christ.
May God uphold His people and strengthen their souls as they eagerly await the day when they warm that shiny pew again. Until then, may we find ways to meet in small groups for prayer, exhortation, and studying of the Word to strengthen the bond of Christ among believers so we don’t fall away from the truth.
Have you ever seen a photo mosaic? You know, one of those pictures where they use thousands of tiny photos to build a larger image. They remind me of pointillism paintings, but with small photos instead of dots of paint. I’m amazed at how so many diverse things come together to make an entirely different picture.
I see the body of Christ as a photo mosaic. At the top is Jesus as the head of the church supported by little pictures of Christians from across the globe clustered by their various gifts. Believers to whom the Holy Spirit gave gifts of service are embedded into the hands. Those He made teachers and pastors are located at the mouth. People with the spiritual gift of mercy are centered at the heart. Combined, they make an incredible collage of beauty that showcases God’s glory. If any pictures were missing, there would be holes in the mosaic.
The Bible explains how each member of the body is important. 1 Corinthians 12:14-15 says, “For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?” (NKJV). Of course the foot is still part of the body. When I hurt my foot last fall it was hard to walk, but I never considered using my hands instead. The idea would’ve been preposterous! People were not designed to use their hands to walk around everywhere. Each body part has a different role designed to help the whole body operate.
Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (NKJV). This equipping of the saints with spiritual gifts applies to local congregations and the global body of Christ. Personally, I have the gifts of teaching and exhortation, but not the gift of healing. If I never taught because I couldn’t heal, the body of Christ would suffer. My job is to use my gifts, and not envy others. No one job is worth more than another in God’s economy. Only obedience matters. I can trust the Holy Spirit to know the right gifts for me so that I may bless the whole church.
Ephesians 4:15-16 says, “But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (NKJV).
When each part of the body of Christ obeys its calling with a joyful heart, the body blesses itself. Alternatively, if one member of the body refuses to do its job, the whole body suffers because we are all connected. The Greek word for “knit together” is synarmologeō, meaning a close-binding or joining together. Like the joints in your body attach the different parts to work as one unit, the body of Christ is connected to labor together for God’s glory as led by the head–Christ. Jesus is at the top directing the body’s thoughts and actions to align with His kingdom building purposes.
When I use the spiritual gifts that God has given me to help my local church, it also enables the global body of Christ to thrive. This knowledge spurs me to obey everything that God calls me to do, whether it looks big or small. God uses obedience as the lifeblood to grow His church. May my actions carry life to the body of Christ, both near and far, so the mosaic is complete.
The curtain rises. A hush comes over the crowd. The performance they’ve all waited for is about to start. Hundreds of eyes focus on the stage. Yet the lights stay off. The actors appear as indistinct forms in the dark. Programs rustle in people's laps as tension spreads through the room. Finally, the spotlight pierces the black to shine on the sound box. The theater attendees stir in their seats. Is this part of the play? It’s not.
The lady running the spotlight is dating the sound man. She wants everyone to see how attractive he is and refuses to light the stage where the action is happening. Her greatest concern is at the back of the theater. Patrons leave the show having seen a good-looking sound man, but not the main act.
I’d be annoyed if I went to a theater and missed the show to see the support staff. The world likes to spotlight people with money, fame, and power. If I’m not careful, I can get caught in the same trap. I can get distracted by pretty baubles that pass by and miss the main purpose of knowing and serving God. I will benefit no one if I drone on about my favorite drama on Netflix. Next month some other movie will enjoy more popularity, and my wasted time cannot be regained.
John the Baptist got it right. His life served as a spotlight to point people to Christ. He knew the story was about the Messiah, not himself. John 5:33 and 35 say, “You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth…. He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.” People flocked to hear John the Baptist speak, yet he did not keep the glory for himself. Instead, John pointed to the truth that Jesus was the Messiah. John’s ministry decreased once Christ took the His place on the scene.
My life needs to highlight things that last forever. As I honor God, the focus is not on my interests and achievements, it’s on the Lord. When I bask in the light of the Son of God, His light shines through me and points back to Himself. The person shining the spotlight is not the most important, it's the one the light surrounds. May the Lord keep me focused on things that enlighten instead of things that disappear. I pray my life will spotlight the only One worth seeing.
I love the smell of candles wafting through my home. When I use one of my White Barn candles, the entire downstairs soon fills with pleasant aromas. During COVID-19, my dream for when quarantine restrictions lifted was to smell every candle in Bath and Body Works. The morning after the stores opened, I sniffed candles through a mask to my little nose’s content.
When I took the candles home, I immediately lit one. Fruity scents of pineapple, whipped cream, and fresh orange filled my house with a tropical feeling. Just by lighting three tiny wicks I was transported from the confines of my home to a beautiful beach. When you can’t go to the beach, bring the beach to you!
Then I stared deep into the candle. I realized that for the candle to provide the lovely scents, it had to burn. Three orbs of fire flickered in a pool of wax. To release the smell, not only was the wax set on fire, it also gave away part of itself to comfort me.
I thought about the Messianic prophecy in Psalm 22:14, “I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me” (NKJV). Jesus’s heart melted as He hung on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. He emptied Himself of all of His rights and bore the fullness of God’s wrath so we could be reconciled to the Father.
Jesus’ love for us honored God and became a pleasant scent to the Lord. Ephesians 5:2 says, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (NKJV). We are called to share the same love that Jesus showed us on the cross and become living sacrifices to God. We must give of ourselves to worship God.
Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (NKJV). I can be selfish at times and don’t always want to surrender my dreams and demands to God. Yet, when I decrease and God increases, my life become a lovely fragrance to the Lord.
Sometimes, my life comes under fire as I am pressed by the cares of this world. When that happens, I have a choice. I can allow the flames to release a sweet-smelling aroma as an offering to the Lord or choose to make a stink about my hardships. As I sit on my couch in the middle of an island breeze, I decide that even if I melt away in the process, I want to be a fragrant incense offering before the throne of grace to fill all of heaven with the smell. May our lives be a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord, even under fire.
This week's blog is a Bible study I wrote for Feed Your Soul with the Word of God, Collection 1, a banquet of 30 short Bible studies.
God may take us to uncharted places, but He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Several years ago, I was excited about a work opportunity to move overseas. I discovered a position I was qualified for in my favorite city in Europe. Some friends from church had already relocated there, so it meant built-in community. I’d lived abroad before and was very lonely. I dreaded repeating that.
For the application process, we ranked our job preferences. That didn’t faze me. Surely God wanted me with fellow believers. I submitted the form with a flippant statement “You can’t outdo the sovereignty of God.” All my friends and family prayed for me to get the job. I bragged about the prospect for weeks. My heart was set on that particular city.
When the assignments were issued, my heart sank. I didn’t get my top pick. I couldn’t understand. Everyone had prayed. I had never even visited the place, yet I would have to live there for two years. What happened to the sovereignty of God? I had equated God’s sovereignty with Him granting my desires. I thought more about my wishes than the Lord’s will.
James 4:13-16 (NKJV*) says,
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
My arrogant boasting backfired. I had tried to manipulate God with my prayers. I was positive I was going to such and such a city, but the Lord had other ideas. He knew how to use my short life best, though it didn’t fit into my master plan.
Submitting to God’s will instead of demanding my own way was challenging. Though I didn’t understand what God was doing, I took the job. After a while, my new city became home. I attended an international church and found a Bible study where I made close friends. I sang karaoke at a wedding shower and ran relay races in my living room for a baby shower. We did life together. After I left, a friend invited me back to be in her wedding.
More importantly, I wound up a mere four-hour trip away from my youngest sister. God had called my sister to missions overseas. She did not receive her first choice either, but God knew what He was doing. We celebrated holidays together and often met to travel. Our relationship deepened, and we supported each other.
God even used my home as a safe haven. Various missionaries stayed with me while they were transitioning back from the field or when they needed respite. My brother also lived with me for six weeks during a stressful period.
Proverbs 16:9 says, A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. I love to plan and try to organize everything into neat little boxes of two-year increments. However, I can’t even control what will happen tomorrow. Fortunately, God sees the bigger picture. He does exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). When I let go of my death grip of control and surrender to Him, He surpasses what my finite mind could even begin to dream. Now I say “Lord willing” and mean it. I can trust God even when I don’t understand Him. I hold my demands more loosely, which frees me to receive His unimaginable good gifts.
Have you ever made plans you were certain would happen, yet they never materialized? It might not have been a move, but perhaps it was a job or a relationship. Instead of being stumped, remember, You ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:15). It’s God’s will, not ours, that matters.
When God redirects your paths with sharp turns into unknown territories, instead of cowering in fear, start rejoicing. The God of the universe who sees and knows all, is about to do great things. Initially, the scene may look foreign, scary, or even dull. But look closer, and you will uncover the opportunities God has preordained for you to give glory to His name. So don’t boast like I did when I thought I was moving to my favorite city. God may take you elsewhere. We live for His kingdom, and His plans are best. May the Lord free you to say “Lord willing” with eager anticipation and joy.
Father, Thank You for caring about each one of us, and working in our lives to fulfill the plans You have for us. Help us to remember the many reasons that we have to trust You, and submit our will to Yours. When disappointments come or when we must change the plans we have made, help us to look forward to the good that You have in store for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1. Have you ever made certain plans, but God had a better idea?
2. In what areas of life is it the most difficult for you to submit to God’s will?
3. Has God ever given you more than you ever could have dreamed or planned for?
4. Are there any truths or life experiences that help you to trust God’s will above your own?
*All Scripture verses are taken from the NKJV.
Check out Feed Your Soul with the Word of God, Collection 1 on the Lighthouse Bible Studies website or Amazon.
Used with permission by Lighthouse Bible Studies.
This week's blog post is by my friend Ed Windhausen from my Word Weavers group. His writing is always creative and compelling. He has 25 years of experience in early childhood education, but this year was his first experience teaching online. As the whole world has been upended this year, and we've learned new ways to do things, I appreciate him sharing the lessons God taught him. May you be blessed by his story.
“Something is happening in China,” she said. I had heard about the turmoil with the coronavirus on the news, but China was so far away, why should I worry? How would that have any effect on us? My co-worker was contemplating what would happen if we had to teach our students over a computer. The term distance learning hadn’t yet entered the conversation, and as the only man on an all women preschool teaching team, I was taking the, let’s wait and see, stance. I was not one to over-react or jump to conclusions. I felt like I had to be the one who did not respond emotionally, but inside I was worried.
We were notified on Thursday that there would be a mandatory training on Distance Learning the following Monday. I listened to the radio the next morning as I drove to work. The news was dominated by talk of coronavirus and how quickly it was spreading. My phone alerted me to a text message, which was unusual for 5:45 am. My instructional assistant informed me that school had been closed for the day. I had no idea that the previous day would be the last time I saw my students or co-workers face-to-face that school year.
Decisions happened quickly from that point forward. School systems around the country were taking action to protect their students and staff by closing buildings, halting instruction, and formulating plans on how to progress in a way that was safe and effective. Many of those decisions were then challenged, amended, and re-sent out to the masses. My wait and see stance still seemed prudent, as it saved time on taking action with standards that were sure to change. As a preschool teacher in special education, I wasn’t sure how many of the decisions being made were even relevant to my population. I was worried for my students and their families amidst this ever-changing global crisis.
We started distance learning a few weeks later. Then we stopped because the systems kept crashing. We attended virtual trainings to adapt to a new platform; a platform that we were assured could handle the volume of users. It did not. We then waited as our school system tested and implemented a new approach. Along the way I worried for my students. Would they lose all the ground that had been gained during the school year? Would the parents have the availability to assist us in the education of their children? We were all worried. We had started and stopped distance learning three times. We were hopeful that this new protocol would succeed. It did!
My worries continued as I adjusted to a new way of doing school. Arranging digital sessions with families met with limited success. Whether because of schedule conflicts, technology challenges, or language barriers, I didn’t feel that I was doing any good for my students. My teaching partner assured me that I was doing all I could to provide resources and opportunities for families to engage, but was it enough. It worried me to think that even one of my students might be left behind because of the quarantine.
My teaching partner and I conducted a group lesson each school day for one hour. During that time, our two classes were given the chance to log in to our virtual classroom and participate in reciprocal learning experiences. Out of the combined 22 students available, we regularly had 12-16 students attend. I later learned that our participation numbers were much higher than the average.
As time progressed, I found that my families became more available to my one on one virtual office hour meetings as well. While these sessions were established for me to engage with my students, often I spent the time chatting with parents. These conversations became more casual each meeting. My 25 years of experience in early childhood education was put to use during these chats. But, more importantly, these parents of young children sought out my 22 years of experience as a parent.
It dawned on me one day after a particularly emotional discussion with a parent, that I hadn’t worried in quite some time. I concluded that the difference was not in anything I had done with my students or families, it was my attitude, and my Bible. Since quarantine had begun, I had become so distracted by the changes around me, that I altered my former routine. I had stopped my morning quiet times. I was not regularly in the Word. How had this happened? I know the peace I gain from reading and mediating on Scripture. How could I have deprived myself of this practice that helped ground me during so many tumultuous moments of my life? I realized that there was a correlation to my time in Scripture and my feelings of peace. During the last couple of weeks, I had gotten back into the habit of reading scripture before engaging in my work for the day. It seemed so obvious to me now, but why hadn’t I seen it before?
In Matthew 6:25-27, Jesus instructs us, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life” (NIV)?
In retrospect, I know that I did my best for my students. I am confident that I gave every opportunity to those families that may have been going through challenges during distance learning. But, what if I had devoted all my energy to teaching my students and serving my families from the very beginning, instead of wasting that energy on worry? I learned a lot through distance learning, but the most important lesson had nothing to do with my methods of instruction. I learned that I must trust and rely on God through everything. When I do that, I eliminate the distance between us.
I never expected to have to speak on this matter. But I can’t stay silent. Our country is full of division and strife. People are rioting in the streets, destroying people's businesses and livelihoods all in revenge for a tragic death. They try to justify their actions saying they are paying back those who perpetrated a crime. I agree that taking a life is never right. As human beings made in the image of God, we all are endowed by our Creator with value.
But we don’t need to try to take the law into our own hands. Violence only leads to more violence, and vengeance leads to more vengeance. Because if you hurt me, then I must respond with anger and lash back. Then because I've caused you pain, you take vengeance on me. The hate cycle never ends. Two wrongs don’t make a right. God says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” Let God do His job.
The only way to get off the crazy bus of hate is to choose love. Choose that enough is enough. Choose to forgive. For those who believe that they have been oppressed for a very long time, perhaps they believe that they have held their peace long enough. That now is the time to rise up and fight back. I see how they could think that. However, I don’t understand how any one expects to endear someone to their cause through violence. My momma always told me, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. People are attracted to kindness in the same way that hate repels people. We need an overflow of human kindness.
Some may not feel ready to show kindness. Some say that people must pay for the sins of their ancestors. While there are certainly many historic wrongs that we have experienced in our country, sadly, we cannot undo the past. We can only move forward. Fortunately, the sins of the fathers don't have to be the sins of the sons. Each of us can choose to start a new path forward towards reconciliation and relationship.
It starts with us. It starts with a choice. We must choose to be the change in our world. For things to continue as they have is not good enough. For true reconciliation and forgiveness, we need to stop and listen. Not just let the words go in one ear and out the other, but listen to understand and empathize. To sit with another human and feel their pain. And it can't be approached with either side saying "I'm right and you're wrong." It must be a learning opportunity on both sides. So much can be solved if people were willing to share a cup of coffee and really listen when they ask "so, tell me about yourself."
The Bible says we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. In our ever-shrinking world, our neighbors not only live next door, but also are our fellow humans inhabiting the planet. Most people typically do not seek to harm themselves. Usually, people care for themselves, by eating, drinking, and working to pay the bills. When we see each person as possessing the dignity to be treated with respect, when we show kindness the way we'd like to receive it, then the world will be a different place. We wouldn't have an abundance of hate, but an abundance of grace as each person would try to outdo the next in sharing love with everyone.
But sometimes it is hard to love other people. Jesus even said to love our enemies. How is that even possible? The way we learn to love our enemies is when we experience God’s love for us. God loves us despite our broken, sinful natures. Jesus died to restore relationship with us when we were still His enemies. That’s some kind of love. When we receive God’s love, He give us His ability to love others. Even our enemies.
What will you do to bring peace to our planet? Will you choose to break the cycle of hate and love your neighbor as yourself? Will you buy a cup of coffee for someone who doesn't look or act like you to listen to their story? As one person after another chooses to forgive, God's love will abound in our hearts, and we will live in peace. Be the change in the world. It's time to forget hate and remember love. A little kindness goes a long way. Start showing some love today.
When my copy of "Refresh Your Faith" arrived last week, I was really excited. I met Lori Hatcher at the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in 2018. It was my first conference so I felt boldness to talk to anyone. I met Lori by the elevators, and she was instantly nice to me. I didn't know she was leading until later in the conference. She planned to pitch this devotional book at that conference. Two years later, the published version is even better than I'd hoped..
Lori Hatcher provides a unique way to grow your faith muscles by examining uncommon verses from every book of the Bible in “Refresh Your Faith.” As promised, this book really does take a deep dive into unfamiliar passages from God’s Word so we can learn how to apply the whole Bible to daily life. Every word of God is true and blesses the heart and mind. I love how Lori sheds light on passages we may otherwise skim over to show their value to our walk with God. She makes passages that seem less relevant relatable with her stories and insights.
Her devotion on Habakkuk “Even Strong Ones Grow Weary” hit really close to home. I decided to quit beating myself up for not being able to carry the weight of the world, and instead hand it over to the God who was already holding the universe in His hands. Each devotion also includes questions at the end to challenge readers to apply what they’ve learned, which really helped me internalize the message. If you are tired of the Bible feeling stale, this devotional book will help renew your appetite for the bread of life. I wholeheartedly recommend it!
My heart is heavy to pray for our country and our world. Please pray with me for revival. So much hurt fills our land right now, and we can't fix it ourselves. Only God can heal our wounded world. Prayer lets us join the healing process by taking our pain to the Great Physician.
We often quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, without looking at the verse before it. 2 Chronicles 7:13 says, "When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people” (NKJV). While we still have rain in America, famine could come due to global food insecurity caused by supply-chain disruptions. Locust currently swarm parts of Africa. COVID-19 is considered a pestilence or plague. Our world needs healing and not just from COVID-19. We need deep spiritual healing.
How do we get spiritual healing? 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (NKJV). God desires to hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land, but first we must obey His requirements. Please pray with me these four things based on 2 Chronicles 7:14 to bring revival:
First: Pray for soft hearts to humble themselves before God. For people’s ears to yearn for truth and not the excuses for sin that their itching ears seek. James 4:6b says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (NKJV). American society values independence and self-reliance; yet, when our independence comes at the cost of depending on God Almighty, the Lord resists us. We must acknowledge our desperate need for God to receive His grace.
Second: Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray for revival. Pray for other people to pray. Pray messenger angels will move through the Holy Spirit to stir the hearts of God’s people to cry out for revival. We need a multiplicative prayer effort with prayers rising to the throne of God in force. The more prayers we raise, the more power God can release into the world to draw us back to Himself. James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (NKJV). May our prayers bring healing to our land.
Third: Pray that we seek God’s face. As we sit in quarantine, we can make no excuses that we are too busy to spend time with God. Without the distractions that tug at our hearts, may we Christians use our time wisely by diving into the Word and getting on our knees in prayer. “Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord” (Hosea 6:3a NKJV). May our relationship with God be the driving motivation of our lives.
Fourth: Pray for people to repent. Often, loving God is easier in word than in deed. The sin that so easily entangles us can cry louder than the still soft voice of the Lord. Yet, only one way leads to truth and life. We must turn from our wicked ways and get back on the path of righteousness. The time for repentance has come.
It’s time we awaken from our slumber.
It’s time we rend our hearts and not our garments.
It’s time we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
It’s time we confess our sins, knowing that He’ll faithfully forgive.
Will you join me today and reclaim our country for Christ? The United States has a strong Christian heritage founded on religious freedom and love of God. We must forsake our sin so that God can heal our land. Don’t let our rich history end with people who have strayed so far from where we started as a nation. Who will pray with me? Who will stand in the gap and cry out for our world? Who will bring heaven to earth and call down revival?
The call is here. The time is now. How will you respond?
Send this to everyone you know to pray for revival for our country.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35 NKJV
I invited her to Starbucks so I could apologize.
The lady had shown up unexpectedly at a Christmas party for a ministry in which she wasn’t involved. I only spoke a few words to her, mostly talking with other people. Later, while reading my Bible, God convicted me of my bad attitude, so I decided to make amends.
Apparently, she had not noticed my rudeness until I said something. Instead of forgiving me, she laid out a long list of complaints. The coffee acid burned my stomach. My efforts to reconcile had backfired.
The next day at work, I couldn’t focus. Words swam on my computer as I saw her accusations replay on the movie screen in my mind. Why couldn’t I be nicer? I felt abysmal. A colleague noticed tears cruising down my cheeks and asked what had happened. I told her how I had asked for forgiveness from someone and received a tongue-lashing instead. She tried to console me, telling me I wasn’t a monster. In time, God healed my wound.
Months later, the same woman needed help with moving, so I volunteered. When I told my coworker, she was shocked. Why would I help someone who had been so nasty to me? It made no sense. I told her I would want people to help me move, so I needed to serve others. My associate couldn’t understand. Why show love to your enemies? She recommended I ignore the request and hope someone else would assist.
I remembered Jesus’ words that His followers should show love. Doing so helped my coworker see something different in me than she saw in the world. She recognized my love for others. I told her God had forgiven me of much worse. I could forgive someone who had hurt me. I could share God’s love when I had none of my own to give.
The world cries out for vengeance. When we choose to love—when we would rather hate—God gets the glory. Giving undeserved love seems illogical and separates us from nonbelievers, but they will know we are Christians by our love.
Let your life display Christ’s love to everyone, even when it’s difficult.
Used by permission Christian Devotions Ministries.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.