Maybe your neighbors aren't exactly like the ones in our childhood stories. Our adult friends probably haven't fallen and skinned their knee, but I am pretty sure they have hurts we can bandage with love and prayer. A kind word never goes out of style, and I am positive that grownups get left out of the in crowd just as often as children do in school. Loving our neighbor doesn't have to be difficult or complicated. A plate of cookies, some bottles of water, a friendly wave and smile don't require a special formula or plan.
Do you have a favorite hobby or talent? What would happen if you would use it as an open door to pour the love of God through? Sketches can be shared. Pictures can be given. Handcrafted items can be gifted. What if that is why God gave you that talent, so you could use it to extend Him to your neighbors? Maybe God's love to our neighbors looks like cold bottles of water handed out to someone working outside in the sun. Maybe it looks like a BBQ or potluck picnic with our neighbors being invited instead of our usual crowd. Maybe it looks like our usual crowd AND neighbors. Sometimes it might look more like a PB & J with a cold glass of milk eaten on the porch with a neighboring child chattering away like the proverbial magpie. What would a warm smile and a listening ear speak to a small child? What would it speak to their loved ones back at home?
Who says loving our neighbor has to be complicated or hard to do? It wasn't God. In fact, He says quite the opposite: "For the [true] love of God is this: that we do His [keep His ordinances and mindful of His precepts and teaching]. And these orders of His irksome (, oppressive, or grievous). 1 John 5:3 AMPC"
Don't bother arguing that you aren't talented or that you don't have anything to give. God says He has given you everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1) and that He supplies all our needs (Philippians 4:19). These two verses are merely a few of the many telling of God's provision and abundance. Others make sure we know He provides seed to the sower. Whatever your neighbors need God has provided it. Do you have a smile? Using it is free. Do your hand and arm work? Move them in a friendly wave. Leaves can be raked. Lawns can be mowed and/or tidied. Weeds can be pulled. Trash can be collected.
Maybe being a light of God in our neighborhood is even easier. Maybe it is something as simple as placing a pot of cheery flowers on our own step or better yet, cleaning up our own yards and getting rid of our own trash. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for our neighbors is providing them with a clean, tidy home and yard to look at every day. If we have children, training them to be polite and kind to others shines out like a piercing beacon in the selfish darkness so prevalent today. Loving our family and laughing with each other outside of our home where neighbors can see and hear can flow over a community like a Love flood. How it warms the heart of others to see a family loving and enjoying each other.
Whatever love door God has provided for you, open it. Open it NOW. A little love light here, another little love light there, and pretty soon our entire community will be a light with the Love of God. It only takes a spark to get a fire going you know. The time has come. It is NOW. Let's love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. Let's obey God and do it NOW.
Loving one little love light at a time,
God says it like this "Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) 1 Corinthians chapter 12 shares more in depth how deeply God created us to be connected to each other.
None of us are exactly the same, none of us free of mistakes. Each and every person has been created an individual masterpiece of Love, filled with grace, and set free to extend mercy and loving kindness to every one we come in contact with. Better together. Yes indeed we are most definitely better together.
Learning how to love together,
That whole other brother issue we find in the prodigal son situation is, unfortunately, alive and well in mankind. Few of us care about God's desire. We are so thoroughly absorbed in our own desires and dreams that seldom does it cross our minds to consider what our Abba Father God wants.
I see examples of this lack of love often as a mother, usually the examples are found in my life. This lack of love has caused me great concern and sadness. I am listening to His voice and trying to learn His heart. What I want most is for His desires to become real. Isn't this what love does?
There is something else I have been seeing among brothers and sisters in Christ that puts me in prayer. There is something that happens regularly when Christians begin to get frustrated by less than ideal situations and start talking about them with others. Whatever people talk about in judgement they become. If they gripe about others being judgemental, they themselves are judging those who judge. If the complaints are about people addicted to offense, they themselves have taken offense at the offended. No matter what the problem being talked about is, the people griping become what bothers them.
I can't help but wonder if this is why God tells us in the scriptures to do everything without grumbling and complaining that we may be pure and blameless children of God. Everything He instructs us in is for our good. It is not so God can boss us little humans around. Just as the instructions I give my children are for their good instead of my personal convenience so too God's instructions are to us His children. When are we going to realize this and grow up in Him and walk in His grace? When am I going to see that it is not about me? When will I live all for Him? Why is it so easy to expect mercy and grace from others yet so difficult to extend it back to them in return? I find myself asking God if I am ever going to grow up. He assures me He has this. He can get me where He wants me to be. Which brings things full circle to the topic of rest.
Rest in the Lord. This is one of the things that has our attention
here at Abundance House. Sabbath and rest. Maybe you would like to share what God reveals to you in a comment. A Sabbath Society website shares articles with encouraging thoughts for those learning to live to a rhythm of rest and Sabbath.
Learning and leaning,
Thankfully, God, in His loving kindness and grace, has provided examples of relationships for us to follow in the Bible. In scripture we see Jesus knows exactly how messy family can be. His family didn't always understand his calling, and his friends denied they even knew him. One of them betrayed him for the price of a slave! Yes, our lord understands messy.
In spite of the mess, one of those same brothers who didn't "get it" when Jesus lived on earth ended up writing a book in the Bible. Messy doesn't have to remain a mess. God can turn our messes into messages of life, hope, and goodness. Times of testing can be transformed into glorious testimonies of loving forgiveness.
No matter where you or I am in our relationships, Abba God has everything under control. He is bringing all of us into His likeness. Together, in our messes, we are being transformed into a rich, rare, and beautiful treasure.
In the middle of messy,
I can't begin to tell you how many conversations with you I have begun in my mind throughout the past few months. They are simply too numerous to tell. Most frequently I wanted to tell you about the latest books I have been reading. The visits where we share what we are reading with each other seem to be the most thoroughly enjoyed. Because I have been reading some of the books for a very long time, there may be titles you recognize from other visits. There are definitely some new ones you simply musn't miss though so I will risk repeating myself.
- The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp *
- Rivers of Grace by Mark and Patti Virkler
- Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change by Michael L. Brown
- The Book of Romance: What Solomon Says about Love, Sex, and Intimacy by Tommy Nelson
- A Family Shaped by Grace: How to Get Along with the People Who Matter Most by Gary Morland *
- The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson
- Jane Austen by Peter Leithart
- Proverbs by Eugene H. Peterson
- The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally and Sarah Clarkson *
- If Only I Had a Green Nose by Max Lucado
- The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village by Francis Chan
- The Oak Inside the Acorn by Max Lucado
- When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner
- The WouldBeGoods by Edith Nesbit *
The giveaway is one day only, tomorrow April 25 9am - 9pm CST. It is at notebookingpages.com. Not only are Lifetime Memberships being given away and/or offered at greatly reduced prices, but many free resources from other companies are included in the various giveaway pacakages as well. One of the packages is valued at $800! This is a giveaway notebooking homeschoolers, or those who know them, don't want to miss.
Those of you who do not homeschool or notebook please pass the word on to any and every one you know who does. Everyone who enters will receive a free sample of various notebooking pages offered by notebookingpages.com. Any individuals who practice the art of keeping a journal could also put a number of these pages to use.
Just to clarify, notebooking is a method of recording what a person/student is learning. Basically, notebooking is journaling and/or scrapbooking what you are studying. It is a method of study that has been proven to increase a student's retention of knowledge and allow them "ownership" of their education. It also provides each student with the opportunity to freely express their unique creativity.
Our students and I are newcomers to the world of notebooking, yet we are looking forward to filling many notebooks with pages full of everything we are learning. Giggles thoroughly enjoys creating notebook pages to fill with the facts and and information she learns; Mighty Man of God prefers putting the web-app to good use and create pages using creative technology rather than hand drawn images.
Don't forget the giveaway tomorrow at notebookingpages.com,
English Muffin Bread
As you sit with a cup of your favorite beverage, savoring a piece of freshly toasted English Muffin bread smothered in fresh lemon curd, may the presence of Jehovah Shalom, God our Peace, permeate the very atmosphere of your home. May He begin from within you spilling Himself out of your heart into whatever place you are. Even if you don't make the bread or lemon curd, may He still fill wherever you are with Himself, for wherever the Spirit of the Lord is we can find rest.
May a Sabbath of resting in Him be yours,
"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts." Zechariah 4:6
Zerubbabel was responsible for rebuilding the temple without trusting in man for resources. As I read this earlier I was struck with the similarity between Zerubbabel's situation and mine as a mother. I am responsible for building foundations of Truth in the temples of God a.k.a. my children. Just as Zerubbabel relied on God for the resources needed so too I can rely on Him for what is needed in building in the lives of my family.
"If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey." Numbers 14:8
The Lord will bring and give. Not me. Not my knowledge. Not my strength. The Lord will do what needs to be done. A timely reminder on this Monday morning.
"For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them." Psalm 44:3
Another reminder that it is not me. It is God. He will not only save but He will keep.
"We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith's perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was filled with the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 The Passion Translation
He endured for me. The ultimate love story I never tire of hearing. Nothing wrong with Hallmark love stories on TV, but those stories can't hold a candle to truth. There never has been and never will be a greater, more romantic lover than God. For love He gave.
"I pray with great faith for you, because I'm fully convinced that the One who began this glorious expression of grace in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you through your union with him and will complete it at the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!" Philippians 1:6 The Passion Translation
God won't leave me. He won't quit. He will finish what He has begun in me. Hallelujah! I will be completed in Him! And did you see? Did you see that not only will He faithfully continue the process of maturing me, but that the maturing process is referred to as a "glorious expression of grace"? Becoming mature is not only intended to be a process, that process is an expression of grace. I don't have some weird defect nor am I lacking something necessary because it is taking time for me to mature. Maturing in Christ is meant to be a process rather than a one time event. And that phrase, an "expression of grace"... Doesn't that phrase bathe your mind in beauty?
As you travel through the day, may these words of truth from Truth cause you to be infused with the strength of the Lord throughout your entire being.
From one expression of grace to another,