Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Spiritual Coupon

  

I get coupons in the mail and at the store all the time.  These coupons are for food items or things as large as furniture.  Whenever I get a coupon, I look them over and make a decision to redeem them, save them for later or toss them in the garbage.


It doesn’t matter to me that the coupon has value.   If I don’t want that item, the coupon isn’t remotely enticing to me.  

 

On the other hand, I hate it when I save a coupon, and then I forget about it buried in my purse somewhere and find out later that it’s expired.  I missed out on something of value that I wanted or needed.

 

There is a small verse, in a small book, in the New Testament that sorta reminds me of a “spiritual coupon.”

 

In Titus 2:11, the ESV says this, 

 

For the grace of God has appeared, 

bringing salvation for all people.

 

If this verse came in the form of a “spiritual coupon” it might say something like this, 

 

  • ·      Available for centuries. 
  • ·      Expires at death or the Rapture.
  • ·      When redeemed the value is eternal life.
  • ·      Who can use this coupon? Whosoever will…it’s free to everyone.
  • ·      How to redeem? Ask/Pray (Your own words are acceptable.)

 

Have you redeemed your "spiritual coupon?" 

 

You don’t want to let this “spiritual coupon”  expire, throw it away, or save it for another day.

 

Best to redeem it NOW!

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Not Because We Deserve It


I'm all about getting what I deserve. 


Let me clarify that…if what I deserve is AWESOME!  But, if what I deserve isn't so wonderful, I'll take a hard pass on that.


There’s something about that word deserve.  It can depict a reward worthy of something good...or bad.  When I think of deserving, my mind usually goes to the good, not the bad.  


"Hey, wait a minute.  I deserve ice cream too."


When I was a child...you know this isn't going anywhere good.  I may have rightfully deserved discipline on, let's say, many occasions. 


There were five children in my family.  We rushed on the scene in less than 7 years.  I was number four in the birth order but held first place in naughtiness. 

 

I could go on and on here listing all my childhood infractions, but they are probably nothing new to your own childhood misbehavior.  


If, you also skipped school in the 1st grade and spent the afternoon alone at the park--multiple times.  Or at the age of nine, you took a black crayon and scribble on the hardwood floors for no other reason than you were hiding and there was a black crayon so...obviously you would scribble all over the floor with the black crayon. 


Or maybe you also pulled a few choice pieces of your sister's clothing off the hangers and then told your parents she didn't hang up her clothes, and you got money for doing that.  That's called positive reinforcement.  


You will be glad to know that for most of my childhood failures, I got what I deserved, and getting what I deserved help form me into a better person.  But I'm thankful that when I choose God, He chooses Grace for me instead of giving me what I deserved.


In 2 Timothy 1:9, Paul the Apostle talks about the wonderful things we received from Christ even though we didn't deserve it.


For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.


One day, all mankind will receive exactly what they deserve.  


I'm thrilled beyond words that for this very underserving child, that God saved me and called me to live a holy life because that was his plan for me from the very beginning of time.


I love the definition of GRACE; unmerited favor.  When we each experienced God's grace, we received something we didn't deserve--forgiveness.


It's not because we deserve it, but because He showed His grace.

 

 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

All People

You know, sometimes there are people we don't really jive with.  

Maybe they are a bit irritating, or they don't follow social boundaries.  Maybe they never learned the art of listening without sharing a one-upper.    And by this I mean, if you had a flat tire on the way to work, they had all their tires slashed once at the mall.  You know that person.

You don't want to be unkind, but really, those people will never have a place in your inner circle.  

Right?  

You'll be kind.  You'll be polite, but they will never be the one you invite over to watch a Hallmark movie, go out for lunch, or go on a girl's weekend out.

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, from the NLT we are given a pass on having to include the people I mentioned above in our inner circle.  You know, the ones who are disagreeable, ornery, or can't seem to ever live up to our high standards.   

Well, guess what?  You don't have to go out to dinner with them or spend the weekend doing puzzles in front of a roaring fireplace.  

But here is what God's Word does ask us to do.   

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Surly, when Paul the Apostle was writing this letter to Timothy, he couldn't have meant that in 2020 we were to pray for ALL PEOPLE!

Why in the world would I ask God to help someone I didn't like, someone who held a different view than me.  

Okay, pray for them doesn't sound so bad but intercede on their behalf, that sounds intense. 

Then Paul goes so far as to break it down from all people to those in leadership and authority over us.  

Now that's getting a bit personal!

What was he thinking?

Maybe, Paul was more focused on how this behavior would benefit us in the long game.  

The last part of verse two tells us what we will receive if we choose to pray and intercede.

...so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Well, it just so happens that I do want to live a peaceful and quiet life that is marked by godliness and dignity, but first I have to be willing to do something...

Pray and intercede for ALL PEOPLE.

Yes, even the ones I don't particularly agree with.



Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Directions

Not everyone wants to follow directions. 

There have been times I have ignored directions or fought against them.  Maybe some of these will sound familiar to you as well.   

·      Tossing the written directions aside when putting a toy together on Christmas Eve

·      Ignoring the directions on a recipe

·      Discounting someone’s overbearing step-by-step directions, when you are the one cleaning up the mess.  "Do it like this.  Do it like that."

·      The over-complicated math directions, when you can get the answer way faster doing it on your own. 

·      **And what about when you are the driver and the directions are flying at you from the passenger seat and if you show any weakness the back seat will pipe in too.  

**Disclaimer:  When I'm in the passenger seat or back seat I have an excellent view of everything and my directions should be listened to.  

When directions are given, something can rises up in the one receiving the directions and resist.  We want to ignore the spoke or written words even though they were intended to help us.  

In 2 Thessalonians 3:5, this statement from the Apostle Paul sounds like a prayer that over 2,000 years ago, he prayed over each of us.  

May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God 

and into the steadfastness of Christ.

In my life, I have personally resisted direction on many occasions; parental, spouse, family members, friends, and those in authority.  However, the directions that I've resisted the most in life, has been from God's Word.  

At my age, and years in the Lord, you'd think I'd finally be willing to follow directions, yet, here I am still a work in progress.  When I get bumped, I fail miserably.

I could have avoided many unnecessary fights and hurt feelings if I had followed the directions and submitted my pride and rebellion over to the Lord.

Let’s change 2 Thessalonians 3:5, and make it personal to us today.  

May the Lord direct MY heart into the love of God 

and into the steadfastness of Christ.  

Now, those are directions worth following!

 




Repairing Relationships

I'd like to believe every time a person has the courage to tell someone they are sorry, that the other person will be humble, merciful, ...