Hardened Heart

As I was traveling to a meeting this afternoon, I passed several people on the side of the road asking for money or in need of some kind of help. To confess, I have to admit that I was thinking negative thoughts about them and tried not to look at them directly.

As a person who works in a church, I felt convicted, as I passed the people, that I should have stopped to help, or at the very least, acknowledge their presence.
That’s when I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me. It wasn’t an audible voice; but I clearly heard him say, “These are real people made in the image of God just like you. Why are you hesitant to even acknowledge their presence?” That convicted me and has given me something to keep in my heart.
I tell this not for any personal reason, except it seems like this is how most of us tend to go through our lives. While I was driving to my next destination, my single focus was where I was heading and what would be discussed. I believe if we are open to including more people from all over the human spectrum, we will be able to see God clearer in our day to day lives.
Even the writer of Hebrews, in the Bible, says “they entertained angels unaware.” Imagine what would happen and imagine how kinder the world would be if we noticed and showed hospitality to those people we feel are beneath us. So, as we go about the day ahead, the invitation is to look at people with non-judgmental eyes and see the person inside…the person that God created and loves. Just like you and I!
Lord, may our hearts become soft toward all you love.
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Sabbath Rest

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus calls for those who are weary and burdened to come to him and he will give rest.

Rest. Our culture says that on our days off we should fill them  with play and non-work activities. At the end of the weekend, it is no wonder we do not feel rested. We really need to take time off from our time off!

Jesus is proposing a different kind of rest. In the rest he gives, we do not just try to stay busy and fill the time with activities we do not have time for during the week. When we rest, we focus on him and allow his Spirit to fill us. We take the time to be quiet before him. We look at the world differenly: not as projects or tasks to accomplish,  but as the incredible creation it is. We’ll be kinder toward other people who otherwise may annoy or frustrate us. We’ll instead see them as God’s masterpiecs who need to be reminded who and whose they are.

It is in this kind of rest, when we focus the attention off of ourselves that we can hear the “still small voice” of God who is calling out to us and desiring to be our guide.

May we rest and experience the true fullness of life that God through Jesus Christ givesto each person who is still and listens for the voice of Truth.

Why?

There is a simple question most children will ask and it consists of three letters–“Why?”. They are curious and are simply seeking out answers so they can try to learn what’s going on or the reason behind a particular question or statement,  etc.

As I have grown older, “why” has become a favorite question for me to ask simply because I enjoy learning the “behind the scenes” instead of what’s shown. Seeking answers to this simple, three worded,  question has helped me understand people and situations with a clearer view than just taking it at face value.

This question also teaches me and reminds me I do not know it all and that I still have much to learn. This excites me that I get to learn something new all of the time!

How often do you ask “why?” and listen to the answer? This simple question also helps us keep a childlike attitude when it comes to viewing the world and seeing people as they are. Not just their skin color or what they have; but as someone we can learn from and see how much value they have.

Sacrifices Today

A common scripture we may hear is Romans 12:1-2.

Let’s read this and see again what it says:
So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature. (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭1-2‬ CEB)

What is something you noticed? As I was going about my day, the notion of a “living sacrifice” kept coming up in my thoughts.

Dictionary.com defines sacrifice as
noun
1. the offering of animal, plant, or human life or of some material possession to a deity, as in propitiation or homage.
2. the person, animal, or thing so offered.
3. the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

Thinking about this, I wandered if we are “living sacrifices” so others can see Christ in us.

Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Yes, we are called to “die daily” to ourselves, and “pick up our cross daily;” but these are figurative.

Sacrifice can be anything from giving money away we could us to taking someone’s place in death to save them. If we are to be “living sacrifices,” what have we done today or what can we do tomorrow?

One of the things I enjoy sacrificing is my time. Sure I have plenty to do; but the opportunity to spend quality time with another person is incredible. What I am freely able to give is my time. I could pick up a phone and call someone and talk; but it is so much more fun and meaningful (for me) to sit and give undivided time face to face.

In a world where sacrificing seems to be a taboo lifestyle because we have to look out for ourselves, we have the chance to show greater love, care, compassion when we really give of ourselves. This is how we won’t be “conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds (Romans‬ ‭12‬:2).

Now it’s your turn. How do you think you can be a “living sacrifice” to someone (family, friend, co-worker, acquaintance, stranger) the next time you leave the comfort of your home?