Sometimes it’s No

NoGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

So how did your time of reflection go this past week? Were you able to consider those interests and abilities with which God has blessed you? Are you asking yourself, “where am I going to find the time?”, “this is a need, but it really is not something I feel God guiding me to do, even after I have prayerfully and honestly considered serving in this capacity. But do I still say ‘yes’? I can’t say ‘no, can I?” … Oh yes you can! And you can say ‘no’ with a clear conscience too!

Let’s top up our coffee’s and peel this layer away….

Sometimes it’s No

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6, 12-14

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Yes2How hard is it for you to say ‘no’? For most of us, we feel by saying ‘no’ that people will see us as being weak or not very accommodating. So, we say ‘yes’ to helping on school boards, more work in the office, coaching another season and the requests continue. Although others may see us as ‘Super Heros’, this is not a healthy way of living. It only leads to burnout, a deprived family, and bitterness. This frantic pace is not at all how God desires us to live our lives.

This feeling of needing to say ‘yes’ is especially present within the church. We can be bombarded with requests to help at an event, lead a devotion, make sandwiches, be on a committee, and the requests go on and on and on. Therefore, when it comes to serving the church, it is so easy to become bitter and burned out. There are so many jobs and so few people willing to serve. Many times we feel we just need to keep saying ‘yes’ to duties; if I don’t do it, who will? What will the other members think if I don’t do it? Again, these ways of thinking are not healthy or beneficial for anyone, and certainly are not the mindset God wants us to have towards serving in His Church and His children. In fact, it is quite a self-centred thing, and a tactic satan uses to keep us from focussing on what is really important.

Despite what satan would have us believe, if something is to happen in the church, than God will raise up the workers to do the work, and if there are no other workers for the task, then perhaps it is something that is not meant to occur at that point in time. Satan would love for us to be run ragged, bitter, non-joyful and cranky with each other. praying4.jpgHowever, clearly these attitudes are not God’s desires for His Church, as they keep the light of Christ hidden and reflect poorly His love for us and others, not to mention, inhibit the nurturing of our own relationship with the Lord. Therefore, it is important to give yourself boundaries and guidelines, like the ones in the previous devotion, especially taking each request to serve the Lord in prayer, and, if need be, get used to saying ‘no’ guilt-free. Saying ‘no’ is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is an honest statement when said after an honest time of prayer and self-reflection. Therefore, let not your ‘no’ be meant as an easy response because you just don’t want to be bothered, but an honest response guided by the Lord’s nudging. If the answer is ‘no’ to one area, he may be guiding you towards another area of service. You just need to be honest and open to his gentle nudges.

friends-e1523710985492.jpgFinally, pray for all the members and families of your congregation to seek to build a strong relationship with the Lord and to be open to fulfilling the duties that God may be calling them to do. If each member of His Body is doing his/her part, than we can trust that God is fulfilling those things He has prepared in advance for you, us, his church to do.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, There are so many things to do. Help me to be honest about the things I should add to my daily schedule and those that would inhibit my time with you, my family and my other responsibilities. For those things I am not able to do now, which may include taking something from my current tasks, please give me the courage to say ‘no’. Open my eyes and heart to joyfully serve in the church and in all aspects of my life that You have prepared for me to do. Please do not let my sinfulness keep me from fulfilling what you would have me do. Please be with all the members of my congregation to seek You, and to have honest and willing hearts open to serve in all the tasks You have prepared for each of them. Help me to be loving and understanding when others say ‘no’, and to trust that you are guiding them too. In Jesus’ name alone! AMEN

No2.jpgReflection: Do you have a hard time saying ‘no’? Are you doing things in the church or in some aspect of your life, where you are feeling guilt-ridden or bitter towards it? Have you been recently asked to be part of something? Do you feel a need to serve, in some aspect, in the church? Take each of these responses, individually, to the Lord. Lift them to Him and let Him guide your thoughts and heart. Just like any conversations with a good friend, He will help you come to a resolve. Be patient, listen and be attentive as he guides you and answers directly to you and/or through others in your life.

 

‘To Serve or not to Serve?’ … Is that really a question?

candle3.jpgGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Last week we began considering our call as a child of God in Christ to serve those in our life and to serve in our church homes. As I reflected on the needs of my own church this past week, I couldn’t help but think of the importance of responding to God’s call to serve his church and its ministries, as his light in this world.

Let’s top up our coffee’s and continue pulling back the layers of this onion….

‘To Serve or not to Serve?’ …Is that really a question?

Bible2 …who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14b

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

As a Deaconess, the life of the church, and the service required to fulfill its needs, is something that was and continues to be very dear to me. The church’s survival is dependent upon its family members and their care of their physical church building and each other; its dependent upon each members service, and each member’s service is as unique and God-given as that individual.

As a deaconess, I had the privilege of encouraging members in their everyday life and their faith life outside of Sunday worship service. I found it a blessing and honour to be welcomed into each person’s and family’s personal life, to learn of their interests, desires and abilities, and to see their love for their Lord in their everyday life. Then, as needs within the church arose, I was able to present the need to a particular member who had the ability to fulfill the need well. If it was something that was to occur in the church, God always provided someone to fill the need. It was such an honour to see the church family working and serving, loving and growing in their love and service to their Lord.

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There are so many needs in a congregation that there is something that fits everybody’s abilities and time availability. Remember the church is the Lord’s. He’s created the to-do list and he’s provided each of us with the abilities to accomplish some of those items on that list.  We should never feel like we don’t need to serve. It would be like that child who is lounging all around the house, desiring to reap the benefits and blessings that his/her parents provide, but can’t be bothered to even put dirty dishes in the sink, or tidy his/her room, let alone take out the garbage or prepare a meal. On the contrary, even the smallest task done by a child is appreciated by parents. In Christ, we all are called; we all are needed, even if it is something little.

On a final note, God has prepared good works in advance for each of us, but it is not always easy to be able to see or know how to fulfill those good works, and believe me, satan is working very hard within the church to keep us from following through with those good works. So, sometimes we need someone – like I was – to help become aware of the need, see our ability,  pray for us, and trust that the final decision, to serve or not to serve in that capacity, to be guided by God. (We will talk more about saying ‘no’ next week…) If your congregation does not have someone to help guide its members in their service, then may I suggest you prayerfully consider this service, or at the very least, pray specifically for your church members to be able to personally, prayerfully consider jobs/tasks/needs within the congregation as they arise.

love lanternPRAYER: Dear Lord, You have guided me through my days and bestowed upon me the abilities and skills to accomplish all that I need to accomplish with the many responsibilities I have.  Open my heart to be willing to see and personally respond to the needs within the church with which I can help fulfill. Guide me to be honest about where you would have me serve. Help me to be willing to joyfully and gladly give of my time to serve you; to help your love shine bright in this world, as a member of your body, your church. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

REFLECTION: This past week you reflected on why you serve, with the focus on serving joyfully, with thanksgiving, not out of obligation. To do so, it helps to seek those duties in areas where you have interests and skills. So this week, consider what attributes and skills you possess now? What type of activities bring you joy? Then check whether there are any needs in your church that require such skills?

 

Stewardship: His Call, Our Response

helpingGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

As we settle into the Easter season and as I think about the reality of the new life we have in Christ, I can’t help but reflect on our new identity in Christ, and our call by God, to serve and love others and his church, his Bride. In the church, we call this stewardship – the use of our time, talents and treasures to serving the Lord. Over the next few weeks let’s look at our stewardship, in response to our life in Christ.

Let’s top up our coffees and dig in…

Stewardship: His Call, Our Response

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Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11

at the crossI live in awe of the love that God has for me, for you, for mankind; that he would take upon himself my burden and punishment of sin and pay that hefty price tag, just so that he could make the way for me, for you, for all, to be with him for eternity, as he intended man’s relationship with him to be. He purchased us with his life and for that I am ever thankful. Then he promised never to leave us nor forsake us; he desires to continue to watch over, bless, and care for us. Then to top it off, he uses us – broken, ragged, imperfect individuals – to be his light and blessing to others. It is then our privilege to give him thanks and praise. It is my desire to serve him with all I am. May it be your desire too! But what does this service, this thank offering of ourselves, this call as his bride, look like?

helpingWell, practically speaking, over the years I have come to acknowledge two very important aspects of serving. The first is the ongoing service to those that God puts in our life. We serve the Lord by all we do in our days that helps others, whether it’s at work, in our home, at the grocery store, or anywhere. We serve others as if serving the Lord Himself.

The other aspect of serving the Lord is our intentional service and care of Christ’s body- our Church and church family. Just like any healthy household and family, we need to work together in unity to care for those within the family of individual Christians, and to take responsibility for the practical needs of maintenance and expenses, as well as, to further the gospel.

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[Side note: Please, let me clarify that a church, with it’s programs and Worship, isn’t an organization where you simply go and utilize its services, like a grocery store or fitness centre. With or without the building, church is the people – the coming together of Christians to worship their Lord and fulfill Jesus’ command to go and make disciples, and to grow and be fed in the Word TOGETHER. It is a household with a mission and each family member, living in the trust of God’s love, grace and salvation in Christ, responds in unified thanksgiving to serve within the congregation to fulfill its needs. Faith in Christ’s salvation automatically makes you a member of his body, a member of his church; not to live alone in your faith but to be an active part of the body. For what part of the body can survive when separated from the whole body? So, if you currently do not have a church home or have not thought of yourself as a needed and important member of your Christian church body, perhaps it’s time to make that shift. Do you believe in Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Do you wish to respond to his Easter sacrifice with your words and acts of thanksgiving? If you said yes, then I encourage you to respond to God’s call as a member of his body, of which Christ is the head, and become a member within a Christian congregation; a family member that works and grows and helps for the good of the gospel.]

church7In the past, many of these two aspects of service – serving those around you and serving in your church- were all part and parcel of the same community of people, and the church building was a prominent part of that community. However, for many Christians today, the church, its members and its needs can be distinctly separate from people’s everyday lives. This is not a bad thing; it’s just the way it is. However, God’s call for us to serve has not changed. So how does that look for you?  Do you take time to worship him regularly with other fellow Christians? Do you or can you share your time and abilities with needs within your church? Do you serve because you feel obligated, or because you desire to show your gratitude and love to him and his children? (Remember God does not desire for us to serve him because we ‘have’ to.) These are big questions and if you have not truly thought of your position in the family of God through Christ like this, than it can create a shift in your thinking – and in your life’s schedule. You are needed. You are an integral part of Christ’s body and God has prepared good works in advance for you to do which are displayed as you serve in thanksgiving to all he has done for you. It is our privilege to serve him, his Church and others. It’s what he’s called us to be and do. May God bless your service of time, talents, and treasures to his glory for his church and to all those he puts in your life.

handsPrayer: Dear Lord, you have called me to serve you and there is a lot involved in that word ‘serve’. Help me to first and foremost be open to serving and loving those you put in my path throughout my day. Help me not to be so busy that I can’t see the needs of others. Despite my shortcomings, may my service provide an opportunity for those to see your love for them. Also, guide me to be honest about my serving at ____(name of church here)_____. Help me to see the needs of the church. Help me to regularly worship you in weekly services with my fellow family members in Christ, as my thank offering of myself back to you.  In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: May the next few days give you an opportunity to reflect on your service to those in your life, and to reflect on your service to the church family.

  • Consider the ways you serve your Lord and Saviour by serving those in your day.
  • Do you serve in some capacity in the church? If not, why not? If so, why are you serving; what is your attitude towards your service?
  • Consider your service to your church and activities, to the members. Reconsider those acts of service where you feel you do it because you ‘have’ to. Remember: God does not desire us to serve because we feel that we ‘have to’. He desires us to serve him willingly and joyfully. Pray that God fills you with a heart of gratitude, love and eagerness as you consider your service to him in your church and in your every day.

It’s all about the Rising!

empty tombHe is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Good day Friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

Happy Easter!!

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead! 1 Corinthians: 13..20a

Although the word ‘Easter’ derives itself from pre-Christian rituals, it has become universally known as the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. (For more details on the origin of Easter visit http://theconversation.com/why-easter-is-called-easter-and-other-little-known-facts-about-the-holiday-75025)

Cross3What does Easter- Christ’s resurrection- really mean for us? In today’s North American society, mankind can be so caught up in present pleasures and instant gratification, that we can miss the big picture of what Christ has done for us through his resurrection. I know that much of what I share with you in my devotions is to hopefully encourage you in your trust and relationship with the Lord and those around you as you walk your earthly walk. However, all of that is ultimately meaningless if your foundational hope and trust is not resting on the fact that because of Christ’s resurrection, when you die – and you will die – that you too, having faith in Christ’s redemption, will rise with him. In Christ there is a life eternal in the presence of God that is awaiting you. There need be no fear or hopelessness when living in the resurrection of Jesus. Don’t you see, there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, not even death anymore. No it’s not a here and now thing, per say, but it is an eventual reality, and can be the confidence behind everything you now do.

sunrise2In knowing that we have the assurance of eternity, allows us to live each day in confidence of being God’s beloved child and that nothing, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)  NOTHING! This reality allows us to focus our days in serving our Lord in word and deed, to giving thanks for all his blessings, to loving those he puts in our pathway, and to proclaiming with joy his love and salvation. He has taken care of the most important thing – death and eternal separation from our God, which frees us to live for him.

cross-2.jpgAlthough we may fear the pain of dying and/or separation from earthly loved ones, there need be no fear of unknown days and our eventual passing, sickness and disease, natural disaster or famine. For Christ has overcome them all for our sake. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! 

 

Prayer: Thank-you Lord for loving me so much that you willingly went the road of suffering, scourging, pain, and death, to be the sacrifice that my sins deserve. Then if that weren’t enough, in your death, you overcame death through your ressurection, so that when I die, I too will rise with you for eternity. Help me to live in this confidence and assurance today and always, no matter what may come my way. Help me to trust that you are with me always and that nothing can separate me from you, in Christ Jesus my Lord and Saviour! Amen!

Reflection: Do you think about the reality of death and your salvation in Christ Jesus? Do you talk about the reality of death and your salvation in Christ Jesus? Take time to reflect on this reality, and, if you are moved to, share this reality with someone this week, rejoicing in Christ’s resurrection.

New Life Beneath The Snow

winter crocusGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

As we come to the end of March, the anticipation of warmer days is mounting. And although we still have many cold, snowy days left, I can see life springing up through the snow covered gardens; determined, resilient, beautifully colourful life.

Let’s top up our coffees and uncover this beauty…

New Life Beneath The Snow

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 55:18b

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.  Romans 6:13b

Towards the end of winter, when I have had enough of the cold winter and the anticipation of spring is mounting up within me, I like to go for a walk among my gardens. It is here where I will find the wonder of wonders; beautifully fragile and elegant sprigs of life diligently working their way upward towards the sun through the dead hard, frozen ground and the cold covering of snow. These colourful creations give me hope! They also remind me of the life that springs forth in us in Christ.

Just as the ground is dead, frozen, and seemingly useless, so is mankind dead and frozen in sin. Yet, as we lay there with that hard, crusty covering of sin, Christ lays on us a pure blanket of forgiveness, just as the snow lay like a garment over the ground and gardens. There was nothing the ground did to attract the snow; it just lay there and was covered by it. In Christ, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 55:18b) ; covered, cleansed, and purified.

 

crocus 3Then as if that weren’t enough, God through the Holy Spirit works life and beauty from within that cold, dead soil and brings about beauty in us. God’s life springs forth in us to bear beauty and colour, blossoms and fruit which proclaim his beauty and glory, and blesses the world through a unique garden of resiliency and hope, forgiveness and salvation, as it breaks through the crust and stretches its face towards the sun. This garden is your life, uniquely created by God.

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In Christ, you and I are dead to sin and alive in him, and by him we are made alive to walk with our eyes fixed on him, bearing fruit which he has prepared for us to bear. Therefore, take comfort in resting under his pure white blanket of forgiveness. Lay all your guilt and sin in the open for him to cover and cleanse. And then be prepared as your life becomes a beautiful garden where he bears eternal beauty from within you, as you proclaim his life, even in the midst of death.

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Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank-you for the hope you give us through your beautiful creation of spring flowers that spring forth in the midst of the cold of winter. Thank-you for covering my sins and making me alive and beautiful. May I bear your beauty in my life through my words and actions. May the events of my life- the highs and lows, joys and pains- become the garden of beauty you prepared it to be, and may I proclaim this life of hope and salvation that is mine, both now and forever more. Amen!

Reflection: Do you live where the ground is still seemingly frozen and snow is covering it? Take time to find life pushing through. If you live in a place where there is no snow or deep cold, take time to find that sprig of life that has sprung forth on an area like a rock or side of a mountain. Enjoy the reality that, in Christ, you are bearing life eternal, in the midst of sin and death in this world.

Family’s home

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Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

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We just returned home from visiting my husband’s father and step-mother in New Brunswick. What a joyous time with family!

I love being with family. I especially love when our children, spouses/partners and grandchild come home. It may be busy and chaotic but it is among the most treasured activities I experience. I would bet this is how God feels when we go to his house.

Let’s top up our coffees and unpack this thought….

Family’s home

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The Fellowship of the Believers: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God….  be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:1-2, 18b-20

img_3154.jpgOur eldest son lives in Toronto, a couple hundred kilometers from us. We see him about once a month. When I receive his homecoming text, “Hey Mom, I’m coming home next weekend,” I usually text the others to invite them for a family dinner during one of the evenings he is home. It doesn’t take long for the replies to come and in minutes, a family gathering has been arranged.

For me, having the whole family together is such a joy; it literally warms my heart. I am finding that it is not only the joy of having them all home enjoying my meals, but seeing the joy they have in seeing each other. I love listening to them catch up, giggle together, poke at each other, and reminisce – which usually includes poking fun at my husband or me.

church3How the Lord must love when His children come together to be with Him in Worship and Praise but also as they come together to catch up on their own lives with each other, and care for and love each other. It must thoroughly warm His heart. However, do we see going to church in this light? Although God extends the family invitation every week, how often do we see it as an invitation or privilege to be in His presence and the presence of our brothers and sisters?

When our children were young and asked, “Why do we have to go to church?” I would respond, “We don’t have to go, but we need to go, and I want to go. It’s no different than if Grammie asked us to come for a dinner and visit; would we not want to go? Would we tell her ‘No, we don’t want to?’ Absolutely not! It’s the same with God. He has invited us to be with Him and the family that we will be spending eternity with. It is our privilege and honour to spend time with Him and his family at His house.

church5You are a very loved member of the family of God and missed when you are not present to share in the worship, fellowship and praise to our Heavenly Father, where He also bestows blessing and peace, comfort and wisdom to you at each visit. It’s always nice to have our daily individual chats and devotions with Him, but there is something holy about the whole family coming together hearing the family stories of how salvation was attained for us, receiving His blessings and sharing in His love for us. He is extending the invitation: Do you want to go to Dad’s this week for a visit? The whole family will be there!

church4Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my family and the cherished memories we have. Thank-you for inviting me to be with You and my brothers- and sisters-in-Christ. Forgive me when I take Your invitation for granted or disregard it. Please help me to be thankful for the opportunity to come and be spiritually fed by You and to share in the lives of Your whole family. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: Reflect on how you view attending worship. Do you have a church home? If not, perhaps it’s time you find a church home, or attend with a friend that does. The invitation is always open. If so, do you feel like you are with family when you attend worship? Why or why not? Pray for your church family. How can you help make your church members see and feel like they are part of the family of God: His children.

Time to Rest – Spring Break

restGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Well it is the start of our Spring Break and for anyone involved in the Canadian Elementary and Secondary school systems, it is a much anticipated time. Although we no longer have children in the school system, as teachers, my husband and I continue to look forward to March Break with great anticipation.

It is a time of rest, a time to recoup as we anticipate the upcoming spring weather and the long, cold, dark winter coming to an end. Taking time to rest is important. However, God has given us the ultimate rest for our souls, as we walk these earthly days, through the gift of reconciliation; the act of giving and receiving forgiveness. Reconciliation with himself and with one another.

I know this may seem like a big leap but let’s top up our coffees and bear with me as I try to explain my thoughts…

Time To Rest – Reconciliation

This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13

[Jesus said,] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

dandilion1When I was a little girl, when the dandelions had turned into big fluff balls, I would pick one of those puff balls, blow over it, and watch the individual sprigs of fluff gently float up and up and up. I loved that little activity with nature. To me it seemed so freeing. The fullness of the fluff, released and carried away.

Receiving forgiveness is the same thing, except that the burden of sin is much heavier than a ball of fluff. In fact, the burden of sin and guilt can be extremely heavy to carry, and with it there is no rest. It can weigh down so many aspects of our life: our mental state, our emotional state, our physical state, and even our spiritual state. Sin can crush us. However, the gift of reconciliation that God has given us can release all that burden and turmoil, and bring true rest to our soul.

at the crossGod doesn’t take sin lightly. It is because of the seriousness of sin that Christ paid the

price for our sins and reconciled us to God our Father. This reconciliation has reunited us with the Lord of Lords, and healed us, for eternity – though daily repentance and renewal is an ongoing practice this side of heaven.

In the same way, reconciliation between one another is healing and freeing. If we’ve done something against someone, God has shown us the importance of going and asking for forgiveness, and having the other state their forgiveness over us. Receiving the simple act of forgiveness is like God blowing our heavy burden into the wind. The heaviness and weight of that burden of sin is gone instantly. It amazes me how something so heavy and overwhelming can vanish with five little words: “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you”. Yet we find it so very difficult to take that first step: to personally and privately approach the one we’ve offended and to say, “I’m sorry”. How great our pride is, to fear the vulnerability of humbling ourselves. For many, we would rather live under the burden of sin than actually admit we were wrong. This is grievous!

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How many days have been wasted living under this dark, overwhelming weight? God desires more for you. God desires you to live in His joy and grace. Do not let sin separate you from God or others and crush you. In fact, Christ took that sin whether yours or the other person’s with Him to the cross. He died for that sin. He knows that sin. He desires you to release that sin to Him and then with the other person. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

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I can bet that not only you are feeling the burden but also that other person is feeling it as well. So give them the opportunity to extend their forgiveness to you. Reconciliation is an act that touches the soul, for all parties, and extends eternal peace and rest. I can’t explain how that happens, but it does.

So, whether you have wronged someone or have been wronged, may I encourage you to seek out reconciliation with that person. Let it go! If it seems too hard of a task, ask God for courage to be able to humble yourself and take that first step. Not only will your relationship with that person be restored, but you will restore your soul and feel as light as air, instantly. Life is too short to be burdened with guilt and sin!

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Life is too short to let Satan keep us hostage in our sin and conviction, especially when Christ already paid the price for that sin, and has shown us the way out. Replace your burden with Christ’s freedom for it is light, light as fluff in the wind, and you will find the ultimate rest for your soul.

prayer1PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank-you so much for the blessed gift of reconciliation. Thank-you that you have reconciled us to yourself through the punishment, death and resurrection of Christ. Without Him we would continue to be separated and estranged from you. But your love is so deep for us that you would have your own Son pay our penalty. In the same way, Lord, when I wrong someone, help me to sacrifice myself; my pride and self-righteousness, to repent and reconcile myself to them, your beloved children. If they don’t know you, may they see the depth of your love for them through this act of reconciliation. In Jesus’ name alone I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: Have you laid your sin before God in repentance, with the knowledge and trust that Christ paid the full penalty that it deserves. Bask in the reality of being reconciled to our gracious God.

Has someone wronged you? Have you wronged someone? Reflect on the circumstance surrounding the occurrence of that sin. Now try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes, understanding where they were/are at. Now give God the situation, the burden, and the resolve. Pray for courage to make it right; to reconcile. Pray that God is stirring the heart of the other person to be desirous of reconciliation. Then pray for the opportunity to meet in private to speak with the other. This may take some time but do not let it go. Also, I do not recommend extending the process electronically. You could do so to make a time to meet, but begin the process in person, or over the phone if need be. There is too much misinterpretation in written communication, and this is too precious to be misinterpreted. Continue praying for guidance.

A Lenten Journey

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Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Well, for a couple of weeks now, we have been in the season of Lent – the six weeks leading up to Easter. On February 13th we celebrated Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Tuesday) followed by Ash Wednesday, which begins the Lenten season.

 

pancakesash-wednesday.jpgHave you ever thought about why we have Shrove Tuesday? It’s the indulging oneself before the time of denying oneself; it’s the feast before the time of self-sacrifice, reflection and penitence. Although, I enjoy an annual feast of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, my heart longs for Lent. In short, I love the season of Lent!

Let’s top up our coffees and I will share why…

A Lenten Journey

journey4For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7: 36-50 

journey5I love Lent. I love Lenten hymns. I love the time of solemn reflection. I love pondering the depth of Christ’s sacrifice just because of His deep love for me, for you! It’s a time of reverent reflection on the greatest love story of which I am, you are, the beloved! It’s a time when I imagine being the woman in the above story from Luke 7. It’s also a time where I consider sacrificing something in my life in order to experience – vaguely- the sacrifice that Christ made on my behalf; not because I have to do it, but because, for me, it is part of my friendship, offering, worship and thanksgiving back to the Lord.

Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t do very well. In fact, most years I don’t make it past a week. One year I decided to remove sugar from my coffee for Lent. Upon final reflection, I realized I had simply replaced the one little teaspoon of sugar that I normally would have with a whole sweet of some sort – donut, square, muffin. How pathetic am I! Another year, unknown to anyone else, I decided to remove the word ‘no’ from my vocabulary for the season of Lent. At the time, I was a mom of preteens with a full-time job, and felt that I was always saying ‘no’ to the kids; It really is a quick and easy response. Well that Lenten sacrifice went better than the above mentioned one, but let me tell you, I learned a lot of phrases and words that were synonymous to ‘no’. It just took a lot more effort on my part.

journey6The point is that the time spent in private self-sacrifice –no one needs to know- can deepen the depth of appreciation for the massive sacrifice that Christ made for you and me. It has made me personally and intimately aware of how difficult it is to follow through with meaningless tasks. They are minuscule in relation to the task of the cross which our Saviour willingly endured, despite His own desire to ‘remove the cup’. However His love for us was greater, is greater, than the pain of thorns and whips and nails and death. What greater love is there than this?

crucifixAlso, the Lenten sacrifice has shown me the depth of my weakness and inability. Again, His love for us is greater than all the pain and ridicule He willingly endured, and yet my love for sugar in my coffee broke me! Oh what a wretched one am I! On our own, if we are weak and incapable of following through with such meaningless activities, how then can mankind ever have the audacity to think we offer anything towards our own salvation. We are weak. It is only He who is strong. Christ did it all! And because of the depth of this realization, I am in greater awe and thanksgiving for all He has done for me – for us-  because He loves us and desires us to be in His presence for Eternity!

journey2So, perhaps consider sacrificing something for this Lenten season as your personal offering to the Lord. Whether you succeed at it or not, is not the point. It is the journey of yourself that you will personally endure, and a greater depth of all that Christ has done for you because of His great love for you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, You willingly walked to the cross despite the pain and torture that you would endure, knowing it was the road to your death. It pleased you to do so because of your love for me. Please forgive me – a poor wretched, sinful soul. Help me to walk in your love, strengthened to be whom you desire me to be for your glory and the sake of those in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray! AMEN!

Reflection: Have you given yourself a sacrifice this Lenten season, or have you made Lenten sacrifices in the past? Reflect on them. How successful were you? Are/did these actions help draw you closer to the Lord? Explain why or why not? Give thanks for Christ’s willingness to walk the road of the cross because of His love for you. Live in His strength and forgiveness!

Olympics: The Best of the Best

Olympic medalGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Well the 2018 Winter Olympics has come to an end and we wait patiently for the 2018 Winter Paralympics to begin. What an exciting time! I just love the Olympics: the competition,  the emotional roller coaster of each event, the National unity of its people, but most of all I love the outstanding ability of all the athletes and their dedication to their sport and team. These athletes are the best of the best!

As I reflect upon the events of these past few days, I can’t help but think that we are all in our own race. Let’s top up our coffees and I’ll share my thoughts…

Olympics: Best of the Best

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 

As I listened to the background stories of the different athletes and watched the races and games unfold, I couldn’t help but be in awe of all the athletes, whether Canadian or not, whether medalist or not. I found myself in tears of joy for other countries’ athletes at the completion of a routine where they succeeded at flawlessly executing a move that had stretched them outside of their comfort zone and ability, and where they too were brought to tears of joy and accomplishment for doing so. Whether they placed on the podium or not, that was a personal best for them, and I felt myself rejoicing with them.

trainingTo become an athlete of this caliber, there is sacrifice, self-discipline, dedication, hours of training, and a support system that encourages him/her on the days where defeat is felt. There is failure and practice and practice and more practice, until success is attained. The depth of this degree of ability is not something they are born with, but it is the focus of their days and the purpose behind all that they do in preparation for being the best that they can be and hopefully one day attaining  a medal.

shining crossIn faith, we are all in our own race. We are headed towards a finish line where we too will win a prize, the prize of eternity, a prize that has been won for us. For you see, Jesus was the only one who ran this race perfectly, he executed his routine flawlessly despite others falling all around him while even others tried to run him off course. He stayed focus on the finish line; a finish line not where he attained the prize, but a finish line where he attained our prize. And because of all he has done, a torch has been lit within us, a passion and love for serving our Lord, with a finish line in Eternity.

runningWe are running a race, dancing a routine, skiing a course where we need to stay focused on the finish line. Where each day we are racing against the devil, the world, and even our sinful selves. We are beaten down by tiredness, temptation, and apathy. But throw all these things aside. Focus your eyes on the goal of winning the race. Let your participation in this pairs event be your personal best, for you have the one on your team who is the best of the best. An athlete does not say, “I do not have to practice or strive or keep myself in great condition because my team mate will win it for me.” No, this athlete trains even harder and is more disciplined to be the best he/she can be in order not to let his/her partner down. They work together, help each other get better, and they win together. In the same way, run your race with your eyes constantly on the prize of eternity, with the constant help of your partner, Jesus. Study his technique book and put into practice all it says. Try and try again. Do not give up. You’ve got this! You can do it!

prayingPrayer: Dear Lord, please forgive my apathy and laziness towards serving you and running this race of faith. There are so many things of this world that pull me away, and I so easily give in to them. Forgive me. Please help me stay focussed on you, the author and perfecter of my faith. You have prepared good works in advance for me to do, help me to prepare my body, and mind to be open and able to full-fill them to my personal best. Guide me in my day, and strengthen me to stand firm and strong in your truth. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: Reflect on an Olympic event. Which one would you choose to be your sport? If it is a team sport, envision Jesus as your captain. Who else in your life would be your teams members; who works with and supports you in your life of faith? Let these people know they are on your team and competing in a race of a lifetime.

If you compete alone, envision Jesus as your coach; guiding, coaching, working and rejoicing with you each step of the way. He’s yelling your name down the course, “You can do it,  (insert name)! You can do it! I know you can! I’ve got the prize waiting for you!”

 

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