November 12- You Was Ward!

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind.

 Awhile back, while living in a very large city, we had an interesting experience. We had 2-3 trash carts that had to be emptied on the trash truck, and there were very specific rules as to how we could put them against the curb. Three feet away, 2 feet apart, you get the picture. I was striving to be very accurate in these rules. No one wants their trash to be left until the next week! Well, I guess I wasn’t getting the specifics “to the tee,” so the next week, the young man helping with the carts just left ours there! I couldn’t figure out why, so I attempted the next week to line them up ever so carefully. After running an errand, I drive up and see, amazingly, the trash carts were left again!!! UGH! I walked up to the carts, and there was a note on one of them. It was a “warning ticket” from the city. It simply read, “YOU WAS WARD!” I couldn’t even decide what this guy wanted me to do, much less, imagine trying to talk to him to find out!

After I figured out that the cart man surely meant “you were warned,” I got a few laughs out of the deal. In fact, our whole family has laughed about that incident many times now. But today, I got another kind of reminder. We are new to the rural trash system here, but they’ve seemed really nice. This morning I heard two very long, loud honks outside. We ran to the window and realized, “Oh no, we forgot the trash!” Caleb ran outside and said, “I’m so sorry, we forgot, we’ll have it right out,” while Nathaniel ran out with the cart. The young man just gave us thumbs up and smiled, took our cart, and went on his way. Wow, that was nice!

I’m not comparing rural and city trash systems here, but I am comparing something much more important. Patience and kindness go a long way with anyone you meet. Any relationship you have can benefit from your determination to be patient and kind. I always thought that I’d memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, and I’m not quite there. But the “patient and kind” part at the first almost could take care of everything else. Your family, and all the other people around you, will bloom when you love them in this way. In fact, many problems we face in our relationships could be avoided by each of us paying attention to how we sound and how we act. Are we treating others like we would want to be treated? Really think about that. Sow some patience and kindness seeds, and see what you grow. Then maybe you won’t be tempted to give anyone in your life a rude and impatient warning ticket!

Jennifer

Biblical Meditation: Luke 7:12 Message Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.

November 11- The Heartbeat of Heaven

If God wanted to “get” us, He could do it “six ways to Sunday (any number of ways).” And quite honestly, He’d have every right, based on our track record of ill behavior throughout the annals of history.

But that’s not what He’s about. O, how I wish I could articulate the fullness of His way and reasoning for the care and keeping of us. In the midst of our most wicked wanderings, never once has He truly administered full payment of retaliation. On the contrary, mercy and grace has always been present.

Let us find rest for our weary souls in this reality as the world seems to spiral in a continuous state of calamity. For on the night the Savior was born, the heavenly host of angels announced the heartbeat of the Father of Creation. May we remember it today…and never ever forget.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14

November 10- Loved Beyond Measure

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. John 3:16

I recently saw a Christmas program that portrayed an incident where a mother had lost a son on the battlefield. His best friend from childhood carried the burden of telling her what happened. Because the young man who died was a strong Christian, his buddy struggled with why God let it all happen. When the time finally came for the friend to tell the mom, she responded in a way he didn’t quite understand. She most definitely mourned the loss of her son, but the magnitude of God’s love for her son became her comfort. Because of her absolute faith in the love of God, she was able get through the pain.

Pain, loss, misfortune and misunderstanding are a part of the worldly fabric. And I don’t care how good you are or how hard you try, one or all will visit from time to time. Therefore, knowing that God loves you for who you are, is tantamount. His love and acceptance of you is based solely on His love for His One and Only…Unique Son. The sacrifice that His Son made gave the world access into the magnificent love of the Father of all creation. Wow!

The magnitude of the Father’s love for His Son is behind His love gift to us.

November 9- He Cares

Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you…   Psalms 55:22a Amplified Bible  

Not long ago, a dear friend moved on to be with the Lord. Today I find myself missing him and his way about life. He was tall in stature and walked a little stooped over (I think to make those shorter feel better about themselves). No one would ever say he was very vocal. But if you knew him any length of time, you knew he had a beautiful way of expressing himself. Like the legendary BB King, this brother would talk through his guitar. Man, could he talk!

A few years back, he realized he had a life threatening disease and his health was failing fast. But you wouldn’t know it by his smile and disposition. Every Sunday morning, he would be there in his familiar spot filling the atmosphere with sweet sounds. Then his body shut down and he found himself in the hospital fighting for his life. All involved thought this was the last time we would see big “D.” But after a few short weeks, he was back in his spot with a new song. When he was strong enough to share, he testified of how at his lowest moment in the hospital, burning up with fever, the devil told him, “You’re gonna die!” But right about that time, the Lord sent a dear old friend by to remind him, “D, don’t let the devil get you down.”

Whoever is reading these words today, as a tribute to my dear friend and brother Delmar Garrett, I say to you, don’t let the devil get you down. No matter what you are going through this very moment, God has it under control and there are brighter days just around the bend.

November 6- No Doubt About It

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14 New International Version

I don’t know that I have ever seen a time when so many people seem to be second guessing themselves. Did I get the right college degree? Am I working for the right company? Do I have enough money tucked away? Did I marry the right person? The list goes on and on. Of course, questions arise as a part of life, but God has a plan that supersedes all wondering. And only through conversation with Him can you and I have the confidence that our plans will succeed, even when we fail along the way.

If you have been chugging away at life, giving it all you’ve got, and everything seems to be working against you (including the economy), I beg you to stop right now. Make sure there’s no one else in the room, and call a meeting, a God-meeting. Tell Him apparently there are some things you don’t know about how your life’s supposed to go and you would love some help. Be patient, He will answer you in time. And He will instill the confidence that only He can; assuring you that you are not alone and everything will work out just as He planned. No doubt about it!

Lorenzo

November 5- The Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

John 3:14-15 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

We squint at absolute truth. It is so pure; our minds struggle to contain it. Truth, real pure truth, does not rely on reason. It doesn’t have to make sense. It is the truth whether it is ever accepted by anyone. Truth need not jockey for a place. Because the truth is the truth, places and people will ultimately be examined under its lens.

When Christ told Nicodemus the truth about the Son of Man (Himself), Nicodemus had no file for it. “The Son of Man must be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” But His statement was the truth, nonetheless. And this Nicodemus, a great teacher of the Jewish people, pondered and wondered on this truth for many mornings and evenings. Maybe he never truly understood it, but yet he continued to stand under the truth-laden messages of Christ until Christ was “lifted up” on the cross. Perhaps then he caught a glimpse. Who knows?

My prayer for us all is that we may so hunger for truth that we become willing to ignore the abundance of what we do know for a sliver of what we cannot comprehend. Because when this occurs, our pursuit of God will take orbit. And just as I envision it might have been for Nicodemus, Christ will gently develop room within us to contain what often cannot be explained, in order that it might remain. Amen.

Lorenzo

Biblical Meditation: Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth [the total of the full meaning of all Your individual precepts]; and every one of Your righteous decrees endures forever.

 

November 4- Plead Your Case

2 Chronicles 20:12 The Message Bible: We’re helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you.

King Jehoshaphat had a crisis. Three kingdoms had joined forces in order to take him out. But Jehoshaphat also had a case. Back when his people, Israel, made their march from Egypt to the land God promised them, God wouldn’t let them touch these enemies. The book of Joshua (Old Testament) is all about Israel miraculously conquering all types of kings and kingdoms in order to settle in the land God had promised their forefather, Abraham. And instead of trusting in his own abilities as king, Jehoshaphat threw pride to the wind and appealed to the One who was ultimately responsible for Israel being on the land in the first place.

Take a moment and read verses 5-12 of 2 Chronicles 20 and listen to this desperate, humble and broken man plead his case to God. What I love the most is how he concludes his case with, “We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you.” That’s powerful!

What would happen if you and I got up every morning and before we washed our face, brushed our teeth or even got that first cup of coffee, looked toward heaven with this confession? “Lord, I don’t know what to do today, so I am looking to you.” I fully believe those words would start the ball rolling. Our eyes will be off of our ability and on God’s availability to guide us every step of the way. Follow Jehoshaphat’s lead and lay your case and crisis before the Lord. Big or small, it’s all the same to Him. I can promise you, His way of handling the matters of life are quite a bit different than ours. But in the end, you will feel closer to Him because you know it was Him that brought you through.

Lorenzo Biblical Meditation: 2 Chronicles 20:5-12

November 3- News Isn’t Gospel

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Matthew 24:35 NIV

 I have no trouble catching the headlines of what’s going on in the world. The newspaper beckons my attention and the television offers me a smorgasbord of the latest in current events. I can drink it all in effortlessly while exercising, eating breakfast, or having my morning java. And I seem to have no problem paying attention or retaining what I hear. It’s strange. I don’t really have to be acquainted with the information’s source, their agenda, or motivation for reporting. I just chalk it up to “these are the facts so they must be true.” But when it comes to the Bible, God’s Inspired Word, I can’t seem to retain its content nor am I motivated to read it before all other activity. When I do take time to peel back its pages, my attitude is often anything but enthusiastic. My feelings tell me it’s a waste of time; there are more worthwhile things I should be doing right now than sitting here reading the Bible. Isn’t that funny? Why would I struggle with such ridiculous behavior? What makes me on one hand so eager and open to relate to the news and yet on the other, so reluctant to relate to God and His Words of ageless wisdom? Could there be something strategic to it? Is it possible my response is by design? Maybe there is a force so devious and diabolical, it wants to keep me constantly anesthetized with tragedy and gossip so I will have no appetite for what God has to say. Well, if Jesus is real and His statement is true about heaven and earth passing away, but the Word of God enduring for eternity, I am sure I know what to do next…. Do you know the last place you laid down your Bible?

Lorenzo

November 2- Fruit-full

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. John 15:4 The Message Bible

 Independence is a phony thing. When you and I were little tots, we clambered and crawled toward the day of self-support; “soon I will do it myself.” And now, anywhere we want to go and most of what we want to do, we can accomplish without anyone’s help. Right? Today I am reminded of a dear older gentleman who taught me a thing or two about this subject. He was close to 90 when we met. I would go see him periodically on Wednesday afternoons for about 3 years straight. And every visit, I would learn something new about him, about Oklahoma, or about the world in general. There seemed to be no place or subject he wasn’t well-versed in. In my estimation, he had accomplished more in his lifetime than anyone I had ever known. And yet, he was wise enough to know at the twilight of his years, he couldn’t do some of the things he used to on his own. So, he had caregivers who assisted him with most of his day-to-day chores. No, he wasn’t too proud. When he was traveling the world, fighting the war, and surviving the Dust Bowl, he couldn’t do it on his own then, either. He learned his success and survival was directly connected to his relationship with the Lord. To the naked eye, this man was as independent as they come. But to the open heart and listening ear, he was the epitome of a “fruit-full” fellow well-connected to the vine. May we all learn and follow!

Lorenzo