“When two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” Matthew 18:20
Before a trip to California, my daughter Susan helped me advertise and promote a “Lunch with Linda” event for church secretaries in two communities. I planned an inspirational program, we made a healthy lunch, and at only two people showed up at one of the events.
At first, I was disappointed more people didn’t want to come to hear what I had to say to encourage them in their ministry. But during the luncheon, the two participants shared from their heart. We had conversation that went straight to my heart. I heard stories of frustration, we laughed at crazy things we’ve done in the church office, and we ate and prayed together. God indeed was with us at “Lunch with Linda.”
I’ve worked in the church setting long enough to know that numbers don’t equate to failure or success. It’s good to be reminded now and then.
Dear Host of all events, help me remember to put your name first on any sign-up list for events I plan. Amen.
Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love owe each other. Romans 13:8
Paul (formerly known as Saul) was introduced in the Bible in Acts 7:60: “Saul was right there, congratulating the killers.” And, in the next Saul-sighting, he was blinded by God while on the road to Damascus).Three days later, he not only could he see again, he saw that he owed a “huge debt of love” to God for being set straight. Paul spent the rest of his life trying to make people understand how everyone should love each other “as well as you do yourself.”
A while back, I edited a book for Jane. Then I suggested that she hire my young friend to do the scanning and typesetting of the book. After Jane reviewed the project, she said, “It’s a mess,” and then made a few more uncomplimentary statements. I took offense to June’s comments.
Recently I saw June at the swimming pool, and with my large hat and sunglasses, I was able to avoid her. But the next time I saw her, we made eye contact and instead of talking with her, I took the easy way out and got out of the pool.
After reading today’s scripture, I know I have a debt to pay before the next time I see June at the pool–to forgive and forget–and to love her, because Paul says I should.
Dear Lord, help me figure out how to love those who aren’t so easy to love. Amen.
“Give me insight so I can do what you tell me – my whole life one long, obedient response.” Psalm 119:34
One day my friend and I went thrift-store shopping and each came out with books. My friend had three novels by authors she enjoys, and I had three books of inspiration or spiritual themes. We joked about how our choices for reading material tell a lot about where we are in our life journey.
I read material to gain insight for retreats and for the books and stories I write. My friend was a full-time caregiver and read to escape from reality for a few minutes. I assured her I do read something for fun every night before going to sleep–until the book smacks me on my face.
We need to feed ourselves with precious moments of insight, in whatever way awakens our souls. Some may find this by walking through a cornfield or a stroll on the shore. Others daydream or think out loud about their goals. Whatever works for you–do it to give yourself insight to the rest of your life on Earth.
Dear Lord, I seek your insight to become more obedient in serving you. Amen.
“You, son of man, are the watchman.” Ezekiel 33:7
When I was around eleven years old, my mother put me in charge of watching the needle on the pressure cooker gauge while she hung out clothes. “If the needle gets into the red zone, let me know,” she said. While the pot hissed, the needle gradually moved higher. Other things were more interesting, and I left the pot for a few moments. When I returned the needle was smack in the middle” of the red zone labeled “danger.” I can still remember the sound of the screen door slamming behind me as I ran out to mom yelling, “It’s going to explode!”
God asked Ezekiel to watch over the people of the house of Israel and to warn them that they were on the fast track to death unless they changed their ways. Unlike mom’s pressure cooker that didn’t explode, Jerusalem eventually fell (vs. 21).
Lord, when you put me in charge of something important, please charge my batteries while I’m resting. Amen.
“School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:7
I attend a monthly women’s Bible study at church—the Mary Circle. During our two-hour gathering, we take a few minutes to greet one another over coffee and refreshments and then attack the lesson for the day.
The dozen or more women that attend have become my sisters in Christ. We don’t just spend time pondering the verses we read, we stop and interject our thoughts, feelings, and relate it to the situations we face in our lives. We share ideas of ways to put the lesson for the day into action. Before we leave, we pray together and submit prayer requests for an anonymous prayer partner to pray about until we meet again.
Paul says we should walk away from study with a sense of joy and thanksgiving. He gave the Colossians a commission: “You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him.” (vs. 6) I think Paul would be proud of study groups taking place in the church, communities, and families.
Lord, give us opportunities to share what we’ve learned about your love and grace through our actions. Amen.
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.” Luke 10:41-42
Mary and Martha hosted a supper party for Jesus. Martha took it upon herself to do all the work, while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening intently to everything he said. Jesus didn’t find fault in Martha’s hospitality—just that she became worked up because Mary didn’t offer to help. From this episode, Martha is known as the workaholic and Mary a slacker. In reality, everyone needs to be a little of each–an M&M.
I use a balance chart in workshops for participants to see how they use the hours in the day. Most people have enough time in the day to spend with God, but need to find a time slot. As a young mother, I built in time before going to bed to do a daily devotion and prayer. However, by the time I’d been a Martha all day, I fell asleep with the Bible open on my lap and didn’t have a Mary experience.
Now that I am retired, my balance wheel looks different because I can choose the activities to fill each twenty-four hour day. My mornings begin as a Mary, as does the end of the day. And, the Martha in me is learning that all work and no play makes me a dull writer!
Dear Lord, help me throughout the day to take a little of Mary with me while I’m being a Martha. Amen.
Jesus said, “I saw you under the fig tree.” John 1:48
I learn lessons from God’s Arizona creatures—one being a lizard in my back yard. Every morning he or she scampers up to a big black rock which faces the west and sits there motionless for minutes. The lizard appears to be meditating while the sun warms its back.
Jesus spotted Nathaniel sitting under a fig tree and said, “There’s a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body.” (v.47). It was common for students of Scripture to spend time meditating under a fig tree on lessons they had learned.
Like the sun-baked lizard, I meditate every morning, too—soaking in the warm sun rays while concentrating on what I’ve learned during my morning devotions.
Lord of all creation, thank you for time in each day to soak in the rays of your sun and to learn from your Son. Amen.
“God, high above, sees far below; no matter the distance, he knows everything about us.” Psalm 138:6
When I was a little girl, my mother tells me she always knew immediately when I had done something wrong. I guess my innocent face couldn’t hide guilt—like when I took my share of the candy mother set out for my little brother and me, and I ate his share, too. I still remember being verbally punished (long before “time-outs” became popular) and the sense of guilt God put on my heart. That guilty feeling was a gift from God has served me like a fire alarm all my life.
Fortunately, God also sees the good things we do and gives us another gift—the sense of peace and joy.
Dear God, please forgive me for all my sins, and help me feel that sense of peace and joy today. Amen.
Every high priest selected to represent men and women before God and offer sacrifices for their sins should be able to deal gently with their failings, since he knows what it’s like from his own experience. Hebrews 5:3
Imagine being in a high political office and reading the headlines in the newspaper that you had faltered, failed, or did something illegal. President Nixon left office in disgrace, and with a belly full of humble pie. He took many others from Watergate down, too. They failed at the game they were playing, which became a dead-end to their careers.
People seem to love to see big-shots fail. Newscasters scramble to put out “breaking news.” In Hebrews, we are reminded to be gentle to those who have failed. We learn from our failures and become stronger to help others learn and grow. We don’t need someone to applaude our misdeeds. One never knows when a camera lens will capture something they’ve failed at too.
Lord, help us be grace-filled people to those who need it the most. Amen.
“The quiet words of the wise are more effective than the ranting of a king of fools.” Ecclesiastes 9:17
Donald Trump has entered the political limelight with vengeance. I am not fond of his hothead personality, rantings, and quick wit–when used to attack individuals. However, I give him credit for being a wise business man. Last nights he made a speech and said he loves everyone and every country–even Mexico. He presented a lengthy list of problems he would accomplish through his power and great negotiating skills to once again make America the greatest nation in the world. And, he reminded the viewers because he is so rich, no one can buy his allegiance.
The lesson today in Ecclesiastes is about a wise, but poor man who saved a small village. Instead of being considered a hero, the people treated him like trash because with no money he had no status.
The people in the U.S. are hopeful the next president will fix the economy, immigration, healthcare, and a variety of other problems we face as a nation. At this early date in the campaign process, Trump looks like the “savior” for America. However, according to Solomon (assumed to be the author of Ecclesiastes), “Wisdom is better than warheads, but one hothead can ruin the good earth.” (vs. 18). Should Mr. Trump become our next president, let’s pray he is a more of a wise man than a hothead.
Lord, give us wisdom in making choices that affect the whole world. Amen.