Revive Me #30–Love the Unlovable

Revive Me, Week 30– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Love the Unlovable

I spent the past week with 50 teen girls at a Christian Bible camp.  During one lesson, they were asked to come up with a specific way they would be willing to shine their light.  One young lady wrote, “I will love the unlovable.”

The 50 girls were from different states and had different backgrounds.  They didn’t all grow up in sweet Christian homes.  They weren’t all at the same level of spiritual maturity.  And yet by the middle of the week, there was a unity taking place that was beautiful to behold.  They were reaching out to each other.  They were (mostly) patient with each other.  They were drawing in the shy, the awkward, and the scared.  They even managed to soften the one or two with a chip on their shoulder.  By the end of the week, as we sang in a big circle holding hands, they were family.

Most of us encounter many people each day.  We know we are commanded to love them (Mark 12:31) but not all of them will be easy to love.  Some will be prickly or grouchy or mean.  Some will look unapproachable.  Some will simply reject any attempt to reach out to them.  While we won’t be thrown into a camp situation where it will be easier to grow to love others, we must still determine to love the unlovable.  The outgoing, warm, friendly, happy people around us are probably receiving love and good attention.  It’s the ones who are edgy, odd, or giving off “leave me alone” vibes who most need us to show them the love of Christ.

“Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

(1 John 3:18)

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

(1 John 4:8)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Pay close attention to outsiders.  Reach out to them in a specific way.
  2.  Show warmth in your smile and your words to those who are not nice.  They need it the most.  Remember, “hurt people hurt people.”
  3.  If you are afraid, ask God to give you courage.
  4.  Don’t give up if your first attempts to reach out are rejected or even ridiculed.  And definitely don’t react in a hurt or indignant way.  That’s what they expect.  Instead, smile and try again at first opportunity.
  5. Pray for those who are unlovable.
  6. Instead of mentally tagging others with harsh labels, identify them as lost souls or lonely and outcast.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

DSCN2325_2

Revive Me #28–Show God’s Peace

Revive Me, Week 28– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Show God’s Peace

What a week!  Do you find yourself thinking that more and more?  We live in a world of violence, tensions, unrest, and anger.  People are shaking their heads and asking, “What is this world coming to?”  Christians know the answer to that question.  We need to be ready to share it.  But first, how will those in the world know to come to us?  They need to see God’s peace in us.

Many are wringing their hands in fear and frustration.  We need to be folding our hands in prayer.  We need to be extending our hands to give and help.

The faces around us are anxious.  Our brows need to be smooth and our expressions should reflect the calm in our hearts.

The words swirling everywhere on the news and social media are angry and provoking.  Our words need to be healing and life-giving.

The world needs to see something different in us.  Yes, we are indeed surrounded by violence and injustice.  But we are filled with the peace of God.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Your, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3)

Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psa. 119:165).

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psa. 29:11).

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7).

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Let’s show the world this God-given peace!  They may be ready for the security that comes from serving the One who is in control.  

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.  The Lord be with you all” (2 Thess. 3:16).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  If you are struggling with fear and anxiety, pray for peace.  Your trust in God during these unstable times will draw others.
  2.  Read 2 Thess. 3:16 again.  How does the Lord want to give you peace?
  3.  Do the Bible-marking on True Peace.
  4.  Center your family devotionals this week around the topic of peace.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

10885614_10205169315450627_1633384675058068794_n

Revive Me #27–Be Patient

Revive Me, Week 27– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be Patient

We do not live in a patient world.  A few minutes in rush hour traffic, a long line at Walmart, or just waiting to get off a plane proves that most people do not appreciate delays or inconveniences.  Tempers flare and snarky comments fly!

A couple of days ago I witnessed a woman’s short fuse.  She couldn’t figure out how to use the security chip card reader at the store.  As she became flustered, she grew louder.  “Why do I have to enter my PIN again?!!!  I already did it once!!!”  Her cheeks turned red.  She pointed her finger and growled, “If this thing charges me twice…..When I get home, I’m going to check and see if I’ve been overcharged.  Then you’ll REALLY hear from me!”  When the transaction was finally complete, she yanked her card out of the machine and stormed off.  The next customer in line was asked, “How are you going today, sir?”  With an impassive face, he answered, “Fine.  You?”  He didn’t shake his head, raise his eyebrows, or ask, “What was that all about?”

We’re so used to petulant behavior that those types of transactions don’t surprise us or phase us anymore.

Patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”  I can appear patient on the outside while being impatient on the inside.  True patience is not getting peeved in the first place.

  • Do you handle delays, setbacks, and inconveniences graciously or grouchily?
  • Does your family witness your impatience?  What kind of example are you setting for them?
  • How do you treat those who move slower than you do?
  • Are you an eye roller?
  • Are you more patient with your own weaknesses than you are the weaknesses of others?

The world expects poor behavior in imperfect situations.  Let’s surprise them with a genuine smile, kind words, and grace.  Let’s be patient.

“Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Ecc. 7:9).

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” (Prov. 15:18).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study Biblical examples of those who were “patient when wronged” (2 Tim. 2:24).  How did they handle the difficult situation?  Why do you think they were able to do that?
  2.  Do a heart check.  Are you impatient?  What sets you off?  With whom do you act impatient?  Do you need to seek forgiveness?  How will you repent?
  3.  Spend more time with those who are patient and gentle and less time (if possible) with those who are quick to express dissatisfaction.
  4.  Be looking for the upcoming Bible-marking topic on patience at comefillyourcup.com.

Read it.  Memorize it. Live it.

9a09b145285e7a4e96d9b51acafb7a9c

 

 

 

 

 

Revive Me #26-Consider How You’ll Be Remembered

Revive Me, Week 26-  A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

(*We are halfway through the year!  I hope you are feeling strengthened in your faith as we grow together in the Lord!)

Consider How You’ll Be Remembered

Last night a remarkable Christian woman died in her sleep.  What made Neva Morgan remarkable?  Well, many things, but one thing in particular stands out for me, and that is her faithfulness.

Neva’s husband wasn’t a Christian but she wanted to make sure her children were brought up in the Lord.  That meant that she alone was responsible for taking her children to Bible class and worship.  Neva didn’t drive so she had to ask someone each week to pick them all up.  She knew this was a huge inconvenience for others and many times considered staying home to avoid the hassle.  It also wasn’t easy trying to make her children behave in worship since she didn’t have her husband with her to help.  A lesser woman would’ve allowed these challenges to weaken her resolve, but Neva was determined to put God first no matter the cost.  She knew her husband needed to see how important her faith was, that obedience to her Lord trumped everything else.

Neva’s perseverance paid off.  Several years later her husband obeyed the gospel!  Imagine her joy!  What if she had given in to the temptation to stay home from worship?  What if she had compromised in order to keep the peace?  Where would her children be today?  Would her husband have ever become a Christian?

Neva experienced other challenges in her life.  She faced them with the strength of Christ (Phil. 4:13).

As a result of Neva’s faithfulness, she has left a beautiful legacy.  Her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will always have her story as an example of obedience and trust.  Her perseverance molded her into a sweet soul who was easy to love. Those who knew her wanted to be like her.  I know I did.

What kind of legacy are you building?  Neva’s life reminds me to be heaven-minded (Col. 3:1,2).  When I die, I want to be remembered for my faithfulness to Christ no matter what.  I want my children to be able to view my life as one that glorified God.  I want them to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am resting from my labors in the bosom of my Lord.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them” (Rev. 14:13).

Suggestions for the Week:

1.  Is anything challenging your faithfulness?  Determine that no inconvenience, discomfort, or hard thing will keep you from putting God first.

2.  Study the life of one who persevered through difficult times (like Job, Abraham, Hannah, or Paul).  Perhaps use this as the topic for your family devotionals.

3.  Consider your weekly schedule.  In what ways are you showing your children/ grandchildren that you are a faithful child of God?

4.  Write down how you think you will be remembered.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

10645068_10152376896527503_4244187898178815903_n

Neva is in the middle with her daughter-in-law on the right.

Revive Me #25- Cherish the People in Your Life

Revive Me, Week 25–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Cherish the People God Put in Your Life

Tomorrow morning our very dear friends, Bob and Sheryl Turner, are moving to Louisiana (pause for weep-fest here).  We’ve been working with them and enjoying their friendship for the past eight years.  As soon as I found out Sheryl was moving, I realized how much she has impacted my life.  I have learned so much from her:

  • How to be hospitable
  • How to lovingly and graciously take care of an aging parent
  • How to serve
  • How to work hard
  • How to give
  • How to be compassionate
  • How to see the needs of others
  • How to do crafts without breaking out in hives

I began trying to cram in as much as possible…lunch together, meaningful conversations, questions, expressions of appreciation.  Now we’re at the end.  I keep thinking of all the things I meant to do and wonder if I’ve said enough about how much I love and appreciate this precious friend.

Why do we wait until it’s time to say goodbye to express love and appreciation?  God has put special individuals in our lives so we can learn from them and be encouraged.  I want to be more invested in the people around me–my family, my Christian brothers and sisters, my neighbors.  Regret comes from neglecting golden opportunities to show love, to live in the moment, and to simply enjoy the unique traits and gifts of the people around us.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Rom. 12:10-12

Look around at the people God has put in your life.  Are you making time with them a priority?  Are you learning from them?  Are you encouraging them?  Are you serving together with them?

I thank God for Sheryl Turner.  I will continue to follow (stalk) her as she and Bob begin the next chapter of their life.  And I know I will continue learning from her.  May I find someone to encourage as she has encouraged me.  May I daily make the most of time with special people God has put in my life.

Suggestions for the week:

  1.  Think about some individuals you’re thankful for but haven’t expressed that thanks.  Tell them to their face how much you love and appreciate them.
  2.  Pick someone to teach this week.  Do you have a skill you can share with a daughter-in-law, a new member, a neighbor?
  3.  Pick someone to serve this week.  Can you think of anyone who could use a cheery visit?  Can you offer to help someone paint their house or work in their yard?
  4.  Cherish the relationships in your life, even the ones that cause a certain amount of stress.  Growth, patience, and compassion can come from appreciating the time and work it takes to build bonds.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

10346443_10206593023922449_6888848515361639513_n

Revive Me #24–See It Through

Revive Me, Week #24– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

See It Through

When you’re up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
Do the best that you can do;
You may fail, but you may conquer,
See it through!
Black may be the clouds about you
And your future may seem grim,
But don’t let your nerve desert you;
Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen,
Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you,
See it through!

Even hope may seem but futile,
When with troubles you’re beset,
But remember you are facing
Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;
Don’t give up, whate’er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.
See it through!

By Edgar Albert Guest

I hope this poem invigorates you as much as it does me.  Sometimes life involves inconveniences, sacrifice, and hard work.  I don’t want to grow soft!  I don’t want to give up when faced with obstacles.   I don’t want to always seek the easy route.  I don’t want to become dependent upon instant gratification.  I don’t want a reputation as someone who bails when things don’t go the way I planned or require some grit.  I want to “square my shoulders” and “see it through.”

  • When it comes to serving, teaching, volunteering, or visiting, “never tire of doing good” (2 Thess. 3:13).
  • When beset by trials or hardships, be “patient in affliction and devoted to prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
  • When trying to overcome a temptation, “have great endurance” (Col. 1:11).
  • When you’re trying to make a difference in the lives of those around you, “do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
  • When discouraged by what you see around you, “be faithful until death” (Rev. 2:10).

See it through!  And let’s help each other see it through.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Has it been awhile since you’ve kept a commitment?  Look for a way to be more involved in the Lord’s church and keep it up.
  2.  Have you found yourself hopping from job to job or having a hard time reaching goals you’ve set?  Do some soul searching to find out what’s at the heart of the problem?  Is it laziness, dissatisfaction, discontentment?  Lack of discipline or patience?  When you discover what’s holding you back, look up Scriptures having to do with it.
  3.  Look for good role models when it comes to commitment and determination.
  4.  Discouraged by your circumstances?  Print off the “See It Through” poem and put it where you can see it.
  5.  Ask God to help you be willing to do hard things.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

12194662_10207540516169163_5588561275810448228_o

 

Revive Me #23– Be Amazed

Revive Me, Week 23– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be Amazed

It’s Monday and perhaps your to-do list is a long one.   Or you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or overburdened.  Perhaps you picked up a few extra cares recently.  Or maybe you just don’t feel that great.  Sometimes life lacks luster.  If you didn’t greet this new day feely sunny and inspired, remember this one truth:  Our God is an awesome God.

“Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”

(Psalm 147:5)

This one verse alone invigorates me.  When I feel inadequate, I need to remember that our God is great.  When I feel drained, I must remember to lean on God’s abundant strength.  Basically, I need to stop focusing on myself and start focusing on my God.  Then I will be amazed!

I am amazed when I look to God because:

  • He has done wonderful things- Psalm 98:1
  • He alone works wonders- Psalm 72:18
  • His doings are marvelous- Psalm 118:23
  • His plans are carried out with perfect faithfulness- Isaiah 25:1

I see God’s wonderful, marvelous things in creation, in His providence, and in His love and grace.  When I remember to look for these things, I am amazed.

When men looked to the Son of God, they were amazed.  He amazed a governor (Matt. 27:14), crowds (Matt. 7:28,29), the Pharisees (Matt. 22:22), the disciples (Mark 10:24), and many others.  They heard what Jesus said and saw what He did.  I need to remember to stay in the Word to be amazed again by what my Lord said and did.

“On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.”

(Psalm 145:5)

You can be amazed today.  You woke up.  Your great God loves you.  You have purpose.  You can look for opportunities to glorify God.  You are surrounded by people who need to know God so they, too, can be amazed.

Suggestions for the week:

  1.  Look up the Scriptures listed above about people being amazed by Jesus.  Note what specific thing He said or did that had them in awe.  Is it something you can be in awe of now?
  2.  Be aware of God’s greatness.  Look around you.  What do you see?  Nature?  Family?  A home to take care of?  Neighbors?  Your Bible?
  3.  Meditate this week on verses that have to do with the marvelous things of God.
  4.  Sing about it.  “I Stand Amazed,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Our God is an Awesome God,” and “We Bow Down” are some good ones.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

cropped-577687_3978147970257_1488849541_n1.jpg

Revive Me #22- Clear Your Conscience

Revive Me, Week 22– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Clear Your Conscience

One of my sons, who shall remain unnamed, recently started this conversation with me:

“Mom, do you remember that time several years ago when I was sweeping the kitchen and you saw me sweeping the crumbs out from under the refrigerator?  You commended me for being so thorough and told me I was doing a great job with my chores.  Well, I wasn’t sweeping the crumbs out from under the refrigerator.  I was too lazy to get the dustpan so I was hiding the whole pile of crumbs by sweeping it under the refrigerator.”

There was chagrin all over my son’s face as he waited for my reaction to his confession.

We are entering that phase of parenting where we get to hear all kinds of confessions.  It’s a wonder any of my sons even survived their childhood based on some of the shenanigans they’re owning up to!

In this particular case, my son’s conscience was bothered by having received undeserved praise.  Perhaps there will come a day when we will receive a confession of something more “serious” than laziness or recklessness.

“Open confession is good for the soul.”

This old Scottish proverb has biblical backing.  Guilt has a way of festering.  God wants us to feel clean and whole.

  • James 5:16- “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
  • 1 John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Prov. 28:13- “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”
  • Psalm 32:3-5- “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.  I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide;  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  If you like to mark in your Bible, look up the above passages.  Circle the action (“confess,” “acknowledge”) and underline the result (“healed,” “forgive,” “cleanse,” etc.).
  2.  If you have children or grandchildren, spend time studying these passages.  Help them understand that confession is better than suppression.  Help them see that confession brings forgiveness and wholeness and is another evidence of God’s love for us.
  3.  If you have hidden sins, clear your conscience.  If it’s between you and God, confess it to Him and ask for forgiveness.  If it’s an offense against another, go to that person privately and humbly confess and ask for forgiveness.
  4.  Pray for courage, wisdom, and discernment.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

Revive Me #21- Long for Fellowship

Revive Me, Week 21– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Long for Fellowship

I have rolled my eyes at the idea of another potluck.  I’ve whispered “amen” to posts or comments about the fact that fellowship is not about eating a meal together.  Well, I’ve decided that I’ve been guilty of a bad attitude.

If I’m honest, I must get to the bottom of my lack of enthusiasm.  Is it the meal itself?  No.  Is it the effort it would take on my part to prepare a dish?  No.  So that leaves only two other reasons.  Either I don’t relish the idea of spending more time with my Christian family or I don’t want to cram another event into my already busy schedule.  Spelling it out like that doesn’t make me sound too good, does it?  What could be more important than spending time with God’s people?  What does it say about the spiritual condition of my heart when I lose the desire to do so?

God’s people are the best of people!  I never regret spending time with them.

What does God think about Christian fellowship?

  • The early Christians were devoted to it- Acts 2:42
  • He lists it as a blessing of walking in the Light- 1 John 1:7

There are commands we can only fulfill with time and togetherness:

  • We meet together to encourage each other- Heb. 10:25
  • We are to bear each other’s burdens- Gal. 6:2
  • We are to have the same mind and the same love- Phil. 2:2
  • We are to comfort one another- 2 Cor. 13:11
  • We are to confess our sins to one another and pray for each other- James 5:16
  • We are to look to the interests of others- Phil. 2:4
  • We are to do good to each other- Gal. 6:10
  • We are to love one another- 1 John 4:7
  • We are to exhort one another- Heb. 3:13

Only so many of those can be accomplished through social media.  Paul desired to see Christians so he could be encouraged by their faith (Rom. 1:11,12).

Busyness.  Introvertedness.  Isolation.  These may be the types of things that lead to a lack of desire for togetherness.  Or maybe the withdrawal comes from hurt feelings.  Maybe someone said something thoughtless or let you down.  Whatever the cause, let us remember that fellowship was special to the church of the New Testament.  Let us remember that fellowship is about more than getting, it’s about giving.  We encourage, love, serve, exhort.  We hug and laugh together.  We light each other’s fire to save souls.  We let others glimpse our faith.

The first century Christians were united and turned the world upside-down (Acts 17:6).  Certainly that is the desire of every Christian today.

Suggestions for the Week:

1.  Look up the “one another” passages and list what Christians are to do together.

2.  If your desire to fellowship is waning, try to determine the cause.  Have you been hurt?  Are you so busy that you are burned out?  Have worldly pursuits distracted you?  Pray about it.

3.  Make sure the same people aren’t having to schedule fellowship activities.  Help brainstorm and create opportunities to be together.

4.  Pay attention to those who are missing fellowship activities.  Reach out to them and encourage them to join you.

5.  Be intentional in your fellowship.  While you’re with Christians, focus on giving, loving, encouraging, and listening.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

13230277_10209001833621186_5334924682294519126_n

Revive Me #20– Rise and Shine!

Revive Me, Week 20– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Rise and Shine!

“Rise and shine, friend. Everyone you meet today is on heaven’s Most Wanted list.”

(Charles R. Swindoll)

I love this quote.  It’s a reminder and a challenge for me.  It reminds me that my attitude affects my ability to impact others for Christ.  It challenges me to see each new day as an opportunity to think souls.  Rise and shine!

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”

(Phil. 2:14,15)

There are many reasons to grumble, I know.  Politics.  The high expense of health care.  Job insecurity.  Maybe Monday mornings are on that list for you.  We all have personal reasons to grumble.  But what are any of these in light of a soul?  Let’s lay aside our grumbles and look for ways to shine.  The people around us need Christ.  Does grumbling lift Him up for all to see?

Rise above the earthly annoyances (Col. 3:1,2) and shine the Light (Matt. 5:16).  May God bless our daily efforts to share His love this week.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Be mindful of your face.  It’s the first thing people see.  Smile warmly as you interact with EVERY person.
  2.  If your list of reasons to grumble seems overly long, remember that your list of reasons to smile is even longer.  Write down your blessings and keep adding to that list each day this week.  This would be a fun family activity.
  3.  Your cheer will be obvious in an unhappy world.  Some will comment on it.  Be ready to give a thought provoking answer for “the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15).
  4.  My son, Dale, said, “We can Think Souls all day long but we need to get beyond the thinking and start doing something about it.”  What specific way can you reach souls this week?

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

316486_4595906013822_473069542_n