Revive Me #36- Hug Like You Mean It

Revive Me, Week 36– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Hug Like You Mean It

“Let go of whatever it was that turned you into a tentative hugger, and hug like you mean it.”

I’ve been doing too much mindless hugging lately.  When my husband walks in the door, I often hug him but my mind might be elsewhere.  I can be in the middle of hugging a member of my church family but my eyes will be searching for that person I need to talk to.  And I don’t even want to think about how many hugs from my sons I didn’t really focus on.

A couple of things have caused me to think about this:

  1.  The brevity of life (James 4:13-17).  I’ve recently heard of a couple of sudden, unexpected deaths.  I imagine their loved ones are recalling their last interactions with the departed.  They probably want nothing more than to hold them one more time.  When you wish you could hug someone but you can’t, you know the value of a simple hug.  I also know of some who have a loved one entering hospice care.  Surely every hug from now on will be more meaningful, more precious.
  2. The power of a good hug.  I’ve been the recipient of a couple of heartfelt hugs lately, the kind that make me pause and think, “Oh, this is a real hug.”  Real hugs leave me feeling bolstered and loved, as if I just received a gift.  They make me smile say, “thank you!”  They convince me to be more deliberate with my own hugging.

“A hug delights and warms and charms.  That must be why God gave us arms.”

Non-huggers may be cringing at this post.  That’s okay.  You have your own form of greeting and encouraging (a hearty handshake?).  The point of this Revive Me challenge is to remind us to be “all there” when we engage with others.  Smile warmly, look others in the eye, and hug for real.  For some, it may be just the boost they need to keep on keeping on.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Hug the stuffing out of your family members this week.  Give your husband extra doses.  Cherish every child-hug.  And especially hug the elderly in your family.
  2.  Determine to give up distracted greetings.  Give one-on-one attention to each person you meet at worship.
  3.  Go out of your way to hug the unhuggable (not the ones who don’t like hugs…that wouldn’t be very nice).  Look for the insecure, angry, or rebellious.  Help them understand God’s compassion by offering a warm hug.
  4.  Never let a gathering go by where you don’t hug the widows and widowers.  For some of them, it may be the only contact they enjoy during the week.
  5.  Just for fun, do some research into the science of hugging to learn some of the health benefits.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #35–Help Others Stay Faithful

Revive Me, Week 35– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Help Others Stay Faithful

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,

because love covers a multitude of sins.”

(1 Peter 4:8)

In a lesson for women entitled, “When My Love for Man Grows Weak,” I shared this verse and said, “Sincere love for one another is what keeps our relationships intact despite our shortcomings.  But yesterday I heard a different application.  Brett Petrillo, our youth minister, said that when we show love to a brother or sister, we are keeping them from going wayward.  That really caught my attention!  The point of his whole lesson was that when we all work together we can accomplish much.  If one of us demonstrates love to a fellow Christian, that’s good.  But if we ALL do our part to actively love that same Christian, he or she will be less likely to wander off into the world.

Doesn’t that add an even greater motivation to love others?  And it makes perfect sense.  If we’re loving like we should, we will be patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4).  We will gently warn those who seem to be drifting and will help bear their burdens as they struggle (Gal. 6:1,2).  We will be with them through their bad times (Prov. 17:17).  We will give of ourselves (1 John 4:10,11).  And from our text (1 Pet. 4:8), the next verses tell us how to show that love that covers a multitude of sins.  “Be hospitable to one another” (v. 9).  “Serve one another” (v. 10).

What better way to grow closer to the Lord than to do our part to help others stay close to Him as well?

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  There are members of your congregation who might be growing weary in their work, who feel lonely or left out, or who feel like the odd-man-out because they’re single or divorced.  Choose one of those individuals or couples and have them into your home this week.  Focus on them.  Let them know you’re paying attention.  Pray with them.
  2.  Keep your eyes open when you meet with the saints.  Seek out those you don’t get to speak to as often.  Ask how they’re doing in a way that invites specific answers.  Listen to them and hug them.
  3.  Send a few “for no reason” cards to let brand new Christians, teens, or struggling members know you care.
  4.  Who hasn’t been to worship in a while?  Call them and let them know you miss them.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Photo credit: May Busch

Revive Me #31– Get the Message

Revive Me, Week 31– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Get the Message

About 6 weeks ago, I bought a little bracelet and I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since.  Just yesterday morning in Bible class, I discovered that it has something written on the underside.  It says, “Never forget how much you are loved.”  I was so surprised and couldn’t believe I never saw it before then.  All this time that bracelet has been right there on my wrist yet I had no idea that sweet message was waiting for me.  Now I like the bracelet even more!

I wonder how many other things I’ve missed out on because I wasn’t paying attention?

  • Bible study.  I always have a Bible nearby.  I try to read it daily.  But am I paying attention?  Am I examining it closely and focusing on the details?  Am I seeing God’s message?
  • Relationships.  I have family and friends all around me.  But am I paying attention to them?  Do I see their cues, hear their hints?  Have I been so distracted by my own schedule or constantly checking messages that I’ve been missing the needs of those most dear to me?  Have I missed out on some friendships because I’ve been blind to efforts to reach out to me?
  • Blessings.  They’re everywhere, everyday.  But have I taken them for granted?  Have I even seen the blessings, big and small, that God sends me so that I will get His message, “Never forget how much you are loved”?

“Oh taste and se that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study the Bible intentionally.  Look closely.  Examine each word.  See how sweet and dear God’s message is for you!
  2.  Notice every thoughtful gesture by the people around you.  Acknowledge them.  Recognize it as yet another proof of God’s love and care for you.
  3. See the blessings, physical and spiritual.  Help others see them.  Ask God to help you keep your eyes open to them.
  4. Put your phone, laptop, iPad, whatever away.  Instead of looking down at your device, look around and SEE people.  Smile, connect, and see their messages.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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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.

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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.

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Revive Me #19–Turn Your Regrets Around

Revive Me, Week 19–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Turn Your Regrets Around

We will be celebrating our youngest son’s graduation from high school next week.  For the past several weeks I’ve been fighting a slight panic, a nagging feeling that I’ve left some things undone and untaught.  How did this moment get here so quickly?  How have I run out of time already?

I shared these thoughts with Kathy Petrillo last night, a wise mother who is a few years ahead of me.  She promptly said, “There’s still time.”  I blinked, and then I smiled.  Of course!  Thank you, Kathy Petrillo!

There’s still time.  We’re not promised a tomorrow (James 4:14) but we have today.

I imagine we all have some regrets.  It’s encouraging to read about individuals in the Bible who surely had regrets but still continued to serve God to the best of their ability.  David sinned in his relationships but secured the best relationship of all by being “a man after God’s own heart.”  How?  God knew David would “do all His will” (Acts 13:22).  Paul went from persecuting the Lord’s church to loving the Lord’s church.  I can imagine a brother asking, “Paul, how do you deal with your regrets?”  Paul would answer, “One thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on…” (Phil. 3:13,14). He would go on to say, “Let us therefore…have this attitude.”

How can we turn our regrets around?

  1.  Do all God’s will
  2.  Forget what lies behind
  3.  Reach forward to what lies ahead
  4.  Maintain this attitude

I’m still not ready for my last son to leave the nest.  I know I missed opportunities and messed up many times.  Satan wants me to get bogged down in the “if onlys.”  God wants me to press ahead.

“You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.”

(Pat Schroeder)

Suggestions for the week:

  1.  Paul said, “Join in following my example” (Phil. 3:17).  What “goal” was he pressing toward (v. 14)?  Write down what goal you’re pressing toward.
  2. Perhaps, like me, you have some things in your past you’d like to forget.  Is there anything you need to do before you can turn those regrets around?  Do you need to ask for someone’s forgiveness?  Do you need to make something right, if possible?
  3. Bible-mark “Haunted by the Past.”
  4. Ask God to help you let go of the past so you can pursue the opportunities you have in the present.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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What Carl looked like just yesterday.

 

Revive Me #18–Keep Things in Perspective

A few months ago I shared the photo below on my husband and dog on social media.  Several posted comments like:

“That’s not a dog…it’s a grizzly bear!”

“That dog is huge!  What kind is it?”

“That can’t be a real dog.”

“That’s a wookie.”

“Is that real?  When’d he get so big?  (Your dog, not Neal)”

Chipper does look ginormous in the picture but he’s only a medium sized goldendoodle and weighs about 55 pounds.  Something about the perspective of the shot makes him look a lot bigger than he actually is, especially compared to Neal.

How are you at keeping things in perspective?  It’s easier to see when someone else has trouble because they’re approaching something from the wrong point of view.  We might think, “If only they would change their attitude concerning ______…”  It’s more difficult to recognize in our own life.

Thankfully the Bible is our mirror (James 1:23).  We can look into it and see if we need to make any changes.

  • What causes you to worry?
  • Do you have unresolved issues with someone?
  • Do you wonder what you’re supposed to do with your life?
  • Do you feel like you’re not good enough, your past is insurmountable, or Christianity is too hard?

Satan wants you to struggle and doubt.  He wants to discourage you from ever “getting it right.”  These types of questions can be more easily resolved when approached from a biblical perspective.  When we keep our focus where it belongs, the predicaments of life don’t loom as large.

“Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above…Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

(Col. 3:1,2)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study verses that have to do with spiritual priorities:  Luke 12:22-34; Col. 1:10; Matt. 6:19-24, 33; 22:37,38; Luke 10:38-42; Rom. 12:2; Phil. 3:13,14; 2 Tim. 2:22
  2.  List your concerns and pray about them.  Ask God to help you keep things in their proper perspective.
  3.  Consider the quote, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”  Have you allowed fear to control your decisions?  How can you strengthen your faith to help you see things God’s way?

Read it. Memorize it. Live it.

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Revive Me #17–Think About Your Baptism

Revive Me, Week #17– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Think About Your Baptism

In ladies’ Bible class last week, Deanna Brant taught us about the covenant relationship we have with God.  As she discussed the fact that those who are in this relationship will strive to be holy and a light to the nations, she suggested a way to make that easier.  She said, “Think about your baptism…a lot.”  What wisdom!

Remember what happened at the moment of your baptism:

  • Your life became new (Rom. 6:4).
  • You were saved (1 Pet. 3:21).
  • Every spiritual blessing is found in Christ (Eph. 1:3) and you gained access to those blessings when you put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).
  • You also became an “heir according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).
  • You “received the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
  • You gained access to the Father (Eph. 2:13,18).
  • You became a “member of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).
  • Every one of your sins was washed away (Acts 22:16).

This is just a sampling of the beautiful blessings that resulted from your baptism.  The list could be much longer!  Your baptism truly was the greatest and most important moment of your life.

I admit that I usually only recall the day of my baptism when someone else is being baptized.  Deanna made me realize that thinking about it more often could make a difference in my Christian walk.  Consider what thinking about your baptism each day can do for you:

  • You are more likely to “go on your way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).
  • You will desire to sin less and be more holy.
  • If it’s on your heart, you will share it with others.
  • You will maintain an attitude of gratitude.
  • You will want to grow ever closer to your Father.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Spend a few minutes thinking back to the day of your baptism.  Write down why you did it and how you felt.  If you did that already when you were baptized, read it.
  2. Contact the person who led you to Christ and thank them.
  3. Determine to begin each new day thinking about the moment you became a child of God.
  4. Thank God for all the blessings that came from your baptism.  Be mindful of them each day.
  5. Be on the lookout for the newest Bible-marking topic at Come Fill Your Cup which will be “What Baptism Does.”

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*Brett Petrillo baptizing Deanna Philippus for the remission of her sins!

Revive Me #16–Be Marvelous!

Revive Me, Week 16–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be Marvelous!

“Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.'”

(Luke 7:9)

Reading about something that causes Jesus to marvel catches my attention.  What did that man do to amaze Jesus?  In the beginning of Luke 7, we read about a centurion whose slave was about to die.  He sent for Jesus.  When the centurion heard that Jesus was on the way, he sent messengers to Him to say He needn’t “trouble Himself” to come all the way under his roof.  He said, “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 7).  He spoke of Jesus’ authority and power.  Simply put, the centurion’s speech revealed his great faith.

Words can also reveal weak faith.  When the disciples of Jesus experienced a storm, they said, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” Jesus said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (Matt. 8:23-26).

Peter took a few brave steps onto the water but then he “became frightened” and began to sink.  He cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:28-31).

What does your speech reveal about your faith?

Is it obvious to those around you that your faith is great?  No matter what life throws at you, you’re quick to speak of the authority and power of Jesus.  You happily turn control over to Him.  You exude confidence and peace because of your trust in the One who can heal the broken and calm the storms.

Or  does your speech reveal a little faith?  You’re a fretter.  You’re easily overwhelmed.  You allow the things of this world to intimidate you.  When you experience a storm, your words reveal your fear.  When you begin to sink, your cries reveal your doubt.

I want Jesus to marvel at my faith, don’t you?

This week, be marvelous!  Create opportunities to declare your great faith.

Suggestions for the week:

1.  Marvelous is a terrific word.  Look it up.  Just reading the definition and its synonyms will make you feel good.

2.  Study the accounts of the centurion and his great faith (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10).  Also study the accounts of those who dismayed Jesus by their little faith (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8).  What situations did these individuals find themselves in?  How did they react?

3.  Think of your specific storms.  How have you reacted?  Have you allowed fear and worry to weaken your faith?  What will you do and say to show your great faith?

4.  Be mindful of opportunities this week to cause others to marvel at your great faith.

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Revive Me #15–Call on the Lord

Revive Me, Week 15–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Call on the Lord

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

(Psalm 145:18)

The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.”

(Prov. 15:29)

I almost want you to skip to the end of this post and read the Homer Hailey quote.  It’s powerful and will renew your gratitude and awe over the blessing of prayer.  Can you imagine your life without prayer?

A “Revive Me” series would be incomplete without a emphasis on prayer.  Every healthy relationship requires two sided communication.  God speaks to us through His Word (1 Thess. 2:13)  and He has given us the avenue of prayer as a way to speak to Him (1 John 5:14,15).  This week consider your prayer life.  Is it weak or is it strong?

Some questions to consider:

  • Do you know how to pray?  Luke 11:1-13
  • Do you believe God hears your prayers?  Psa. 18:6; 34:17
  • Do you pray in complete faith?  Or does doubt creep in?  James 1:6,7; 5:13-18
  • Does your prayer life consist mostly of routine prayers at meals and bedtime?  Or do you pray throughout the day and make time for fervent prayer?  Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2
  • Do you pray for others and with others?  1 Tim. 2:1-4
  • Do you pray with worldly motives?  James 4:3
  • In addition to petitions, do your prayers contain praise and thanksgiving?  Matt. 6:9; Psa. 95:1-6

“To the believer prayer is a sacred privilege as well as an obligation.  When he prays, solemn thoughts should fill his soul; for the finite creature is before the infinite creator, ruler, and sustainer of the universe.  He is before the Lord of heaven and earth, communing and talking with Him, seeking His fellowship and casting his anxieties upon Him, believing that He cares for him.  It is indeed a blessed favor bestowed upon us when the eternal God invites us to share a joyous fellowship and communion with Him; this is the glory of prayer.”

–From Prayer and Providence by Homer Hailey

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study Bible characters (like Hannah, Nehemiah, Daniel, and Jesus) who had a strong prayer life.  When did they pray?  How did it help them?
  2. Look up and write down the blessings that come from prayer:  Phil. 4:6,7; Rom. 8:26; Matt. 26:41; Luke 11:9-13; Psa. 145:18,19; Heb. 4:16
  3. Bible-mark “The Power of Prayer.”
  4. Read a good book about prayer (like “The Begging Place” by Becky Blackmon or “Prayer and Providence” by Homer Hailey).
  5. Set aside time each day for private, fervent prayer.
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Photo credit: Michael Hite