March 18, 2019
Bible Reading: Philippians 1 :3-6
I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again. Philippians 1:6
SUPPOSE YOU WANT TO communicate to someone that he or she is totally special to you. You don’t say it with stinkweed. You don’t dial a florist and have a dozen dandelions delivered. You buy a gorgeous long-stemmed rose. Bigger and better yet, you buy a bunch of roses. Why? Because roses are the crowning achievement of God’s work in the flower department. Here’s the surprise: A rose left to itself stays small and thorny. But with loving care from a gardener, the rose reaches its full potential.
Perfect as you are, you’re still not all you’re capable of becoming. There are some things you can do to let God train you to become all you are capable of becoming. These training tactics don’t increase your value as God’s child, but they prepare you to serve Christ in greater ways than you could ever dream. Try these:
· Don’t label yourself negatively (like ”I’m stupid,” etc.). You tend to live down to negative labels you stick on yourself.
· When you fail, admit it to God. And then refuse to browbeat yourself.
· Be as kind to yourself as you want to be to other people.
· Don’t compare yourself to others. You are unique. God enjoys your uniqueness, so have a similar attitude toward yourself.
· Focus on God’s grace, love, and acceptance, not on criticism from others.
· Help other people see themselves as God sees them by accepting them, loving them, and encouraging them.
· Be positive. See how long you can go without saying something noxious about another person, situation, or yourself.
· List the things you can change and what you will change, along with how you will change and when you will change.
· List the things you would like to change but can’t, and how these facts of who you are can benefit you.
· Look your best. Take care of yourself by getting rest, good food, and exercise.
· Use and develop your talents, like playing a musical instrument, working with wood, playing a sport, etc.
· Develop your God-given spiritual gifts and ministries.
REFLECT: Aren’t you grateful that God is always with you to help you grow to your til’ fullest potential?
PRAY: Pray through the above list. Ask God to empower your efforts.
March 13, 2019
Bible Reading: John 15:9-13
I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. John 15:12
“NICE OUTFIT, Karen. What did your mother do with the other half of your grandmother’s old curtains? Did your brother get an outfit too?”
That verbal slam echoed so loudly through the hallway that Emily couldn’t help but overhear. Emily knew it was hard for people to be friendly to Karen, who was quiet, reserved-and brilliant. She lived in the library and wouldn’t know a gym if she wandered into one and fell on the floor. And her style of dress was, well, slightly behind the times. Guys wouldn’t be caught dead with Karen. Girls who talked to her risked becoming a social outcast like her, so no one did. Karen even sat alone when she attended her church youth group.
But Karen’s situation was getting to Emily. Just last Sunday her youth pastor had taught on 1 John 4:20: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?” Emily couldn’t ask for a more obvious opportunity to do what Jesus wanted her to do. And so-as her fellow students watched and snickered-Emily approached Karen in the cafeteria and asked her to join her for lunch. For the first time since fifth grade, Karen had a friend.
Emily remained Karen’s friend through high school, even though it cost her many other friends. When they graduated, Karen was named valedictorian of their senior class. As she began her speech, she did her best to thank her parents and her teachers for their support. Then she choked and began to cry. Recognizing that her friend was losing it, Emily stepped onto the stage to stand by her side.
Holding her friend’s hand, Karen continued through her tears. “Most of all, I want to thank Emily. When I was at my lowest point-alone, rejected, and ready to give up on life-she showed me what it means to be a friend and what it means to love unconditionally. If it weren’t for Emily, I wouldn’t be alive today.”
Loving others as Christ loves you is costly. Think about the price Jesus paid to love us. He left the glory and splendor of heaven. He came to earth and was ridiculed, rejected, beaten, spit upon, and crucified. Loving us wasn’t comfortable or convenient for him. It cost him everything.
Jesus calls us to love others in the same way. So what are you willing to “spend” to love others? Will you give up your convenience, popularity, time, energy, or money? Will you step outside your comfortable world to get into the lives of people like Karen?
REFLECT: Will you love the people that the world doesn’t love? What will it cost you? Are you willing to pay that price?
PRAY: Ask God today whom he would like to begin loving through you.