Is Jesus Welcome at Your House?

One of my favorite things about Jesus is that He leaves nothing to chance.  He is always prepared. Nothing surprises him. He has it all under control. That’s because he is God just as he claimed to be when he walked on this earth. One instance of this very thing was the preparation for his last Passover meal with his disciples.

According to both Matthew and Mark’s gospels, Jesus’ disciples asked him where he wanted them to prepare for him to eat the Passover meal. Luke reveals the identity of these disciples, Jesus’ closest companions, Peter and John. We know that Jesus didn’t own or rent a house because earlier He had said, “the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20 NASB). These two disciples had been with Jesus three years and had most probably celebrated two other Passover meals with him before. Neither one of them were from Jerusalem, so they would have had to find a place for this annual remembrance feast if Jesus had not prepared the hearts and minds of two additional men.

Interestingly, all three gospel writers tell of a man that the disciples were to meet in the city (Jerusalem). Matthew wrote that the disciples were to go to a “certain man” who would lead them to the place. Who was this certain man? We get a little more detail from Mark and Luke. They both wrote that the disciples were to go into the city and a man will meet them carrying a pitcher of water and they were to follow him. He would lead them to the owner of the house where the disciples would explain why they were there. The unidentified owner himself would show them the room which was furnished and ready. Both of these men were never recognized by name in the scriptures. Let this encourage you as you serve behind the scenes and you think that no one even knows your name. Jesus knows you and what you are doing for Him. This is all that really matters!

Something else that stood out to me is the distinctive wording each author used when relaying Jesus’ comments to the owner of the house. Matthew dictated Jesus’ words as the following statement, “The Teacher says, “My time is near, I am to keep the Passover with my disciples at your house’” (Matthew 26:18)Did the owner of this house know who the disciples referred to as the Teacher? Did this man know what Jesus meant by “my time is near?” Had Jesus given him prior notice that he would be using his upper room for this specific Passover meal?

Mark records Jesus’ instruction as a question. He wrote that the disciples were to tell the home owner, “The Teacher says, ‘Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’’’(Mark 14:14). To me, this implies that Jesus may have been a visitor in that man’s house prior to this particular day. Tradition holds that Mark’s mother’s house which was often a meeting place of the early church (Acts 12:12) was this very house Jesus used for the Passover.

Luke, like Mark, also penned Jesus’ words in a question, but he added two little words that may at first seem insignificant.  “The Teacher says to you, ‘Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples’”(Luke 22:11)? Again, these added words have the implication of familiarity. Was this man a close friend of Jesus? We will never know on this side of eternity.

Meditating on these three narratives made me realize that this was more than just a historical account of where and how Jesus would partake of what we refer to as his “Last Supper.” I began asking myself questions that not only unnerve me but challenge me. Questions such as these:

Would Jesus want to use any part of my house for any type of celebration?

Are there rooms in my house that would not be “ready” for Jesus to go in? (I am not referring to the unkempt clothes on the floor or the dishes from this morning’s breakfast in the sink or even a nasty bathroom, heaven forbid!), but is my house a home filled with peace that only comes from the Spirit of God?

Do the people who live under my roof treat each other with love and respect?

Do I allow ungodly music, books, tv shows and movies to invade our sacred space?

If two men showed up at my house saying “the Teacher” wanted to use a room for a dinner party (including twelve men I’ve never met), would I and all in my house truthfully be able to say, “Sure, we would be delighted!” because we truly know the Teacher?

Would I be ok in remaining anonymous when word spread that Jesus had dined in a local house? Or would I immediately post pictures on social media so everyone would see how special and spiritual I am?

Would theses men specifically say, “The Teacher says to you, Cindy,” validating that he knows me? Some of the most alarming words of Jesus are, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never new you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:23). He said those words to people who thought they knew him because of what they did in his name, but they did not understand that what really mattered is what Jesus did for all of humanity. He doesn’t want religious people in heaven, He wants people who have a relationship with him and those whom He calls “Friend.”

Would Jesus call me “Friend?”

Hard questions, but oh so necessary! I hope that you will take the challenge along with me to examine them. Hopefully, our answer to the title’s question of Jesus being welcome in our house will be, “most definitely, Yes!”







Praying for Our Children

As a mother, how do you pray for your children?  By asking this question, I am assuming that you do pray for your children. I do not have the privilege of praying for more than one birth child as so many mothers do, but that doesn’t stop me from praying for that one and only son that God entrusted to me and my husband.  My prayer time for our son is literally a spiritual battle between the voice of Satan who accuses me of all the things I did or didn’t do in raising my child and the words of God that I claim from the scriptures and His still small voice in my Spirit.

The Lord reminded me of the legacy my son has with at least three godly great-grandmothers and two godly grandmothers. I too want to leave that same kind of legacy. As I was reading the beginning of Paul’s second letter to the young pastor Timothy, the fifth verse stuck a familiar chord. It says,

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”

Why would Paul include this in his letter?  And why would God make sure it was included in His inspired word?  I believe Paul said these words to encourage Timothy who was no doubt leading the church in Ephesus during very difficult times for believers.  We can only guess as to why God would include this little family history in His Word that would survive generations. This is what I love about God’s word, every bit of it is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). So thousands of years after Paul encouraged Timothy, these “God-breathed” words are still encouraging me.

Who was it that led Timothy to the Lord?  Was it his father? (Acts 16:1) No, it was his own mother and grandmother who demonstrated Jesus’ love to him daily, taught him the scriptures, and lived out their sincere faith.  I believe God placed these words in his divine love letter for all the believing mothers who pray daily for their children to grow up loving and serving the Lord Jesus Christ with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength.  Many mothers today long to hear someone say about their child(ren) that they are “reminded of their sincere faith.” I am one of those mothers! Although my son, knows the truth and has accepted Jesus as his Savior, I still pray daily for him to take his next step and let Jesus be the Lord of his life, demonstrating his own “sincere faith.”

So here’s a question for all believing and praying mothers out there. How would you fill in the blank?

My child has _____________faith.

Would you truly be able to say “sincere faith?”

Or would it be more like:

“insurance” faith

“get me out of jail” faith

“I’ll come to you only when I need you” faith

“Sunday morning only” faith

“I’ve got this for now” faith

“Christmas and Easter” faith

“no faith”

The list could go on and on for whatever situation our children are in at the moment and I am not putting it out there to discourage you, only to give you ammunition for the battle when you pray. DO NOT let Satan convince you that this is the only type of faith your child(ren) will ever have if it’s not truly sincere faith.

Could someone describe your child with sincere faith like his/her mother? Your faith may be the very catalyst that God will use to draw your child(ren) to Him. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,’ and it will move” (Matthew 17:20). He also told the father of the demon possessed boy that “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23). Even when the Satanic darts of doubt is aimed at your heart, cry out to Jesus like this father did, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Then claim the words God gave to Paul when writing to the Philippian believers, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in (your child’s name) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Nothing is too hard for God!!


New Year, New You?

As the New Year began many made resolutions dealing with all sorts of things such as weight, health, finances, relationships, etc.  According to the experts (whoever they are) today, January 14, is the day that most people will give up on those promises they made to themselves to change.  Maybe our resolutions don’t make it past the two-week mark because we are going about it all the wrong way. Maybe instead of resolving to do something we can never do on our own, we ask the only One who can make change happen to help us. But first, maybe, just maybe we should consult Him on what type of changes He wants us to make. I’m not referring to your spouse, your boss, your significant other or any person other than the One True God, the Lord, Jesus Christ.


God’s story recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible is about his choosing a people to make Him known to the rest of humanity and how they kept messing up because they tried to do things their own way instead of God’s.  God would allow the consequences; the people would cry out to Him for help; He would deliver them and they would listen to him for awhile.  But it wouldn’t take long for the crazy cycle to begin again. Finally, after many years of this cycle, God allowed the ultimate consequence- the fall of the nation of Israel, his chosen people and the captivity of these people by other nations.  (God in his mercy had warned them this would happen. Leviticus 26:33, Deuteronomy 28).

Many read this and think who could serve a God like that, but God is compassionate and merciful. He would not forsake them forever. After seventy years they would be allowed to return home to Israel and rebuild. They began to rebuild the temple but stopped after opposition from neighboring provinces. So they proceeded to build their own houses and sow their own fields.  But they made one huge mistake! They didn’t complete the rebuilding of the Temple for many years. The Temple was God’s dwelling place at that time and He was not pleased. They had totally forgotten again all that He had done for them and went about living their lives in their own way, so God caused a drought on not only the land but EVERYTHING including all their labor (Haggai 1:11).

As I read the passage in the first chapter of Haggai (a book of the Old Testament that we many of us rarely read), one question that God asked the people stood out to me.  He asked, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” I felt the sense that God is asking the same today. “Is it time for you to live in your spacious, modern houses full of stuff and mortgage debt while my house lies desolate?”

You may wonder, what house is desolate?  There are churches everywhere (especially in the South!) and the parking lots are full of cars every Sunday.  But I’m not speaking of a physical building as God’s dwelling place, but of his people today who are His temple.  True children of God believe that He loves them so much that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus to take their place on the cross, taking the punishment of death that they deserve and that Jesus rose from the dead and returned to Heaven with his Father. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of those who believe. Believers are now the temple of God.

So, the question for all who believe is this, “Is God’s dwelling place (you) lying desolate?”

The word desolate in the Hebrew language is “chareb” which means waste, dry, parched, ruined.  Do any of these adjectives describe your life? Do you feel desolate, parched, dry, even ruined?

Here’s where the New Year’s resolution idea comes back into play.  God told the Israelites to consider their ways.  All they had been doing was for nothing.  Until God’s temple was restored, they would be wasting their time and energy on things that would be destroyed.  The same could be said for us today.  We must consider our ways.  We must restore God’s dwelling place.

God is our Creator, Provider, Savior and Lord. He deserves to live in a beautiful palace.  His dwelling place is more than just our outside physical body.  It’s also what’s inside of you.  Ask yourself if God would want to reside in a house that is dry and parched; one that is filled with anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, sexual immortality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, and lying (Colossians 3: 5-9). I think not!

So, is it too late to change?


First consider your ways and ask God to forgive you where you’ve messed up (He’s good at doing this). Then ask Him to show you what areas you need to change this year. But remember we can’t do any changing on our own, we must have his power working in us. Wake up every day asking God for his help and trust that he loves you and will give you exactly what you need. Then we can truthfully say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).










The Love Accountant

Do you like to make lists? Grocery lists, medical lists, job related lists, list of family’s needs, movies to see lists, songs to purchase lists, and the list goes on and on.  With today’s technology it’s as simple as typing or speaking a few words on our cell phones or voice controlled personal assistant devices such as Alexa. For those of us who are trying to keep up with our ever changing hi-tech society, the days of actually writing out schedules, agendas, or any other arrangement of words are quickly being filed away in manila envelopes designed for flimsy metal cabinets. I guess I’m old school when it comes to making lists because I still write with pen on paper some items I need to pick up at my local Walmart and even business I need to get done for the day.  No matter how it’s done, keeping records is essential in so many areas of life, such as prescription drugs that a person takes, but there is one list that is not necessary.

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians dealing with love, he simply states, “it (love) keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). This means that the love like that of Jesus does not pen on paper, dictate on devices or even memorize in our minds any wrong done to us or anyone else by another person. There’s just no need to recall the evil done. The New American Standard Bible says it like this, “Love…. does not take into account a wrong suffered.” If we call to mind the wrongs that caused us or anyone else to suffer, we in our flesh have the tendency to want to take revenge.  But Paul warns us, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, “It is mine to avenge, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 NIV).

It’s our human nature to want to share all the wrongs done to us and in order to do this, we would have to make a mental or even tangible note of them.  We live in a society where everyone is a victim and all the wrongs done are published on social media and television news. I’m not saying that those who do wrong should not be punished, but when we record them, they are there for us to dredge up time and time again. This is not what love does. According to the wise King Solomon, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12 NIV). And Peter reminds us “to love deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV).

Ok, so this means I can’t keep a list (even if it’s in my head) of all the times my husband knowingly or unknowingly says or does something that upsets me. (And the same goes for him!) This is taking away all the ammunition for an explosive argument, the type when one spouse points out a wrong done by the other and the response is “well, you did so and so five years ago!” This type of “discussion” can become a never ending cycle like a hamster on an exercise wheel that gets it nowhere!

We must also love our children, siblings, parents, friends, neighbors, co-workers and everyone in which we have any type of relationship the same way.  We just simply cannot bring up past wrongs. We need to be love accountants with a new strategy of recording only the good deposits- “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).  In God’s economy, He will take care of the liabilities.  The return on this investment of love will be immeasurable!










Slow to Anger

A little over a year ago, I began periodically posting about the abundant life we can have when we exercise love Jesus’ way. Numerous people have tried to define and express what love really is, but there is no better explanation than the one that the apostle Paul “posted” in his first “blog” (letter) to the church in Corinth nearly 2000 years ago.  This is because his words were inspired by God himself.  Unlike Paul, I have not heard the voice of Jesus audibly, but the Spirit of God teaches me things every time I open his word. This is not just for those who attempt to write blogs or books, but for every person who believes that Jesus is their Savior and Lord.  I hope my words will bless you as I continue to share what the Holy Spirit is teaching me about love.

This post deals with love in contrast to quick anger or provocation. Below are just some of the various translations and versions of 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Love is NOT easily angered-NIV       Love is NOT provoked- overly sensitive-AMP

Love is NOT irritable – NLT               Love is NOT easily provoked – King James

Love is NOT provoked- NASB           Love does NOT fly off the handle- The Message

Although there is a place for righteous anger over things that displease God, common sense tells us that love and illegitimate anger cannot be bosom buddies. The God-given wisdom of King Solomon supports this by directing us not to make friends with a hot-tempered person or associate with one easily angered, or we may learn their ways and get ourselves ensnared (Proverbs 22:24-25). Being easily angered or provoked means that we let things or people set us off which can spur us to react in ungodly ways or as the Message puts it “fly off the handle.” This is exactly what Satan the master of entrapment wants to happen.

Just a few months ago I walked right into Satan’s trap of becoming easily angered.  I hate to admit that because being a fifty-something year old woman, I thought I had mastered the art of not letting people or situations provoke me.  This just proves that God’s word is true when He said through Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.”

It all started with a trip to the dreaded Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Like most people, you probably would not put the word “love” in the same phrase or sentence with the DMV. God has a unique way of revealing areas of our life where we really don’t have it altogether as much as we like to think. My particular revelation came immediately following several visits to two different DMV offices within a few weeks of each other.

News Flash!  I haven’t mastered the art of not letting people or circumstances provoke me!

I asked God to forgive me for not loving His way and sat down at my laptop to pen the details of my DMV experience, all the while thinking God was finished with me in this matter. Once completed, I saved the document with all intentions of editing and posting it later. But there was something nagging at me that I couldn’t put my finger on, so I left it alone for a later date when I had more time to devote to writing.

It didn’t take long for my “Holy Spirit finger” to point out what was nagging me.

You see, my DMV story was how I became easily provoked by a stranger, but God wanted me to realize that I had a more serious problem with getting irritable with those close to me and that my reactions are observed by others.

Case in point, my healthy eighty-six-year old mother who has one extremely frustrating problem. She can’t hear very well!  She does wear hearing aids, but most of the time she either hasn’t got them turned up or she forgets to do what the doctor tells her to do with them. Have you every tried to talk to someone on the phone who can’t hear what you are saying? It’s exhausting to say the least. Even with the Caption Calling phone that writes out what the caller is saying on a screen, she still has difficulty.

Not long after God reminded me of my “anger issue” I called her to tell her the documents that I needed to file her taxes. Somehow she didn’t understand. I know it must be distressing for her as well, but in her desire to know what we are saying, she doesn’t wait to let the caller finish their sentence and talks over them. I lost my patience with her and asked her in a very dishonoring tone to please just listen. Immediately after I ended the call, my husband sitting across the room pointed out to me how ugly I had been.  Oh, why did I let such a little incident provoke me to anger?! I called a couple of days after the initial phone call to apologize (yes, I know. I should have done it that day!) She said she didn’t even notice.

You may be wondering, “What’s the big deal if we get angry at someone or a particular situation if we aren’t hurting anybody?” After all my mother didn’t even notice how ungodly and dishonorable I was treating her. (Side note- “Honor your father and mother-which is the first commandment with a promise- so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth.”Ephesians 6:2-3.)

But God noticed.

And what about others? When the unbelieving world looks at me, what do they see? Would anyone be attracted to Christ by watching me lose my temper? When a new believer sees me acting un-Christ like, how does this affect their walk with Christ?

According to James 1:20, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (NASB).”As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, when God looks at me, he sees me as righteous because Jesus shed his blood for me on the cross, taking away my sins. But this does not give me permission to act out in anger whenever I feel slighted. If I am allowing my anger to rule, when the world looks at me, they don’t see the righteousness of God. My witness is tarnished, possibly destroyed.

According to Romans 8:29, God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son (Jesus). That means we are to grow more and more like Jesus who taught us that he and the Father are one. God, the Father proclaimed many times in His word that He is slow to anger.  And I am so grateful that He is! (Here are just a few verses that remind us of this: Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:15, Joel 2:13).

So, the question is, “Are we slow to anger and becoming more like God the Father and Jesus the Son in regards to how we react to people and circumstances?

If we are still letting people and circumstances get under our skin, then the answer is a resounding NO. As God’s children, we should be compelled to confess our sin and ask God for the strength not to react in a way that does the gospel of Jesus harm especially to those who truly need Him. I can attest that reacting negatively to people who grate on your nerves affects not only your spiritual health but your physical health as well.  (Satan obviously doesn’t want me to write about this subject because he keeps putting sandpaper people in my path! So, I must follow my own advice- Oh Lord, forgive my ungodly reactions to people who grate on my nerves and give me strength to be Jesus to these people.)

If we are slow to anger, then YES, we are exercising love God’s way that will only lead to experiencing the abundant life that He died to give us. This is where I want to be!

How about you?























Feeling Empty

“Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, and He saw two boats lying on the edge of the lake; but the fisherman had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.  And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land.  And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.” Luke 5:1-3

 I was listening to one of my favorite Bible teachers Priscilla Shirer when she said something profound that struck a chord with me.  As a mother of only one child who has flown the coop and a woman who wants to serve Jesus with all my heart, I have felt useless for the kingdom of Christ these last few months-no, not months, but years. Every time I have tried to use my platform to serve Christ, whether it be at church or work, I have come up with “empty nets” just like Simon-Peter in the verses above. Feeling his efforts were useless, he got out of the boat after fishing all night and catching nothing.  Leaving the boat and washing his nets, signified he was done with this particular fishing trip.


Just as Simon got out of the boat, Jesus stepped in.

Simon Peter’s boat was just the perfect place for Jesus to sit and preach to the crowds that were pressing in to hear him. Priscilla noted that this may very well be the reason Jesus did not allow Simon to catch any fish, because if he had, then there would have been no room for Jesus in Simon’s boat.

Sometimes in his sovereignty, Jesus allows the “boat deck” of our life- the platform of our life to be empty of what we want to fill it with because Jesus needs a place to do his work! When we fill it with our stuff, there’s no room for His stuff.

Priscilla then went on to say that like Paul, this should excite us, because when we are weak, then Jesus’ power rests on us and we become strong in Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Have you ever worked hard in serving the Lord, thinking like me that you were using your gifts for his glory, only to realize your efforts appeared useless?

Don’t show up to the pity party that Satan has planned for you.  Rest in knowing that Jesus is working in you and through you, weaknesses and all.  Sometimes we have to step aside with all our own efforts and let Jesus do what only He can do.







Josie, Jesus and Me

Every morning when the weather is nice I sit on my back porch with hot coffee, devotions, God’s word and my prayer journal. For the last four months I’ve added another element to my early morning routine, our five month old Boykin puppy Josie. Most of the time, she is quietly lying at my feet, but this morning I had to coax her to come out of the kitchen and join me. My mother is visiting and Josie decided Mom needed company at the breakfast table.

Standing at the threshold of the porch door, begging in my sweetest voice for Josie to come out, I was suddenly reminded me that Jesus does this with me.  He too uses his sweetest voice- gentle and not demanding- asking me to join him before I start my day.

Josie finally surrenders and hesitantly ambles out onto the porch. (Isn’t that how we sometimes respond to Jesus? “OK Jesus, I’ll come but I really want to stay in bed,” or “I really have so much to do today.”)  As she draws closer, Josie nudges my feet and I bend down telling her how much I love her, how pretty she is and that she is a good girl. As I stroke her glossy coat of curls, I realize Jesus longs to tell me these same words every day.

He declares His love for me, not because I am smart, good, pretty or anything else, but because I am his child and He cannot help but love. That’s who He is.  “This is real love- not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. “1 John 4:10

He reminds me that He thinks I’m pretty because I am his. “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord.” Psalm 45:11

He reveals to me that I am a good girl even though I still mess up. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

 Along with all that affirmation, He lovingly points out areas I need to work on.  If I respond with confession and ask for forgiveness, He willingly forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

 Wow! Why would I ever want to miss out on all of this?!

Josie calms down for a short while, then she’s back up misbehaving- jumping on porch furniture, knocking over water and food bowls, and chewing the potted plants.  Again and again, I have to scold her with a loud “NO!” or “STOP!”  I’m no different than my mischievous, disobedient puppy.  Many times as soon as I have been forgiven for a sin, I am up misbehaving again and Jesus’ Spirit convicts me, sometimes with a “NO” or a STOP!”  Like Josie, sometimes I obey and sadly, sometimes I ignore my master’s voice.

Oh, why can’t I just do everything the way God wants me to? Who will free me from this life in which no matter how hard I try, I’ll never get it perfectly right? Then I hear God’s voice reminding me that there was only one person that lived a perfect life and he’s the same person that has already set me free from this puppy-like journey.

His son, Jesus Christ.

Thank you Jesus for the realization that Josie will eventually become a mature, obedient dog and one day I will live in a perfect place with you.

I Was Always on My Mind-Part 2

My last post about love that is not self-seeking touched on the problem we all face in putting others before ourselves.  Not only are we called to love selflessly in the family, but with others in our sphere as well. For the past several months Isaiah 58:6-12 has been a passage of scripture that the Lord keeps bringing to my mind with regards to helping others. These verses are the Lord speaking through the prophet Isaiah explaining the type of fasting that He has chosen for his people.  You may be thinking, “What does fasting have to do with love that is not self-seeking?” I’m glad you asked.  Take a minute and read the passage below.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:  to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?  Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be you rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.  If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen our frame.” Isaiah 58:6-12 (NIV)

Did you notice the things that define a fast are putting others’ needs above our own? This is love that is not self-seeking.  Read the passage again and notice that there is a pattern of what to do, then what will happen for us.  The small word “then” leads to the added bonus of God’s grace to us when we love others His way.

First, we are to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke. During Isaiah’s time the rich and powerful of Israel exploited the poor to make themselves richer and more powerful. (Sound familiar?) Isaiah writes about their evil deeds in Chapter 59. To make things worse, they went off to their synagogues to worship God as if they had no sins in their lives. They were hypocritical worshipers. So, what exactly does this mean on a practical level in our day?

When I think of injustice today I think of the innocent being convicted and the guilty set free. I think of the rich getting richer off the backs of the poor. I think of those in real bondage being used for ones’ sadistic pleasure and wealth, sold in the human trafficking world. I think of children being left alone to fend for themselves or in orphanages because their parents think of them as a nuisance to their lifestyle; in spite of the fact there are childless couples that desire to care for these young ones.  I think of the starving people in war and famine ravaged countries dying while those of us in prosperous nations waste food on a daily basis.

Just typing these words trouble my soul. I feel helpless most of the time, but then I am reminded that God is in control and He has a plan in place.  This plan was foretold by Isaiah the prophet and then fulfilled in God’s very own son, Jesus Christ.  At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus read these words in the synagogue of Nazareth his hometown.

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 and Isaiah 61:1-2-NIV)

If you are like me, you may be thinking, “Yeah, but that was Jesus! I’m just one person!” God knows that we can do nothing on our own. That is precisely why he sent his Holy Spirit to live inside of every believer.  Jesus even told his disciples that if he didn’t go away the “Helper” would not come to them, and with this Helper comes the very same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead! (John 16:7-NASB, Ephesians 1:19-20 -NIV)

God doesn’t even expect one believing person to do it all, so why do we use this as an excuse? He knows what we are made of. After all He is our Creator. He gives every person a gift that will further His plan and kingdom.  According to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:4-7(NIV),

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

 Did you notice the last two words?  The “common good.” God has placed his Spirit in us who will help us use the gifts He gives us to help the common good. So, no more excuses!  Ask the Lord to show you where He wants you to use your gifts.  If you have no idea what your gift is, ask him to reveal it to you, then use it.

The words of Isaiah are a good place to start.

 Share your food with the hungry.

There are numerous places to donate money, food and time to feed the hungry.  Google soup kitchens in your area and sign up to volunteer. On a personal level, do your best not to waste food.

Provide the poor wanderer with shelter.

Donate time and/or money for a safe, warm place for the homeless. The “Good Samaritan” gave of his own money to make sure the victim of robbery had a safe place to stay (Luke 10:30-35).

Clothe the naked.

This one is so easy!  Drop off clothes to a ministry that helps the needy or even buy clothes for someone in your sphere who has a need. For every new piece of clothing that your purchase for yourself, give one away to someone who needs it.

Do not turn away from your own flesh and blood.

At first glance, this seems like a no brainer, but we all have a family member who has needs.  Sometimes, this is the hardest one to act on, especially if by helping them we might actually be enabling a family member to continue in their sinful ways. Therefore, we must seek God’s specific will on this matter. When Paul warns us in    1 Timothy 5:8 that a person that does not provide for our own household has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever, he had been teaching on providing for widows and the elderly in our families. So, honor your parents!

God is so good!  He doesn’t just give us these commands and leave it at that. He gives awesome benefits when we follow his ways! Well, get ready for a shower of blessings!  The Message Bible puts it in a language we can all understand.

“Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way.  The God of glory will secure your passage Then when you pray God will answer.  You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’ If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.  I will always show you where to go.  I’ll give you a full life in the empties of places- firm muscles, strong bones.  You’ll be like a well watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry.  You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past.  You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.” (Isaiah 58:8-12)

WOW!  Who doesn’t want all that?! Did you notice that God is ready to give us the full life, the abundant life as a consequence of helping others rather than ourselves? So, join me in changing my life song to “They Are Always on my Mind!”














The House

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary and bowed down and worshipped him.” Matthew 2:11a

 Magi or wise men from the east had been following the star to find the baby who was the king of the Jews. How they knew all of this is a mystery. But according to Matthew’s writing, there is a hint of another mystery. After traveling for miles, this band of Oriental astrologers found the young mother Mary with her son Jesus in a house, not a stable or a barn. What?! A House?!  That’s not how it’s depicted in our Christmas manger scenes!

So, here lies the mystery. In whose house were they staying?

Was it the house of the innkeeper who had no room for them on that blessed night when they arrived in Bethlehem? Did he finally realize there was something special about this baby after the shepherds showed up to worship? Did he look up into the night sky and see the star leading him to worship Jesus as well and after doing so did whatever he had to do make room for them?

Was it the house of another family that God prompted to open their home to this young couple and their new baby? Possibly another young couple with a baby of their own who had all the things a young mother would need?

Was it the house of a long lost relative of a Joseph’s? After all Bethlehem was his family’s town of origin. Was he or she compelled to help a family member after they heard from the shepherds?

Or was it the house of a barren couple who longed for a child of their own? Or a widow with no grandchildren?

The possibilities are endless and we have no clue in the Bible as to who opened their home to this blessed family.

“Ok, it’s a mystery, so what’s that got to do with me?” you ask. Imagine you live in Bethlehem on that night just over 2000 years ago.  What would you do if after you heard about Jesus from the shepherds and realized they were staying in a barn of all places? Would you say, “What a shame” and do nothing? Or would you open your home to strangers from Nazareth, the town you had always heard was not so desirable? Could this possibly be the reason that Matthew did not include the names and details of the homeowners, so that we would put ourselves in that mystery position?

We may never know who God directed to open their home for his Son and his earthly parents, but one thing is clear, God is still in the real estate business. He’s searching for places in which his Son can dwell until he returns to take his children to the ultimate property in heaven. Meanwhile, Jesus has many homes because he now resides in every person who believes he is the Savior of the world and Lord over all. That’s the  kind of “house” he desires to live in, but he’s not going to force his way in. He wants to be invited in.

Have you invited him in? Or is there no room for him in your life? You can be sure the ones who opened their homes to Jesus as he walked on this earth were blessed beyond measure. And it’s the same today as it was all those many years ago. Open your home, your life to Jesus, the Savior and Lord of all and you too will be blessed.


True Gifts

It’s Christmas morning and the mounds of presents sit under the tree waiting for the family to open them.  Finally, the dawn breaks and the first signs of life appear as the family members awaken from the night’s rest and leave their cozy beds.

The much anticipated time to rip off the wrappings of the presents purchased for each person has arrived. But the family members head towards the kitchen for that first cup of coffee and some breakfast. Once the caffeine has kicked in, they slowly make their way to the room with the beautifully decorated tree. Then the strangest thing happens. Instead of passing out the gifts to loved ones, they turn on the ever glaring television and then check their phones for messages, tweets and posts.  They might grunt a word or two to a family member, but it’s not one that speaks of the joy of the day.  All the while the presents sit and wait to be noticed.

They wait and wait and wait.

If these gifts could talk, they would say something like-

“Are these people crazy?”

“Why aren’t they opening us?”

“What’s on that phone or tv that could possibly be better than us?”

“If only they knew what we have in here for them!”

But these family members are confused, distracted and numb. Much like those who call themselves Christians because they believe Jesus died for them just to give them a ticket into heaven one day and foolishly think this is all there is to life as a believer.  But Jesus didn’t die so that we could grab our “get out of hell ticket” and then spit in his face the rest of our lives on this earth.  But that’s precisely what we do when we tell Jesus, “I’ve got this” and we don’t open the other awesome gifts he has for us.

Gifts like His word and time with him pouring out our hearts desires and how we need him. Gifts of forgiveness when we mess up for the millionth time. Gifts of joy and peace no matter our circumstances. Gifts that satisfy like no earthly treasure can.

Gifts under the tree are special, but God’s gifts are far more superior and better than anything we could ever ask for or imagine.

Put down the phone, turn off the tv and open the awesome gifts from the one who truly knows what you need.