SOMETHING TO REJOICE IN

A new commandment I give you, that you love one another just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for another. [John 13:34-35]


I marvel at the thought that sometimes loving someone by the word of God actually has nothing to do with that person, but has more to do with you and God. “By this all people will know that you are MY disciples, if you have love for one another.” It always seems to come back to showing and giving glory to Christ through living in the way of which he commands. In return, we receive the gift of rich, full, and long-lasting relationships


I can never be reminded to love too often. It so easily slips from my grasp. I can recall the times I have loved someone, when I didn’t think it was possible for me to do so, when the offense was just too great. It wasn’t out of my own power, but through the grace and power of Jesus Christ alone. Likewise, it pains me to think of the times I have deeply hurt others; I can be utterly crippled by it if I dwell on it for too long. There have been situations when I hurt others intentionally, and others I wound unknowingly.  Sometimes it caused loss, but other times I received love despite my self-centeredness.


However, no matter what we do, EVERY TIME we display a lack of love to our-self or others, we still receive love from our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Now that is something to rejoice in!


--Missy

THE LARDER OF MY HEART

I have stored up Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. [Psalm 119:11]

 

One of the great ongoing adventures of my life is raising a big family (six kids qualifies as big, right?). It’s been a surprise in-part because I grew up in a smaller family, and a larger family was never on my list of aspirations. Because of this, I never really thought through one small but (as I have discovered) very important aspect of household management: storage. Seriously (don’t laugh). Toys games, clothes for all sizes of girls and boys, school books and supplies, food. For the latter, I built heavy-duty, customized shelving in a basement closet; we now call it our “larder.” Why? So that we can store food to sustain our brood of voracious eaters. It’s arguably the most important room in the house!

 

When I read today’s verse, I can’t help but picture our larder. “Stored up.” For an important purpose. Like a burgeoning family needs a steady supply of food, so our individual souls need constant spiritual nourishment. God has given us hearts, which are basically customized larders, and His Word is like Costco: a bottomless source of food to sustain us! But just as food doesn’t spontaneously appear in my basement larder, neither will the truth of God’s Word materialize in my heart. I have to “stock-up,” through regular reading, prayer, memorization, listening to teachings, small group discussions, and so forth.

 

Do you want to experience the blessing of making righteous instead of sinful choices? It takes a reliance on God’s Word to carry this out. Start stocking the larder of your heart today!

 

--Greg

Grasp the Hidden

But they understood none of these things. [Jesus’] saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. [Luke 18:34]

 


Jesus often spoke in parables to confound those who were “ever seeing but never perceiving” [Matthew 13:13 NIV].  But in Luke 18, He told the disciples exactly what would happen to Him in Jerusalem: imprisonment, torture, death, and then resurrection. However, despite the plain and direct speech, complete understanding was not immediate. The disciples did not know how the story would play out, and so the meaning of Jesus’ words were “hidden.”

 

I confess that I so often want to know the entirety of what it is that God is teaching me in the moment. I want immediate understanding: “Such-and-such happened this morning; it’s now evening, so I should understand God’s full purpose for it.” But, if Christ’s simple and direct words were not grasped in the moment by His closest and ever-present companions, I ought to expect that my own understanding of the intended purpose of my life’s happenings will grow over time and not be instantaneous.

 

As I look back 20 years, I recall events that, in the immediate aftermath, left me questioning their purpose for my faith journey. But new layers of meaning have been revealed progressively by the Spirit since then: sometimes in momentary bursts of revelation, and sometimes as they gradually weave together with new events and knowledge into the rich tapestry of life. God has graciously given richer, broader, and fuller understanding through the passage of time and the unfolding of my story.

 

If this desire for immediacy resonates with you, take heart! If you do not understand fully the meaning of an event, be encouraged that—like the disciples—God will help you grasp the hidden meaning as you walk with Him into the future.

 

--Greg   

GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness. [Lamentations 3:21-23]

 

As a child, I was blessed to be part of a family that valued regular and frequent commitment to and participation in the local church. In my earliest days, we attended a Baptist church in the Salt Lake Valley, and while the style and flavor of that church was very different from our beloved Firehouse, the heart of love for the saints and worship of God was very intense, utterly genuine, and deeply imprinting on my life.

 

In that church each Sunday, a music director would lead a choir, musicians, and the congregation in a series of hymns. I can still hear his rich baritone instruct us, "Please open to hymn one-forty-five, as we sing verses one, two, and four..." (still not sure why good ole verse 3 got left out, but I digress...). One of those hymns was entitled "Great is Thy Faithfulness," and I am sure many of you are familiar with its chorus, lifted straight from the book of Lamentations:

 

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided--

"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord unto me!

 

These words from more than 3 decades ago are still echoing in my head and stored-up in my heart. But more amazing than my memory of them is this: those words have proven true! In well over 10,000 days since I first sang that Scripture song, each one I have awakened to see and experience God's mercies to me. Some days have had great joy and laughter, some have been filled with great sorrow, and some have been utterly forgettable to the human mind, but every single one has been an unmistakable demonstration of God's mercies to me: His forgiveness of my sin, His provision for my needs, His protection of my life.

 

As you go about each day this week, don't forget: God's mercies are upon you each day, fresh yet familiar. Do you see them?

 

--Greg