Together Again

togetherWhen I’m writing an article, I can get a little frustrated with my typos.  These little gaffes can be the source of large misunderstandings or they can be a bit humorous. A case in point is a verse from a song that was misprinted:  Let Us Break Bread On Our Knees.

If a group of people were going to come together to break bread to-gather, they would soon have a pile of crumbs. Togetherness is a theme of Scripture, and more often than not, we’re promised blessings instead of crumbs:

  • Paul urged people to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose (I Corinthians 1:10).
  • David said, it’s good and pleasant when God’s people live together in peace . . . the Lord gives His blessing of life forever (Psalm 133).
  • Paul worked hard to comfort and encourage people, so that they will be knit together—that many hearts would become one through His love. I do it so they will be rich in understanding and have full knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Jesus (Colossians 2:2).
  • David said God will bless the righteous and surround him as with a shield (Psalm 5:2).

Let me encourage you take a minute to reflect on God’s goodness for it is “He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations (Psalm 100).”

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. ~ Psalm 33:12

The Hand of Conviction and Comfort

handConviction and comfort:  These two words appear as the underlying theme of much of the Bible.  I’m never too fond of the first, and I can’t seem to get enough of the last.

I like the comfort of verses like Isaiah 41:13:  For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”  When I read this verse yesterday, it occurred to me that as long as God has my right hand, I won’t land in the wrong place.

This is why we are encouraged to, “Come, and worship Him and to bow down and kneel before the Lord who made us. For He is our God and we are His people, the flock of His pasture, His sheep protected and nurtured by His hand.”

Notice the benefits of being “nurtured by His hand:”

  • I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. ~ Psalm 16:8
  • You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. ~ Psalm 16:11
  • You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. ~ Psalm 18:35

When you think of these benefits, it’s easy to, “Clap your hands, and raise your voices joyfully and loudly. Give honor for the True God of the universe; Here’s why: The Eternal, the Most High, is awesome and deserves our great respect. He is the great King over everything in this world.” ~ Psalm 47:1-2

Just before I posted this, I was reminded of an old song called “Put Your Hand in the Hand of the Man.”  You can listen to it by clicking here.

The Power of Encouragement

words-of-encouragement-900I am a frequent reader of the Psalms.  They are a collection of Scripture that proclaim the faithfulness and goodness of God.

As I read Psalm 34 this morning, I thought of some Scripture in the New Testament that are companion verses:

  • Psalm 34:3: Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
  • Hebrews 10:24-25: Let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.

Did you notice the two words that are repeated in the two verses above?  They are “let us.”  These two words speak of the power of encouragement, and this to be the voice of a choir—not a solo performance.

In Ephesians 5, Paul said you should “Let God fill you with the Holy Spirit.  When you are filled with the Spirit, you are empowered to speak to each other in the soulful words of pious songs, hymns, and spiritual songs; to sing and make music with your hearts attuned to God; and to give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed for all He has done . . . The Spirit-filled life is not just for a special few; it is the normal Christian life, and it affects everything, including how we live in community and how we treat others at home (~The Voice).

When you reflect on the goodness of God, you can project a refrain of faithfulness by singing and making music in your heart.  I encourage you to call or text a friend and share a Scripture or song with them.  Do this and you will magnify God and exalt His name together.

Discreetly Discrete

character_stonesSometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with strange or random thoughts on my mind.  When this happened recently, I was thinking of two statements that Jesus made:

  • The first is an admonition to be discreet: Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
  • The second is a command to be discrete: Be in the world, but not of the world.

As I thought about these two statements, the words discreet and discrete came to my mind.  Even though these words are homophones, they are not synonyms.  Discreet implies wisdom in your behavior or speech.  Discrete means: distinct or separate.

What section of the Bible outlines a discreetly discrete Christian life?  I think it’s the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

What change can you make to help you become a discreetly discrete person?

Do You Grok?

Nope! None of the words in the title of this post are misspelled. G-r-o-k is the correct spelling of this word that means to “communicate sympathetically.”

When Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth, he addressed the issue of groking. The subject is of such importance he included “all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia (Greece) in the address line.

Notice Paul’s grokology: “Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort. For he gives us comfort in our trials so that we in turn may be able to give the same sort of strong sympathy to others in theirs. Indeed, experience shows that the more we share Christ’s suffering the more we are able to give of his encouragement. This means that if we experience trouble we can pass on to you comfort and spiritual help; for if we ourselves have been comforted we know how to encourage you to endure patiently the same sort of troubles that we have ourselves endured. We are quite confident that if you have to suffer troubles as we have done, then, like us, you will find the comfort and encouragement of God (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).”

Here are four principles from these verses:
• God is the true source of all mercy and comfort
• Whenever you are afflicted, you need His mercy and comfort
• Your experience of affliction, makes you suitable to encourage others in their affliction
• You do more than just share the experience, you share the comfort of Christ

To learn how to effectively grok, I encourage you to give some thought to these words of Paul: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).”

When The Lights Go Out

lightI spent a few hours late last night sitting beside my water garden. The cool night air, the hot cup of coffee, and the sound of the water cascading down the rock and into the pool beneath made for a relaxing evening. It reminded me of the many times I had paddled my canoe down a river, camped on a rock ledge and listened to the soothing sounds of the river as I drifted off to sleep.

As I sat there last night I noticed what often goes unnoticed—the lights across the street at Forest Park. They were shining brightly—doing their best to dispel the darkness of the night.

During the daylight hours, parents with their excited children rush by the lights without giving them a second thought. The patrons of the pool are so focused on their immediate pleasure, the lights are unnoticed.

How often do you think about the value of the light? You may give careful consideration to its convenience during a power outage. You may wish for a flashlight when you try to find your way through a house that’s so dark its ebony in color. But, how often do you neglect it.

At 12:05 Tuesday, the first 5 minutes of today, Forest Park went black. The lights went out. In the sudden darkness of the moment I noticed what I had taken for granted earlier, the comfort and the security of the light.

As I sat there, I was reminded of a verse from the book of Daniel: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

Does this verse remind you of your responsibility to share the light of God’s love, grace, and mercy? When will you let your light shine today? Where is it needed most?

Do you remember what Jesus said? “No one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a basket or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand so that those who come in may see its light.”