When reading the Old Testament many twists and turns take place. Some of the events in the bible would put soap operas like All My Children to shame. And, the characters would put JR Ewing to shame. Although, there was misbehaving, mischief and scheming in the Old Testament, it never failed that God used these schemes, people for his glory.
Rahab a very unlikely candidate to fulfill God’s purpose. She was a prostitute and lived a pagan life . Yet, she willingly hid the Israelite spies from the king of Jericho. Rahab lied to the king and his men that she did not know where the spies had gone. Thus, sending the king and men of Jericho on a wild goose chase to find the Israelites who had come to take the land of Jericho. Rahab tells the Israelite spies that she knows their history and what God has done and is doing for them. She went against the grain of her people by professing that God was the only true Yaweh to the Israelites. She made an agreement with the spies that her family and her life would be spared in return for what she had done for them. Thus, she and her family’s lives are spared and in the end God uses this unlikely lady of the evening for his glory by putting her in the genealogy of our Lord and Savior. God redeemed her and she became the mother of Boaz.
Boaz became Naomi’s kinsmen redeemer. This was done when Naomi’s daughter-n-law followed her back to Bethlehem. Ruth was Moabite. Again, a person who worshiped other gods besides the true Yaweh. However, when Naomi tried to convince Ruth to return back to her homeland and not travel with her, we are familiar with the words Ruth spoke to Naomi: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” ( Ruth 1:16) In that very monologue, Ruth denied the other gods her people worshiped and acknowledged the one true God, Yaweh. If you are familiar with the Book of Ruth any at all you know that she ends up with Boaz and they give birth to a son, Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse.
Then there was the time when God approached Samuel to bring forth his son to be anointed King. Samuel just knew his son, Eliah would be anointed because of his good looks. Yet, Eliah is not the one God wanted. After approaching God with his other sons, God asked if Samuel if he had another son. Samuel responded by saying that he had one who was out tending sheep. God told Samuel to bring David to him. Thus, we know the rest of the story….David was anointed king.
Remember the story of King David and Bethsheba? David saw Bethsheba from across the way and he was captured by her beauty. He wanted this woman for himself. David wanted Bethsheba so badly that he had her husband murdered. Not only did David have an affair with Bethsheba, and her husband murdered so that he could be with her all the time, we know that David slid on that slippery slope more than once in his life. Yet, he as a man after God’s own heart. In other words, God knew David’s heart and used all the twists and turns of his life. Not only did God use David’s twists and turns but out of Bathsheba’s and David’s relationship, a son named Solomon was born. From Solomon we get the best advice and wisdom we could ever ask for known as the book of Proverbs.
Can you see what is happening? All of these unlikely people are building the most beautiful genealogy. They are in the genealogy of prophesy being fulfilled in God’s time. The prophesy of God coming to us in human flesh,to be our redeemer kinsmen, to walk among us and to teach us of his marvelous grace. We better know this prophesy and walking human example of grace as Jesus Christ.
Oh, I could go on of unlikely characters in the bible who God uses including more women and men not only in the Old Testament but in the New Testament as well. For example, who did Christ call to follow Him? He called dirty old fishermen and tax collectors. And, there is Paul. For the longest time he persecuted the Christians but in turn he became persecuted because he became a follower of Christ.
In our society today, we have a tendency of sizing people up. We are quick to judge someone of their appearance, where they live, what they drive, what they may have done or not done, and who they know. We may even look in the mirror and size ourselves up at times and question who we really are and ask ourselves what do we truly have to offer. Yet, we fail to see the hearts of others. We fail to see ourselves as God sees us. Some of the best witnesses for Christ I have encountered in my life have been people in a homeless shelter. They have been people living on the street that gave me that word of encouragement I needed to hear at that moment. It has been people who have very little to offer willing to open the door for me or simply give a smile that warmed my heart.
Jim and I love the following commercial. The first time we saw it we were rolling in the floor laughing.
Isn’t this commercial so much of how we size people up? We see someone who is different from us, who may be dirty, have an addiction, a shady/shaky past, or not the best outward appearance and draw a conclusion before we even give them a chance? If we are going to walk in the footsteps of Christ, we must see each individual as God sees them. We must seek their heart.
Along with seeing others’ hearts as God sees them, remember the next time you look in the mirror and you find yourself sizing yourself up. When you start asking what is your purpose in life, know that God can use ALL of you, no matter your past, for his glory. Each one of us who walk this earth is a child of God. God sees our hearts and says, you are “all my children.”
Several years ago I worked in a Christian Bookstore. When customers would come in and purchase bibles for themselves or for other people, it was customary to ask if they would like to have the bible imprinted. Imprinting meant using material to press down on the leather that would place the name on the bible for a lifetime.
In life we are constantly imprinting whether we realize it or not. How? We imprint by the words we speak, how we react in certain situations and how we carry ourselves on a daily basis. Through our imprinting, we show our true appearance. This appearance is what God sees ALL the time, our heart.
In the video above, a four-letter word flies out of the little boy’s mouth and the dad realizes he has made an impression on his son. The father’s eyes are opened to how much his son is watching his actions and listening to his words. The little boy expresses how much he wants to be like his daddy.
When we accept Christ into our lives, we are allowing God to imprint our hearts and lives. It is in this imprinting that we would desire to be just like our “daddy” God. We should want to walk in the steps of His Son, Christ and extend the grace that has been extended to us to those placed in our path’s.
As we journey through the days ahead, may we realize that people are watching us, our actions and listening to our words. We may never know who’s life we will be imprinting.
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in the world, in conduct, in love in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Lord, You are the beginning, the end, and the very essence of love in me. Open my eyes to see as You see and love others through me.” Sandy Smith
If you have watched the movie, Sister Act 2 you are familiar with this scene and song. Though the nuns are called by God to love and ministers to others, they have seemed to have built a wall between them and the community. They have put fencing around their living quarters and school for protection. Then, Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Deloris aka Sister Mary Clarence brings them to reality. In order to make a difference beyond their walls, they needed to get back into the community, be seen and put their calling and God’s love into action.
How many of us who proclaim to be Christian stand inside our homes, churches, or offices and see a world hurting? Yet, we do nothing. Instead, we build fences, walls and withdraw in order to protect ourselves from the ugly that is outside our door. We pass judgement on people, their lifestyle and situations. In other words, we keep the word, Christian as a noun and not an action verb.
God sent his Son, Jesus to be an example of putting love into action, of accepting others no matter their lifestyle, situation or demons. He didn’t pass judgement on anyone. Jesus simply loved. He came to take barriers down.
These days it seems that people are feeling more that we are in the end times and some have even predicted when Jesus will physically return. But we are reminded in scripture that we do not know the day nor the hour of His return. Yet, we must remember we DO encounter Jesus every day. He reminds us of this in Matthew 25:37:40
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry and you, or thirsty and give you
something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes to clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you? ‘ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you , whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
In other words, Jesus was telling us to put our love for Him into action. In a hurting world, isn’t it about time we began to take down fences just as the nuns did in this movie? Isn’t it about time we put the word Christian in action making it a verb? Is your love for Christ a noun or verb?
The other day I was going through some old files and I came across this prayer I received on email many years ago. I do not know the author but it says it all when it comes to putting our Christian faith into action.
Help us to remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic
last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day
and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework,
do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.
Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed disinterested young man
who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old student,
balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting
his student loan for next semester.
Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot
every day (who really ought to get a job) is a slave to addictions that we can only
imagine in our worst nightmares.
Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoying slowly through
the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring
this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week,
this will be the last year that they go shopping together.
Remind us each day that all the gifts you give us, the greatest is love. It
is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to
just those who are close to us, but to ALL humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to
forgive, show patience, empathy and love.
Working for God on earth doesn’t pay much…but His retirement plan is out of this world!!
How about it? As Christians, may those we encounter each day see that Christian is a word in action!
- the resurrection in verbs (theblogofkevin.wordpress.com)
- Sunday’s Message: “Christian This, Christian That …” (newportchristian.wordpress.com)
- Love is more of a Verb than a Noun (samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com)
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come follow me”, Jesus said; “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.
A couple of weeks ago Jim and I went to his home church to worship with his family. As the service began, the minister did his greeting and in his greeting he shared this thought: “When we invite someone to church, we are asking them to be part of God’s family and to join us on the journey to heaven.” I loved this statement and it made my heart smile.
Have you ever taken a trip with a group of friends? If you have, you probably experienced lots of laughter, fellowship, maybe a sing-a-long or two, and even some tears along the way. Yet, no matter the conditions, the ups and the downs, in the end, you would not trade that memory for anything in the world. You were glad you made the trip and may have even gotten to know someone a little better as you traveled together. Not only did you get to know someone a little better but if your heart was opened, you probably learned a little more about yourself. You learned things of where you may need to ease up on or things you need to focus on more.
The spiritual journey is very much the same as taking a trip with a group of friends. In this journey, you fellowship with others, you laugh together, cry together, and even may get upset with one another from time to time. Yet, along the way you learn more about the person you are walking with and little more about yourself. Thus, the end result is you are day by day walking closer with the Lord.
People are in different places in their spiritual journey and some have not even begun to plan for that journey. It is the responsibility as Christians that they not only keep walking daily with Christ in their journey but to be in tuned to those God places in their path’s and to meet them where they are at on their journey. If they are not even at the starting phase of their journey, people need to reach out a hand of grace and unconditional love and let the person know that no matter what they are welcomed on the journey. Then, just start walking with them from where they are at and before you know it they are walking along growing in their faith. As they grow, you grow, too.
There are also times when you are on your journey you may see someone who is a little further along than you. Please know that is okay and that person will stop and come back and meet you where you are at and will walk with along with you. In this stopping and going back to meet you where you are at, they are demonstrating all the more God’s grace and love. The end result is still the same. Faith gets a little stronger and everyone is still heading for the same destination.
In the days ahead of walking on your journey, invite others to walk with you and journey with you through this world. Just remember, that our journey is much like a race, we don’t all get to the finish line at the same time but we can help one another along the way. Invite someone on the journey. As the saying goes; “the more the merrier!”
- All Inclusive! (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)
- LOVE- the Journey Begins (wordofgodspeaktome.wordpress.com)
- The journey inward (sacredcomfort.wordpress.com)
- Preaching to the Choir? (wsforchrist.com)
- Morning Prayer ~ January 24, 2013 (ronpogue.typepad.com)
Since we are now in the midst of the Christmas Season, we know that the New Year is not too far away. It is on New Year’s Eve when we make those resolutions that we soon break within the first few weeks of January. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions this year, why not make Christmas resolutions?
The Advent Season is a time of preparing our hearts and minds for the Christ-child. As we make these preparations, why don’t we take time out and evaluate our walk with Christ. In this evaluation process, think about our daily walk with Christ. Where can we improve in the upcoming year? Think about our witness to a non-believing world. Are we a true witness for Christ? How do our priorities in life measure up? Do we put God first in ALL that we do?
On Christmas Eve, we will have made our evaluations/resolutions. On this particular night we will be celebrating the birth of the Christ-child. As with any celebration, gifts are brought and given to the honoree. This year, let’s place these changes that we want to make for the new year as our gifts to the Christ child. Then, allow the Christ-child to lead us through the new year.
- Advent hearts (murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com)
- Celebrating Advent With Kids – New for 2012 (godspace.wordpress.com)
- Christmas gifts (irenefrances.wordpress.com)
- A Celtic Liturgy for Week 2 of Advent by John Birch (godspace.wordpress.com)
- The Season of Advent (preachingthenewlectionary.com)
- Have you heard the 10 commandments of Christmas? (safaritothesoul.wordpress.com)
For us Southern Belles, not only is getting the tree and fireplace mantle in perfect shape but getting the dinning room table is at the top of list in what absolutely has to be done at Christmas. For me, candles are essential when setting the table not only at Christmas but year round. Having candles on the table holds meaning for me.
My grandfather on my dad’s side was a retired Army Colonel. When we visited my grandparents’ home, Mom would always make sure we were brushed up on our manners especially before going to the dinner table. Dinner at Papa Hill’s house was an event every night. The good china and silver were used. And, there were always candles on the table that were lit before we came to the table. No one sat down until Papa Hill took his seat at the head of the dinner table As a teen I would roll my eyes and think; “why can’t we just use the everyday dishes?” I would think this because I knew I would be the one helping after dinner hand washing all the china and silver and putting it all away.
Over the years in my adulthood, I have reminisced on those dinner affairs and their true meaning. For Papa, dinner with his family was special to him. He cherished having his family around the table for not only a meal but for a visit. Many a story and tale were shared around the table as we savored the pot roast, mashed potatoes green beans and apple pie. Grandmother had so lovingly prepared. Along with no one sitting until Papa sat, no one got up until they were properly excused by an adult at the table.
As I reminisce about dinner with Papa and once I had been properly excused from the table, I also remember being in the kitchen with Grandmother up to my elbows in suds helping her wash the china and silver. It was those moments in the kitchen where Grandmother would not say a lot but here and there she would gently and lovingly smile and give you a little wink. She was a quiet lady with little to say but her smiles and winks said it all. You knew all was right in the world.
One evening in May, 2002 I stood by my Grandfather’s bedside just a little before mid night. Jim and I had volunteered to take the night shift of staying up with him at the hospital. From the looks of things, we had a pretty good idea that Jim and I would not be there all night. Late in the night, Jim sat by Papa’s side checking vitals until Jim noticed Papa’s breaths were getting further apart. As these breaths were getting shallow, I came over and took Papa by the hand. While holding tight to his hand, I looked at him and thanked him for all the cherished memories he had given us around the table that was always beautifully set with linens and candles. Then, I said “Papa, the table is now set for you. God has the candles lit and He has your place ready for you to take your seat at His banquet table. ” A few seconds later, Papa joined Jesus at the great banquet table.
The table is set. It is Christmas. The candles, fine linens and china are on the table. A meal will be prepared and the candles will be lit where new memories will be made and old stories shared. As I light the candles, I will not only remember my loving grandparents who showed by example that we are all special but I will also be reminded that Christ is and has always been the center of our family.
How about you? Is your table set? If you haven’t already, add some candles to your table. Let your family know how special they are and remind them that Christ is the center of your home by lighting the candles. Sit around the table and make memories and share old stories. The teenagers may roll their eyes a little but let them roll. One day, they will be thankful that they have such warm memories.
This post is dedicated in loving memory of Col. Carl R. Hill, Sr and Virginia Louise Hill
Where does the time go? If you are like me, you look at the calendar one day and think you have all the time in the world to get ready for Christmas. Then, it happens! You look at the calendar and realize Christmas is only three weeks away! Suddenly, we are jumping on that treadmill trying to get the house, the gifts and food prepared for our families, Christmas parties and Christmas Day.
Preparations are necessary for any big event. Yet, in the hustle of the Christmas Season and festivities are we preparing our hearts for the reason for the season? Just as John the Baptist went out preparing the way for the Lord, we need to be preparing our hearts for the Christ child. Though we may already be Christians and have Christ in our hearts, it is our responsibility to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming again. We do this by sharing God’s grace and love with others who may not know Him.
Throughout the Christmas season I encourage you to stop and prepare the way as you make preparations for all the Christmas festivities on your calendar. Prepare the way so others may know Him.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets.
Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness;
Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths strait.
- Drew Said; “I Want To Be The Star” (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)
- CMMB: Your Weekly Reflection in Prayer 12/2/2012 (deaconforlife.blogspot.com)
- As We Wait in Joyful Hope (fsdm.org.uk)
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob;a scepter will rise out of Israel.” Numbers 24:17
“I want to be the star!” was the response of my three-year old son when roles for the Christmas story was given out. His dad and I responded “the star?”,“why not a Wiseman or a Shepherd?”. “NO!”, “I want to be the star!” The time came for the Children’s Paget and Drew was front and center playing the role of “the star”.
On that first Christmas night, one star shone bright over Bethlehem. This star led wise men, shepherds and probably countless others to theChrist Child. This star announced the birth of God’s promise of peace, joy, love, and grace to the world. What a significant role the star played on that first Christmas night.
At age three, I don’t know if Drew had totally grasped the real significance of the Christmas star. However, since that Christmas Play years ago, Drew’s wanting to the be the “star” is an example of what we all should strive to be in our Christian walk. Today, we are the “star” that has been commissioned to lead others to Christ. As we go through the Advent Season, we need to ask ourselves how bright are we shinning for Christ. Are we leading someone to Christ through our brightness? The stage is set and as Christians we have been chosen to play the role of the “star”.
- Christmas Song Lyrics – O Little Town of Bethlehem (socyberty.com)
- The Story of David and Goliath (Israel vs. the World) (ptl2010.com)
- Frankenmuth (hundredpercentchanceofchange.wordpress.com)
- Poinsettia History (fineartamerica.com)
- Christmas Tree The Tradition of Christmas Trees (ourneverendingstories.com)
If you are a frequent reader of Thoughts From The Porch, you will know that I used this Bon Jovi song, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” in a previous post. In that post, I share how people leave home sometimes under stressful situations, about our kids leaving home, and the importance of keeping the porch light on. I also shared how we have a home that we are always welcome to come to and that home is in the arms of our Father.
A week ago today I was on my way home. Yes, I would be seeing my parents, my brother and his wife but I was going back to a home that I had not been to in over thirty years. As I prepared for the trip, and as Jim and I headed down the interstate last weekend, apprehension, butterflies in my stomach and excitement were all stirring up within me.
While traveling to Georgia to attend this reunion, I shared with Jim stories from living in Bowdon/Burwell. I told him about the people who played a significant role in my life. Along with sharing with him about the people, I shared with him stories of mischief that I got into to, swinging on vines across a creek, staying up all night at camp meeting talking, and the list could go on and it did as we drove to Georgia.
Friday evening we stopped at my parents’ home for an overnight visit before heading on to the reunion on Saturday. In my visit with them we went down memory lane. We wondered if certain homes, businesses and people were still around. Mom reminded me that it would not be exactly the same as it was when we lived there.
Saturday afternoon finally arrived and Jim and I arrived at our hotel. We checked in with only a couple of hours to unwind and get ready for the evening. During this time, I had already began calling and/or texting friends who would not be at the reunion trying to set up times to see them before I ventured back on Sunday afternoon. Excitement and anticipation began to build all the more.
Fast forward, we pull up to the lodge where the class reunion was taking place. I see people in the parking lot gathered and talking. Jim asked me if anyone looked familiar. My answer was; “no, not yet.” But, as I registered, and began to enter the lodge, familiar faces were coming up to me. I was getting hugs, warm smiles and a heart full of memories were coming to surface.
My best friends and I grabbed each other and hugged for a long time. As we began to visit and talk it was like I had never left. The butterflies and anticipation subsided. All I felt was warmth, love and I would say I caught another glimpse of heaven last weekend.
You ask; “a glimpse of heaven.” Yes, a glimpse of heaven. For me, I believe that God gives us a slight glimpse and taste of heaven at times. This past weekend was one of those glimpses.
Heaven as I envision it is a place where I will arrive and there will be arms of love opened wide greeting me. Faces of people in my life that I will recognize immediately and though I have been away for quite sometime will still “call me one of their own.” The only words to describe how it will feel is amazing, awesome, and WOW!
Since my return home from this wonderful event, I had to get back to the real world, life and responsibilities. Some days the real world brings challenges that frustrate me and make me want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. However, it is in these moments when I reflect on the little glimpses of heaven that I get that little push and pep in my step to keep moving on and not let life pull me down.
Life can get me down. People will let me down. But, I know that there is a destination on this journey and when I arrive to this destination there will be people with arms opened wide ready and willing to call me their own. It makes my heart leap just to think about it all.
Today, life may be getting you down. Maybe someone has let you down. Yet, realize that you are on a journey with a destination. There are people who have come in and out of your life who are waiting to open their arms wide and call you one of their own. I encourage you to be attentive in your everyday walk with Christ and in all interactions/events you have in your life. If you keep your heart and eyes opened, you may just get a little glimpse of heaven. It’s those glimpses of heaven that will get you through those tough moments in life.
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11
Dedicated to Bowdon High School Class of 1982. Thank you for making me feel so loved and welcomed!