God is at work for good whether you are aware of it or not. And it’s not dependent on whether you’ve been good enough, faithful enough or discerning enough. It’s just what God does because it’s who God is. This means you’ve got a choice today. And, remember, it’s a choice regardless of what’s going on in your life. You can choose to go through your day focussed on what you feel, see and understand, and probably experience life in the same old way. Or you can start with God who is at work in you, all around you and through you, and experience it in a brand new way. Yes, you’ve got a choice today. But when you think about it, it really isn’t much of a choice at all, is it?
It’s so easy to think ‘The Church’ is a building or a pastor or even a denomination. But it’s not. It’s the people. Your people. Ordinary everyday people who are sometimes saints and sometimes sinners. We call laity. And I give You profound thanks for them.
They are the ones who form children, youth and those new to the faith as Jesus’ disciples. They are the ones who sacrifice financially to support the work of the church. They are the ones who remain the church as pastors come and go. They are the ones who take the church out into the world every single day as they live their lives. They are the ones who share the love of Jesus with so many different people in so many different ways every single day.
But sometimes they forget who they are because they forget whose they are. When they do, help them remember they are part of the Body of Christ and that Jesus is their head. Fill them with Your love so they become more compassionate. Place Your vision in their hearts so they strive to be the Body of Christ to more and more people.
Lord, on this day on which we celebrate the laity, I pray that all lay persons – regardless of which church or denomination they belong to – will use their skills, experiences and the gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon them to do best what You are calling them to do – be in ministry.
I pray this in the strong name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The sun is rising on a beautiful October day. The temperature is in the 40’s. The sky is clear. And all seems right with the world. At least for me. But what if all’s not well in your world? Like you’re struggling with depression. Or experiencing your family being torn apart. Or worried about someone you love. Or uncertain about whether God loves you. Or any of a thousand other things. What do you do then? Remember that God not only loves you more than you can fathom, but God already has reached out to embrace you with this love in real ways that make a real difference in your real life. Of course, this love is not a magic wand that changes everything with a simple wave. But you can trust it because it is real and at work in your life right now giving you exactly the healing, hope and new life God knows you need.
You see lots of people every day. Some in person. Others through Facebook, Instagram or television. At some point, you make a decision about what they are like – good, bad or in-between. That’s when things get interesting. Because once you develop an opinion – whatever it is – that’s most likely the lens you’ll use all the time. Which, of course, just reinforces what you already think. And so with few exceptions, your initial opinion becomes hardened. But there’s a problem with this way of seeing others. It’s incomplete. And it’s unfair. That’s why you might want to try something new today. When you look at others (especially those you have an unflattering opinion of), ask yourself this question: “What does God see in this person?” And then ask it again. And again. Because if you do, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up with a brand new view.
Jesus had absolute clarity about who he was, what he was to do and how he was to do it because he knew whose he was – God’s. You can discover who you are, what you are to do in your daily life and how you are to do it by focusing on whose you are – Jesus’. And when you do, you are going to make a life-changing discovery. You not only belong to Jesus, you belong to his love. It’s a love so great he freely chose to leave his rightful place with God to become human. A love so magnificent he died a sacrificial death on the cross so you can experience the reality of his redeeming love. A love so powerful he opened the door to a brand new way of living he called abundant life. So if you long to really know who you are and what you are to do every day and how you are to do it, get started by first discovering whose you are.
We have a little Maltese named Bitsy (aka Little Bit). She is all of six pounds, ferociously protective when any car or stranger approaches the house, quick to warm up to strangers once she spends about 30 seconds with them and Karen’s shadow. It’s an interesting thing about Bitsy. When she’s allowed outside, she bounds off to explore the world; chasing everything from squirrels to Daddy Long Leg spiders (go figure) to sticks. But that’s not all. She also suddenly develops the inability to hear or, perhaps more to the point, chooses to ignore our commands that she performs so well inside. However, when we sit on the front porch and tether her with a 15 foot leash, something interesting happens. Sure, she still barks at anything that moves, including leaves blowing in front of her. But she seems perfectly content to walk around and explore her space that has boundaries. I think this is how it is with us. When we wander freely on our own, we often don’t hear (or more accurately ignore) Jesus when he speaks to us. But when we are tethered to Jesus, we have all the room we need, and actually are far more content and happy than we ever can be on our own.