Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Must a Person Do Before We Begin to Pull for Him or Her?

Photo by Andy Bullock (Flickr)
Ssssplack!

Zacchaeus wiped the spit off his face – for the fourth time that morning. Nobody liked him. Nobody – except for the other tax collectors, of course.

Until Jesus entered his life. He sought him out, saying, “Zacchaeus, I want to spend some time with you. Let’s go to your house!”

And soon, Zacchaeus’s heart – and his life - changed!

The same man who had built a career cheating his neighbors, joyfully welcomed Jesus into his home. After spending time with Jesus, he pledged to give half of his goods to the poor and to pay back four times the amount he stole. (read his remarkable story in Luke 19:1-9)

Zacchaeus went from being a dishonest greedy man – hated by his own people, to a sincere and  generous man – probably well-liked and respected by his community.

What changed Zacchaeus? We all quickly answer, “Jesus! It was Jesus!” Good answer. However, I didn’t ask who changed the man. I asked what transformed Zacchaeus’ heart?

This week’s verse offers a hint:
Luke 6:36 (New American Standard Bible)
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Perhaps for the first time in many years, instead of experiencing coldness, judgment and hate, Zacchaeus experienced genuine compassion, understanding and love. The mercy that was shown to him by Jesus, even before Zaccheaus began to change his behavior, enabled Zaccheaus to make different choices.

And most likely, Zaccheaus grew to see himself differently, too.

Would you please take time to consider if these questions relate to you?

1. After asking the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts, is it time to confess our shameful tendency to look down at and judge those we consider worse sinners than we consider ourselves?

2. Are we willing to allow God to help us see others as He sees them even before there’s evidence of a changed life? What about the person who doesn’t want to change?

3. Or will we continue pointing our fingers and wagging our tongues until the person does something to deserve our compassion and support?

If that’s the criteria, what must a person accomplish before we begin to pull for her or hope the best for him?

What if:
• We prayed for the person who has taken steps in a wrong direction, or is caught up in bad behavior?
• We got involved as God leads when we see signs that someone is spiraling downward?

How might our churches and communities benefit? 

Prayer:
Lord, it is not hard for me to see how much I need Your help regarding my sinful judgmental attitudes. Please forgive me! And give me a heart like Yours which grieves when someone is going through a difficult time due to his or her choices. Show me ways to show mercy while offering practical help.

This week’s goal: (And Practical Applications)
This week, while meditating on (with the intent to memorize) Luke 6:36, I will ask God to convict my heart each time I begin to judge or look down upon anyone. I will also ask God to show me practical ways I can reach out to those He leads me to help and pray for.

For instance, when I receive a phone call about a negative report regarding someone I know, instead of giving into the temptation to add to the gossip,  I will ask the caller to join me in prayer for that person and discuss what practical things we could do to restore him or her.

What do you think? I would love to have a real conversation about this topic!

• How do you think Zaccheaus started his day the morning after spending time with Jesus?

• What are some practical ways we can show God’s mercy to those caught in the consequences of their bad or sinful choices?

• What part(s) of this post zings you the most?

(Post your comments on one or several points mentioned using the comment link. Click on the Sharing Guidelines tab for instructions on how to post comments)

Note: Memorizing Scripture Blog (for anyone) and the Coffee with Sheryl blog (for ladies) both have the Current Goals tab located under the blogs' headers. "Current Goals" offers several practical links including: being a better spouse or parent, choosing better eating and exercising habits, overcoming addictions, dealing with depression, etc. The Immediate Goals link (for setting task-related goals) is only available at the Coffee with Sheryl Blog

You may use pseudonyms(fake names).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Do Late Traffic Mergers Bug You?

Photo by audi-inspiration (Flickr)
A highway sign tells me to merge into the next lane because my lane is ending. Within a short time, I merge, while several drivers remain in that lane. I see their blinkers, but I refuse to let them in. I merged on time; therefore, I have the right to ignore them (and in a way, punish them) for waiting until the last minute. They should have merged sooner – behind me. Then I justify my selfish thoughts by believing my need to get home is more urgent then theirs.

Embarrassingly, even when I’m not behind the wheel, most of the time my attitudes are driven by the way I want to be treated. It’s not that I’m not a great person to hang out with; but I’m a whole lot more agreeable when I get my way or when my needs are being met.

John 13:34 (New American Standard Bible)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Jesus modeled this best. While living on this earth, He never exalted Himself or demanded His rights above others, when He had every right to do so. Instead, He cared more about those around Him than He did Himself.

When we put the needs of others ahead of our own – or even better – when we go further and seek to protect another’s rights (such as the preborn, or victims of bullying), we are demonstrating God’s love that is in us. And by doing so, we will also be spending less time worrying how unfair life is.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, please forgive me for my selfishness! As I spend time in Your Word (and in Your presence), please continue to change my heart. I desire to love others with the same kind of love You consistently show me.

This week’s goal:
As I meditate on (with the intent to memorize) this week’s verse, I will ask the Holy Spirit to show me when I’m about to put my needs ahead of someone else’s. In those instances, I will ask God to show me how to show love by yielding my rights and desires.

Let’s discuss practical ways we can live out John 13:34:

  • What would it cost you to give up your rights (in order to show Christlike love) just once this week? How much would you gain?
  • What example(s) in the Bible helps you to see God’s love in an active way?
  • In what ways has Jesus shown His love to you, personally?
  • List at least one way you can love someone at home, school or work this week with the same kind of love Jesus has shown you.
If anyone would like me to send them a copy of this verse (any translation) so you can make a SMC (Scripture Memory Card), let me know. Be sure to subscribe to the post via email so I can get it to you!

It's amazing how many opportunities present themselves to show Christ's love! Meditating on this verse, throughout the day, will likely remind me to let someone go ahead of me in the grocery line, or maybe (while driving) even allow the late merger in!

(I would love to hear from you. You can  let me know what you think about the post and/or respond to any of the bullet points above. Post your comments using the comment link. See "The Method" located on the sidebar for instructions on how to post comments)


Note: Memorizing Scripture Blog (for anyone) and the Coffee with Sheryl blog (for ladies) both have the Current Goals tab located under the blogs' headers. "Current Goals" offers several practical links including: being a better spouse or parent, choosing better eating and exercising habits, overcoming addictions, etc. The Immediate Goals link (for setting task-related goals) is only available at the Coffee with Sheryl Blog

You may use a pseudonym if you want.

I Get So Embarrassed When I Hear Myself Bragging

Photo by Eaglebrook School (Flickr)
“Well, I’m president of my firm, of course. And the only way I could get away to be here was to have my partner service my million-dollar-plus clients until I return. I just hope he doesn’t mess things up….”

No, I have never heard anybody actually say those exact words, but we’ve probably all heard a braggart make similar remarks, especially at a class reunion.

Personally, I try to refrain from bragging. Indeed, I’m quite proud of the level of humility I’ve achieved over the years! ;)

1 Corinthians 13:4 (NASB)
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.

Boasting is never attractive. I get so embarrassed when I hear myself sounding haughty, that I immediately try to redeem myself by attempting to say something humble-sounding: “I have the whitest teeth in the family!” (Pause.) “But, then again my teeth are so big, maybe they just look whiter!”

Seriously, it’s no fun being around someone who’s constantly bragging, is it? It not only displays a lack of love (and respect) for others; but it also reveals a lack of self-love when one feels the necessity to prove his worth.

Perhaps we can minimize our temptation to brag by understanding God’s love for us. I want to be so secure in His love that I don’t have to reach for validation from others. Furthermore, I want to love others with that same kind of love, thus helping to remove their need for boasting, also.

Are those your desires, too?

This week let’s meditate (and/or memorize) and practice the entire fourth verse of 1 Corinthians 13.

This week’s goal:
This week I will validate my worth by meditating on God’s unconditional love for me. As I focus on 1 Corinthians 13:4, I will depend on the Holy Spirit’s presence within me to help me become more patient and kind – and  much less jealous of others.

Prayer:
Father, once again I realize how valuable Your love is! I can do nothing worthwhile without it. Please continue to help me grow more secure in You so that I can share Your love, patience and kindness with others.

Let me know how you do with this very challenging verse.

  • When are you most likely to brag?
  • How do you feel when you blow your own horn?
  • What have been the consequences of your arrogance?
  • Would knowing God loves you imperfect as you are decrease your need to boast?

Please share your comment by clicking on the comment link below.

Note: Now the Memorizing Scripture Blog (for anyone) and the Coffee with Sheryl blog (for ladies) both have the Current Goals tab located under the blogs' headers. "Current Goals" offers several practical links including: being a better spouse or parent, choosing better eating and exercising habits, overcoming addictions, etc. The Immediate Goals link (for setting task-related goals) is only available at the Coffee with Sheryl Blog

You may use a pseudonym if you want.


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