MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN 2019: I AM MORE THAN ONE–WITH THE LORD

                This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

 An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.

A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.1

 The Pessimist:

Let’s leave 2018 behind as quickly as possible and watch the ball drop at Times Square to make sure this year departs. It’s been a year of turmoil, strife, violence, loss, an increase in acceptance and tolerance of immoral behavior, and a challenge to our Christian faith. Why would we want to hold onto it? Just “drop the ball” and start off anew on January 1st, 2019.

The Optimist:

Let’s reflect on 2018: A year of turmoil, strife, violence, loss, an increase in acceptance and tolerance of immoral behavior, and a challenge to our Christian faith—during which times many demonstrated courage, empathy, charity, forgiveness, compassion, sacrifice, and great faith. It has been a year where we were called to stand for what we believe in, both publicly and privately. The ball may “drop” to end 2018, but what we learned this year should be carried into 2019. We cannot start anew; we must start where we left off and make use of the lessons of 2018 to build up our faith, our courage, our empathy, our charity, our forgiveness, our compassion, and our willingness to make sacrifices for the Lord.

The Pessimist: I am only one. What can I do to make a difference?

The Optimist:  I am the one. “{I} must be the change {I} wish to see in the world” 2  and in myself.

**“Do I dare Disturb the universe?” ― T.S. Eliot 3

**“In a gentle way, [I] can shake the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi 4

** “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ― Edward Everett Hale 5

**“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something… My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.” ― Jimmy Carter 6

    “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)

A new year awaits us. Let us go to our “war rooms” and pray with due diligence to be stronger in our trust in God, wiser in our actions by His guidance, and bolder in our decisions to make a difference for the Lord.

I AM MORE THAN ONE—WITH THE LORD.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 12/30/18) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

 

1 Bill Vaughan. brainyquote.com

2 Mahatma Gandhi. brainyquote.com  “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

3 T. S. Eliot. http://www.goodreads.com

4 Mahatma Gandhi.brainyquote.com  “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

5 Edward Everett Hale. brainyquote.com

6 Jimmy Carter. goodreads.com

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“Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.”

Many titles are conferred in our society. This may involve an honorary degree from an academic institution, knighthood from English royalty, or a Doctorate granted from intense study in a discipline. A newborn child may inherit a title through a lineage of ancestry.

Yet, only one child, born in a lowly manger, bore the title of Lord of all at His birth:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 8-12)

The title that He chose to accept for Himself involved bearing much: leaving heaven with the Father and entering the human world in human form through a virgin birth, carrying out His Father’s business at a young age in the synagogue, knowing His purpose and its consequences, enduring unearned punishment and torture, being suspended on a cross to embrace a cruel death, taking upon Himself the sins of us all which involved being abandoned by the Father. No child ever entered this world with such a weight to carry, such a destiny to live out, such a death to face each day of His life.

“Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.” 1

That night wasn’t silent for long. Heaven proclaimed the arrival of the Lord and Savior of all at His birth: 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2: 13-15)

Let us remember and praise Jesus as our Lord at His birth, through His life on earth, in His death on the cross, and in His resurrection and honored place at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19).

 Jesus, the One who chose to be our Lord and our Savior at His birth,

is forever worthy of our praise.

1https://www.carols.org.uk/silent_night.htm

(Sharon  G. Tate blog 12/23/18) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP: A GIFT BESTOWED BY GOD

 

FELLOWSHIP: Friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests; companionship; comradeship; friendship; mutual support; togetherness; solidarity. ¹

Fellowship in the Lord is a special gift only Christians can fully unwrap, open to the Light, and experience. God has given us a church family—brothers and sisters who share a common bond, a common love, a common faith, a common hope in Christ. Through Christian fellowship, we are each other’s mutual support and companions through the challenges, tests, struggles, suffering, and hardships in this life. We are each other’s faithful friends, sharing in the joys, special moments, and laugh-out-loud times. Our solidarity is secured in our united efforts as comrades in the cause of Christ, showing His love through our lives and through our fellowship with one another.

Do we have this type of fellowship that God intended for us? Are we following the example of the New Testament church?

Acts 2:42 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:3 – That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord cannot exist without the presence of CHRIST Himself. When we pray, when we break bread, when we sing, when we worship, HE is with us. When we share a meal and thank Him for it, HE is seated at the table. As we clean the building in the spring, HE is there in our midst. When we sing carols to the elderly in a nursing home or assisted living, JESUS is harmonizing with us. Fellowship in Christ is fellowship with Christ.

This gift of Christian fellowship, bestowed by God, is a blessing in this life but an even greater joy in eternity. Our friendship, our companionship, and our togetherness will continue forever.  Human fellowship cannot last, but fellowship in Christ endures and grows stronger. Can we envision what Christian fellowship in heaven will be like?

Can we have the kind of Christian fellowship on this earth that prepares us for that Day?

Hebrews 10:24-25-  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 

Have we made good use of God’s special gift to us in our fellowship with one another? How have we thanked Him?  Do others know we are Christians by our fellowship with one another?  Let us pray with purpose and faith that we may use this God-gift of Christian fellowship to help and encourage each other in our walk with Him, as we work together in solidarity to bring souls to His salvation and to this special fellowship of His followers.

¹www.google.com-fellowship

(Sharon G. Tate blog 12/16/18) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Our Voice: God-Given but human-enabled. How will we speak?

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.

(Psalm 141:3)

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Our voice: God-Given. Human-enabled.

The tongue has the power of life and death,
    and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)

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 When my granddaughter was two, she would blow kisses to almost everyone she saw or encountered. People would react with smiles and joy, wave, or blow kisses back. She didn’t have the repertoire of words to speak, but she was saying a lot through this action of unspoken voice, and she was definitely “heard.”

What sounds come forth when we speak? Are they gentle? Are they loving? Are they kind?

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

(Proverbs 15:1)

What comes forth from our mouth is usually what is lingering– or dwelling– in our heart and thoughts. If it is love, then love will be expressed. If it is anger, then harshness will be what we send out to those around us.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

Ultimately, the voice we have is God-Given to praise and honor Him. Once we have our heart and thoughts in sync with God, our voice will utter what is pleasing to Him and to others.

 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

In this time and throughout all time,

KINDNESS MATTERS!
 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” (Hebrews 13:1)

(Sharon G. Tate blog 12/09/18) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

God’s Timing: Always the Right Time for His Purpose

 

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David, 33 and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”  

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38)

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“How will this be?”

We, like Mary, may ask this question when our limited human understanding cannot comprehend God’s unlimited power. We are grounded by gravity on this earth and think in terms of the physical instead of the spiritual. Having a child as a virgin was inconceivable during Mary’s time. It would be a miracle. If this occurred today, however, many people would, more than likely, reason that it was a conception of scientific achievement, controlled by man, and not a miracle of God. The question in our time might be phrased in a different way: “How will this be done by scientific methods?”  

1To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, And a time to die…”  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

 Why that time period for “the holy one to be born (who) will be called the Son of God?”  It was God’s selected time for His purpose to be fulfilled. God’s perfect timing.  To the One who sees and foresees what we cannot, the child to be named Jesus was conceived and born at exactly the right time in the right place to the right person in human history.

 Whatever plans God has for you and for me, we must trust as the right timing in the right place with purposeful planning through Godly intervention. Our response should be like Mary’s: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” 

(Sharon G. Tate blog 12/02/18) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

CALLED TO SERVE: SERVING GOD BY SERVING OTHERS

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)
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“Service! Anybody?”

“Where’s the service around here?”

“Hey, who’s in charge of service at this place?”

“The service is terrible.”

“I wouldn’t come back if someone paid me.”

“You call this service!

  “I don’t have all day.”

The world’s perspective on “service” is to be served. “Wait on me—now. Meet my expectations of how I want to be and deserve to be served.” Cashiers, waiters,     waitresses, clerks, aides, tellers, and many others can be categorized as “servers” who are, sometimes, looked down upon and treated as “less” in comparison to the ones being served or waited on. How many times have we been guilty of this? Have we spoken these words—with the expectation that we should be properly and     deservedly served?

In contrast to the world’s viewpoint, God’s perspective on “service” is to serve. We are not to be the ones waited upon, but the servants who serve. This is how we can “become great.”

26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a   ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)

Our example is Jesus, who left His Father’s realm to live among us as a servant. He sacrificed His life in service to each one of us so that we might live in that heavenly realm one day. He is the King who is the Ruler over our lives—and, yet, Jesus says “the one who rules (should be) like the one who serves” and He declares Himself as one who serves:

25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.“ (Luke 22:25-27)

 Humility is not usually a trait associated with high achievement in our world today. Yet, we are called to be humble and serve. Such is the mark of “greatness” with God: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)

The work we do in this life is really in service to Christ and, through Him, to each other-our brothers and sisters in the Lord and to those we want to bring into the Lord: 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

 Service? Anybody? We are the ones called to serve.

(Sharon G. Tate 11/25/18 blog ) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

 

Seeking the Lord of Compassion: His Light to Dispel Our Blindness

 29 As Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want Me to do for you?” He asked.33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” 34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed Him. (Matthew 20:29-34)

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In a recent eye exam, I was given the usual sight test to determine my visual acuity. After shielding my left eye with an eye patch, I was asked to read the letters on the screen. Straining to attempt to see something I could recognize, she enlarged the letters. Still straining to identify even one letter, I had to admit to her that I could not see anything clearly enough for identification. She, then, moved the patch to the right eye. I could see every line for 20/20 vision in my left eye. I don’t know what it’s like to be blind, but even the reduction of sight in one eye is concerning. It results in a new appreciation of the God-given gift of our eyes.

Having total loss of sight resulted in two blind men shouting to Jesus, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” They knew His lineage; they knew His power; they asked for His mercy. They boldly stated their request for sight, knowing He could give that to them. And Jesus responded with compassion, touching their eyes. There was no time lapse in healing. Sight was immediate!

The touch of the Savior. He is always within our sight. But can we see His presence in our lives? Are we aware of His power as the blind men were who could not see?

Blindness can be more than a physical impairment. It can be the absence of a caring heart toward others. It can be a severe lack of understanding, becoming blinded by untruth, false beliefs and teachings and opinions of men or women. Our sight is dimmed. The Light is gone, so we become the blind in a world that desperately needs the vision of the cross and the sight of the Savior—yet does not see.

Once the blind men had been given the gift of sight, they saw what they must do—and followed Jesus. It is what we must do to truly see the path in this life that leads us to an eternal home with the Lord.

The touch of the Savior. The compassion in His eyes as He looks at us. Will we see? Will we ask to see? Will we be healed from His touch, because we believe that His Light will dispel our blindness? Will we follow Him?

Look to the Lord and His strength;
    seek His face always. (I Chronicles 16:11)

(Sharon G. Tate blog 11/18/18)  teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Our Example in Christ: Giving Sacrificially

 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesuswho, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

(Philippians 2:5-8)

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When my son was in middle school, he was big enough to be a helper shoveling snow. Of course, being a kid, playing in the snow was what he would rather do. Yet, there were several days that he chose to go shovel–by himself. . .

My son and I started shoveling together at a friend’s home when the fatigue she experienced from cancer became overwhelming. It was a good opportunity to teach empathy, compassion and giving with no expectation of getting something in return, except the knowledge that we were doing this out of caring for someone else.

My friend was soon placed in a care facility as her cancer rapidly progressed. No one was at the house. A big snow came, and my son asked to go outside and shovel. However, I soon discovered it wasn’t our drive he was shoveling. He had gone to her house and was doing the whole drive by himself. He said it didn’t matter if she was there or not. My son wanted to keep it open for her—for when she came home. He continued to do this for several more snows.

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“Heroes”

We read and hear about the heroes who give their lives—veterans of war and conflict, first responders in a tragic occurrence, teachers and citizens who stand up and protect others while sacrificing self. We may wonder if we could have been them at that time, in that circumstance, in that place.

We may not read and hear about the silent heroes who give sacrificially daily as caregivers, as mothers of young children, as fathers working two jobs, as behind-the-scenes volunteers who cuddle and calm the opioid-addicted babies, as hospice volunteers who sit by the bedsides of the dying with no family, holding their hands to the last breath.

But we can read about the One who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us all. Jesus bore our sins, though sinless; He suffered humiliation and torture, though innocent; He forgave those who crucified Him, though they were guilty; He died that we might live eternally, though we never deserved such mercy and grace.

Our society desperately needs those who would strive to be Christ-like and have more empathy, more compassion, more giving of self. We each need to be that “hero” who would give so completely and empty self for others.

Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself

 and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)

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The little boy shoveling the snow all alone for someone who never saw it, doing it out of selfless caring and love– just a kid who would rather play in the snow but chose to give the gift of himself in a labor of love– was that “hero” in that time, in that circumstance, in that place.

I had to tell him she wasn’t coming home, and he could put down the shovel, that she knew he was doing it for her and she was grateful for his sacrifice. The instrument: A shovel. The life lesson: Denial of self for another.

And the Teacher continues to instruct us always in the lessons of selfless giving,

maybe through the heart of a child.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 11/11/18) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

God’s Children are Never Orphaned

 

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

The Orphan Child

I hunger.

I thirst.

I cry out.

Who hears?

I am alone.

Homeless.

Orphaned.

Fatherless.

My reality.

A statistic?

Who is responsible for these children? We are told in God’s Word that the responsibility for their care is OURS.

But we may not see these children, some would contend. Surely, others who are closer to these orphans are more responsible?

Our justifications, claims, assertions, contentions do not exempt us from the calling to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” I am as responsible as anyone who physically lives nearby and passes the orphan child living on the street.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus was asked to define who is our neighbor. He told the parable of a man who was beaten, robbed, and left to die. Three men passed by this man but only one stopped to help. Jesus asked, “Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” 37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-37)

Let us “go and do the same” to those in need. We cannot pass them by. We are called to be compassionate like Christ.

We are His hands, His arms, His feet, His eyes, His ears, His voice, His heart in this life. We have the way and means to give to these children and help care for them, as we are called to do. Through organizations like Orphan’s Lifeline International, we can financially offer an orphan child a meal, clothing, shelter, survival.

 Together, we can give hope to the orphan child who cries out, waiting to be heard.

 (Sharon G. Tate blog 11/04/18) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

God’s Glory of Change: Passing Through Life’s Seasons

 

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?

You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14)

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The day was cloudy and somewhat brisk, a typical fall day. Leaves were falling to the ground as the wind picked up. I looked at the changing leaves ahead on my drive to the church building and knew winter was in the air. My thoughts became true all too soon as heavy flakes began dropping from the sky, making visibility difficult. I was now making my way through a blizzard of snow.

I had to scrape heavy, wet snow off my car after I completed printing the church    bulletin. Yet, two hours later, the snow disappeared, and the green grass was visible once again. It could have been the start of spring, except for the events that had just occurred and the changing colors of falling leaves.

The seasons seemed to play out before me in a few hours. God’s glory of change. We live through the seasons in our lives, not quite expecting the fall to come so soon or the winter to hit us with the reality of its arrival. Are we truly prepared?

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. 

(Proverbs 27:1)

 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

 “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.

You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before You.
Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. 
(Psalm 39:4-5)

 In the season of our lives when the leaves are falling to the ground, variant hues            swirling downward, we should become more introspective by examining our lives and the number of days, how fleeting. They fade before us like the fallen leaves that  become brittle, crumbling within our hands.

In preparation for the inevitable snow and cold of our winter season, we know, with assurance through Him, that new life awaits in an eternal season of spring.

God’s glory of change. His renewal of life. The snow melts,  and the grass is green once again.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?   (Matthew 6:25-27)

Through each season, God is there. We must trust in Him to help us through each change, knowing that a new life awaits us after this one ceases to be. For some, the time may come before the falling of leaves, the autumn of their days.

Therefore, we must be prepared to meet our Lord through each season of                              accountability  before God.

Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

 (Sharon G. Tate blog 10/28/18) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word