Redemptive Cleansing: “Be Still — and Know that I AM GOD”

 Refuge and strength

 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God;

believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

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Walking along the path, hands in pockets, head down, thinking too many thoughts, worrying too many worries, nothing being solved, no one offering  help. . .  He was ready to turn back—until he saw it, the flower. “How could it just grow out of a crack in the rock like that?” he thought. “How could it even survive? Why would it want to?”

The winds picked up just then as drops of rain began falling. He drew his   jacket around himself. Gusts blew the little flower sideways, back and forth, as the rain, now in sheets, pummeled the petals, again and again. Holding onto life deep within the crack, no one offering help, its grip began to weaken.

No longer able to watch this relentless beating, the man looked up into the heavens and made a decision. Taking off his jacket, holding it carefully over the little flower, he drew the storm onto himself.

As the rains dripped to a mist and the winds calmed to a slight breeze, the man, drenched and cold, gently lifted the jacket away from the little flower. Beautifully glazed with drops of rain, the flower had lifted taller than before, it seemed.

He left it there, to bask in the sun emerging through the clouds. The raindrops glistened, a shining gleam, a flower smile to the sun touching its petals. It was the first time he had stopped to notice such a small, living thing. It was the first time he had protected a life beyond himself.

Leaving the path, hands in motion, head up, looking all around him, then casting his eyes upward, he saw the solution.

Someone was offering help. God had been there all along.

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 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

(Psalm 18:2)

The smallest gift from God can, often, be the redemptive cleansing we need to give us hope, strength, and conviction to reach beyond self and extend a hand—or a jacket– to others in need.

Looking down, hands in pockets, dwelling inside our own thoughts and worries, doesn’t allow access to the view we need to take in the beauty all around us, even in the cracks of rocks that seem too barren to sustain any growth.

The flower that blooms forth from such a crack in our own self-pity, inner fears, drowning doubts, and wind-blown hopes can be sustained and grow taller when we bask in the Light of the Son who is our fortress against all storms, within and without, that may assail against us.

 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

(Psalm 46:1)

   “Be still, and know that I am God.”
    (Psalm 46:10) 

 

(Sharon G. Tate blog 06/12/16) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

LIVING THE COMMAND: LOVING ONE ANOTHER

love one another crosses

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.              

(John 13:34-35)

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The man strolled slowly down the river walkway. An older woman with the letter A on her coat approached him, hurriedly passing by, looking slightly confused and fearful. He wondered if he should follow her, but then heard a younger woman, wearing the letter D, calling out to her–“Mother!”

The man continued on his walk, encountering many people with different letters stitched, embroidered, painted, or embossed on their jackets. There was the young boy with the letter T, jerking his head in uncontrolled movements; the young girl with the letters DS, laughing spontaneously with eyes unfocused, one drooping down; the teenager with the letters OA, nervously pacing, sweating, wringing his hands, a glazed look in his eyes; the elderly grandmother with the letters RA, stooped, gripping a cane with gnarled fingers, using the other hand to hold onto a small child with no hair who wore the letter C. And many others, all the letters of the alphabet, until he reached his apartment door, unlocking it to face the hallway mirror and his own letters—HD. His breathing was somewhat labored from his walk, so he sat down in his recliner to rest. Then, he prayed for A, D, T, DS, OA, RA, C, and all the other letters he encountered on today’s journey.

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**What if our suffering was literally “worn on our sleeve” for all to see? No longer hidden, no invisible diseases, no one hiding behind “I’m fine.” The alphabet we would all know on sight would include A for Alzheimer’s, D for diabetes, T for Tourette’s, DS for Down’s Syndrome, OA for Opioid Addiction, RA for Rheumatoid Arthritis, C for Cancer, HD for Heart Disease, and more and more. . .

If we could see more visibly the problems others face, would we be more understanding? Would we have greater empathy? Would we see that maybe our own problems are much less when compared with those around us? Would we have more joy? Would we pray more often for others?

The eyes of God see all the letters of this “alphabet” of disease and suffering, spread across the entire human race. His omniscience allows Him a depth of vision to our heart, our soul, and our very being. He knows what we are going through, individually and personally, and He sees what we may try to hide before others and even ourselves.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Maybe if we weren’t so concerned with what others would think about us if they knew our “letters,” there would be an openness and acceptance toward each other that could give us all a glimpse of heaven on this earth.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

LIVING THE COMMAND: LOVING ONE ANOTHER

(Sharon G. Tate blog 06/05/16)  teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

The Ultimate Sacrifice: Voices Silenced…Voices Still Heard

Salvation

Knowing. Most people do not know when they are going to die, but there is One who did. Jesus Christ knew that His part in God’s plan meant the ultimate sacrifice for a human, the form He had on this earth. He must give His life so that we, the rest of mankind, might have life eternal. There was no other option. Christ prayed in the Garden:  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). But Jesus knew His Father’s will, the plan from the beginning, would prevail, and He would fulfill the needed sacrifice.

Knowing. What would it be like to “know” the fate that awaits us in this life? The inner controversy over knowing one’s genome history and testing for predictive disease like Alzheimer’s or pancreatic cancer involves the question we would have to answer: “Do we really want to know it will happen to us at some time in our lives?” For many, this might be a looming dread, affecting every day forward from the point of awareness. For others, it could be a positive affirmation to live life more completely and appreciate every day given. Knowing could make us more fearful and vulnerable–or knowing could make us more purposeful in our life journey.

Knowing. Our Lord made His earthly life purposeful, with God’s purpose, knowing what was to come. He shared and taught His Truth and mentored the disciples to follow His lead. He healed the sick, gave the example of prayer, and took time to pray alone with the Father. He cared for His friends and wept with them when a family member died. He loved us all, even those who were not yet born.

Knowing.  Jesus knew His task on this earth and questioned His earthly parents who were looking for Him, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). He knew the plan, for He was in the beginning with God:  “ 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… 14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-5,14). His task on earth was to teach God’s Truth and give the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom from sin that we might have everlasting life with Him.

Knowing. Soldiers who go to war also know they might have to make this ultimate sacrifice to help secure the freedom of others-loved ones, acquaintances, strangers, and those not yet born. We designate a Memorial Day every May to remember their sacrifices. Like Christ, they are not really dead, for they speak to us through the freedom we have from their final bequest—their lives.

ArlingtonCemetery

“Are they dead that yet speak louder than we can speak, and a more universal language? Are they dead that yet act? Are they dead that yet move upon society and inspire the people with nobler motives and more heroic patriotism?” ¹

Knowing. We know, through faith, that Christ lives and still inspires us to strive toward His higher purposes. And we praise and thank Him. We know, through our experience in this earthly realm, that fallen soldiers live through the legacy of freedom that they bestow to us. And we thank them.

The Ultimate Sacrifice: Voices Still Heard

     In Remembrance

 

¹Beecher, Henry Ward. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/29/16)  teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

“. . .for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” : Seeing With the Eyes of a Child

Old-Man-and-Child

The man walks into the assembly minutes before church service is about to begin, quickly sitting down in an empty pew at the back of the auditorium. He fumbles with his coat and hat, accidentally knocking a hymnal to the floor.  Heads turn to look. Whispers. ..

“Do you know him?”

“No, do you?”

More heads turn– some smile, others just catch a glimpse of the stranger and quickly look ahead again.

“Who’s that man, mommy”

“Ssh, just turn around and be quiet.”

The child sneaks another peek over her mother’s shoulder, smiling at the man, who returns the smile.

After services, the man, again, fumbles with his coat and hat. The child walks up to help him. They smile at each other, not speaking. Some of the church members walk past the man and say nothing. A few nod their heads to him in passing, while talking with regular members. Others approach him with greetings, “Good to have you here. Where are you from?” They shake his hand–not noticing.

The man doesn’t say much in response. “From around here, not far from the church building. Just thought- I would come today.”

“We’re glad you did. Be sure to come back.”

“Yes, please do come back.”

The voices follow him as he leaves. The child, also, follows him. He stops to look down at the little girl and gently pats her head. She is watching his hands.

“Do they hurt?”

Scars. Wounds. From when? From where?

“Sometimes they do, little girl. They did today.”

“Mommy kisses my ouches when they hurt.”

“Well, I don’t have a mommy anymore.”

The little girl grasps both his hands and kisses them before running away toward her mother’s call, stealing a look back, smiling.

Holding the smile in his eyes, the man walks away, hands in his pockets, hidden from those he passes–yet, less painful with a little girl’s kisses, a soothing ointment, covering the scars.

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We, the church everywhere, walk in and out of a building each Sunday, noticing new faces, recognizing familiar ones. Greetings and welcomes, hugs and pats on the back. Shaking hands with visitors. Worshipping and singing, studying the Word, sharing the Lord in communion, praying and giving thanks.

Smiling, laughing, telling stories of the past week before leaving. But do we notice the scars? Do we see the wounds? Have we looked into “the window of the soul”—the eyes? Do we ask?

The little girl did. Maybe the others saw the hands of the man as well; some did shake his hand.  But the adults in the story said nothing, maintaining privacy and personal space, and possibly not noticing at all. The child, on the other hand, just saw and asked. She even followed the man out of the building to ask,

            “Do they hurt?”

The unabashed innocence of a child seeing the “ouch” and reaching out to “kiss” the wound to make it “feel better” : What can we learn from a child?  “. . .for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).

             What do we ask before we let visitors–and each other–leave the building?

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/22/16) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

A Ripple in Time: The Difference of One Spreading God’s Wisdom

wisdom prayer

 17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner destroys much good.(Ecclesiastes 9:17-18)

 13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. (Ecclesiastes 9:13-16)

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The difference of one. Those who believe in the Great Man Theory contend that essentially all of mankind’s history can be explained in terms of the particular individuals who bring about a significant change or changes during an era of time. The life of the one affects the lives of the many, leaving an historical impact, which may be one of great positivity or great negativity.

The “sinner who destroys much good” creates a riptide effect through history, causing a violent disturbance. The “quiet words of the wise” result in a ripple effect, seemingly small at first, but extending outward to places and people we can’t even imagine, causing changes that, like small cracks in a dam, can burst forth in ways only God can direct.

Although you and I may not be contenders in the “Great Man” theory of history, we can speak quietly the “words of the wise” from the One who has true wisdom and make an impact on those around and beyond us. Even when it seems that wisdom is “no longer heeded,” we must continue to proclaim it calmly, consistently and without enmity, hostility, antagonism, or animosity. Let us remember the words of the Teacher:

“Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious.” (Ecclesiastes 10:12).

“…calmness can lay great offenses to rest. “(Ecclesiastes 10:4).

 A sinner may try to destroy “much good” in our city, our state, our country, and our world–but when we carry the love of Christ within us and share the wisdom of the Almighty around us, goodness cannot be destroyed.

“Wisdom, and its quest, breed kindness and compassion.” 1

Let us be ripples in time,

Patient with God’s plans,

Calmly speaking His wisdom,

Through our words and deeds,

That goodness may prevail.

 1Author unknown. https://www.psychologytoday.com

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/15/16) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Mary and her Son: Keeping These Things and Pondering Them in our Hearts

Mary and Jesus and John

 

26 When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

On the cross, while enduring the most extreme agony of suffering for our sins and abandonment by His Father, Jesus looked down and saw His mother. He knew she would need to be cared for, and John, his trusted disciple “whom he loved” was near. Jesus made it clear in the wording He used that Mary was to view John as her son and John was to be that son to Mary.  John accepted this great responsibility and took Mary home with him.

In providing for His mother, Our Lord demonstrated His love for this woman who bore Him. Mary was told by the angel that she, a virgin, would bear a child who would be “the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)  She didn’t understand but humbly accepted this responsibility by verbally stating: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).   When the shepherds came to Bethlehem to find THE Child, Christ the Lord in the manger, Luke recorded Mary’s unspoken thoughts and feelings about this birth: “… his mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:17-19) When Jesus was twelve and told his parents, who were looking for him, that he was about His Father’s business in the temple, they did not understand. Luke, once again, recorded her unspoken thoughts and feelings: “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:48-51). 

We can only imagine what Mary really pondered all those years. “Mary, did you know?” are the lyrics written by Mark Lowry to a well-known Christmas song. Mary had been “pondering” all these years, and she seemed to know that Jesus had the power to perform a miracle at Cana and provide more wine for the wedding occasion. : When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’  5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (John 2:1-5). And He, then, turned water into wine, performing His first recorded miracle. “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11). His mother had already believed in Him.

Mary was with Jesus, her son, throughout his life, and she was at the foot of the cross when He was sacrificing Himself for all mankind. She was a mother who loved her son and gave him up for us.  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) Her words could be heard, not only at the beginning, but also at the end of her son’s life on this earth.

Mother has the word “other” in it. A mother has a special bond with her child from conception until she dies. She looks outside herself to her child and gives to that child first above her own self. The “M” in a loving mother is never the completed word “me” for it defers, instead, to the full word “other.” Her “other” is the child she bears, the child who grows inside her, the child who continues to grow outside her body but never outside her heart.  Mary was this mother.

 **To those of us who are mothers or future mothers, let us strive to be the woman and mother Mary was: “The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you’ ” (Luke 1:28).

**Let us all be as caring toward our parents as Jesus was to His mother. In spite of all that He was going through on the cross, He remembered her and provided for her.

 Our mother is our deliverer into this life. Jesus is our Deliverer through this life.

May we keep all these things and ponder them in our hearts.

 (Sharon G. Tate blog 05/08/16) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Walking by Faith: The Sight of Blindness

 

we-walk-by-faith-not-by-sight- dark

 Snow-capped mountains, violet valleys, peaceful sands;

Earthquake ruins, flooded towns, tsunami whiplash.

We view the beauty, witness destruction, wonder why.

With mortal eyes, we watch; with spiritual eyes, we see.

Human vision is dim; Spiritual faith is Light.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 1

 With all that our eyes can witness and watch in the world around us and beyond us, we cannot truly see/understand the creation of God and the ways of God unless we have the faith that suspends physical sight, interpretation, explanation, and analysis. Science demands a logical, tested, proven reason and answer. Faith accepts the Creator—and He is the reason and the answer.

When we close our eyes, the full panorama of the mountains, the valleys, and the sands can be seen, not merely the captured snapshot of what is physically before us with open eyes. What we can envision in this “blindness” is far greater than what we can view in the limitation of physical sight. Such is the power of inner light, what we see “by faith, not by sight.”

Through the outer light of physical sight, we view the destruction–the earthquake ruins, flooded towns, tsunami whiplash. Through the inner Light of spiritual faith, we see beyond the destruction and find the child under the collapsing debris, the woman unable to swim in flood waters, the man trapped in the pull of the wave. We change our focus to see the person, the need, and we listen to hear their cries. This happens through a God-Light within us that emits Light when we obey Him in faith.

 “Behold, a King will reign in righteousness…
The eyes of those who see will not be dim,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.” (Isaiah 32:1-3)

 When we follow the King, we walk by faith, we see with faith, and we hear in faith. In the physical sense, we are blind to the world’s view- but we are not blinded, for we have our faith and can see much more than those who view life without God-Light. Our eyes are not dim, for by faith we gain understanding and perception; our ears are not dull, for through faith we are able to listen, not just hear.

A computer can “see” mountains, valleys, sands, ruins, floods, tsunamis. It cannot close its eyes and activate a God-Light within its parts and pieces. It has no conscience, no consciousness, no soul–and human scientists cannot create this inner Light. The sight of blindness, illumed in faith from one Source, will light our way up the mountains of life, down through its beautiful valleys, and across its scorching sands. It will lead us out of the debris of self-pity, save us from the floods of emotion, and lift us out of the tsunami waves that threaten to drown us in discouragement and loss of hope. If only—we walk by faith in the sight of blindness to shine His Light within.

1  II Corinthians 5:7

 (Sharon G. Tate blog 05/01/16 ) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word 

Turning our Hearts to the Eternal: The Things We Left Behind

treasures in heaven

“All that is not eternal is eternally useless.” 1

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Spring cleaning is upon us. Time to clean out that garage, those closets, the chest of drawers, a dusty attic, the musty basement—and purge. But, oh wait, what’s this. Why I remember when I first got this—and what about this—or this. I might just need- or want- to have these around.  And all the rest of these things…well, there is always next spring, right?

 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. (James 4:13-15)

Things. We all have them. They comprise our present comforts, current wants, newest gadgets, oldest memories. The things we have hung in closets, laid in drawers, stored in cupboards,  packed away in boxes, hooked up to charging adaptors, plugged into wall outlets, or framed in pictures will never accompany us on our eternal journey.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Things:Transients Housed Inside Nesting Growing Sprouting

“Things” are external items which can gain entrance internally and occupy parts of our hearts and minds to the point of becoming our gods, because we spend so much time, money, and even devotion to them. It is more difficult for us today to separate ourselves from our things, because we have so much access to material items. Our culture promotes the latest fads, the newest cars, the most up-to-date tech gadgets, the must-have apps. We are constantly bombarded through ads, sales, and the propaganda of self to purchase things—and more things.

This “occupation of things” in our hearts and minds eventually affects our souls, leaving little room for God. Where there is storage of the temporal and transient, the true treasures should be housed and allowed to nest, grow, and sprout inside, so we can turn our hearts and minds to the eternal and everlasting.

Time for spring cleaning—before our dust becomes a mist that vanishes, and all we have to show our God are the things we left behind.

1 C.S. Lewis. Unsorted Quotes, Devotional Bits – Calvin College.https://www.calvin.edu/.

 

(Sharon G. Tate blog 04/24/16) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

ONE IN THE LORD

One in Christ

 

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (I Corinthians 12:24-25)

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I fell and now have several metatarsal fractures in my foot. It just involves three toes, but the pain affects my whole foot, so I begin limping. This, in turn, puts more pressure on my other leg, which affects my hip and back. Limping isn’t buffering the foot enough, so I start using crutches, putting more stress on my hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders. This also affects my neck, ultimately leading to headaches. My energy is drained from the extra effort needed to move around. All this from just three little toes . . .

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We are unable to physically separate parts of ourselves from the form that God so wondrously and marvelously created and, still, have a whole, working body. If a part is removed or is not as functional, the other parts will have to assume more responsibility. This, in turn, will affect their purpose and functionality.

Paul used the analogy of the physical body when talking about the inter-relationship and inter-dependence of members in the body- the church: 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (I Corinthians 12:13-21)

 “No man is an island, Entire of itself . . .” 1

 What we must say to each other are the words:  “I do need you! You do need me!”  We each have God-given talents, gifts, interests, and purposes. I cannot say yours are less or greater than mine, and you cannot say mine are less or greater than yours. God has said we are all important and necessary to the functionality of the body –His church.  We are greater with each other—and less without each other.  There is a stress on the body when parts are not working with other parts:  25 . . . .  so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (I Corinthians 12:25-26)

Made to co-exist in one body, His church, we are dependent on each other for strength, support, hope, and growth. As individual parts, we cannot thrive; our faith is weakened, our hope diminished. Together with God, we are a stronghold against Satan. “The gates of hell shall not prevail” against this body, Christ’s church (Matthew 16:18).

In our current times, when Christianity and Christians are facing persecution and challenges to faith, we must function together as one body in Christ to be that strong fortress which will prevail and endure for His purpose.

1John Donne. www.poemhunter.com

(Sharon G. Tate blog 04/16/16) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Keeping a Mind/Heart Focus on God

 

whatever is noble etc

Truth, Honor, Justice, Purity, Loveliness, Graciousness, Excellence, Worthy of Praise

No, this is not a preview line leading us into a foreshadowing of traits we will see develop in a fictional heroine from a movie or novel. Instead, these words are from a directive by the Apostle Paul to the brethren at the church of Philippi, real people like you and me:

“(8) Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (9) What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Paul’s directive to keep a mind/heart-focus toward Godly fruits of the Spirit is crucial: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. . . (Proverbs 23:7).  What we think directs what we do and how we do it. Is it done with truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, graciousness, and excellence? Is it worthy of praise from God? Do we ask ourselves these questions before we act or speak?

 “Think—before you act” was one poster on my classroom door. I, sometimes, had it taped on both sides of the glass window, so students saw this message while entering and exiting from my room. Do we need a poster to remind us—to STOP and THINK before we ACT?

 What we put before our eyes will become what we see in our thoughts and, ultimately, what we do in our actions and utter in our speech.  The Israelites were told to constantly and consistently place the commandments before them and their children: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

 I still have posters, plaques, and sayings to remind me to STOP and THINK. They are everywhere in my home. Some are included below:

**If you exit from the laundry room door to the garage, you will encounter one on that door:  “Help me to remember, Lord, that nothing’s going to happen today that you and I can’t handle together.”

**If you enter my condo from the garage, you will see the message: “God bless.”

**In my kitchen, you will see many messages, two being: “The Lord is my light and salvation.” (Psalm 27:1) and “Lord, guide me with your gentle hand.”

**In the dining room, there is the plaque “Prayer changes things” and the name “JESUS” in a wooden cast that some cannot clearly see until it is pointed out—and, from then on, it is before them.

**Moving to the living room, there is a picture of a deer herd near a stream of water with this scripture imprinted beneath:  “As the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for thee” (Psalm 42:1).

**In the hall, I have a crewel-embroidered and cross-stitched picture that I made of the 23rd Psalm.

**My favorite scripture is in my bedroom on the bedpost: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It is before me—and beside me–every morning and every night.

What reminds you to have a heart/mind focus on God and these fruits of the Spirit, to think always upon these things: Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, whatever is excellent and whatever is worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8) 

                What is before you—that reminds you constantly and consistently of God?

(Sharon G. Tate blog 04/10/16) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word