Saturday, March 2, 2024

Compassion Towards Others

By: Grace Metzger

 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,
kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another 
Colossians 3:12-13

Compassion is something that everyone thinks they have. If you asked me if I was a compassionate person a couple of weeks ago, I would not have hesitated in saying, "Of course!" However, I recently discovered that it not true for me, and I think it's safe to bet a lot of others as well. The story of how I discovered my lack of compassion starts with an older couple walking into my work about thirty minutes before we were to close. As soon as I saw them walked, in I inwardly groaned and instantly went onto teams to complain to my coworkers, because I knew from experience that when them came in, it was usually an hour to two hour process of explaining the same thing over and over again. When I first met them I knew they were older and didn't mind taking the time to explain this concept that was difficult for them to understand, but as time when on I lost my compassion for them and started viewing our interactions as bothersome.

I know that this is something other people struggle with as well. Everyone has that one coworker who, despite you telling them how to do something twenty times, they still do it wrong; a siblings who just can't seem to make the right choices; that one person in front of you in a line taking ten minutes to order; those people walking so slow in front of you you start to wonder if they are purposely walking a snail speed. We encounter these type of frustrating situations with others on the daily. 

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving 
one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

God calls us to deal with these situations with a kind, tender heart. He didn't call us to deal with it in anger or frustration, that is our human flesh allowing our negative emotions to get the best of us. We are called to be compassionate! You might be wondering what the big deal is, everyone acts like this. I think back to the saying you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. We are supposed to be leading people to Christ but how we can lead people when our words and actions are like vinegar? Who would want to listen to someone who is acting rude, angry, or impatient to them?

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
 our God is full of compassion.
Psalm 116:5

I think back to how the world has treated God. How we have used His name in vain, cursed Him, doubted His existence, and yet God is still full of compassion for us. If He can be compassionate to us after we treated Him so horribly, then why can't I be compassionate to that mature couple who just need some extra help? What would happen if we start treating everyone we come into contact with, with kindness, compassion, and a tender heart? How many people will we lead to God if we started treating them like God treats us?

Humans are known for allowing their emotions to take over them, for speaking without thinking, for acting out in frustration. But as Christ followers we are to be different than everyone. We aren't supposed to act like that, we are called to be slow to speak, kind in our words, and treat others with compassion. So before you start getting frustrated at that person who is taking forever in the Chick-Fil-A drive through, take a breath and think "How would God treat me in this situation? Would He become frustrated and angry with me or would He continue to be kind and compassionate?" Once you start thinking this before acting out in angry you life will take a positive turn!

Discussion Questions!

1.) When you do feel like you start to lose patience with others?

2.) What do you do to remain kind to someone who's getting on your nerve?

3.) Do you remember a time when someone showed compassion to you while you show frustration towards them?



Friday, March 1, 2024

What Is Jesus Inviting You To?

 By: Lauren Thomas 

I have a question for you: What is Jesus inviting you to? 

 

The Bible is replete with instances of God giving invitations to His people, of Jesus giving invitations to His followers. He invites us to forgiveness, to obedience and holiness. He invites us to rest. He invites us to spiritual sustenance and satisfaction. He invites us to a great wedding feast in Heaven. He even invites us to meet our physical needs! There are so many invitations. What is He inviting you to?



This question was recently posed to me. I can’t tell you how much peace washed over me when I heard it. I hope the same is true for you. This question is one of contemplation. It is a question to bring before the Lord in prayer. If you don’t sense an invitation immediately, then wait expectantly for it. He has an invitation specifically for you. I truly believe He is always extending some kind of invitation to us through Scripture and the Holy Spirit. 

 

Here are some passages in which we see His invitations given in Scripture:

 

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

 

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare

Isaiah 55:1-2 ESV

 

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31 ESV

 

One thing I love about the Lord’s invitations is the way they shift my focus to what matters. When I tune into what He is inviting me to, it often involves a refocusing or a shifting of my current priorities. Suddenly, what I thought was so important fades into the background and something more wonderful takes the foreground. Usually that something is Jesus himself. Often an invitation from the Lord involves less striving, more Jesus. Less work, more trust. Less exhaustion, more rest. And always, there is something specific, intentional, and purposeful in His invitations.


Reflection:

What is God inviting you to?

What is your favorite invitation in Scripture? Share it with us!



Thursday, February 29, 2024

Savoring God's Love

 




By: Donna Bucher


Pondering the theme of Love throughout the month of February drew me into creating more intention both in loving God and loving others well. Jesus summed this up as the first and second great commandments in Matthew 22:37-40.

This week taught me the impact of savoring the unchanging intentional love of God on both loving God and loving others.

 

The intentional nature of God’s love emphasizes the magnificence of his free choice in loving his people without condition.

Embracing God’s intentional love for me captivates my heart, while at the same time the pang of insecure fears grimaces my hope. God’s willful choice of bestowing his love upon me invites me to be fully known.

 

Matching my own desire to be fully known and subsequently still fully loved, God fills scripture with the treasures of his love. In revealing his multi-faceted love, he invites you into the deeper intimacy of knowing him.

Intentional Love and Mercy

Moved by your dreadful entanglement in sin, God intentionally lavishes love upon you through his mercy and compassion. Deeply affected by your trials, oppression and temptations, his faithful love knows no bounds.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.

 

Lamentations 3:22-24


Perfect Love

Known by many as the “Love Chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13 often surfaces at weddings as the gold standard for love’s behavior towards others. Perhaps you heard the admonition for placing your name in place of the word “love” in verses four through seven.

But, instead, have you considered placing Jesus’ name there?

Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; Jesus is not arrogant or rude. Jesus does not insist on his own way; Jesus is not irritable or resentful; Jesus does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7


A Father’s Love

The character of God’s unchanging love washes over you in compassion, mercy, relational patience, and endurance. Yet God delights in also showing you his love as your gracious Heavenly Father by reminding you of your position as his beloved child!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 

 

1 John 3:1

 

 

Sacrificial Love

No journey into savoring the unchanging, intentional love of God is complete without considering the sacrificial nature of his love. Testifying of his steadfast, unchanging love, the scriptures also portray God’s demonstration of a compassionate love knowing no limits.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

 

Experiencing God’s intentional love for you, impacts your intentional love for him by transforming your perspective on God’s love. Time spent savoring the depth of God’s steadfast, enduring, perfect, sacrificial love lavished upon you in the intimacy of relationship, creates vulnerability.

From a place of vulnerability, the embrace of God’s unchanging love penetrates fear and uncertainty with joy and acceptance.

Held in a place of joy and complete acceptance; fully known and fully loved, God’s love fills every space of your heart flowing back to him in an intentional sacrifice of praise and worship.

Flowing from this exchange of holy love, comes an exuberant love capable of loving others. A love transformed by the unchanging, intentional love of God, offering the same healing, grace, mercy, and acceptance, given you.

Make it Practical:

Which aspect of God’s love do you need most today?

Take a few moments and write a short prayer expressing your need to Him today.




 

 



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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Connecting Even in the Busy

By: Jenifer Metzger

God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not banish me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore the joy of Your salvation to me,
and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:10-12 CSB

We know we need to stay connected to God. We want to stay connected to God. But if we were honest, we'd simply say, life is busy. Among diaper changes, school drop off lines, deadlines, sports, projects, dishes, and so much more, how are we possibly going to stay connected to God?

When my kids were younger, we homeschooled which me quite busy. I had to teach, corral kids, clean house, do laundry, and cook meals. I was in go mode from the moment I woke up with the sun until I fell exhausted into bed late at night. On top of life at home, we were children's pastors which added a heavy, though blessed, work load. Then when March came, baseball season started up which added yet another heavy work load. If you think of your own situation, I am sure you completely understand.

So how can we stay connected to God when we are running on empty day after day after day? If I could go back twenty years and look my younger self in the eye, I would say, "Jenifer, it is possible." And that is what I want to tell you today. Friend, it is possible. We can stay connected to God even in the busy.

Connecting even in the busy

Ask God for help. This is the most important step, ask God to help. Ask Him to restore the joy of your salvation {Psalm 51:10-12}. Ask Him to give you a deep rooted desire to spend time with Him and to stay connected with Him. Ask Him to help you draw near to Him so that He will draw near to you {James 4:8}. Ask Him.

Draw near to God, and He will
draw near to you. Cleanse your
hands, sinners, and purify
your hearts, you double-minded.
James 4:8 CSB

Wake up earlier. Wait! Don't scroll away. I know you are tired. Believe me, as a mom of four -I already told you how busy I was- who has always suffered from insomnia, I know you are tired. But I also know that God is the Author of time. If you can give Him time, you will be amazed how He multiplies your time. I'm not saying wake up an hour earlier, though if you can that would be so great. I am saying, spend a week waking up five minutes earlier. That's it. (For me, that might mean hitting snooze only three times instead of four.) Get up five minutes early and read a couple verses and spend a few minutes in prayer before starting your day. The next week, wake up ten minutes early. The next, fifteen minutes early. Continue on until you are waking up with enough time to spend some time with God before you begin your day. Maybe it's thirty minutes, maybe it's an hour. There is no right or wrong, the goal is just to spend time with God. When you give God those first moments of the day, when you sacrifice a few minutes of sleep for something more eternal, watch and see how your day goes.

In the morning, Lord, You hear
my voice; 
in the morning I plead my
case to You and watch expectantly.
Psalm 5:3 CSB

Be creative. When you fold the laundry, pray over your family who wears those clothes. If you are going on a walk with the kids, pray over your neighborhood. As you make your bed, pray over your husband. There is no rule that says we need to be on our knees with eyes closed and head bowed -though I do believe there is a time for that. But God still hears you when you cry out to him behind the steering wheel of your car or while you are putting on your make up. So pray anywhere and everywhere. Pray continually.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with
every prayer and request, and stay
alert with all perseverance
and intercession for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18 CSB

Fill your home, office, or car with truth. As you go about your day open the Bible app and let the Word of God fill your surroundings. Play worship music. Listen Christian faith podcasts that speak truth. So often we have the TV on or music playing for background noise, why not instead have truth from the Bible or worship music playing?

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord
is one. Love the Lord your God with all your
heart, with all your soul, and with all your
strength. These words that I am giving you
today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to
your children. Talk about them when you sit
in your house and when you walk along the
road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them
be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on
the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 CSB

Don't miss church. It can be so tempting during a busy season to miss church. What will missing one Sunday service or one Bible study hurt, right? There are two issues there. First, it is so easy for one to become two. For two to become a month. For a month to become two months. And so on. Second, we need the fellowship and encouragement of other believers. We need to stand in worship with our church family. We need to hear what God has laid on our pastor's heart, it may be for us right then. We need to serve, to pray for others, to be prayed for. We need our church. Make it a priority and don't skip just because life is busy. Say no to things that interfere with church, make your plans around church, but don't miss.

And let us consider one another in order
to provoke love and good works, not
neglecting to gather together, as some
are in the habit of doing, but encouraging
each other, and all the more as you see
the day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 CSB

Life is busy for all of us at different times. In fact, life is busy for all of us almost all of the time, just busy in different ways. But we can still feel connected to God through all life's busyness.

Discussion:
1. During a busy season, do you struggle to feel connected to God?
2. If yes, how do you combat that feeling?
3. If no, what do you do to avoid getting to that place?




Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Key to Happiness: A Study of Psalm 1 (Part 1)

 By: Rebekah Hargraves



Photo Courtesy Of: Antonino Visalli


"How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!"

~Psalm 1:1



I returned home Sunday afternoon from an amazing and truly life-changing weekend retreat with a dear friend of mine. While there, I experienced a powerful moment of finally surrendering in an area of my life that I knew the Lord had been calling me to lay down for some time now  (an area, I might add, that I had stubbornly held on to for so long, always trying to explain away the God-nudges and constantly trying to come up with excuses as to why I didn't actually have to obey). 


That area was my social media use and the fact that watching IG Stories every night before bed had become an obsession, even befitting the qualifications for being defined as a full-blown addiction. 


That may sound dramatic, but I can assure you it isn't. 


Every night, I would regularly spend hours (literally, 2 hours was no rarity!) scrolling through Instastories, watching one after another after another, obsessing over being sure I didn't miss anyone's content. In those precious hours before bed when I should have been winding down and preparing myself for a peaceful evening, I was instead doom-scrolling and being bombarded by news updates, divisive debates, personal attacks being leveled against one believer by another, and more.


To be sure, I was walking in the advice of the wicked, standing in the pathway with sinners, and (most definitely in the case of social media!) sitting in the company of mockers. For hours on end. Every. single. night.


And I wasn't happy. That obsession was, in fact, breeding the exact opposite of happiness - I was being stressed by constant news updates from all over the world, my brain was being frazzled by the obsession to keep taking in more information, I was confused by all the differing opinions out there, I found myself disrespecting my fellow image bearers as I kept company with online mockers, and, as a content creator, I found myself being ping-ponged back and forth between what the Lord was calling me to say online and what I knew would be the nay-saying opinions of some of the people who would read my words.


Let me tell you, friend, that the words of Psalm 1:1 are, in fact, true. When you "walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers", you will not be happy. I sure wasn't. 


As we continue on in our study of Psalm 1 over the next several weeks, we will begin to see the positive aspects - how it is that we do gain happiness. But as a bit of a teaser into the rest of this Psalm, may we first remember this today: it is impossible for us to gain happiness through keeping company with mockers, scoffers, and those who sin against God's ways. Satan will try to tempt us into believing it is, but that is a lie straight from the father of lies. And the sooner we realize and embrace this truth, the better!



Reflection Questions: 


1) Are there any ways in which you are currently walk[ing] in the advice of the wicked or stand[ing] in the pathway with sinners or sitt[ing] in the company of mockers"?


2) What is the Lord leading you to do about this?


3) Where do you usually look for happiness? 


4) How happy are you right now?