God's presence giving strength
"Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold your with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)
This verse, and verse 13, were first given to me when my mother died very unexpectedly. The "do not fear" and God "holding me by the hand" (vs. 13) and in God's "righteous right hand" helped hold me together during a stressful time. These verses became my "go to" verses when ever things started to overwhelm.
Then a word search of strength brought these verses up. Yes, God is holding me "by the hand" and in "God's hand." God's strength is also holding and helping. God's strength - holding, helping and flowing through me - for which I am very thankful. I can praise God - even in stressful times.
Something to think about: God holding us by the and and in God's hand so God's strength can flow through us.
What verse is your "go to" verse? How does it hold you and help you? Do you feel God's strength?
Being a light.....
"Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." (Matthew 5:15)
Have you ever been in the dark? Interesting question isn't it? It can mean a couple of different things. It could mean something is going on, several people are doing things you just don't understand the what or the why...you are "in the dark." OR.... It could mean you forgot to leave a light on and you get home to "dark" and have to find the light switch. It could even mean the power has gone off and you hope you remember where the flashlight, or candle, is. We were at Mammoth Cave National Park taking the "easiest" tour as a family. One of the members of the family thought it would be "fun" to be the one stringing the lights up along the TOP of the path so everyone could see. Then we got to the bottom of the cave and the ranger asked if we had ever been "in the dark." They turned OUT the lights. IT W AS DARK! You couldn't even see your hand in front of your face. VERY dark....except for one child.... who was wearing white tennis shoes with a red "glow in the dark" streak on each shoe.
The Scripture readings today are about being the light in a world that needs light. Isaiah is reminding us to "feed the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness." (Isaiah 58:10) Paul is reminding us he demonstrated the "Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom but on God's power." (1 Corinthians 2:5) And Jesus is reminding us we ARE the "light of the world" and we are to "let your (our) light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
As Caregivers we are doing, helping and following...but are we "letting our light shine" the way God is asking us to? Are we doing what that small voice in our head is asking us to do? Are we letting our "light" shine so others "see and glorify" our Father in heaven? Something to think about.....
praise for strength
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults." (Psalm 28:7)
Praising God -- is easy to do when things are going smoothly but difficult to do as we are on the 'roller coaster' of being caregivers. The idea, especially with this verse, is the trust we have in God. Do we really believe God IS with us? IF we really believe it we can trust God. If we can trust God we can praise God.
The difficult part could be spending time with God so we can strengthen our relationship. Schedules get busy, crazy things happen to change the schedule and we usually put our selves at the bottom of the priority list. The question is... if we don't take time for us to have time with God..... who will help us?
Can we think about the time with God? Can we praise God when the crazy things are happening? Do we really trust God? Dear God, we thank you for your strength in, and through, us. We ask you to show us how we can be with you more to continue to feel your strength. Thank you for the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Amen Something to think about........
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." (Matthew 5:11)
This is an interesting world we live in. There are so many things happening between crazy schedules and even crazier weather. It makes a person wonder how we CAN live our faith..... Over 20 years ago, now, when I was getting ready to graduate from college, one of my professors came up to me after class. He asked me to stop wearing my cross because it "offended" some of my fellow students. I looked him in the eye and said "No. I will NOT stop wearing my cross. I will, if needed, tuck the cross into the neckline of my shirt, but you will still see the necklace and I will keep wearing the cross." Nothing more was said about my cross. I continue to wear one every day.
The Scripture readings are about living our faith. Micah is reminding us the best thing(s) we can give God are to "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God." (Micah 6:8) Paul is reminding us we ARE in Christ Jesus "who has become for us wisdom from God-- that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30) Jesus is also pointing out there WILL BE problems because we are living our faith. It not only isn't going to be easy but there are going to be problems when we do. The things we have to remember are: God's gift of the Holy Spirit filling us to overflowing AND Jesus' reminder "I have overcome the world." (John 16:23)
Are you living your faith? Do others see Emmanuel, Christ living in you filling you to overflowing? As Caregivers we are, prayerfully, showing God's love in all we do but do others see - and know - God's love through us? Something to think about......
""Come and follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people."" (Matthew 4:19)
When we read this verse what do you think of? Do you think "yup, Jesus is calling the Disciples, so it doesn't really apply to me?" Or are you thinking I don't even fish let alone go fishing and I am not very good at talking to people. And besides those things I'm too ______ fill in the blank - old, busy, tired, young - we can all think of something.
The readings today are about being a "light on those living in great darkness." (Isaiah 9:2) Paul is thanking God and reminding us we "have been enriched in every way - with all kinds of speech..." He also tells us "therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift." (1 Corinthians 3:5 & 7) Then we see Jesus starting to call people to work with him. What are they doing? They are working at what they "do," what they "know." AND Jesus uses there knowledge to help them do what they know - "I will send you out to fish for people." (4:19 emphasis mine)
We are all called to be sharing where, when and how we see God in our own lives. Think of where you have seen and, or, felt God this week. Have you suddenly thought of someone you haven't talked to in a while? Have you slept well and then been WIDE awake at 2:30 in the morning? Are you waking up earlier than you ususally do - say 15 or 20 minutes before the alarm? Is God calling you to be in prayer -- to be spending time WITH God IN God's Word? Something to think about........
"If your gift is serving others, serve them well." Romans 12:7a NLT
As Caregivers we ARE serving others - right? We are trying to help, or even take care of, a family member/loved one. We are trying to do it "well" even if it doesn't always feel like it. We are trying to follow where God is leading. We are, prayerfully, even trying to take care of ourselves. The idea of taking care of self, of spending time with God - just for us, seems like an excellent idea we just aren't sure we have the "time."
An interesting point to think about is if we are willing to let someone else "serve" us. Are we willing to let someone help us by giving us respite? Can someone else do some of the cooking, for instance, so we can take a little time "off"? Can we actually 'schedule' some time just for us?
O God, thank you for giving us the strength to be able to serve. Help us to have the wisdom to know when to ask for help - to let someone else serve us. We pray in the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, andhe saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting him." (Matthew 3:16)
I don't know about you but I don't remember my baptism. I know I was because the tradition I grew up in baptized infants and I just saw my godfather (my uncle) in Nov. I've been in church since before I was born. So what about you? Do you remember yours or are you thinking of baptisms you have been to or even been the sponsor for?
The readings today are about baptism. Isaiah is telling about the coming Messiah -"my servant, whom I uphold." (Isaiah 42:1) The reading in Acts is reminding readers of what people saw, and learned, with Jesus. (Acts 10:37-41) The Gospel reading, in Matthew, is about Jesus' baptism. The baptism, with water, by John and the baptism of the Holy Spirit - the dove "alighting on him." (3:16)
If we remember our own baptism - wonderful. If we are remembering a different baptism, or our confirmation, we are still thinking on our "I believe" statement. Do you really believe? IF we really believe are we supporting our local church with our gifts, prayers and presence? Something to think about.........
"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
Do you talk to yourself? What do you say to yourself? Are you encouraging or discouraging? Do you tell yourself you can or "can't" do something? When you do tell yourself you can do something is it with positive conviction? I talk to myself all the time. I started when my son was a teenager - I was the only one answering the way I wanted to hear it. Also I live by myself so I am often the only one listening OR talking!
It is amazing how "positive" talk can help another person and our own feelings/work. Sometimes it helps convince us God IS with us and we CAN do this. Sometimes a "positive" talk can remind us to thank God, and others, for the good things happening - even in the midst of bad things happening around us.
Something to think about - especially as we all, pretty much, talk to ourselves. Are we being a "benefit" to those who listen? Are we being a "benefit" to ourselves?
O God, help us to encourage ourselves as we try to help others. Help us to feel your presence, your strength as we go about out day. Help us to talk positiviely to ourselves and others. We pray in Jesus name. Amen
Giving...What are we bringing?
"Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, grankincense and myrrh." (Matthew 2:4b)
Are all of your Christmas decorations put away? What about your Christmas gifts? Have you put everything away? I confess the decorations are all put away but I wait to put the gifts away until I have written the thank you notes. Did you forget anyone's gift? I must confess again.... Yes, I totally spaced on a couple of gifts. Thankfully for the grandkids, even the step grandkids, after they are 13 they get cash instead of me trying to figure out what they want. The other gift was a mad scramble to find something and get it into a giftbag.
The readings today are about gifts. Isaiah is reminding the Hebrew people, and us, "your light has come, the glory of the Lord rises upon you." (Isaiah 60:1) Paul is pointing out, in Ephesians, the reason he is a prisoner of Christ -- "Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you." (Ephesisians 3:2) Then, as we start into Epiphany, we have the Wiesmen getting to Bethelhem to give the Christ child "On Coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary...." (Matthew 2:11) The gift God has given us, God's grace through the gift of his Son, and the gifts the Wisemen brought to the King of kings.
So my question is...what gift are we bringing? What are we giving to Christ, whose birthday we just celebrated? As Caregivers we are already "giving" a lot, I know and I understand. It doesn't change the question...what are we giving to the King of kings? What if (to continue from last week) we gave ourselves? If we gave our heart and our time? What if instead of an hour on Sunday we spent time daily with God? What are we bringing? Something to think about.....
"He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." (Isaiah 40:11 NLT)
Christmas season, celebrating Jesus' birthday - the Good Shepherd. This morning's God time is about trusting God. We know God keeps God's promises. We are getting ready to celebrate Epiphany - the Wise Men bringing gifts to the Christ child. I brought up "what if..." on Sunday so I want to suggest a "what if." "What if" the gift we bring, to the Christ child (Emmanuel, Good Shepherd) is doing what God is calling us to do? What if we trusted all of the "do not fear" we see in Scripture?
O God, we thank you for being the Good Shepherd holding, and guiding, us. We thank you that we can trust your promises. Amen
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.