Build us together in Hope

Thanksgiving Celebration and what is means to me. First, let me share my love of books with you. My latest interest, “ministry with the homeless,” in light of once again celebrating Thanksgiving. I love story and thoughts as shared and told by others. So, turn some pages with me:

- John Flowers and Karen Vannoy
“Not Just a One-Night Stand…”ministry with the homeless

“IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, hesed is a practice of welcome and hospitality among the Hebrew people. Hesed requires that the host and the sojourner eat together to signify welcoming and connecting with the stranger. It is clear to me that eating together is the sign of real community more than any other behavior named in the Hebrew or Christian Scriptures. …

It is not enough to feed persons who happen to be poor. If we are to be in community and have hope for our transformation as well as the transformation of those who happen to be poor, then we have to eat together.”

The latest daily news this week keeps repeating how many Americans are going to bed hungry and I hear figures like over 49 million? I’m not thinking on numbers to either confirm or debate. Why, one without food is one too many in my eyes. As, I celebrate and give thanks for a table overflowing with food this Thanksgiving may I include ways to implement the practice of ‘hesed’ throughout the year as well as today.

Thanksgiving for me is Building Hope whereever Hope is needed! I hope you will join me at this table in sharing Hope to all that will join us! Have a Happy Thanksgiving,

 

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Message of Hope

James 4:8 offers us a message of HOPE!  “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (NLT)

KJV uses the term ‘Draw’ vs. ‘Come’ do you think it makes a difference in light of what you have to do in order to cozy up to God? If I stop and think of how many ways my loyalty is divided between God and the world, I freeze. Therefore, there is no drawing or coming because I’m just a cold stone lost in the soil with not a spark of hope until I rock ‘n roll out of the ‘world ways’ into the ‘holy ways’.

When  I hear and experience no presence of God I only have to look at my heart and see if I see any fear and trembling into my double minded antics. I read recently the way to wholeness is to call a comic act and belly laugh. The book of, chapter and verse will surely give you a belly laugh when you’re double minded.

Lets make our list of ways we are doubled minded, if in fact you are, divided between God and the world and then plunge off the fence on one side or the other. I would just love to read about your plunge!

 

Book Thoughts

Philip Yancey has written a new book, “Vanishing Grace.” One of his faithful followers writes, “…provocative, thoughtful book exploring thorny issues within our faith and church.” Philip, “tackles the diminishing popularity of Christianity in postmodern America over the past several decades and suggest ways believers can cut through today’s rampant cynicism to proclaim the gospel in word-much more important deed.”

I am reading very slowly with heart wide open as I am on a journey to follow St. Frances’s advice, “preach at all times and when necessary use words.” As I read, search and pray I find that I am not alone in looking to understand church. I am bicycling in tandem with Yancey that we are experiencing an awakening grace. I am thinking grace will awaken when our deeds are seen and people begin to rejoice in glorifying Our Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16) I can just hear chorus of voice in unison singing a prayer, “Our Father Which art in Heaven…”

I do so desire Heavenly Father’s will be done on earth as in heaven.  I would like to hear your thoughts on the new today’s church that you are walking out daily.

How are we clothed?

“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day,…”Romans 13:11-13

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary has these eye popping words to share.

13:11-14 “Four things are here taught, as a Christian’s directory for his day’s work. When to awake; Now; and to awake out of the sleep of carnal security, sloth, and negligence; out of the sleep of spiritual death, and out of the sleep of spiritual deadness. Considering the time; a busy time; a perilous time. Also the salvation nigh at hand. Let us mind our way, and mend our pace, we are nearer our journey’s end. Also to make ourselves ready. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; therefore it is time to dress ourselves. Observe what we must put off; clothes worn in the night. Cast off the sinful works of darkness. Observe what we must put on; how we should dress our souls. Put on the armour of light. A Christian must reckon himself undressed, if unarmed. The graces of the Spirit are this armour, to secure the soul from Satan’s temptations, and the assaults of this present evil world. Put on Christ; that includes all. Put on righteousness of Christ, for justification. Put on the Spirit and grace of Christ, for sanctification. The Lord Jesus Christ must be put on as Lord to rule you as Jesus to save you; and in both, as Christ anointed and appointed by the Father to this ruling, saving work. And how to walk. When we are up and ready, we are not to sit still, but to appear abroad; let us walk. Christianity teaches us how to walk so as to please God, who ever sees us. Walk honestly as in the day; avoiding the works of darkness. Where there are riot and drunkenness, there usually are chambering and wantonness, and strife and envy. Solomon puts these all together, Pr 23:29-35. See what provision to make. Our great care must be to provide for our souls: but must we take no care about our bodies? Yes; but two things are forbidden. Perplexing ourselves with anxious, encumbering care; and indulging ourselves in irregular desires. Natural wants are to be answered, but evil appetites must be checked and denied. To ask meat for our necessities, is our duty, we are taught to pray for daily bread; but to ask meat for our lusts, is provoking God,” Ps 78:18.

He had more to say! What say you?

Prayer Growth

I would like to hear about how groups you are a part of take prayer request and handle the request. As many of us look for ways to grow and learn in prayer we look for ways to connect with others in caring and sharing.

Rebecca Dwight Bruff shares “…it’s not about us. It’s about what God is doing in the world. What if all of Jesus’ apprentices imagined a world made whole and holy by the love and grace of God?” She also shares her thoughts of the what if’s by saying, “I BELIEVE THAT asking “What if?” is a worthwhile spiritual practice. It keeps our eyes and minds open to what God is doing in the world, and it keeps us grounded as well.”

I sat in church this past Sunday celebrating “Homecoming” a practice some churches still celebrate to acknowledge their history. The history of the church was given on a digital overhead overview of just shy of 150 years. I took notice that my father’s family were ‘steel magnolias’ in that little corner of God’s earth. Before, I entered the doors I felt a little proud to acknowledge my heritage when I heard words from my heart echo,    “… The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it…” Psalm 24

Gary and I greeted our church bulletin with neon joy as we gazed upon the drawing of  the church building on its cover.  Inside was overflowing with pleasures for the day. The back cover was laden with name after name of suffering and pain.  My heart of pride turned to dust and I begin to imagine Jesus taking His finger and writing truths in my dust, all loved, accepted, healed, and gifted as mercy drops fall on each life given by grace as I prayed.

Moses asked to see God’s Glory, And God said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The LORD'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” Exodus 33: 18,19,  Romans 9:15

Today, I hear God say, “Sara, it’s not about you and what you will and the way you run your race BUT about God who shows MERCY!” Romans 9:16 Just pray!

Obey or Disobey

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

As I read this text I am reminded I must first get my anxiety under control before I formulate my prayers if I want certain results. I just noticed anxiety over many issues are at the top of my prayer list. The ‘what if syndrome’ is real important in my mind. I am good at reading ahead and liking the results and forgetting to back tract for the goal.

Let me try here, 1) get over myself 2) formulate prayers from eyes of faith and not ‘what ifs’ by accusing God of slack amd lack 3)then by obeying step one and two, gearing into faith, Peace shows up 4) Bang, out comes the security guards to tract my daily steps while God and host negotiate on behalf of prayers and supplications that were presented to God by me 5) And, as Peace, greater than peace, guards my mind so I can keep thanking the Almighty for His answers by having clear understanding that my supplication =’s humility.

How can I get so much out of a few words written? Then leave here and forget it? The writer of Philippians knew as a good lawyer knows we need a summary. He gave us one in verses 8-9 same chapter being 4. Read on, “summing it all up, friends…”

Joshua 1:8

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Do we need a quarantine to practice the art of meditation? Personal, church, nation? Just think if we would quarantine ourselves and think not on ourselves or the enemy we fight but meditate on God’s Word and then pull with Adiddas, “just do it” (all that is written in God’s Word)we would be prosperous and have success, seemly this text says.

Do you believe it? I did notice it didn’t say study* but meditate* and in my mind that calls for quarantine time! Here’s my LOL, laugh out loud…from what people tell me and my own chatter…time, husband, wife, kids,work, sports, shop, worry, stress, anxiety, sex, video games, church, too much money, to little money, Doc appts, dentist appts, counsellor appts, oops, less I forget, MEETINGS! Etc.

Well, it is OT after all. And, it’s quoted out of context. It is talking to others surely not me? And, if I meditate I might find a nugget of truth for me but I’m just not going to do it because my ——might not like me. My—–will—-.

Does the Bible just overwhelm you at times? It does me! I’m here too often. I Kings 18:29….I read this… “but the people said nothing”… they didn’t choose God or Baal. I’m dwelling on the backside of the desert in my dreams! Or, just living there!

*Study (dissecting the text): What exactly is the text saying? What do the words mean?
*Meditation (savoring the text and entering into it): What is God saying to me? What is God inviting me to consider?

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