As we are preparing to enter a new year (2016), we are all making plans for what we will do or change to try to make it a great year. Is one of those changes to be more loving and to let others see Christ working in your life? If so, then Matthew 5:16 is a great reminder verse. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (RSV) During our weekly Bible Studies at our church, we have discussed some of the current people who are making headlines. Some are famous people.
1 Corinthians 1:04 “I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,” (RSV)
Good news doesn't come often enough. When it does, it is refreshing, hope-filled, and welcomed. It just goes to show that the verses we associate with the Christmas story are NOT just for Christmas, but for the whole year long… just like those favorite Christmas carols, it’s OK to sing them even in July (and I often do).
Repetition has a great place in memorization processes but it is not enough. We also need to anchor the verses (and their locations) to something that stands out in our minds…something special or eventful or treasured. We need repetition for a variety of reasons… we weren’t listening or paying attention; we didn’t hear it correctly or completely; we heard it but didn’t focus on it long enough for it to truly register with us; and so on. The same is true for encouragement. We need to hear those words of love, support, comfort, enthusiasm, caring, etc. over and over and over again.
In our community in Illinois, today is Back-to-School day. There is uncertainty and excitement for the kids as they meet new teachers and kids that they didn’t have in their rooms last year. Parents (and grandparents) are excited to get back to ‘the routine’ that the school year represents. There are a lot of great teachers and schools which work at preparing the next generation of students to be good and capable citizens.
With summer days starting to close in on the start of school again, we all seem to want to get in those last activities just one more time… swimming, camping, playing games and cooking on the grill. I am sure a few cringed at the phrase ‘well done’ thinking that was the way to cook a steak or meats. The ‘well done’ that I think of is from Matt 25:21 which says, "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' (NIV).
There is no question that life is getting more complicated with increasing civil and political unrest, increasingly aggressive terrorism, a complex international economy, and WAY too many passwords to remember. In 6:8 of Micah, the last part of the verse reads, “…And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV) Three simple statements or tasks… how to act… how to love.. and how to walk. If we are ‘to act justly’ then it means considering what is fair and right and moral not just what is easy or quick or politically correct.
Many people spend their whole lives looking for some great treasures in distant lands only to have missed great treasures (and great joy) close to home and close at hand. Treasure hunting can be as simple as 1-2-3-4.... as in 12:34 Luke, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (NIV) So, as you go about your 'treasure hunt' today, start in God's Word. In it you will find life and hope and peace and healing and so much more.
For the past nearly 9 years I had developed a new habit of passing along the US Presidential $1 coins to family and friends. (The US Mint issues 4 presidents per year for 10 years...but you must be a dead president to get your coin issued. Several are delighted to wait for theirs to be issued. We are up to #35 (JFK). Four more to be issued and then a 'pause' for the next one(s)). I would usually have several in my pocket and would even pass them on to strangers (usually parents with their kids) at local shops or eating places. It was fun to see their reactions. Free gift.
When I find a new verse, I usually pin it to my bulletin board above my desk. It is a visual reminder of it until I can add it to memory. 5:09 of Job says, "He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted." (NIV) With all the problems in the world and in our country, it is easy to focus on 'the sides' and not to focus on the real issues or real options. We too often miss the many miracles which are happening all around us. This verse is just 12 words but is incredibly powerful to remember and to keep in your mind.
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