Word in Action

19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hearslow to speakslow to wrath20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:19-22; NKJV)

Perspective and process.  God gives us His perspective and is teaching us how to see our world from an heavenly perspective.  He also provides us process for our lives and the order does matter.  Here, we are to be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath.  If we are swift in our hearing of His word then we will have a heart prepared to be swift to hear another while seeking to understand rather than be understood.  This requires us to listen first and not speak first.  It requires us to consider God’s Word, what another is saying, and then humbly respond.  In all of this, we need to remember that wrath comes last not first and that the wrath of man does not produce righteousness of God which should be our goal.

The focus really is us as individuals here and not others.   We are to lay aside filthiness and wickedness so that we can humbly receive His implanted word.  In elevating God and others in our lives, He will save our souls.  If that is the focus, then we can be Godly communicators and humbly maintain our cool.   If we leave evil behind and receive His word, then we will find salvation and share salvation.

All of this is active.  Though we receive and we react to God’s word, we do so deliberately and purposefully.  It might not be a lot each and every day but we focus on and we do what we can in in line with what God’s word says.  This changes us and changes our relationships.  We determine to listen…to God’s word and to others.  We determine to understand and apply it and allow it to work in our lives.  We purposefully turn away from evil and choose good.  In all of it, we are emboldened in our humility and God will work in our lives and our relationships.  Perspective and process do matter to God.  Reflect on His perspective through His word and work to maintain His process in your life.

 

Receive

17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides. 20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. (Philemon 17-20; NKJV)

The good deed and importance is found in Philemon receiving Onesimus.  Before I start with Philemon, please recognize the Onesimus is returning.  He is determined to reconcile with Philemon though the worst outcome for him could be that Philemon doesn’t reconcile and he lose his life…a punishment that was given to slaves who were disobedient.  This was in the realm of possibility but Onesimus had a heart to go and to reconcile.  As much as Philemon had to receive him, Onesimus had to go.  This cannot be overstated.

Paul urges Philemon to receive him like he would receive Paul.  It seems they shared a close relationship so the picture here is of two dear friends reuniting.  That is what Paul is expecting for Onesimus despite the fact that he had caused Philemon harm.  This shows us what reconciliation looks like.  Forgiveness is not just a lack of retaliation but restoration.  It is about how we receive one another in all circumstances and how we build and develop relationships with one another.

This is how God receives us when we are forgiven.  We do not simply escape the wrath we deserve but He FULLY restores us into a relationship with Him.  Paul paints a clear picture of what this looks like for Philemon and we can glean what it needs to look like in our lives.  Receive one who has wronged you the same way that you would receive one of your closest and dearest brothers or sister.

Paul is a catalyst in this restoration and we can be too.  Philemon might have had a long list of grievances or wrongs and it might have caused him a great internal struggle with what Paul was asking.  But Paul steps in and offers himself to take that debt on.  He doesn’t stop there though.  He doesn’t want a list of wrongs from Philemon that are now a debt on Paul.  What Paul wants Philemon to remember is that we are all indebted to our Lord Jesus and in this case to the one who taught and led us to Him.  Paul simply wants to bring to mind how desperately Philemon needed salvation at one point in time and to return the same offering of grace and forgiveness and restoration to Onesimus which Paul offered to him.  Again, we all can understand what that looks like and at different points play our part as a Paul (catalyst for restoration), Onesimus (willing to go and restored), and Philemon (willing to receive and to restore).

We forgive because we are forgiven.  We erase other’s debts because we have a record of debts that others have against us and a debt we can never repay our God and Father.  We owe our eternal spiritual life to God.  We understand that, then it will be easier to forgive.  We forgive because we are forgiven and we work for restoration in whatever role or situation we find ourselves in.  We work because that is the action we must take in our faith and love for Jesus and each other.

 

Importance of the Good Deed

10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.  12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.  15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. (Philemon 10-16; NKJV)

The good deed that is presented before Philemon is to forgive and there is no good deed without reconciliation.  Without reconciliation, the opportunity for a negative attitude is a snare for Philemon.  He could have thought “Paul can keep that useless slave” even if it meant financial loss.  It would be worth it not to deal with him anymore.  That doesn’t sound like a good deed to me…even if it made him feel “better”.

If Philemon forgives and reconciles, then all three men are free to work together and Onesimus can be with Philemon and Paul.  Consider our own lives.  We have no problem staying away from people that we have problems with…steering clear of those who have wronged us and harmed us. The hard part is to come face to face with that person and do what is good for the other and not for self. This is what Paul is asking Philemon to do and where the value of the deed lies.

Paul can’t reconcile with Onesimus…there is no reason.  In fact, Paul is excited about how Onesimus has come into his life and the result through the working of God.  Paul offers that just might be the point.  Maybe the reason Onesimus didn’t remain with Philemon for a short period of time was so that they could be together forever.  Not as a useless or unprofitable slave but a brother and fellow worker in Christ.  Paul is offering a heavenly perspective and calling attention to God’s hand in our lives.  We see troubles and hardships, but God sees opportunity.  Many times, our own hardships must be endured for the benefit of others in a way we can’t see. We can, however, trust God’s hand in all of it if we keep a heavenly perspective.

Here, a relationship that was broken and a trust that was violated could be overcome and give way to a new and different relationship in Christ.  How often do our own desires, ambitions, or insecurities in the flesh hold back another?  How often do we act on what we think is right rather than consider God’s way?  Are we withholding spiritual forgiveness, blessings, and love to the detriment of others?  Paul is demonstrating that we can trust God’s hand and to be careful not to hinder His work.

Paul is providing both sides of the case.  Yes, Onesimus has wronged Philemon and that needs to be reconciled.  Paul also calls Onesimus a beloved brother and that much good has happened since Onesimus left and the potential for so much more if they are all reconciled and working together.  Paul has had much joy from Philemon’s love and faith and is encouraged that Philemon will do much more in reconciling with Onesimus.

As you consider this relationship in the context of your life, look to Joseph as well.  How did Joseph come to a point that he could forgive and reconcile with his brothers after all the betrayal?  Joseph recognized that evil done to him was used by God for good.  I am sure this was not an easy thing to come to terms with and it might have been tough for Philemon to reconcile with Onesimus.  We may have the same challenge facing us today.  Can we take a heavenly perspective?  Can we trust God’s hand in our lives?  Will we not give Satan an opportunity to drive a wedge further into the most important relationships we have with our brethren and with our Father?

The bottom-line is this.  We can confidently forgive and reconcile because we know the great power of God in our lives to accomplish good through our hardship. Further, we must forgive and reconcile any chance we get because we have been forgiven and reconciled to God through Jesus every time we needed it and asked for it.  Finally, let’s not ever forget that we are all Onesimus in some way.  We are not perfect. We all sin.  We all hurt others and violate our relationships.  We need forgiveness and we need others to be willing to reconcile.  Therefore, lets open that door with our own attitude and with our willingness to forgive and reconcile.  Have a love and a faith like that.  Be confident that this will bring joy and refreshing to your brethren whether you know it or not.  Stomp on the devil’s head and forgive.  God is doing the heavy lifting…just look up and within and let Him.  Let go and let Him reconcile your life.  How important is that?  It is profoundly and eternally imperative!

Good Deed

Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ— 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary. (Philemon 8-14; NKJV)

In considering this text, do you see the awesome and powerful demonstration of leadership by Paul and made possible by the tremendous followership of Philemon?

We have established this is a tough ask Paul is making of Philemon in receiving Onesimus…a slave of Philemon who has run away and is not profitable.  With that in mind, consider the fact that Paul does not command Philemon and he never uses the words “forgive” or “reconcile”.  What Paul does is “appeal” to Philemon’s character to “receive” Onesimus as a brother in Christ.  Paul knows that Philemon understands this is only possible if he forgives and they are reconciled.  Paul is encouraging Philemon to put his faith and love into action and to further refresh the hearts of the saints.

Why didn’t Paul command him?  I cannot say for certain but I understand the power and joy in others doing the right thing because they choose to rather than because they are told or command to.  I understand the tremendous catalyst of choice.  I have responsibility of leadership in my life whether it is with a colleague, an employee, a child, a spouse, a brother/sister…God has given me specific commands and responsibilities to lead.  Do you see that?  God has given me a work to do (responsibility) and I am accountable to the outcomes of that leadership work…and though the authority is implied…the focus is on the responsibility and the expectation is that I fulfill that responsibility as a Christian who emulates Christ Who is love!  Love in the case of Christ is “choice”!  The catalyst!

Leadership is a result of a cultivated relationship of trust, understanding, and mutual respect which provides the foundation for leading or influencing others towards a common purpose and work.  Paul cultivated this relationship with Philemon.  Philemon demonstrated his heart through his fruit.  Paul trusted the faith and love of Philemon and Philemon trusted Paul’s leadership.

This is what is so awesome in this scenario.  No barking orders.  No insecurity.  No resentment.  All of these are opportunities for Satan to place a wedge and start working a relationship apart.  The more people involved, the more opportunity and this is why leadership is so very important!  Choosing the assume the best of another provides the opportunity for them to exceed your expectations and reduces the opportunity for Satan to divide.

Paul’s letter is all about the need to forgive and how to go about forgiveness.  Paul’s approach is all about trust in Philemon’s character because of Philemon’s actions and fruit.  This is a pattern worth evaluating in our own lives.  If a brother or sister has demonstrated love and faith then we can assume the best of them and that they will demonstrate love and faith now and in the future.  This should provide us with a confidence in each other and relieve the need for “orders” or “commands” but rather open opportunity for encouragement, increased opportunity to serve, and growth.

Forgiveness and reconciliation is a hard work that has to be voluntary for everyone.  We can lead others through forgiveness and reconciliation if we first trust and provide opportunity for reconciliation rather than command that we forgive.  Jesus chose us.  Lets choose each other!

Christian Character

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, 2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. (Philemon 1-7; NKJV)

In Paul’s letter to Philemon that was intended for the church with him, there are two central points:  the need to forgive and how to forgive.  This teaching is profitable to us as well.  We live in a selfish, me-first society with grace and true forgiveness being overtaken with ambition and competition.   This influences us and impacts our Christians families, but this letter equips us to better forgive and in modeling that behavior we have opportunity to teach Jesus.

Remember, Paul is writing Philemon because he wants him to forgive and accept Onesimus.  Paul lays the groundwork for his request of Philemon by acknowledging Philemon’s Christian character.  Paul is thankful for Philemon because of his faith and love towards Jesus and all the saints.

This is Philemon’s reputation because he is doing what Christians should do in having and demonstrating love and faith toward brethren.  Further, this is a shared faith between Paul and Philemon which gives us more insight into  Philemon’s work.  He is an extension of Paul in some regards and the work Philemon is doing brings Paul joy and comfort because Paul knows the hearts of God’s people have been refreshed.

We often think that sharing our faith is about teaching the lost, but we  see in the point of this letter that we share our faith with brethren through forgiveness.  Paul is praying that Philemon’s faith will be more effective and to say it another way that Philemon’s faith will be put into action through forgiveness.

I envision this first section of the letter as being very encouraging to Philemon and those around him.  It is good to be part of a work bigger than ourselves and to be recognized and valued for our part in it.  Paul isn’t writing these things to inflate Philemon’s ego but rather to call to mind the intimate and collaborative work Paul and Philemon are doing for the sake of the gospel and God’s people and to bolster Philemon’s spirit.

Encouragement and recognition are a powerful influences.  This is true with our children, spouses, friends, and especially our brethren.  Taking the time to recognize the work already done and the heart demonstrated will encourage and provide opportunity for even more work to be done no matter how hard the task is.  This letter is about the need to forgive and how to forgive and Paul recognizes this is tough stuff.  Paul doesn’t just jump into that rather he center’s Philemon’s heart and mind on the work and the relationship to bolster Philemon for the work that needs to be done.

Forgiveness is hard spiritual, mental, and emotional work.  Just like any other hard labor, if we do not exercise the muscles necessary to do the work before we need them, we will tire quickly, get hurt or be unable to complete the task.  In looking at this first section of the letter, we can see that continual practice of love and faith for Jesus and the saints will prepare us for more and more difficult challenges and opportunity for even greater positive influence for the sake of Christians.

Practice love and faith.  Be encouraged in that work.  Encourage others in their love and faith.  Together we will be quipped to put our faith into action through forgiveness just like Paul and Philemon.

Lessons from Paul & Philemon

My wife and eldest son are traveling and visited a congregation last night for bible study.  Their study took them to Philemon and my wife sent me a text during the study because she was so encouraged and wanted to share it with me.  So I went to this short letter and read it and I would like to share it with you over the next several days. 

I am including the letter (Philemon) below (NKJV).  I have taken out the verse numbers and other references and presented it like it would have been written, received and read.  I invite you to take some time today and read it through a couple times.  As you do, consider the fact that God has preserved this letter in scripture and though it is a personal matter, the letter was for the church and in it there is learning and practical application today about christian character, love, and forgiveness to name a few.  I look forward to our experiencing this part of God’s word together and it is as awesome and powerful as it is short.

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to he beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ— I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary. For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever,  no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.  I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides. Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.  Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Deny Self

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28; NKJV)

A couple points from this passage and a whole lot for us to consider, meditate on, and practice.

A definition for deny is “refuse to give or grant (something requested or desired) to (someone).”  Here, the someone is ourselves.  Jesus is saying that if we want to be His disciple we must deny following what we want and choose to follow what He has commanded and the example He has shown.  Taking this further, if we look at His example, Jesus denied everything except to do the Father’s will.  In every relationship and every circumstance to include the cross, Jesus denied Himself and chose His Father.  We can use this template in our own relationships and circumstances and if we find ourselves not entering the situation prayerfully or with a heavenly perspective, then we are not denying ourselves and following Jesus.  If we are not denying ourselves and following Jesus, then how can we possible deny ourselves and serve others.  If we deny ourselves, then Jesus and those we are interacting with become the most important.  If others are most important, than we will work to see the situation from their perspective and determine what we can do to serve them and their needs…not our own.

Second point, the cross is a symbol of one thing and one thing only…death.  Death is a complete and final act.  We understand what death looks like.  Life does not continue in that form.  Therefore, when we deny ourselves and follow Jesus, we are not taught to do it “just a little”.  We are taught to completely put off our selfishness, follow Jesus, and serve others.  Jesus doesn’t teach us that it is a one time thing.  We have to do this daily and because we are human, it means we will be faced with the choice to die to our own desires, denying ourselves and following Jesus many-many times in a day.  We have to die to ourselves daily to serve Jesus.

I know that when self is promoted, emotions generated from selfishness are acted on, and a loss of heavenly perspective occurs…I get myself in all kinds of trouble and those around me are impacted.  I also know that when this happens it is a snowball…rolling down a hill gaining mass and speed  and bounding over anything in its path until it slams into the unmovable Rock and shatters leaving only a gouge and debris field.  Why don’t I skip that part and just deny myself, die daily, and follow Jesus?  I know I would be better for it and so would those around me…most importantly those I love.

Genuine Faith

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and daygreatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also(2 Timothy 1:3-5; NKJV)

Our local Christian family is faced with the imminent death of one of our very dear sisters in Christ.  My family and I joined another family to visit her last week in the hospital and though the circumstances weren’t what any of us wanted, the experience was so positive and encouraging!  As we prayed, sang, and talked together we were all so encouraged by our sister’s peace and confidence in Jesus.  It brought to mind the passage above and how the genuine faith in those in our lives can work to foster and solidify a genuine faith in us.  It brought to mind how I need to be thankful for and pray for those who have and are positively impacting my faith and to thank God for His putting them in my life.

Further, we have that same opportunity to make an impact with those we are “raising” or influencing in the faith.  If we have and demonstrate a genuine faith, others will be encouraged and strengthened in their faith.  We can also be aware of others struggling in their faith and maybe they need our direct involvement in their life in order to bolster their faith.  Either way, we have that kind of opportunity and we should take stock of our own walk in the context of those around us who are looking to us for influence and strength.

Eternal Fellowship

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.  This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1; NKJV)

In writing this morning, what is on my heart is the fellowship I have with my brothers (and sisters) in Christ and how powerful that is.  In studying this at one point, I came across a statement that hit home “Fellowship is a mutual bond that Christians have with Christ that puts in a deep, eternal relationship with one another“.  Our relationship with Jesus is the foundation of our relationship with each other and truly if we are gathered in His name and His purpose then He is there too.  That is enough for me to think about for a long time to really examine myself, my relationship (with Jesus and my brethren), my thoughts, my actions, and my overall attitude.

I want to move past that for now and just encourage you and I to see the profound value of our relationships in Christ, the absolute need for these relationships, and how much the devil wants us alone or fighting against these relationships.  Biblical teaching is about multiples…God does not want us to be alone and warns us of all the dangers of being alone and acting alone.

In a dark world, there is no safe place except for Jesus and in Him our relationships with fellow believers.  These relationships should be safe and if we don’t feel safe then something is wrong.  We should be able to be completely vulnerable and confess to each other and expect love, understanding, grace, mercy, forgiveness, encouragement, prayer….that is what we get from Jesus!  If we are looking to Him in our own life and allowing ourselves to be filled with His Spirit…we will then be able to humbly go to one another and be prepared to pour out what God has given us freely.  Not of ourselves…but of God.

If we are walking around thinking that we need to be perfect and get it all right ourselves…we are being deceived.  If we are not confessing to each other and we are trying to carry all of our troubles alone…we are failing and the devil is winning.  The devil wants the sheep separated, scattered and alone…easier prey and higher likelihood of success in destroying.  And that is what he does…the devil is a setter of snares, one who scatters and a destroyer.

I love my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I flourish when I am with them, vulnerable, and building while being built up.  I am at my worst when either I leave that environment or struggle to find it due to other’s behavior.  I am committed, however, to tighten my armor and get back to the fight and relish the touch of a brother/sister on my left and on my right as we stand together for Jesus and fight the good fight to His glory and our salvation.

Encouragement

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their GodAnd God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

Revelation was written to encourage the 1st Century Christians as they suffered under the severe persecution of the Roman Empire.  There is much to study and to learn from the book and I believe it is also given as an encouragement to us.

There are many of us who have loved ones that are very sick, hurting, or are otherwise in a very tough spot.  We love them and we want to help them but in truth there is only so much we can do.  Cancer, mental illness, physical disabilities, emotion abuse are the ones that come to my mind as I think about those I love who are either suffering or have someone who is suffering.  It breaks my heart overall and as I consider each case and the impact of the situation hurts me even more.  I dare say it makes me mad on some level though that is a fruit of the flesh and not the Spirit.  The Spirit, if I am focused as I should be, brings me peace, comfort, and encouragement.

As I think about it, I hurt because of the pain but I rejoice because I know that in the end, every person on my mind who is suffering is going to be ok when they go home to Jesus.  With that said, as I turn to those that are caring for them, love them, or otherwise affected by their loved one’s suffering…what can I do there?  Of course I can say encouraging things, I can pray for and with them, I can just generally be available, compassionate, and loving.  That is a lot and I should do more.

What I also want to do today is encourage everyone who is reading this to take time throughout the day and pray for those we know are suffering physical, mental or emotional pain.  Pray that even though they may not be able to pray or read scripture, that verses like these would fill their heart and God would comfort them through the power I know He has and will use for His children.  I believe everyone that is in Jesus is going to be ok in eternity and I believe our God is willing and able to comfort His children who are our loved ones in ways we cannot see or fully understand.  I believe that and I think we can find comfort in it.

It is not about us and it is not about now.  We cannot do it all and thankfully He has done it all.  Take heart and pray with me for all our loved ones and their families in these difficult times.