Getting Out the Garbage

I headed out for my usual early morning exercise–a brisk walk to the lake, around the neighborhood loop, and back again. As I passed by, a neighbor emerged from her garage. We waved to greet one another before she grabbed a large plastic container to haul to the end of her driveway.

Yikes, garbage day!

I made a mental note to  put our garbage out as soon as I finished my walk. We sure didn’t need health hazards, clutter, and all things stinky hanging around for another week. How good it always felt to get rid of garbage.

Rid of … hmm. Didn’t God’s Word have a lot to say about “getting rid of”? When I returned, I’d check that out, too.

Ah, hah! Just as I thought. The Bible listed all sorts of garbage that Peter and Paul urged Christian to “get rid of.” I studied those lists for any garbage I needed to get rid of.

Curious? Would you like to know what I found on those lists? Here are just a few items I considered, in case I was carrying them around:

  • “Get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Don’t just pretend to be good. Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing” (1 Peter 2:1, New Living Translation).
  • “Get rid of … slander and dirty language” (Colossians 3:8, New Living Translation).
  • “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words … be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:31, New Living Translation).
  • “Get rid of all filth and evil in your lives … humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls” (James 1:21, New Living Translation).

Paul also pointed to a major source of garbage–pride. He could claim lofty heights in his family bloodlines, education, and social status. Though all those things seem important to us, what is their end result? They encourage us to look down on others and count them of less value.

Yet God calls us to love one another regardless of these things. Awakened to this truth and compelled by his love for God, Paul led the way for us. He chose to change his attitude.

Focus: “I once thought all these things were very important, but now I count them as worthless … when compared the with priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage” ~ Philippians 3:7-8, (New Living Translation).

How about you?  How would your life change if you took seriously God’s Word and Paul’s example?

 

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Who’s in Control?

I woke in the middle of the night and starred into the darkness. Would I be all right while traveling half way across the country and navigating huge, unfamiliar airports on my way to a writers’ conference? Would our son and daughter-in-law snag a low-interest mortgage to purchase their first home? Had I measured and ordered accurately so that my husband would have little trouble installing our new kitchen cabinets? Had I …?

Worries whirled in my head, tumbling over one another and gaining speed. At this rate, I would win the Olympic God Medal for worry and finish well ahead of any competitor. Not good!

In his Word, God repeatedly urges us not to worry, not to be afraid.

By worrying, can we change anything?

  • Would worry turn my cross country trip into a trouble-free journey? No, but trusting the details to God and thanking him for his goodness would ensure a trip filled with his good will.
  • Would worry about my son’s first house mortgage make a difference? No. For Pete’s sake, it wasn’t even my business! But I could ask God  to give him and his wife wisdom and the right opportunity. I could give the situation to God and thank him that he loved them and would see them safely through their newest family adventure.
  • Would worry about the kitchen remodeling project make any problems go away? No, but asking God to guide us and thanking him for his gift of wisdom to overcome each challenge would take us safely through to completion.

The bottom line: If we want success and peace, God says we can have it. First, by remembering who’s in control–not us but our God Almighty who loves us. Second, by following his instructions (see below).

Focus: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” ~ Philippians 4:67, New Living Translation.

How about you? In what situations have you overcome worry and experienced God’s peace by turning to God in prayer?

Sowing Generosity Reaps Rewards

One year a farmer brought in such an overflow of crops that his barn could not hold them. He sat down to think about his problem, and a while later jumped up in his excitement. “I know! I’ll build new and bigger barns. I’ll be set for years to come!”

But God said, “You fool! This very night you will die. Then who will get all this that you are hording for yourself?”

Even if the farmer had not died that night, he would have been a fool. God gives us wonderful resources of time, money and possessions with a greater purpose in mind. He wants us to enjoy those gifts, but he also wants us to share them freely with others.

Do we know someone  who has suffered a death in the family? We can take time to go to the funeral and comfort them with our presence. We can slip a gift of money in a sympathy card to help with expenses. We can bring a meal during the days while they are still stunned by their loss.

What about a family who has lost everything in a fire or suffered some other tragedy that we read about in the newspaper? We can send them a check to help them get back on their feet. If a neighbor, we can share our home and do whatever is needed to help them through the hard days ahead.

Do we hear of someone ill or injured? Even if we don’t know them or they live far away, we can pray for their recovery.

And how about elderly family, friends, and neighbors? We can make time in our busy schedules to visit, to help them shop or get to appointments.

God not only provides us with countless opportunities to help others with the resources he gives us, he rewards us both here on earth and in heaven. So go ahead. Be generous!

Focus: “Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.” ~ Luke 16:9, The Living Bible.

What about you? What opportunities do you see God give you to to be generous with the resources he has also given you?

Wounds In the Storms of Life

I loved the graceful, old maple tree that stood in our back yard. Its green leaves like layers of lace would rise and fall majestically in a mild October wind. Restless, they knew their time was short. Soon they would change color and fall to the ground.

That tree fascinated me. I’d marvel at its beauty and recall the time when lightening ripped it nearly in half. The wound stretched long and visible, one side of the tree stripped bare of branches.

On the advise of a tree surgeon, my husband painted the wound with black sealant. Over the years that wound not only healed but became almost invisible. As promised, branches grew and covered the naked side, restoring the tree to its former beauty.

In the storms of life, we also suffer wounds. Some lay our lives so wide open that we feel naked to the world. We wonder if we will ever recover, if we will ever know beauty again.

But from the very moment we are wounded, God is at work, and over the years, he heals and restores us. We do become whole again. What seems impossible to us is always possible with God. His loving-kindness is ever at work in the lives of those who earnestly seek him and put their hope in him. To those, he makes a promise.

Focus: “Behold, I make all things new.” ~ Revelation 21:5, New International Version.

What about you? What gaping wound have you suffered in life and then found God faithful to heal it?