Two years ago, I bought a small one gallon shrub from my local Home Depot.The label said that it was a pink oleander bush, which I wanted to place in my yard across from the lovely white oleander.It was planted in just the right spot, fertilized at just the right time, watered regularly, and I waited patiently to enjoy what the label said would be beautiful pink flowers.
After 24 months it bloomed for the first time.The leaves are green and healthy, and the flowers are large and plentiful... but they are yellow, not pink!My options are few.I can dig it up and take it back for a refund, but I would have to wait another two years to enjoy the blooms of a younger bush; or, I can learn to live with it.So, I have decided that I like yellow.
Our label-crazed world has taught us to expect the bearer of such to produce a certain result or outcome.And when it doesn't happen we are faced with disappointment, or, we can adjust.Some labels come from the manufacturer, and some are placed there by society.We label people of culture or color; we label folk from certain neighborhoods; we label Christians from different churches or denominations; we even label children to be like their brothers or sisters. Labels may be helpful in the grocery store but they are lousy barometers of content when used on people, because they are usually written by our own hearts of prejudice.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, I have been too much influenced by societal labeling.Grant me the ability to appreciate the differences you have made in the created order of things and people.And thank you for teaching me that yellow is nice, too."Amen and amen.
More often than not, those of this world let others determine their worth.
We appear to be valuable members of society when we are young, when we have a job - not just any job, but one that carries a certain title and salary, when we live in a certain neighborhood, are educated at a certain caliber of university, drive a certain type of vehicle and project a certain image.We think we have arrived!
In the big scheme of things, none of this defines who we are or whose we are.God isn’t concerned about the world’s definition of our worth.We are His children and He has a plan and purpose for each of us.
Many feel undervalued because they think they have nothing to offer once their careers end, or if they are of a certain age or on a limited income.But, that’s far from the truth – it’s a mere excuse and one many seem willing to embrace.
God can use you no matter what your station of life.We only need heed the call.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, let us stop offering excuses as to why we can’t do something, when we can.You have given us a capacity to give for the greater good; to be useful.Too many of us have been relegated to the sidelines, when we should be on Your front row.
Use Me (God Is Able)
If You can use anything Lord You can use me If You can use anything Lord You can use me Take my hands, Lord And my feet Touch my heart, Lord And speak through me If You can use anything Lord You can use me
Lord, you called Moses From the wilderness And You put a rod in his hand You used him to lead Your people Over to the Promised Land Lord, I'm willing to trust in You So take my life Lord And use it too Yes, if You can use anything Lord Come on and use me
It was one of those picture-perfect days on the Gulf coast of Texas, the kind you savor in your memory so you can recall it during the winters of life.I was fishing from a jetty which extended out into the Gulf of Mexico about a half mile.It didn't matter that nothing was attracted to my line.The salt air on my face and the sound of the waves splashing against the rocks was satisfaction enough.
A hard tug on my line awoke me from my selfish slumber, and I yanked back vigorously.The battle lasted several minutes until I reeled in one of the largest fish I had ever caught.Now, the redfish laws of Texas make it illegal to keep a fish of that species beyond a certain length.You might know that mine was too big to keep, and I felt a twinge of remorse as I released it back into the sandy water.I am left with my memory and my story about the big one that I had to let go back.But I was also given a lesson from the Lord.
How often do you struggle with a problem or concern that is too big for you to handle?It may be something that belongs to someone else or it could be very personal.Isn't it time just to let it go?Releasing a problem is difficult for many reasons; sometimes it is because we have embraced it for so long that we wouldn't know what to do without it.Or, maybe it gives us a feeling of security to know that someone we love will think better of us because we have become involved in their problem.The truth is, every difficult situation belongs in the hands of the Father.He is much better equipped to handle it than we are.Identify the issue, confess that it is too big for you, and let it go. Amen and amen.
Three times, Jesus spoke to the Pharisees comparing how they looked on the outside to what they were really like on the inside.
"…You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."
"You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean."
"In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." (Matthew 23:25-28)
Then, in Mark 7:21-23, Jesus applies this outside/inside standard to all men: "For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "
Look at the world today and you will see that many have forgotten this simple message.So many are concerned with appearance: their clothes, their car, or their house, etc.Their concern for appearance has caused them to forget about things like charity, commitment and sometimes even love.This drive to look good, to appear to the world to be successful, has even gotten into the church where we sometimes focus more on our appearance than our spirits - we look great on the outside; but, our words of love and faithdon't reflect the hypocrisy cleverly hidden in our hearts.
Concern with appearance has led many down the slippery slope of pride; but, it's frequently so gradual that Satan gets a foothold without us even realizing what is happening.
John warns us to "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (1st John 2:15-17)
Peter realized (Acts 15:8-9) that God knows our heart and shows that He accepts us as His children by giving us the Holy Spirit. God makes no distinction between people (Jew or Gentile).Paul tells us (Galatians 3:27-28) that all who are baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ; that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but we are all one in Christ Jesus.Over and over scripture tells us that it is our hearts and minds that the Father wants: He wants our insides…
GospeLines Prayer:Father, because of the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, we can come before you to praise You and thank You for loving us and for adopting us as Your children.Father we thank you for the Holy Spirit by whom we can know You in the spirit as well as in the flesh.Lord, help us to love You with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds.Help us to increase in faith as the day draws closer and help us to spread Your love and Your Word to the world in Jesus name.May all those who agree say… Amen!
“…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”
Pikes Peak Highway is a nineteen mile journey from Cascade, Colorado to the summit. The sign at the entrance says "Elevation: 7,400 ft." In 1974, driving a small four door Nissan, with 4-on-the-floor, it looked a lot higher to this Texas flat-lander. But I was young and daring so off we went toward the 14,110 ft. summit.
My wife said the drive was beautiful. I was too busy trying to stay away from the edge to enjoy the breathtaking view, straight down, with nothing to keep me from going over the side but my sweaty palms on the steering wheel. I don't have to tell you that I was scared.
That's my life. You and I often find ourselves on the Pikes Peak Highway of life with that scared feeling in the pit of our stomachs. Sometimes it gets so frightening that we forget to enjoy the view.
Just before Jesus left this earth, he told His disciples that He would not leave them alone, but that the Comforter would be with them. It was His way of saying, "Don't be too concerned about the risks, just enjoy the ride. I will be with you."
Driving those 19 miles up Pikes Peak, you have to learn to live with the edge. It's not going to go away. In life, we face the edge every day, just the same way. But Jesus is there with us, steering us, keeping us safe. Be assured that the view is worth seeing and enjoying....take a chance, let Jesus be your protection and bask in the beauty of His creation. He is in charge of it.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, forbid that I would go through life without enjoying the beauty of it all because I fear the dangers it brings. When I am brought close to the edge, remind me that You are there to keep me safe and to steer me onto the correct course. Amen and amen.