Friday, January 29, 2016

God Winked While I Worked: Proposals, Parties, and Presents

I had busted my brain most of the week preparing two complex proposals for two large prospective clients. The night before I was to present them, I traveled to Columbia, MD, and checked into a plush hotel for a good night's rest so that I'd be at the top of my game the next day.

That night, I planned to meet up with a few friends at a mixer. For me, socializing is a tremendous stress reliever.

As soon as I walked into the party and introduced myself to the young lady at the registration desk, I discovered that she was working with my boss on a potential project. I was familiar with the project and her name ... and now I was meeting her, not by chance. Did God wink and put her in my path for a purpose?

I then met up with a young professional woman who I've been mentoring for a few months. She
handed me a belated and completely unexpected Christmas gift in a pretty bag. Tearing away the tissue, I was surprised to find a silver chest containing a sparkling Waterford Crystal Limited Edition Snowflake Vase, along with a dainty little dazzling ornament, and a very thoughtful handwritten note of gratitude. Smiling, I looked up wondering if God winked again and gave me this gift to affirm the use of my gifts, and that I was right where He wanted me.
A short time later, my name was selected from all the attendees to win a $100 Visa gift card. I couldn't have orchestrated it, but God could.

After the mixer, I went to a trivia party with a girl God sent into my life on an earlier trip to the area. I'm smart, but not a walking encyclopedia, so, I usually go to these things for the gab not the game. Believe it or not, I helped score one for the team by answering the name of Dumbo's mouse. Watching that movie over and over again with my boys many years ago paid off. What was his name? Timothy, of course!

While at Trivia, I received an unexpected voice mail from another sweet friend whom I hadn't seen in several months. She had heard that I was in the area to present two proposals and wanted to wish me luck, and see if we could meet up for lunch. How did she hear? Was that another God wink?

It seemed like God kept winking to convince me that He was behind the scenes working all things out for my good and His glory.

Lastly, when I woke up during the night I read a devotional on my phone that said, "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven. Rejoice because your name is written in heaven. You are eternally safe and secure through both suffering and success."

In the morning, I got up and went off to present the proposals with full assurance of God's presence and power.

The first one, with a large global telecom company was well received. There are a few more steps to take, but It's advancing and will likely result in a future sale.

The second one, with a chief learning officer at a large government agency, was a blockbuster. Without even presenting the proposal, she said, "I want these two offerings, and this one, and this one; and I want pricing on this and that. We'll get started as soon as I receive my budget."

God who calls us, also equips us and goes with us. No matter the outcome whether I win or lose, in suffering or success, I rejoice that my name is written in heaven. Heaven is the ultimate reward where those who believe in Jesus will be safe and secure forever, enjoying all His glorious riches.

Thank you God, for winking while I worked!

Philippians 3:17

Philippians 3:17
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Jesus, You are the Perfect Pattern for godly living. I long to model my life after Yours.

Help me to understand and obey the rules of Your magnificent kingdom. Do not let me wander away from them. I want to reflect Your beauty in everything I say and do. In the laboratory of love, show me any aspect or activity in my life that will tarnish 
Your image. Concentrating on You, I'll accept Your gentle instruction, allowing You to polish me.

With Your Words in all their richness alive in me, I'll accurately represent the kingdom of heaven on earth. Love and patience will show my strong faith. Peace will reign in my heart. Praise and thanksgiving will always be on my lips. My kindness and humility will give others an honest impression of You.

Please send godly people into my life so that I can see Your principles in practice and apply them to my own life. Seeing others imitating You will help me to grow in Your likeness. Hearing them tell about Your work in their lives will inspire me to persevere. As I study Your Word and watch others, I'll become a living Bible, persuading and motivating others to bring glory, honor and fame to You. Amen.

What impression do people have of Christ when they see or talk with you? What changes do you need to make in your life to honor Him?

As Christians, we are to represent Christ. When those around us say, "I didn't know you were a Christian," we have failed to represent him as we should. We are not merely Christ followers; we are his representatives to others.

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Luke 10:30-37

Luke 10:30-37
Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." 

Jesus, You are the Perfect Teacher!
Thank you for teaching me who my neighbors are! They are the people around me who have been stripped of their dignity. Kicked by random acts of cruelty, punched by persistent problems, and knocked unconscious by bullies, their spirits have been left to disgracefully die.

Forgive me for all the times I've:
  • Hurt someone and walked away like the robber
  • Unkindly passed by someone suffering because of my arrogance like the religious leaders
  • Reasoned my lack of love by standing around and talking about it like the experts in the law
  • Tried to capitalize on a bad situation like the innkeeper
Teach me to be merciful like the Samaritan who was the smallest among all of these men, yet had the biggest heart. Please remove the scales from my eyes and show me an injured soul today - someone who is different from me in race, creed, or social background. I will stop and nurse their wounds no matter the cost.  With corrected vision, I will see interruptions as divine opportunities to show Your love to people in distress. May mercy flow like a river through me because of Your amazing love. Amen.

Open your eyes and look for someone to share the love of Christ with in a practical way today whether it's convenient or not.

Amanda was stripped of her dignity. Her domineering father kicked her around as a kid. Her mother was a social butterfly flitting from friend to friend leaving Amanda and her sister at home to do the laundry, cooking and cleaning. While she worked tirelessly to please her meticulous mother, she dreamed of marrying a pastor and becoming a missionary in a distant land.

At the age of 23 her dream came true when she married Mike, a pastor who was preparing to be a missionary in Zambia. But, before they embarked on their mission, he denounced his faith and abandoned her and their child for another woman. Single and penniless, she was punched by persistent problems as she raised their child alone. 

Eventually, her only child grew up as children do, and deserted her mother for all the pleasures of this world - men, money, and materialism - putting a knife in her mother's heart that cut to the core. Left alone, Amanda was bloodied and beaten by life, unattractive and unpleasant to be around. 

Her heart may have been hardened by life, but my heart was harder. Instead of stopping to help her, I heaped more hurt on her by walking away like the robber. Smug with my good life, I arrogantly passed her by like the Pharisees. Reasoning my lack of love, I talked to my pastor about her. He looked at me and with tear glazed eyes said, "Beth, she just needs someone to listen."  

What I heard with my heart was, "She just needs Jesus." That's when I stopped, turned around, and brought her into my home. There over a cup of hot chocolate, I heard her story, nursed her wounds, and let mercy flow like a river. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

John 13: 4-5, 14-15

John 13: 4-5, 14-15
He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus said to them, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."  

Jesus, My Lord and Teacher,
You reign in power with full authority over heaven and earth. Yet You left Your heavenly kingdom and became fully human to teach me Your ways. Out of deep devotion to Your Father, You voluntarily laid aside Your own rights and privileges to model the attitude of a servant.

Thank You for stooping down to wash filthy feet in order to teach me how to humbly serve You and others. If You, the Prince of Heaven, can take on the unappealing task of washing muddy feet then who am I to stand around, watching, and waiting for someone else to do the dirty work?

Humble my heart today. Fill me with a willing spirit and power to get up and go do whatever needs done for Your glory. Full of Your power, I will ...

Shamelessly stoop down to do unpleasant tasks
Eagerly serve others even when it's untimely
Risk my reputation to reach out and touch the unattractive
Value the dignity of human life more than my power or position
Express the full extent of Your love, even to the unappreciative

Father, with all my heart I want to be more like Jesus. Open my eyes to see who I can serve today. Out of love and respect, I will do whatever You ask, anticipating the rich reward You will give me because of Jesus. Amen

Are you willing to follow Christ's example? Whom can you serve today?

Nobody likes a know it all!
Chloe is brilliant. She knows a lot, especially about the Bible, and she isn't afraid to use it to teach, correct or rebuke people. The problem is its constant in-your-face correction. Because it's not gentle or loving, it comes across as arrogant, self-righteousness and pushes people, including me, away.

On a recent Sunday I invited her to join me for lunch after church. Over tossed salad and iced tea, I listened to her spew vengeance.  I thought, "From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. This woman is really bitter." She just needs someone to listen and love her. But, how do you love a porcupine?

Empathizing with her, I later felt prompted by God to invite her to my home for coffee. She readily accepted my offer. For two hours we sat at my dining room table. She talked. I listened. I could see the pain in her eyes, and hear the hurt in her heart. Life had dealt her some really hard knocks that hardened her heart. Behind the constant hardcore need to correct others is an insecure woman who just needs Jesus.

Valuing the dignity of her life, I stooped down and served her for Him. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Romans 2:1

Romans 2:1 
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 

Holy & Righteous Judge,
Forgive me for donning the robe, stepping behind the desk, and pounding down the gavel to announce the "guilty" verdict. I am just as bad! I have no excuse! It's easier to look straight ahead at someone else, than it is to look down at myself. If I point a finger at others, four fingers are pointing back at me.

When I put on Your holy robe and thump Your sacred gavel, playing judge, I'm setting myself up for discipline. You do not like when I step behind Your divine desk because I'm unworthy and unqualified to be there. Forgive me for filtering Your grace through my opinion, and watering down Your mercy with my own narrow-mindedness. I can't understand Your holy standard, let alone reach it!

I don't know the whole story. How can I judge a book when the chapters aren't all written? Only You know the whole truth. You are the Amazing Author of every story and uniquely write each ending. If You began a good story about someone, You will finish it with a perfect ending. I believe You.

I think of the thief dying on the cross next to You. In the last paragraph of his life story, he acknowledged You and asked You to remember him.  In the end, You pounded the gavel and proclaimed him "not guilty", assuring him a place in Paradise. While the watching world convicted him, You patiently pardoned him. You are so kind and merciful. Teach me, Your Honor, to be non-judgmental for Your name sake. Amen.

God is a Father of many chances. He holds back His judgment on us, allowing us time to change our mind. He expects us to do the same to others. Talk to God about who you need to show mercy today. Then, step aside, remove the robe, put down the gavel and let Him announce the verdict. He alone is worthy.

When trouble strikes, a question I hear commonly asked in Christian circles is, "Is he/she saved?" I used to be quick to answer. However, as I've studied God's Word, and grown to be more like Jesus, I've learned that I cannot answer that question. It's a matter of the heart. I can judge what I see, and I can't see the heart. Only God can.

My 79 year old neighbor lady lived promiscuously and partied hard most of her life. Now she is dying of cancer. My two little dogs and I visit her every day. While she feeds my dogs treats, we've talked about the gospel and eternal destiny. She knows the gospel, but I'm not sure she knows Jesus. Nothing I observe in her life would indicate that she does. However, I can't see her heart; only God can. One day we will both stand before Him. On that day He alone will judge our hearts. In the meantime, I can honor Him by freely lavishing her with the same love and grace He's lavished on me. 

With all my heart, I think we will be very surprised on Judgment Day by who is in heaven and who is not. I believe many Bible-thumping, church-going, do-good people could be left out, while promiscuous party girls go in. It's not a matter of knowledge, routines, or works. It's a matter of relationship. Do you know Jesus?  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Matthew 9:10-13

Matthew 9:10-13
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." 

Father, forgive me for making this life a popularity contest. Often I'm more concerned about my rituals, routines, and reputation than I am about restoring relationships. It's not about ME. It's all about YOU. Please enlarge my heart and fill it with more of Your merciful love. Open my eyes to see who needs a touch of Your greatness today and I'll obediently reach out to them in the spirit of friendship because of Jesus. Amen.

Invite a lost and lonely soul into the core of your life today. Be courteous and authentic to them. Spend frequent time with them. Allow the Master to touch them through you.

God says, three times in his Word, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Matthew 9:13, 12:7 and Hosea 6:6. He doesn't want our rituals and routines! He wants our relationship! And, when our hearts are enlarged and full of Him, we'll have a spirit of forgiveness and restoration.

A few years ago I was compelled to reach out to a young man serving a life sentence in a state prison. I wasn't something I was seeking to do, even wanting to do. I read his story in the local paper and prayed, "Dear God, but for your grace this could be my son." Yes, what he did was vile, but God gave me eyes to see that even the vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus His pardon receives. This young man was a sinner like me. 

In obedience to this prompting on my heart, I started mailing him Prayer Pal. Soon we were corresponding via letter. Eventually, God opened the door for me to visit him. Beyond the double fence topped with concertina wire, through the heavy locked doors, in the cold, dark, sterile visit room of the state penitentiary where guards menacingly glare at you, I break bread with this young man and show him Christ's mercy. The blessing I receive by mixing and mingling with this young man is inexplicable and incomprehensible. I go to bless, and leave blessed. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Luke 12: 22-23

Luke 12: 22-23
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes."

You are such a tender loving Teacher. This is a hard lesson for me to learn. Please stick with me until I figure it out! Every day I worry about:

Life - What if this or that happens?

Food - What should I put in my stomach today? Low fat or low carbs? How many calories and how much fiber does it contain?

Body - Am I too short, too tall, too fat, or too skinny? What will people think of me?

Clothing - What should I wear today? Black, brown, blue, white, purple, green, red, yellow? Do I look good?

Forgive me for wasting my time worrying about insignificant things. I should be more concerned with where I'll spend eternity, what I'll feed my mind, and the condition of my heart. Instead of looking at fads and fashions, I should thoughtfully walk through a field of wildflowers, gazing with wonder on their fabulous form. They never spend one minute primping or shopping; yet, they look dazzling.

Lord, I desperately need more faith to believe that I'm more valuable than flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow. Rather than worrying about my life, I resolve to trust You more this year. Living in Your presence, I'll realize the magnitude of Your love and follow Your perfect plan, trusting You to take care of all my needs day by day.

Giving my entire attention to what You're doing at the moment, I won't get worked up about the future. When tough times come, I'll trust You to sustain me for the glory and honor of Your life-giving name. Amen.

What temporal things are you worried about? What do you gain from worrying about these things? Resolve to trust God more this year by looking at life from an eternal perspective.

You can exercise rigorously, eat right, put on a pretty face and dress in the latest fashions, but it's all meaningless if you don't have a pure heart. When you appear before God's throne, He's not going to look at your fine physique, pretty face and fashionable wardrobe. He's going to examine your heart. Work out with Him by reading your Bible and doing what He says. Feed on His power packed promises. Clothe yourself in righteousness, humility and love from the armoire of God. Then, you'll have nothing to worry about because you'll look and feel splendid.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Psalm 123:2

Psalm 123:2
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
         As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
         So our eyes look to the LORD our God. NKJV

Merciful Master in Heaven,
I am Your humble servant who looks up to You with respect and admiration. Under Your control, You treat me with loving kindness. You assign my work and reward me. While working for You is hard, it's also a joy and a delight.

Looking upward, I'll have a vast view of You. From Your vantage point, my perspective will be fundamentally different. I'll find You in the doctor's office and the law office. I'll see You in the parking lot and the shopping mall. You'll be in the board room, as well as, the play room and classroom. You'll be on the plane soaring across the skyway and in the car zooming down the highway. I'll notice You on the production line and in the check-out line. I'll spot You in my pain, as well as, my pleasure. I'll even see You in the darkest people and places. You'll be in my home and in my heart.

Watching You, I'll clearly see signals to do Your work. Sometimes You'll simply tell me to pray. Other times, You'll instruct me to lovingly encourage and comfort. Occasionally, You'll ask me to boldly speak out for what's right. You'll likely expect me to show mercy and kindness to intolerable people. You'll probably require me to go outside of my comfort zone to do tasks that don't come easily. Wherever I see You Lord, I'll stop, listen, and do whatever You ask to bring glory to Your high and holy name.

Open the eyes of my heart Lord! I want to see You! You are my Master, and immediate obedience is necessary. For my hard work, You will richly reward me with the tender mercies of Your Son. Amen.

Are you continually focused on the Lord? If your eyes are wandering you'll miss encounters with Him.

How have you seen God working around you recently? Where have you been working for Him? I'd love to hear from you!

A Prayer Pal reader often sends me encouragement. He always ends his emails with, "Eyes Up", to which I respond, "Shades on. Glory Shines." I appreciate his weekly reminder because in this world of many sorrows it is easy to focus on the here and now instead of the heavenly. With my eyes up, as I go about my day, I see the people and situations God puts in my path as opportunities not problems. 

On a recent December day my employer and I met with a human resource officer at a government agency. Worn out, burned out, and ready to bail out, she poured out her heart to two strangers sitting at a table with her. As she spoke of her challenges and frustrations, her brown eyes glazed with tears. We generously gave her our time, our ears and our expertise expecting nothing in return. On the way to the parking lot my employer looked at me and said, "Being there for that woman made my day. This is the reason I'm in business." With eyes up, we saw her pain and touched her with kindness. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

God Winked While I Worked: A Trip Down Memory Lane

God winked while I worked and gave me a sweet little trip down memory lane. From 1989 – 2006 I passionately sold Longaberger Baskets. Being in top sales and recruiting with Longaberger afforded me the opportunity to stay home with my boys when they were little. It also gave me the sales foundation necessary to do what I do today. The group I belonged to was based out of Green Castle, PA.

Brenda McQuait was my branch and regional advisor for many years. During those years I regularly made the 110 mile trek on 81 South to Green Castle for sales meetings after working all day and with two little boys at home. It was a LONGGGGG trek … even after I stopped working full-time.

Last night I trekked a few miles further south to Hagerstown, MD. Driving alone in the pitch black night, in complete silence, I lovingly remembered all my basket buddies as though it were just yesterday. I pictured Brenda’s pretty little brick house on Allison St. I smelled the delightful aroma of a Yankee Candle burning in her cozy kitchen. All of us basket-crazed girls were gathered in a tight circle in the living room surrounded by beautiful new products gibberishly jabbering about all their amazing uses and lusting to own them! Inhaling deeply, the smell of fresh basket stain filled my nostrils. (There really should be a Yankee Candle with that scent!) The attractive awards lined up on the mantle lured me. I could taste the drive, desire, and success that burned within me throughout those memorable years long ago.

Tired after a full day’s work, I wondered how I regularly made the roundtrip in a single night when my kids were little so many years ago.

I won a Priceline Bid for a room at the Ramada Inn on Halfway Blvd in Hagerstown, MD. When I pulled up to the hotel the first thing I noticed was the Fireside Restaurant. I thought, “I think I had dinner here once with my basket buddies: Brenda, Linda, and Ellen.” Precious friends whom I haven’t seen in years; and yet, if we were to see each other today we’d pick up right we left off.

I entered the hotel lobby and smilingly thought, “Yes, I’ve been here before. This is where our Regional Meetings were held. Right in THAT conference room,” directly off the lobby.

With a grin from ear to ear I checked in and thanked God for orchestrating my stay in a place where so many fond memories were made. It wasn’t luxurious like many of the hotels where I stay on business travel. But, it was warm and cozy because of the memories. This was where I got my start and passion for public speaking; where I won many accolades and awards for my performance; where my confidence was formed. God knew where He was taking me.

This morning I had a meeting at the hotel next door. At breakfast I was sharing my nostalgia with some ladies. The one lady pointed to the empty seat next to her where someone strew a pocketbook and coat, and then disappeared. She said, “You need to talk to Jen.”

When she came back, I introduced myself and enthusiastically shared my story. I discovered that Jen was a Longaberger Consultant too. She was in Brenda’s branch with me for a short time before branching out with my very dear friend, Linda, who lives in Hagerstown. What are the chances that a woman whose path intersected with mine almost 20 years ago would sit at my table and reminisce with me about baskets over breakfast while I worked, catching me up on the life of a friend who strongly influenced my life many years ago?

I believe God winked to let me know He orchestrated this meeting to show me just how far He has brought me; how He has woven my past into my present as He continues to create the tapestry of my life. God delivered me from those strong desires for material possessions and that vigorous drive for success. He’s given me incredible peace and contentment in Jesus, His Son. Those precious ladies and unforgettable memories are all part of His Divine Design. I am humbled and grateful that God winked while I worked!

Thanks, Marcy, for introducing me to godwinks!

Matthew 6:19-21

Matthew 6:19-21
Jesus commanded: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

You are my most valuable Treasure. You are more lustrous than pearls, more majestic than sapphires, and more radiant than rubies. I rejoice in the richness of my relationship with You. Knowing You is more precious than the most brilliant diamond. Rare and beautiful, You've caught my interest and captivated my heart!

Like a fool, I've invested my money in worthless possessions, accumulating assets that could be destroyed in a heart beat. My warm and cozy home is full of meaningless treasures that could easily be stolen. Blessed with an overabundance of food, I'm never hungry. I've spent a small fortune on an extravagant wardrobe that I wash, wear and waste. Forgive me, Father, for overindulging in useless pleasures when others are just looking for a simple roof over their head, begging for a mere morsel to eat, and wearing my worn out wardrobe.

Because my heart and all that I have belong to You, I resolve to be more generous this year. Please touch my wallet with Your love. Show me who I can bless financially today. Willingly and wisely, I'll open my heart and my wallet, making a secure investment in Your heavenly kingdom. In return, You'll bless me with the everlasting riches of Your glorious name. Amen.

Thank God for all that He's given you. Consider all the ways you extravagantly spend money on unnecessary items while others struggle to survive. Out of heartfelt gratitude, resolve to be more generous and find someone to share your wealth with today.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

1 Timothy 6:6-8

1 Timothy 6:6-8
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 

Life Giving God,
You are the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are immortal and live in unapproachable light. No eye has ever seen You. Highest honor, everlasting power, and interminable dominion are Yours forever and ever!

I'm exceedingly happy because of your incredible provision! You have given me so much more than I need. Help me to be content with what I have. It's difficult to flee from the advertising induced need for every new gadget and gizmo. In a materialistic world, distinguishing between wants and needs is tough. Teach me by Your Spirit to live a genuinely simple life, fulfilled with fewer belongings. I want to be rich in faith, hope and love.

All too often I take for granted the spectacular mysteries of life, failing to recognize Your stupendous provision. The vast beauty, splendor and majesty of creation are always there for me to enjoy. Family and friends are irreplaceable blessings to be cherished and protected. Best of all, You've given me the priceless gift of eternal life through Your Son. I have so much more than food and clothing to be thankful for!

Rather than chasing after meaningless possessions, I resolve to pursue a satisfying life of wonder, consistently working at what's right and pleasing to You, my Creator, who daily enriches me with amazing grace and everlasting love. Amen.

How will you simplify your life this year? How will you consistently work at what's right and pleasing to God?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

1 Peter 4:9

1 Peter 4:9
Open your homes to each other without complaining.

Luke 14:12-14
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." 

Father in Heaven-
Thank you for giving me the miracle of a Christian home. This home is not mine. It belongs to You. Often the details of entertaining consume me. I want to impress people with my meticulous well kept place, my clever decorating, and my gourmet cooking. I am so busy with the preparations that I forget WHO I am serving.

Empower me to put people before things. Instead of putting away the dirt, I will put away my pride and allow others to see my humanness. Shape my home into a place free of false pretensions where people can relax and be themselves.

Open my heart to a needy family in my community. I will obediently open my home as a place of rest and healing for them. It is my desire to use the gifts You've lavished on me to glorify You. I am Your humble servant, please show me how to practice biblical hospitality for Jesus' name sake. Amen.

The root word of hospitality is "hospital." Hospitals are places to rest and heal. Our homes should be places where people can come to rest and heal. Do you receive exquisite meals at a hospital? Are hospitals fussily decorated? Do hospitals only serve friends and family?

Think of your home as a hospital. Consider inviting to your home: the elderly neighbor who is always alone, the neighbor who's recovering from surgery, the family that just received devastating news, the neighbor that's unemployed, or someone new to your community.

What's keeping you from demonstrating biblical hospitality? Resolve to set aside your agenda to be more hospitable this year.

Just this week a friend who has a daughter with Downs Syndrome called me. They were locked out of their house on a frigid winter evening. Off the cuff, I invited them to come to my home, and to stay for dinner. They were incredibly grateful for a warm place to wait, a warm chicken dinner, and warm conversation. It didn't matter that my sink was full of dirty dishes, the floors needed vacuumed, and dried up poinsettia leaves had fallen all over the dinner table. All that mattered was their safety and our sweet time of fellowship. When we die people won't remember how clean our homes were. They will remember the warm welcome we gave them even when it was inconvenient.