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“If two friends ask you to judge a dispute, don't accept, because you will lose one friend; on the other hand, if two strangers come with the same request, accept because you will gain one friend.”
In Whom the Spirit Resides: Rev. Barbara Taylor Minton
Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 CEB
Jesus actually began this transition of thought when the Jewish leaders asked him to identify his authority.
Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I’ll raise it up.”
The Jewish leaders replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” But the temple Jesus was talking about was his body. - John 2:19-21
God’s presence already lived in Jesus’ body, but it was only after the resurrection that his disciples began to understand the importance of his words. God was on the move and God’s moves had implications!
Now, several decades later, the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth, extends the thought Jesus initiated! Paul says to each person in the community of faith, ‘…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit!’ Earlier, in the same letter Paul referred to the entire congregation, collectively, as God’s temple.
It behooves us to notice God’s movement through the Holy Spirit—from residence in the Jerusalem temple, to the person of Jesus, poured out on all believers on Pentecost, promised to all who believe, and now, personalized by the Apostle Paul. Not only does the Spirit reside in the congregation (the body of Christ in the world today), but the Spirit also lives in the heart of each disciple.
What are the implications for those of us in whom the Spirit resides? God’s presence in us connects us to God and to one another. We no longer belong to ourselves! Giving the Spirit room to work in us begins to sensitize us to our own selfishness, our own inadequacies and creates in us a desire for God’s purposes.
The good news, simply put: the Spirit at work in us produces the character of Christ in our lives. Love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. This godly love is revealed in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. With God’s help we can control ourselves!
Also read: 1 Corinthians 3:16; Romans 5:1-5; Galatians 5.
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Come, Holy Spirit, fill us with your love.
Excite us with your joy. Calm us with your peace.
Produce in us your patience. Keep us in your kindness.
Goad us with your goodness. Invigorate our faithfulness.
Guide us in your gentleness… and, above all, strengthen our self-control.
Our Love Grew: Rev Myra Torance
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.
John 3:16 CEB
For me the word “love” is a verb; an action word. Far too many are the people who believe and take for granted the word “love.” True, real love takes patience, and faithfulness. It is not easy but when you finally believe; it is the easiest of action verbs to live.
Example: I wrote to a young man in the army stationed in Vietnam. For over a year I wrote him a letter every day. Well to be honest, for two of those days my mother sent him cards because I was sick with the flu. We did it because this way when they had mail call he always had mail! Every week I sent him a box (5 lbs) filled with chocolate chip cookies.
Now, there is a lot more to this story in the background, but that is for another time.
Anyway, this man, in a letter, asked me to marry him and I accepted; without ever having seen a picture of him. When he was discharged he flew to a nearby airport for me to pick him up.
I had heard his voice over a telephone once. I was twenty years old, never had a date, but our love grew from letters and chocolate chip cookies. I asked him how I would know who he was and he stated, “I’ll be the one in uniform.” Imagine my surprise when five gentlemen in uniform came forth from the plane?
We had a hard but beautiful marriage for 44 years and then his fight with cancer won and he went to God. I miss him every day of my life, but the love we shared gave me 4 children and 9 grandchildren.
God sent Jesus to teach us what love is and he lived it every day of his short life. What he gave is a gift we should always cherish. From a stable to a cross he lived love. This season of Lent I pray you do also.
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Jesus, lover of my soul, sing in my heart, so that I may shine your love into the world.
When your Heart is Filled Up: Kristy Burmeister
In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives.
Luke 15:7 CEB
Joy is a slippery word. People often use it in place of happiness, but joy is so much more than feeling happy in the moment. Joy is something you feel with your whole heart. It fills us up.
The verse above doesn’t say there will be people in Heaven who say, “Another sinner has changed his heart and life. Well, that’s nice.” There will be joy. Heart-thumping, fist-pumping, shout-out-your-excitement joy.
If a changed sinner receives that sort of recognition in Heaven, what sort of recognition should they receive on Earth? Shouldn’t we welcome them with the same joyfulness?
It’s easy to pat a new convert on the head, hand them a cheap Bible, and say, “Well, that’s nice. Make sure you read Romans.” But where’s the joy in that? Where’s the influence of the Holy Spirit in that?
Instead, we should be willing to open ourselves up to joy. If a person has changed both their heart and their life, they’ve done something amazing. How many people manage to pull off something like that? Let’s recognize these transformations for the miracles that they are and rejoice alongside our new brothers and sisters.
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Please open me up so that I can experience joy. Help me to reflect your divine joy as I interact with others.
The Key to Peace: Rev Melissa Fain
“But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.
Luke 6:27-31 CEB
There is something about being curled up into the fetal position of your bathroom floor that has to be lived to really be understood. From the time I was late elementary school I felt called to work in some capacity in the church. It was my passion. Everything I did was towards that purpose. When I found my first full time call as a pastor of a church I was ready to get to it. I was so wide eyed and ready to take on the world, and I was going to start in this small rural church.
Then everything went wrong. To be fair, most of it was just life. Broken limbs, pregnancy, sickness. I like to joke that God purposefully made me less than 100% as part of some crazy master plan. Maybe it was that, maybe it was just the fact the church was rushing to fill the pulpit and we were a bad fit. Maybe it was political. No matter what it was, days after giving birth to my daughter the elders asked for my resignation.
Flash forward a year later and I found myself bawling on the bathroom floor, smelling like the Cajun food I served each night. I was a mess. I couldn’t even look in the direction of that church because I felt this smug satisfaction when things were going wrong, and a sort of dread when they were going right. It was a horrible place to be, and it is my hope you never have to be there. If you have been there dear brother or sister, we have a sad connection, the two of us.
In truth, there was absolutely nothing I could do to change the minds and hearts of the members of that church. I had absolutely no power over them. In the same way, they had and have no power over me. Well, they did have power if I couldn’t find the peace through forgiveness.
Yep, just a few days later, sitting in my bedroom something switched. While I mourned I found the release of forgiveness. Not only did I say I wanted them to find healing, I actually meant it.
Some people will live their entire lives in relative peace. Everyone else will be destressed by something or someone in life. It will tear at their natural peaceful state. That key to returning to that peaceful state always starts with forgiveness. Bridges must be rebuilt, not burned to ashes. Connections must be rebuilt, not torn to pieces. You get the idea. Now, years later I’m grateful for that moment. I can move forward. If you are on your proverbial bathroom floor, I hope your key to peace comes too. It’s a nicer place to be. Join me.
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Help us find peace in crisis.
Help us find forgiveness for those who have hurt us.
Mr. Rogers: Brandon William Peach
Comfort, comfort my people!
says your God.
Speak compassionately to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended,
that her penalty has been paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins!
Isaiah 40:1-2 CEB
When I was young, I watched Mr. Rogers every Sunday morning before church with my twin brother, countless episodes and songs and life lessons that stick with me today. I was profoundly saddened by his death. I would look for old videos of his Neighborhood on the internet when I was in college (more challenging in the days before YouTube). As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate him more and more. His fundamental personality trait—his gentleness—was, and is, something that I admire greatly.
In 2012, when we heard the news of the horrible shooting in Newtown, CT, a Facebook image of him went viral along with a quote of his from years earlier:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world."
Gentleness, of course, was the input. Comfort was the result. Soothing a crying baby, petting a cat, treating a wound--all things meant to comfort--only work if gentleness is applied. The gentleness of Christ, of course, is on display when he offers a light burden and an easy yoke.
God displayed His gentleness toward the children of Israel, who suffered tremendously during years of Babylonian captivity, through His prophet Isaiah. In the same chapter, God promises to give rest to the exhausted, to empower the weary, and promises His people would fly with wings like eagles [Isaiah 40:31]. Comforting words after such a long wait for some gentleness, indeed.
We live a violent world still—one that seems to value being tough over being tender. Meek attitudes and gentle actions are seen as a weakness. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The most powerful being in the universe could have used any method at all to crush darkness and Satan and sin—yet He chose to save His people by literally condescending and becoming a human child. There is then, in the fruit of gentleness, an amazing strength.
Gentleness in a world such as ours goes a long way, as Mr. Rogers demonstrated. Our decision to be gentle even in times of fear and uncertainty allows us to share the heart of Christ, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” [2 Corinthians 1:3]
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Lord, thank you for Your gentleness toward me. Please give me the strength to be gentle today, no matter the circumstance.
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