You’re a Domino, Not an Island . . .

Reading the story of Jonah, I am reminded afresh that we do not live simply for ourselves. We are dominoes, not an island. The choices we make, the words we speak, the thoughts we think, our actions . . . They not only impact and affect our own lives, but also the lives of the people around us.

When Jonah ran from God and hid ineffectually in a boat going the opposite direction of where God was leading him, a storm ensued which threatened to overwhelm and overtake the lives of everyone on the boat, not simply the life of Jonah alone.

Our lives have a ripple effect and, while it is impossible to measure the extent of our influence, the fact remains that each one of us does exhibit influence and affect change.

We want to positively impact the lives of those around us and use our lives to be a blessing, so we must think very carefully about how we live. We must ask God where the good way is and walk in it. When we do this, when we live a life obedient to Christ, allowing Him to guide and direct our steps, and live in surrender and submission to Him, it will not only be a blessing to you, but it will benefit and enrich the lives of others as well.

You are a domino, not an island. . . You inevitably touch the lives of those around you.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.

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Homesick for Him . . .

Have you ever felt distant from God . . . Homesick for Him and the close relationship with Him that you desire, crave, and need?

I know I have acutely felt homesick for Him at different times along my journey. When I do something I know I shouldn’t, or I fail to do something I know I should . . . Whenever I know I have grieved the heart of God, I feel a sadness and oppression deep within my soul, and I yearn for Him.

God has not moved or changed. He has not distanced Himself from me. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and His love for me remains, but I, through my actions, have chosen to put up a wall, to dig a trench, to separate myself from Him. When this happens, I feel encumbered; I don’t feel free to boldly approach Him as I should. I feel shame, and this holds me back.

Just as a child runs and hides and tries to avoid his/her parents after doing something wrong, we too can act this way towards God. Though we will be rightly reprimanded for our actions and choices, we never have to fear coming into the presence of our parents because they love us and only want the best for us.

God loves us so much. He created us to be in relationship with Him. We never need to feel homesick for Him because, like the prodigal son, we too can always return home. God is waiting for you and He desires nothing more than for you to come home and be in relationship with Him. It’s what He created you for!

Luke 15:11-24

Little is Much . . .

When I think about being used by God, I often expect Him to use me in huge, bold, grandiose ways, and lament my lack of opportunity to be used by Him when my reality almost always falls short of my imaginings. However, when I actually sit down and reflectively ponder this notion, I am reminded that He provides us with opportunities to be used by Him daily—in the small tasks—and that I must not overlook the seemingly mundane because God is at work in it all.

Be faithful in the little—in the mundane—in the here and now; be open to however God desires to use you and work through you. Show yourself open and eager, so you will be ready for how God wants to use you next. Remember, a little is a lot in the hands of the Lord. Even a cup of water is used mightily by God and will not lose its greater reward.

So, whenever I find myself thinking ‘there’s got to be more than this’ or that I was made for so much more than what I am currently experiencing, I remind myself that, if I am faithful and show myself to be open and eager, God will continue to work in my life and bring His will for my life to pass, which will be immeasurably more than all I could ask for or imagine.

Mark 9:41 . . . For I tell you truly, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to and bear the name of Christ will by no means fail to get his reward.

Ephesians 3:20 . . . . Now to Him Who is able to do super-abundantly, far over and above all that we ask or think.

Snow for Thought . . .

As I gaze out the window to watch the fluffy snowflakes fall from the sky and cover the earth below, I am reminded of the verse in Isaiah 1:18 which says, ‘though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow.’

Snow is incredibly beautiful; I am mesmerized by it each time it falls. It covers over all the imperfections and the dirt outside and makes everything look beautiful, clean, and pristine . . . Spotless and unblemished.

Just as the snow is able to transform the outer environment around us and leave something beautiful in its stead, so too is God able to transform us within. He is able to cleanse us from our sin and make us a new creation in Christ, leaving us clean and pristine . . . Spotless and unblemished.

With this in mind, let us remember the reason for the Christmas season . . . The birth of our risen Savior Jesus Christ, who lived to die, for you, for me, so we can be forgiven our sins, have relationship with Him, and spend eternity in Heaven with our God.

Joy is Sustainable . . .

The innocence of infants and the unadulterated, exuberant joy and zest for life they have is so wonderfully refreshing. I see these very qualities in my beautiful niece and my prayer for her is that the Lord will not only protect her innocence but that she will not lose her joy and her zeal as she grows. I love her so much! She is incredibly precious and I want to protect her from the harsh realities of life. However, she cannot stay a child forever; with each passing day, she grows and develops a little more.

We all, at one time, were innocent infants, full of wonder and curiosity. However, as we grew and became more exposed to the world, we may have gradually lost our innocence, our joy, our zeal, our zest. It may have happened so gradually, we did not even realize we had changed. Maybe we became hardened by reality, embittered by unmet expectations, or put up walls to guard and protect our hearts. However, it does not have to be this way. We do not have to allow the world to change us and give it the power to steal our joy. We can have our joy, our zest, and our zeal restored to us by the One Who died to give us abundant life, eternal life, and forgive us our sins.

We have so much to be thankful for and to praise God for. If we are feeling discouraged, hurt, burdened, overwhelmed, etc., we need to shift our perspective and focus on the good and on the blessings we have graciously been given by the Lord. When we focus on the Lord and on our blessings, the Lord will work in our hearts to soften them and fill them with true joy.

Seek the Lord; in His presence there is fullness of joy. He desires to fill us to overflowing with all joy, peace and hope. The question is, will we allow Him to?

Romans 12:2 . . . Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .

Romans 12:11 . . . Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

LOVE . . . A Word Small in Length but Great in Depth

What comes to mind when you think of love? What is love? What does it mean to love? To truly love someone?

Love is a verb; it is an action. It is a choice we make, not simply an emotion we feel every now and again when the mood strikes us or we are feeling especially gracious. It is selfless and sacrificial. God is love and He gives us His love freely. He loved us first, before we ever even knew Him . . . We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and we are called to be like Jesus. We are His representatives here on earth. Just as we have received His love, we are to love others. We need to share God’s love to those around us, to all whom we come in contact with. We are instruments to be used to fulfill God’s purposes here on earth . . . We are to be salt and light and to spread the fragrance and knowledge of God everywhere, and we are to do this through love. Loving people enough to share with them the Truth, even when it’s difficult and they may not want to hear it, loving people enough to forgive them when perhaps they have wronged us, loving people enough to give of ourselves and invest in their lives. Loving people. Love is an action and it is a choice. It is not to be given sparingly and exclusively and it is not to be given with restrictions. It is to be given freely to all, through our words and our actions. 1 Corinthians 16:14, ‘Let everything you do be done in love (true love to God and man as inspired by God’s love for us).’ That does not mean we love and accept and condone every choice a person makes, but we still love them. God loves His children impartially. We have all been created in the image of God, so let us love one another as He first loved us. Love. Spread it around.

John 13:34 . . . Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.

Matthew 5:13-16 . . . You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world . . .

2 Corinthians 2:15 . . . We are the sweet fragrance of Christ . . .

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Cut It Off to Grow It Out . . .

As I write this, I am about to go to the salon and it brought the following illustration to mind, providing me with fresh insight into a portion of scripture which I thought I would share with you 🙂 . . .

A trip to the salon/barbershop is something many of us routinely do. We often go for a trim, to remove all the split ends that are weakening the structure of our hair. If we want to preserve the integrity of our hair, and promote its overall health and aid it’s growth, we need to rid it of the breakage that naturally occurs as a result of exposure to various elements. We need to eliminate split ends, to cut off the frayed ends of our hair, to prevent that breakage from traveling all the way up the hair follicles which, in turn, ends up weakening the entire structure of the strands. We need to cut our hair to grow it out . . . Sounds counterintuitive right? But sometimes we need to get rid of the deadweight, we need to eliminate that which is broken and which is a hindrance, to actually be strengthened and promote growth. When we get rid of that which is no longer healthy, we are able to create an environment which is conducive to growth, enabling us to grow back healthier and stronger than before.

Just as we need to trim our hair regularly to maintain its overall health and growth, we need to allow God to trim the parts of ourselves—our lives—that are broken, dead, and are not subservient to Him, to restore and strengthen our relationship with Him. Just as we book regular visits with the salon, we need to prioritize time spent with the Lord, being still in His presence, and allowing Him to speak into our lives and work in us as He desires to—allowing Him full access to do what He needs to do to transform us into the people He has created us to be.

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John 15: 1-8
I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vine dresser.

Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.

You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you].

Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you]. Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the Vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in Him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

If a person does not dwell in Me, He is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned.

If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.