Archive for the ‘Heartlight’ tag
In my Heartlight.org article this week about the Good Samaritan parable of Jesus, I look at what it means to love our neighbors. The following words are key to getting a crucial point embedded in the parable:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27).
The key to loving our neighbor is really loving God. We become like what we love. Or in the case of Jesus’ statement, we ultimately become like the One we love!
Of course pet “owners” are repeatedly kidded that they look like their pets. The following dog owners seem to validate that premise!
While this is humorous and makes for good light night show faire, we have all experienced the deeper reality behind the truth. Recently I sat with several others and listened to a son, a daughter, and several grandchildren talk with admiration and love for their recently departed grandmother. A friend of mine ask them how this dear lady had impacted their lives. Each of them could share something significantly good that they had as part of their lifestyle that they picked up from their mother and grandmother. They had become like the one they love!
This is crucial because I believe that the foundational reason we serve our neighbors is because of our love for God. As His love transforms to be more like Him, we are going to go about “neighboring” those around us. Since Jesus is the clearest example of what it means to “love our neighbor,” so the more we know and admire the Lord, the more we are going to be transformed to be like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18).
To better get a sense of how Jesus loved his neighbor, let me share a few places to look and learn more about Jesus. Make a list of all the different kinds of people Jesus served — take a quick scan of the gospels to remind yourself of all the different kinds of people Jesus’ life touched in a redemptive way (Matthew 8:1-38; Mark 9:1-50; Mark 3:1-64; Luke 7:1-50 are a good start). Now give the following questions an opportunity to work in your life!
What do you think the message is for you and how you are to “neighbor” others based on Jesus’ example?
So what’s the point of all of this?
How would you describe what “neighboring” others means in your daily life?
What leads you to keep from “neighboring” those who need our help?
What makes it hard “neighboring” others you may not know?
What makes it hard “neighboring” those you do know?
I really would love to get your responses on this! Have a great week.
Shepherds had been the great heroes of the faith in the Bible. Abraham, the “father of the faithful,” was a shepherd. Moses, the great deliverer of the Old Testament was raised in Pharaoh’s palace, but God sent him into the wilderness for forty years before he was prepared to lead God’s people out of Egypt. And most of us remember the young man David, who was a shepherd who defeated the mighty warrior Goliath and became King of Israel. David wrote Psalm 23, giving us words to say: “The Lord is my sheperd …” But for hundreds of years, shepherds had been less than respected. Yet God changed all of that when His Son was born: the angels announced Jesus’ birth first to shepherds!
In my Heartlight.org post this week, The Smell of Sheep, I share some thoughts on these shepherds. I’d love to get your response to any or all of these questions:
What does the presence of the shepherds in the story of Jesus’ birth say to you?
What group of folks in the story of Jesus’ birth most closely characterizes you?
Why do you think Luke mentions shepherds and Matthew mentions the Magi in their accounts of Jesus’ early years?
Does it make any difference to your answer to know that Shepherds were considered “stinky hicks” that no one wanted around and Magi were foreigners who practiced a false religion?
Do you think Luke’s reminder of Jesus’ words inActs 1:8 and Matthew’s reminder of Jesus’ Great Commission inMatthew 28:18-20 has anything to do with us meeting shepherds and wise men in the story of Jesus’ birth?
How can we steal the real Jesus from the story of His life and substitute our own version of Jesus?
What could you point to in Jesus’ birth, and also His life, that would help you answer a person who said, “I’m not sure I’d fit with Jesus, I’m not very religious?”
What do you think Jesus would say to these folks?
What Scriptures could you point to that would help you speak about God’s true love for them?
I’d love to hear your response to these ideas!
I love the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1), who are enabled to have a baby in their old age. The baby’s name is John — whom we often call John the Baptist. God uses the pregnancy of Elizabeth in her old age to be an encouragement of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The whole season of joy that goes with Jesus’ birth begins with Zechariah, Elizabeth, and the birth of their son, John.
Their story echoes with the laughter of Abraham and Sarah’s gift of a child in their old age. This child’s name was Isaac, which literally means “laughter.” Both of these stories remind us of both God’s intention to use everyday folks to do great things and also His sense of humor.
I write about all of this in my Heartlight.org post today, Season of Joy. But there are some questions that I’d love your input on related to this story and implications for us! (Just comment on this blog post!)
We find ourselves in two situations that challenge our openness to joy: the current difficult economic conditions and also the “busy-ness” of the season. How do we reconnect to the joy of God during these times?
The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, as well as the story of Abraham and Sarah that it reflects (Genesis 18), both are told with irony and a touch of humor. Yet frequently we do not notice humor in the great stories of God. Why do think that is so?
Why are awe at the work of God and also the ability to laugh with God both important in our lives and our worship?
Zechariah’s song sounds very much like a quotation of Scripture or an ancient song, why do you think these were the first words out of his mouth?
What is the greatest disappointment you face in your life right now?
What does this story say to you about the work of God in your life?
Everyone laughed after the “Amen!” of this little guy’s prayer for breakfast. His prayer was precious, and literally true.
However, for many of our Heartlight.org readers world-wide, that prayer wouldn’t be off the mark for what is happening in their lives. A lot of folks have lost a lot of retirement money lately. This is especially frightening for those who have had to tighten their belts because they are living on fixed incomes, or worse, declining 401k incomes. Others have lost jobs. Many of our international readers have never had much to begin with. Some folks, like some people in our church, have had thieves break in and steal a bunch of their things. Others, like a precious family close to us, have lost a precious loved one to death.
So in our hearts, this Thanksgivings we can feel like the things to be thankful for are “small” — at least at first glance. But, we are so richly blessed in ways that can’t be touched — in the one place, as Jesus said, “where moth and rust can’t corrupt and thieves can’t break in and steal.”
Let’s remind each other that in the middle of food, family, football, and shopping, we can surely stop and say, “Thank you!” for these incorruptible riches than can’t be taken from us! We have blessings that can’t perish, spoil, or fade. These blessings are kept and shielded by God’s power from anything that would compromise them because they are hidden with Christ in God. No wonder we talk about Jesus as our indescribable gift!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. … Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:3-9 TNIV).
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Thank you, God!
In the Heartlight.org post on “The Main Thing,” I tried to remind us that we must be a people of God’s holy character as well as His faithful compassion. Yet in the middle of emphasizing these things, we must never lose sight of the main thing!
I received a nudge about a small video piece on Viddler. I refer to it a bit reluctantly — not because it is not excellent, but because I am not completely sure it is supported by the folks who released the award winning film on which it is based. So I am pointing you to both the Viddler video and also to the website to consider using the whole video presentation at some time in your church with proper licensing and fees. The film is incredibly well done and has received some of the highest honors. It can be purchased fairly inexpensively for individual use and licensed reasonably for church use. The film is called Most. Beautifully and poignantly edited, this is an incredibly moving piece that helps us understand in some small way the cost to God the Father for the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son. Please check out the website: http://www.mostthemovie.com.
The Viddler video is not nearly as subtle and much shorter, but connects the subtler elements of the movie and drives the point home. It can be found on the web:
Please, don’t use the video without proper licensing. I share it only to help illustrate the point that God sent His Son to do The Main Thing!
It’s Monday. Short night. It will be a long day. I pray it will not be as a long as last Monday — which in fact lasted all week.
This day, however, dawned bright, crisp, and beautiful with thoughts full of worship and hope and … mission.
So many things crowd into our hearts trying to live for the Kingdom. So many things crowd into our hearts threatening to shove out our focus on our mission as Jesus’ followers. Let’s not forget the main thing!