I am grateful for two devotions this morning that seem to fit perfectly with each other, lessons intended just for me. The first one, from the David Jeremiah devotion book my Dad gave to me:
In Matthew 25, Jesus warned of a day when He will return to judge the nations. He will separate them as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. He will say to the former, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you…” To the others He will say, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
The former group is saved by grace through faith. Out of their salvation flows their good works – they feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, care for the imprisoned, and minister to “the least of these.” We aren’t saved on the basis of those deeds, for no amount of good works can save us. We engage in them because we have been saved, and our kindness is evidence of the grace of Christ in our hearts.
Our days should be filled with blessing those around us, living in expectation of the day when we hear the words of Christ calling us to “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
And the second one was from church, and it coincides perfectly:
3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. 4 We’ve done this since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s people. 5 You have this faith and love because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You previously heard about this hope through the true message, the good news, 6 which has come to you. This message has been bearing fruit and growing among you since the day you heard and truly understood God’s grace, in the same way that it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, who is the fellow slave we love and Christ’s faithful minister for your sake. 8 He informed us of your love in the Spirit.
9 Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you and asking for you to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, with all wisdom and spiritual understanding. 10 We’re praying this so that you can live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way: by producing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God;
In our reading today we see that Paul, the author of Colossians, along with Timothy, prays for the people of Colossae that they might “…live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” What does it mean to bear fruit in every good work? It means you and I are called to get practical with our faith by reproducing the life and ministry of Jesus within us. We do this in order that we might develop a set of practices that glorify God and make an enduring difference in the world, beginning with our neighbor. We might call these the “little things” that happen on the local level, but when lived out in a community (church) within an even greater community (Christianity), these Christian practices e.g. hospitality, generosity, faithfulness, care, etc.) can make a global impact. The fruit, therefore, that we bear or make real in the world around us is an opportunity for the people that we interact with to encounter Jesus—the real Jesus.
I think that is just pretty cool. And not a coincidence. And just for me today.
I am grateful for the game of Yahtzee. What a weird name for a great game.
I am grateful for memories today of my former choirs making a global impact when they sang and served at countless homeless shelters and soup kitchens, when they unloaded semitrucks at the Food Bank in Colorado Springs, when they bagged beans and rice, when they cleaned and sorted on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, when they cleaned and painted at a church in Eagle Pass and did some fire damage clean-up on a ranch, when they spent their week cleaning rooms and cutting down trees and chopping wood at Quaker Ridge Camp, when they shared their personal stories from their heart with our audiences all over the midwest, and when they impacted my life with their sincerity, honesty, and genuine love for God.
I am grateful for lunch with Lisa.
I am grateful for the US Postal Service and self-sticking stamps.
My brother sent me this picture of my nephew, Adam – a glimpse into his new world in the army. (He’s the one in the front…the really tall guy that looks NOTHING like the Adam I once knew. Those glasses make him look like my brother Ron in high school!) I am grateful that his parents finally have some news from him, and grateful that they are sharing his news with us.
I am grateful for paper towels, all-purpose cleaner in a spray bottle, and clean counters that are no longer sticky.
I am grateful for people who have accents. Their language makes life so much more colorful.
I am grateful that Sam is with his family and working harvest, and I am grateful that he has a job that allows for this.
I am grateful for a sweet moment of sitting in the living room in the quiet of the morning, listening to Clair de Lune by Debussy, Mom’s favorite song.
It’s easy to be humble when we’re wrong; it’s how we act when we’re right that’ll tell us where we’re at with our faith. – Bob Goff
I am grateful for LED flashlights that are just the right size for two little Oregon girls.
I am grateful for memories of Darren and the chicken story that made us all laugh so hard we had tears in our eyes.
I am grateful for a surprise this morning of watching our chipmunk climbing in and among the branches of the little tree just outside the living room window.
I am grateful for the beauty of puffy clouds among a blue sky.
And I am grateful for a ceiling fan that cools my face as I sleep.