SIMPLE ACTS

Have you ever noticed that a simple act which may appear so “small” to you can be so “big” to someone else?

In other words, we never know when the smallest act of kindness can have the biggest impact in someone else’s life.

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FAITH OF OUR FRIENDS

I do believe faith is to be lived in “community” with fellow believers.

A community where we can learn from others, share experiences, encourage one another, share burdens and prayer requests, join in thanksgiving, and love others as God loves us.

This community can come in different forms–our families, our friends, our local church community, a small group or subdivision from our church community, maybe even friends from cyberspace that we have never met in person.

Have you ever experienced a major crisis in your life where the faith of your friends actually carried you through the event? 

 …Maybe you just could not muster the faith to believe things would turn out okay?

…Perhaps you could not find the strength to really pray while enduring your trial?  God just seemed so distant though you know He never leaves us.

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Photo credit by BK under Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

There are two Bible stories that are recorded for us that demonstrate the importance of faith and how the faith of our friends can intervene for us in our lives.

Take a moment to read them below and reflect on the lessons for us to emulate in our lives.

The first is from Mark 2:3-5.  (NIV)

Some men came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in His spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and He said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….”

He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He (the paralytic) got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Thoughts to reflect on:

These four men were determined to take their friend to Jesus because they desperately wanted to help their friend.

In fact, they were so desperate that they made a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was because the crowds were so great!

I love the line, “When Jesus saw THEIR faith….”—these men were standing in faith that Jesus could heal their friend. 

Jesus met the man’s deepest need:  forgiveness first.

Jesus performed another miracle by healing the man physically…..The man left the house walking, and I have to think his life continued to reflect the great faith that he shared with his friends that day!

The people left praising God for His healing!

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Photo credit by crossmedia.files under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

The second story is from Luke 7:2-10 (NIV)

There, a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to Him, asking Him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with Him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to Him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Thoughts to reflect on:

The centurion, though high in rank in charge of soldiers, was genuinely concerned about one of his slaves.

The elders were standing in faith for the man who was about to die…they were sent to find Jesus.

The centurion knew that Jesus was the one that could save his servant. He respected Jesus’ authority, even though the centurion was of an elite status himself.

The centurion was humble; he knew that Jesus only had to say the word right where He was, and the servant would be healed.

Jesus rewarded the faith of the centurion and healed his servant.

 

                                                          ++++++++++++

 

It seems both of these stories also show the importance of sharing faith with a local community of believers.

The last few years I have been blessed to be involved in a few Bible studies through my church. We end the study each week partnering with a specific person to be prayer partners for the week.

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Photo credit by Sapphire Dream Photography under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 

This has been a very meaningful experience for me.  Taking time to listen to someone’s prayer request and then lifting that intention up to the Lord during the week for that person is a blessing. It shows how connected our faith is…to fellow believers and to God.

Checking in with the person via email or a phone call during the week is another nice touch to show we care and reminds the person their intention is being prayed for.  Praying and standing in faith with others allows us to think of others more, to realize our faith can help intercede on another’s behalf, and to extend the love of God to them.

Would you be willing to share in the comment section below any time or event in your life where the faith of your friends carried you?

MAYBE YOU can you shARE A TIME when your faith, standing firm in Jesus’ power, made a difference in A friend’s life?

JESUS’ PRAYER

In a recent Bible study I was doing, the Lord opened my eyes to see something that I had not noticed before.  It is a simple thing but it made me stop and reflect on the specialness of it.
Luke 22:31-32 says, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you, as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”  –(NIV)

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LIFT UP

Have you ever been in the middle of a storm in your life when you were just so devastated, that even though you possessed great faith, it was a struggle to even pray?

It seemed like the burden you were carrying was overpowering you?

Maybe you even felt distant from God even though you really knew in your heart that He is always with you?

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COME AWAY WITH ME

“…Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  –Mark 6:31  (NIV)
I think Jesus’ command to His apostles back in His day also applies to our lives today.
Have you ever had the blessing of getting away from the busyness of life to just spend time being…being with the Lord and enjoying the many blessings that are all around?
…Maybe it was on your vacation where you experienced God’s presence in the beauty of the environment you were surrounded by.
 
 
…Maybe you had the privilege of attending some kind of retreat where you had a close encounter with God.
 
 
…Maybe you just took time to be alone with Him and experienced Him in the peacefulness and solitude.
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                                                 Canandaigua Lake, NY
I know this summer I was truly blessed to attend a three day retreat at a place with a beautiful lake setting where you could commune with the Lord in a reflective way. Spending time with like minded people is always a blessing too where you can share your faith with others. It provides opportunities for making new friends in the Lord and learning from other’s stories as well.
Taking time to get away from the routine of life and spend time with the Lord is a necessity especially in today’s fast paced, technological world that we live in.
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It is enlightening to read the many scripture passages that show how many times Jesus took time to spend alone with God, His Father, getting away from the crowds of people and even His disciples.
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”  –Luke 6:12  (NIV)
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  –Luke 5:15
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”  –Mark 1:35  (NIV)
“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.”  –Matthew 14:23
I encourage you, if the opportunity ever presents itself to you, to attend a retreat or any get together that will strengthen your faith.  It will help you refocus and concentrate on the really important things in life once again.
Even taking time daily to go to your quiet corner and commune with the Lord will enrich your spirit and get you in tune with the Creator.
I think the most powerful story of Jesus taking time to pray with God was right before He was going to be handed over to be arrested before being put to death.  Jesus knew the most important thing He could do was pray to His Father.
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Photo credit by Waiting for the Word under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)

” 36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”  –Matthew 26:36-46  (NIV)

Father, may we grow daily to be like your Son, Jesus….taking time to pray continually to you and being one with you.  Amen.

CRASHING DOWN

Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed you are on top of the world and everything seemed too good to be true? And then you know what comes next…Your world seems to come crashing down on you. Sometimes it just seems so unfair and you don’t know how you are going to deal with the issue at hand.

Can you think of a time when you felt like that in your life?

For me, I can think of three times in the last few years where I felt that desperation.

One example would be when I was diagnosed with Stage 0 DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) Breast Cancer. It is the “best” stage and form to have, but at the same time, it was like a life sentence. The Breast Center seemed to still treat it as “cancer”, and even sent me all kinds of brochures on support groups, etc. To this day, I struggle with saying “I have cancer.” I think it is because it seems  that something with a Stage 0 should be insignificant.

There were a few months of torture, first waiting for tests to determine the diagnosis, then researching options, and talking with others who have had a similar issue.  That was followed by trying to decide what treatment options to pursue, seeing specialists, having one surgery, then finding out I needed a second one a week later and waiting for results.  Thankfully, things have turned out well so far, and I was spared much compared to most people. I am forever grateful for that.  In fact, to this day I wonder why the Lord would spare me, yet so many others suffer through so much more.

Every check up time, I still get nervous and anxious because you just never know if you will remain clear.  Thankfully, there are friends and family there to encourage and support me with a scripture or words of faith at those times.

I have seen friends who have lost their loved ones, had miscarriages, or  gone through so much hardship with their children. Your world crashing down on you could even be something as simple as the thought of losing a friendship over some misunderstanding.

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Photo credit NEWS OF PEACE under Creative Commons License (CC BY-2.0)

When my world comes crashing down, I know I have found that my faith gets shaken, even though I like to think it is strong. Sometimes it is hard to be strong when your world comes crashing down.

So what can we do to try to stay strong in our faith?

***Surround ourselves with faithful people who will encourage us and help lift us up.

***Listen to encouraging Christian music to help inspire us.

***Ask other Christians to pray for us.

***Read the Bible and other encouraging Christian books.

***Look for God’s blessings through the tough times.

***Remind ourselves that God is still in control and leading us even when we don’t feel it.

When we are experiencing these tough times in our lives, it is important to reach out to God and others.

Just as important is trying to be aware of when others need our compassion, listening ear, or encouragement to help them make it through difficult time. Are we there for them when they need a human touch of kindness?

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”  –Psalm 34:17-19