Those who serve our country in the armed forces and the first responders in our communities often witness harrowing acts of war and violence. It makes an impact on the body, mind, and spirit of each one of them. Too often, though, the spirit is forgotten. We rally to make sure those who provide help to others have sufficient medical/psychological care and benefits befitting the nature of the intense jobs they hold. But how can we care for their spirits? The United Methodist Men had an answer. From an Eagle Scout project, Strength For Service was born. It supplies devotional books to members of the armed services and first responders free of charge. For a story about how your ministry can support this project click here. Help the men and women who do so much for us with books designed to help build up their spirits. This is but one way to honor their service to us.
In chapel one morning I was struck by a verse in a worship song.
“Earth has no sorrow heaven cannot heal.”
What struck me was the absolute truth of this statement. There is no sorrow God cannot heal. Will it be a fast and pretty process? No. The verse doesn’t make that claim. Will it be a painless and easy process? No the verse doesn’t make that claim either.
We are promised a healing. What that looks like and how it progresses is up to each individual’s circumstances and lives. But if we are willing so too is God.
Almighty God, there is nothing above you. You have set us a little lower than yourself. There is nothing on Earth that heaven can’t deal with. Help us to remember to bring to you all our heartbrokenness and feelings of sadness so that we might once again know a deep love and happiness because we have gone through pain to get to the other side with you. Amen.
Online there are many videos of animals opening gates humans have used to shut them in. One dog opened his cage door at the animal shelter to achieve freedom. Being a pack animal by nature, he would proceed to open all the other animals’ cages he could reach. The animals would all be loose when the humans returned the next morning. It wasn’t until they set up a camera that they figured out what was going on at night in the shelter.
Another video shows a cow using her mouth and tongue to open the gate to her pen.
In John 10:7-10 Jesus calls himself the “gate of the sheep.” Instead of hemming us in however, Jesus is an open gate to fertile pastures and safety. Jesus is not just the gate TO freedom, Jesus IS the freedom gate.
The Freedom Gate
I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture.The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest. John 10:9-10 (CEB)
Jesus is the freedom gate; the freedom from want and safety from thieves. It is not a selection process or a way to determine who can and cannot enter into Christ’s presence. All are welcome and saved.
Almighty One, Lord of hosts and the entire world, we thank You for Your infinite love for us even as we continue to not do Your will. You promised us life and life abundantly. Yet too many times we are too scared to go through the gate of your Son, afraid of being shut in, caught, or worse yet, not allowed in. But You remind us that Christ died for all and all are welcome. Amen.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV
Rarely if ever does God bless solely for the good of one person. Generally God’s blessings are to be shared with others. Then those shared blessings are to be given out to even more people.
God’s blessings cannot be hoarded. One cannot keep them locked up for a rainy day. They are too dynamic! They are too powerful to be contained and not shared. If they are, the blessings can become stagnant and listless. We forget how to take part in them and we forget to use them to bless others.
The thing about blessings is that they tend to come right on time. They rarely come too soon or too late, despite what it may feel like to us. They don’t come to make us content but to stir us to action and faithful works…to pass on the blessing.
Blessings must be passed on in a timely manner. There is no compound interest that accrues with a blessing that is “saved.”
The power to multiple the blessings is in what God can do with it, not in how we can try and manipulate it. We do not serve the blessing but we do serve the One who sent the blessing.
We have an abundant God who is desperate to bless us and our ministries. We must have faith in God so that we too may “abound in every good work.”
Dear God, if we are finding it difficult to share our blessings because of our fears for the future or our fear of scarcity, break anxiety’s hold over us. Remembering that You are the source of all good things, shore up our faith in Your giving nature. Whatever we lack you will supply in Your perfect timing. Amen.
“Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8 NIV
In the most difficult conversations, sometimes it is we who must step forward first to listen. It is easy being the one to talk–especially if there is any passion in the discussion. It is much harder to sit and listen to another’s zealous conversation on an issue without the thought of responding but solely to listen.
You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement:Love your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:13, 14 CEB
Recent Supreme Court rulings have been five to four decisions. Despite not being elected, the high Court seems to mirror where our country is today on so many important social issues. A house divided, indeed.