Rub People the Right Way

shorts

One of the most annoying things about running long distances is the chaffing that can occur from clothes or other objects rubbing your skin over and over. I bought a very expensive sports bra last year that was cute and colourful; yet, after wearing it for my first 10km run, I realised the shoulder strap had one little spot where the overlap was rough and that tiny 2cm seam rubs uncomfortably the ENTIRE TIME. I have pushed this to the back of the drawer and only wear it on days when workout clothes make me feel productive even when I haven’t stepped foot out the door!

I bought some new bright orange and grey Nike running shorts recently when I was in America and couldn’t wait to wear them. I did a few shorter runs and they were fine. Then, one morning on a longer one, the seams between my legs suddenly felt two inches thick and I realized how course and bumpy they were as they rub, rubbed, rubbed my inner thighs all the way home. I had a scab mirroring minor road rash for over a week after that one!

So many times, something seems nice on the outside, even enticing (I mean who doesn’t love a hot pink and blue Lorna Jane bra?), but upon further investigation, it’s actually not suitable for where I’m traveling. If I’m pushing ahead, extending myself and actually going beyond normal expectations, something as silly as clothing takes on a whole new meaning. I’m no longer looking at it for its “cute-factor” or whether it’s the right size. Now, I’m looking deeper into its construction. Finding out if what seems right on the outside is actually good for me on the inside (of my armpits, legs, or foot). What might seem like a perfectly good pair of shoelaces, if laced up too tightly for several kilometers can cause a bruise on the top of your foot (that’s my most recent faux pax).

Our relationships work much the same way. Have you ever been around someone for a short time who was funny, interesting, and kind and then spent a little more time only to find out his humour is actually used negatively to insult or tear others down? She’s “interesting” because she knows all the latest gossip and is happy to share it. Or even her “kindness” comes with an agenda.

I want to be the type of person who, upon further investigation, actually looks and feels even better than the first impression. I want people to feel good after spending some time with me and I pray their experience of rubbing shoulders with me leaves them stronger and more like Christ, not down in the dumps, wanting to avoid me next time my number comes up.

I often say we become the people we hang around and the books we read. I encourage you to look at your friendships and ask yourself:

“If I keep running with this person, am I gonna be better for it or am I gonna have some scars and bruises?”

“Is my conversation life-giving and generous towards others, believing the best and seeing the positive?”

“Can I become more like Christ with each encounter I have, or am I being pushed away from God, my church, and other Christian friends?”

It’s the subtleties that make all the difference in time. Paying attention to our words and taking note of how someone affects us can determine our endurance level and strength. Take note when someone “rubs you the wrong way” because it may be your first clue to pick another partner to run with.

 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:28-30

Fasting Devotion, Day Twenty-One

Ephesians 5:25-33

What a great passage to reflect upon as Paul describes The Church, the Bride of Christ! He beautifully illustrates a spotless bride, prepared for Christ’s return. We know a woman preparing for one of the best days of her life, her wedding, goes to great lengths to ready herself. Head to toe, nothing lacks attention as she awaits the moment when everyone she loves will focus their gaze upon her. Her bridegroom waiting at the altar, glowing with anticipation and desire.

Each of us as believers have the honour of building the local church. The same attention a bride would give to her wedding day should be given as we represent Christ’s bride. He desires that his church is without stain or blemish. As we work in unity together, loving one another and serving selflessly, we prepare his church for his return. As our fast draws to an end, let’s continue to grow our relationship with God and endeavour to present his church beautifully, a bride worthy of our Saviour.

Dear God, you have blessed me with your word and revelation during this fast. Thank you for the breakthroughs and insight you have given me. Help me continue this journey of knowing you more. I pray for my church and my involvement there. I want to be an integral part of the thing dearest to your heart, your church. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fasting Devotion, Day Twenty

Numbers 11:1-20

When something hurts, our tendency is to do whatever we can to make it stop. When the pressure is on, we feel like quitting or turning back; we can lose sight of the reason we chose this path and easily look to where we came from as the better place.

Every time life was tough for the Israelites, they wanted to go back to Egypt. Distrusting of their leader, their anger brewed, and they pitied themselves. God would show up faithfully and provide a solution for them but it was never good enough.

Anything that is tough requires fortitude, an ability to push ahead, and not quit. Many of us have pressed through some difficult days as we have fasted over the last few weeks. God has shown up in those moments and given us strength to continue. As we move forward, let’s not forsake this daily time with God that’s like precious manna, our provision to move forward.

Discouragement will come and some days we feel like quitting. Oftentimes, we are in a full court press and our breakthrough is just minutes away. Promotion and headway comes right after the hardest part. If we turn back when the pain feels too intense, we will never give birth.  When faced with the impossible, it’s time to dig deeper with God, stay in the game for one more round, show up and trust him to come through.

Dear Lord, you ARE the great provider in my life. You never fail. I give thanks for everything in my life – every blessing, and even the difficult parts. Help me not to look behind me but to always press on. I know my future is bright. I trust you for daily provision and an outpouring of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fasting Devotion, Day Nineteen

(Post submitted by Pastor Greg)

Matthew 5:13-16

As our devotions and fast draw to a close, let’s not lose sight of what God is doing “in” us while also working “through” us. Jesus reminds us that we are to be salt and light to our world.

Salt flavours, enhances, and makes palatable the foods we eat. It is not intended to stay in the shaker; in the same way, we aren’t to keep what God is doing to ourselves. Rather, we are to influence the world around us.

Bland, tasteless living can turn into purpose, hope and freedom in Christ once our zest is spread around!

The warmth of light is soothing and comforting. It illuminates dark spaces and brings forth life. Jesus reminds us to let the light within us shine out so that others can find comfort, peace, and direction through Christ.

The more we grow in Christ and allow him to work in us, means Christ can be revealed through us to influence others. Imagine living in such a way that a beautiful, loving, gracious Saviour’s reflection outshines our fleshly tendencies to fall short.  Our kids will see Jesus through our marriages.  Our coworkers and colleagues will testify about Jesus because of the way we carry ourselves at work.  Imagine reaching people for Christ without “saying” a word!

Thank you, dear Jesus, for putting the challenge before me to live as salt and light to this world. Our world SO NEEDS you. May my life be a reflection of your pure light; and, please help me to add flavour and spice to my world for you! I pray for everyone in my world who doesn’t know you personally. Use me to influence them for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fasting Devotion, Day Eighteen

(Post submitted by Paul O’Rourke)

Psalm 133

We can all agree with King David that people living together in unity is beautiful and pleasant. The Psalmist likens unity to precious oil, signifying the cleansing, healing and directing power of the Holy Spirit being poured out on us by the bucketload. It’s like fresh rain falling on normally barren dry ground (dew of Hermon falling on Mt Zion).

And there, in the midst of true Biblical unity, the Lord commands blessing and life.

Unity is obvious. It’s attractive and sweet-smelling. It’s exemplified by a genuine love for one another, a commitment to others’ success and welfare. Discernible peace and contentment within a marriage, a family, a congregation exist alongside people living in harmony.

John says that when we are of one heart and mind, we reflect Jesus to the world. Where there is unity, people care; they go the extra mile; they forgive quickly and completely; they are secure.

Disunity repels; it stinks. Dissension is characterised by jealousy, strife, malice and anger where people put up with one another – tolerating, rather than forgiving and serving.

Jesus said people would know we are his followers by our LOVE.

Love is the means, unity the ends.

God, thank you for your promises in your word. They bring life and favour to me. I commit to living in unity with those you have placed in my life. I choose to go the extra mile, to serve, to encourage, and submit where necessary. This brings blessing upon my life and I receive this word today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fasting Devo, Day Seventeen

1 Peter 4:7-11

Each of us should use whatever gift we have received to serve others. God has blessed us with unique strengths. As we walk through this life, one of the greatest ways we can fulfill our greatest potential is to serve others.

When is the last time you said to someone, “Want me to help with that? It’s easy for me and I would love to serve in that way!” WOW! So often, God’s provision comes in the form of a person. Throughout the Bible, God used people to rebuild cities, to lead his chosen people to the promised land, to conquer enemies, to preach the good news, to heal the sick, to prophesy and interpret dreams.

There are certain things that only YOU can do and God has placed you around people who can benefit from what you have to offer. One of the greatest ways we can exhibit love to one another is by serving each other. Mums can offer to help cook a meal or mind kids. We can serve in the church by offering our gifts with no strings attached. We can serve our neighbours by watering their garden, taking out their bins, inviting for a meal. Offer to wash someone’s car or pick up a few groceries. Help someone with a household project. Tell your boss you’ll help solve a problem at the office even if it’s not technically your job description.

Ultimately, God sent his own son, a person, to this earth in order to bring freedom and salvation to us all. He is the ultimate servant. Let us follow his lead.

Dear God, thank you for creating me with unique gifts and talents. Help me to see what ways I can use them to serve others, my community and my church. Show me how to love people like you love us and make me more like you each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fasting Devotion, Day Sixteen

(Post submitted by Paul O’Rourke)

Psalm 23

The use of personal pronouns Me, My, and I mean the promises contained in this magnificent Psalm are for, well, ME! and YOU!

Consider: The Lord (creator of the universe, God himself) is MY (my very own) Shepherd (guide, counsellor, refuge and protector). He makes me lie down in deep pastures (lush green grass; a blue sky overhead). He leads me to rest beside quiet waters where he restores (and revives) my soul (mind, will and emotions).

He guides me in paths of righteousness (shows me how to live, where to go, what’s best).

And though I walk through tough times, he is with me; therefore, I will fear no evil (won’t be anxious or fearful as he keeps me on the straight and narrow). His rod and staff comfort me.

He prepares a table (a feast, the best of everything) in the presence of my enemies and anoints me with oil (the Holy Spirit’s life-giving seal of approval), and fills my cup to overflowing.

Surely (I have no doubt) goodness and mercy WILL follow me all the days (here and now) and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (then I will live with God in Heaven thereafter).

Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to us about your nature through your word. I choose to grab hold of every aspect and promise Psalm 23 contains. You are a faithful and loving father who takes such great care of me. I rest in your promises today, Amen.