Community, Devotion, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 13: “Peace. In the Neighbourhood.”

A neighbourhood is the district in which you live. It’s your suburb, your address, and the determinate for where your children go to school. You come and go each day, probably giving little thought to your surroundings. An unconscious habit, you drive home like a robot programmed and automated.

Your senses are being heightened and your spiritual ears are tuned in like never before while you are fasting. Take note of your surroundings today. Which of your neighbours might need a word of encouragement? Who can benefit from your prayers over their marriages, health, or children?

Your influence can turn a group of people living in proximity to one another into a tight-knit community, looking out and caring for one another. The Bible says that by showing hospitality to strangers, some people have entertained angels without even knowing it.

Commit yourself to being a neighbour full of light. Let go of your complaints. Smile and lend a hand. Slow down enough to chat in the driveway. Live expectantly on your block. Ask for peace to come into your hood.

Lift up in prayer those who look after your neighbourhood today. Police, firefighters, ambulance workers: all shift-working for your good. They see the worst of what happens within the four walls next door. Under pressure, they make life and death decisions putting themselves at risk. Ask God to protect them and give thanks for their service.

“And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!

Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.”


1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 (MSG)
Community, Love, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 15: “Love Your Neighbour”

loveIf you read the news, you’ll see consistent coverage of polarizing topics and conversations that divide. Politics, government spending, inequality in the workplace, global warming, immigration. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion and divisiveness is the status quo. Marching, arguing, hating.

The thing is, you have more in common with your neighbour than you have differences.

If you’ve ever traveled to another country and spent time people-watching, you know a mother’s love is universal. Laughter in a movie theatre or adoration for a sunset alongside strangers transcends which suburb you grew up in or what sort of car you drive.

Stand in line at a water park with thousands of other guests and you’ll see that stretch marks don’t discriminate. Shade cover is ubiquitously desired and over-priced burgers taste good after a long swim in sunshine. Everyone agrees.

Can you spend some time today focussing on what you have in common with your neighbours, rather than your differences? Pray you will be able to extend grace to those you might disagree with and smile despite your disparity.

Prayer opens your heart and eyes to the need around you. The Holy Spirit will show you how to bless those across the road and serve your neighbours, no strings attached. Meeting people where they are will diminish your differences and allow God to make his way onto your street and into your hearts. Love lessons the gap between us and that’s something everyone can admit is more fun than fighting.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

 

Fasting, Series, Uncategorized

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.

Inspiration, Uncategorized

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Growing up, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was one of my favorite TV programs.  I can still see King Friday XIII and Lady Elaine in the Neighborhood of Make Believe.  I can hear Mr. Rogers singing his opening song asking me to be his neighbor while changing from his work shoes into sneakers and putting on a casual sweater.

Fred Rogers had a way with kids.  His ability to be himself on camera and speak to children about real issues like fear, war, divorce, and other tough topics connected with children and made an impact.  I can still hear the sounds of the trolley coming on-screen to take us to the land of make-believe.  Fred Rogers is quoted as saying one of the greatest gifts you can give somebody is “the gift of your authentic self.”

So often, as Christians, we are not our authentic selves.  We go to church and are one type of person and then come home and are someone else to our kids.  Someone in public who seems happy and friendly to strangers then turns to her husband and is rude and impatient.  It’s like we transport ourselves from the neighborhood of make-believe (real world) into the reality of home.

Reading John 1:14 in The Message made me think of good ‘ole Mr. Rogers.  It says, “The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”  This, of course, is referring to Jesus coming to earth as God, yet entirely man.  He moved into the neighborhood and was rejected by the very people with whom he should have had credibility.  He made such a difference every place he traveled that no one was the same after being in his presence.  People were healed, delivered, and set free from touching his robe.  Power moved into the neighborhood when Jesus came to town.

The Bible says that the same power that raised Christ from the dead actually LIVES in us, as Christians.  The power of God should be evident in our lives everywhere we go. If someone can’t look at our house and associate what moved into the neighborhood with Godliness, the fruit of the spirit, etc. then we are failing at our job as Christians.  Just as Mr. Rogers was known in his community as a friendly, kind neighbor who showed respect to everyone from Mr. McFeely the delivery man to Handyman Negri and Lady Aberlin, we should be to those God has placed us among.

Greg and I are praying daily for the neighbors we will meet in our new city in Australia.  Before we can speak to anyone about Jesus or invite them to church, they are going to know us as their neighbors.  They will know how we treat each other and our kids.  They will hear how we talk and whether we are “Negative Nelly’s” or full of life and positivity.  Our goal is to serve those around us and have an impact through friendship and neighborly love.  This will be pleasing to God and will make room for his Holy Spirit to move them toward a relationship with Him.

So in the words of Fred Rogers, I pray our neighbors will say:

“I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.”