So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.
So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.
— 2 Peter 1:5-11, MSG
Yesterday, an old thought once again became knew:
In Christ, I am forgiven.
Not just in part, not only a little bit, not 2/3 or even 98%.
In Christ, I am forgiven.
Completely, for everything.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 MSG
In those moments when we are especially aware of the Lord’s compassion, patience, mercy, and grace, we again learn the lesson: Love doesn’t originate with us, but in God. We can love one another because God is the source, the substance, and the completion of our love.
Living in the reality of this great truth is possible for all of us. Yet how easily we become discouraged and frustrated in our quest to give and receive love!
Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as those whom God has given you to love.
– Henri J. M. Nouwen
“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” — Job 40:3-5, MSG
Job answered God:
“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ — Job 42:1-5, MSG
Silence can be so uncomfortable.
Lord, as I wait upon you without words or an agenda, quiet my heart and fill my emptiness.
I’m ready to listen.
In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:
God, you can now release your servant;
release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;
it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:
— Luke 2:25-32, MSG
Seeing this painting on display at UT’s Blanton Museum of Art stopped me in my tracks: Simeon! How long did he wait until that promised day? What obstacles did he face during those intervening years?
I’m asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
I’ll study at his feet.
That’s the only quiet, secure place
in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
far from the buzz of traffic.
— Psalm 27:4-5, MSG
Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.
—Alexander MacLaren (1826-1910)
“Joy, not grit, is the hallmark of holy obedience. We need to be light-hearted in what we do to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. It is a cheerful revolt against self and pride. Our work is jubilant, carefree, merry. Utter abandonment to God is done freely and with celebration. And so I urge you to enjoy this ministry of self-surrender. Don’t push too hard. Hold this work lightly, joyfully.”
—Richard J. Foster
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16, NIV
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to find the place where all the beauty came from.” – C. S. Lewis
The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center was brimming with color yesterday and there were butterflies everywhere! As I looked through my viewfinder, these are some of the pictures I saw.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
— Timothy Keller
Each morning, as we open our eyes and immediately begin reviewing our thoughts, where will we direct our attention? Will it be toward yesterday’s accomplishments and concerns, today’s to-do list, tomorrow’s goals and expectations? Or will we open our hearts in gratitude and wonder to the One who loves us best of all?
Every day, we can have this fresh realization: Our Father knows and loves us, and it’s by what we receive from Him that we come to more fully know and truly love one another .
“I know every one of your problems. I know your need and your worries. And yes, I know all your sins. But I will tell you again that I love you — not for what you have or haven’t done — I love you for you, the beauty and dignity my Father gave you by creating you in his own image….
“I thirst for you. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe my love for you: I thirst for you. I thirst to love and be loved by you — that is how precious you are to me. I thirst for you. Come to me, and fill your heart and heal your wounds….
“No matter how far you may wander, not matter how often you forget me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life, there is one thing I want you to remember always, one thing that will never change: I thirst for you — just as you are. You don’t need to change to believe in my love, for it will be your belief in my love that will change you. You forget me, and yet I am seeking you every moment of the day — standing at the door of your heart, and knocking….
“Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit: ‘No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake.’
“Come to me with your misery and your sins, with your trouble and needs, and with all your longing to be loved. I stand at the door of your heart and knock. Open to me, for I thirst for you.”
— Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
— Psalm 36:7-9
In the seventeenth century Francis Quarles wrote, “In having all things but Thee, what have I? Not having Thee, what have my labors got? Let me enjoy but Thee, what further crave I? And having Thee alone, what have I not?”
Indeed, if we belong to Jesus and His Spirit has found a home in our hearts, what do we lack? As we take time out to taste Christ’s eternal bounty, what further do we crave except more of Him? Still, it’s amazingly easy to dismiss this vital truth if our schedules begin to overflow with stressful activity, drain our inner reserves, and cause us to grow weary with life’s complex demands.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” David’s psalm invites us. “Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!” (Ps. 34:8, NLT). We don’t have to wait until tomorrow to seek and find the source of our soul’s satisfaction.
Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.
Thy truth unchanged has ever stood,
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee, Thou are good,
To them that find Thee, all in all.
We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.
Our restless spirits long for Thee,
Where’er our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blest when our faith can hold Thee fast.
O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed o’er the world Thy holy light.
— Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)
What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!
— Psalm 84:1-2, The Message
A few weeks ago while checking out a realtor’s open house in a nearby neighborhood, to my surprise I found myself entering a residence that seemed like a perfect fit. Though I had no intention whatsoever of making a move to a different address before walking in the door, once inside my imagination took over.
What a beautiful home….
Here’s the kind of place I’ve always longed to live in….
I’ve often dreamed of staying in a room much like this one, where I could….
It’s a given: As long as I’m camped out here on earth, there will be a part of me that will keep longing for my perfect home, no matter where I am, regardless of how plain or attractive my temporary tent is. Even so, until I reach heaven, I’ll continue praying for the grace to realize where I am now.
Lord, open my eyes to Your eternal reality, that I may see today where I am already abiding.
“For we know that if the earthly frame that houses us today should be demolished, we possess a building which God has provided—a house not made by human hands, eternal, and in heaven. In this present body we do indeed groan; we yearn to have our heavenly habitation put on over this one—in the hope that, being thus clothed, we shall not find ourselves naked. We groan indeed, we who are enclosed within this earthly frame; we are oppressed because we do not want to have the old body stripped off. Rather our desire is to have the new body put on over it, so that our mortal part may be absorbed into life immortal. God himself has shaped us for this very end; and as a pledge of it he has given us the Spirit.
Therefore we never cease to be confident. We know that so long as we are at home in the body we are exiles from the Lord; faith is our guide, we do not see him. We are confident, I repeat, and would rather leave our home in the body and go to live with the Lord. We therefore make it our ambition, wherever we are, here or there, to be acceptable to him.” — 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 5:1-9, New English Bible