WORKING TOGETHER IN HARMONY

Isn’t it neat to think about all the things in this world that work together in harmony?

As humans, but made in God’s image, I think all the more WE should look for ways to work in harmony and make this world a better place for others.

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I think that is how God wants us to be with one another…helping each other to live in harmony, whether through an encouraging word, physically helping another in some way, praying for another, or sharing some gift that we have.

This thought of how things work together in harmony occurred to me when I was attending a Philharmonic concert recently. Especially since I do not have the gift of music, it amazes me to think how, with the vast amount of instruments in an orchestra or band, and so many different people playing, that such great music is the result! I am in awe of how all of the instrumentalists, with their various instruments, know exactly the right time to come in and play their own parts. So many instruments and different people from all walks of life can work so well together and play some beautiful, harmonious music!

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Photo credit by Mike Fisher under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)

How about how God made all of nature to work together in harmony? From the trees, to the flowers, to the animals, to the birds of the sky, each has their own job and purpose on this earth. Snakes help reduce the rodent population and mosquitoes are actually a great food source for birds, fish, and frogs among other creatures. Again, they all live together in harmony.

Think about the huge oceans in this world and how the many creatures there live in harmony. Each creature in the sea exists to live in harmony and fulfill a purpose. Why there are even major ecosystems making beautiful coral reefs for our eyes to behold.

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Photo credit by Derek Keats under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)

If you have a career, think about how much more smoothly things work when people all work together in harmony. Being respectful and caring in our interactions, rather than demanding or mean is one way to work more harmoniously. How about letting people think about and have a say in the way something could maybe work better? Maybe the “lowly” person in the company holds the key to improving a process and save the company some money! Working together in harmony is much more beneficial.

In your home, especially if you have children at home, life is so much better if you can find ways to live in harmony. If the kids are always fighting or arguing, life can be so draining and it doesn’t benefit anyone.

Our churches should be places where people feel welcome and a sense of community where love is the center of everything that is done. People praying for one another and helping each other in whatever way they need. No one should be in need for physical things. Having programs to enrich and grow in our faith are important things to help us live more harmoniously with one another.

Reaching out to a stranger through a smile at the store, inviting a friend over for dinner when you know they are all alone, or sending a card to brighten someone’s day can help us live in harmony. You just might be the one God uses to help another see something in a different light, and that just might change their life for the better enabling them to live a life of harmony.

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Photo credit by Danielle Lynn under Creative Common License (CC BY 2.0)

I do think it is so cool how God can use every event and circumstance in our life to affect another. It might be to benefit you in some way or maybe it was just what the other person needed. God is so good and it is so powerful to see how everything is connected. I can help you, you can help me, and together we can glorify the Lord in all we do and say. It is awesome to be open to seeing the Lord working in all of creation and to live in harmony with one another.

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. –1 Peter 3:8-9

THE LENTEN SEASON

In our life, I think it is a good thing to take time to reflect on our journey, what can be improved, and what changes we can make to become better people.
As Christians, I think the season of Lent provides for us a good time to do that.  Lent can provide us all with a specific time to refocus the direction we are headed. But, we certainly don’t need to wait until Lent to make changes we feel are needed. Anytime we feel inspired to change is a great time to start doing things differently.
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 Photo credit by brett jordan under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)
Are there changes you can make to improve and deepen your relationship with the Lord?
Are there changes you can make to help you be a better you?
Would reflecting on the supreme sacrifice that Jesus made for you make you more thankful?
Some ways to help us refocus can be:
Fasting
Repenting of our sins
Spiritual discipline
Almsgiving
As Christians, it is a given that our salvation is based on our acceptance of Christ as our Savior. Participating in the above actions are things we can do to grow closer to Christ in that relationship. Doing these things will not get us to heaven but they are more of a by-product to enhance our relationship with Christ.
It is interesting to note that Christ fasted, would take time out to pray to God, His Father, and helped the poor that He encountered.  If Christ did these things, can’t we learn from His example?  He spent 40 days in the desert where He fasted and was tempted by Satan, yet He knew the Scriptures and defeated Satan each time with Scriptures.
I love celebrating the holiest of days reflecting on the events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and then Easter which are the pinnacles of our faith. For me, it is the most special time of year.
Thinking of how Jesus washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper was such an act of being a humble servant….commanding us to do the same. Reliving the Last Supper, where He sacrificed Himself, is always a powerful event for me.
Thinking about Jesus carrying the cross on Good Friday is such a humbling experience….to feel the agony that He endured for us.
And then there is Easter Sunday when He rose on the Third Day! He was victorious over sin and death in order to set us free!
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Photo credit by Art4TheGlryOfGod under Creative Common License (CC BY-ND 2.0)
So, I view Lent as a time to make us more aware of things we can do to grow closer to Christ…a time of reflection, growing even deeper in our relationship with Christ, and becoming better people following in His footsteps. And then when we celebrate that glorious Easter Sunday when Jesus rose from the dead, we can join in His victory over death and truly be Easter people!
For me, being Easter people means sharing in Jesus’ resurrection and the joy that comes with knowing that He paid the ultimate price for our salvation! We have the privilege of proclaiming and sharing Him with all we meet by the way we live our lives. Knowing that we are also filled with the Holy Spirit who is always there to encourage us and give us power is a huge blessing.
I pray that you may have a blessed Lenten season growing in your faith, and then on Easter Sunday be filled with the love and joy of the Risen Savior!
Jesus said to her (Martha), “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  –John 11:25-26
Here is a link to a new song by Third Day entitled Victorious. It sums up what Jesus’ death did for us all.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHkFa8l9dQk

THE BLESSING OF CAREGIVERS

A few months ago I talked about some Inspirational People in my life. At that time, I did touch on the specialness of one particular caregiver, but I wanted to expound on that importance of the caregiver a little more. I truly believe they deserve a special shout out, and they need to know what a blessing they are.
I also mentioned in another writing, about the Bible Study I’m involved in this year encouraged us to do some type of “ministry” work outside of our comfort zone. The jail ministry did not work out, so when a Deacon in our Bible Study mentioned about praying for a gentlemen who used to go to our church who has had cancer for the last four years, right away, I felt compelled to go visit them.
To do something outside of ourselves and our little, familiar comfort zone can be scary but I am really finding that I need to continue to follow that little prompting and step out in faith. I will admit I kept going back and forth in my mind if I could really call them to see if they were open to a visit and then go and do that. And then I’m thinking, what will I talk about or say to them. Thankfully, I got brave, did call, not just once, but twice (as nobody answered the first time). The wife was more than happy to accept an invitation for a visit, and so I was off to their house the next morning.
It just so happened that the lady used to babysit my eldest child..only about 18 or 19 years ago!  It seems hard to believe that it was probably about two years ago when I ran into her at the grocery store and we conversed for a bit.  Other than that, I have not seen them too much through the years.
As always, it is delightful to see how God works things out. I had scheduled the visit around a birthday lunch with a friend of mine, allowing an hour visit before meeting my friend. In the end, it really worked out that my friend could not make the lunch date. That way, I did not have a time constraint with the couple I was visiting.
I brought some cookies for them, which they greatly appreciated, she made some coffee, and though at times I felt like maybe my words didn’t come out right, I know the visit meant a lot to them. We all had a wonderful time catching up on each other’s families, and reminiscing about the “old” days, and just being there for them.  More than three hours flew by before I left!
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Photo credit by garlandcannon under Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 2.0)
During my visit, I was very blessed to see the two of them interact, as well with their one daughter that was home helping them out. It made me realize once again how special the role of a caregiver is and the extreme sacrifices they make. The caregivers that I know personally, care for their loved ones with such love and devotion.
I’ve witnessed the caregivers:
–Serving their loved one with respect
–Serving their loved one with dignity
–Serving their loved one with such love
–Serving their loved one with such patience
–Serving their loved one with gentleness
–Serving their loved one with kindness
–Serving their loved one with such faithfulness
–Serving their loved one with words of endearment
I know the caregivers often sacrifice their own wants and desires in order to be there for their loved one. Many times, the caregiver can not just go when they want because they might not be able to leave their loved one without someone being there. This can be so draining on the caregiver, but they continue to give us a great example.
It really is a special person who cares for another with such a humbling, loving spirit. What a true example of being Christ to their loved one.
So, I would just like to thank the blessed caregivers who give so much of themselves for their loved ones. They have touched my heart, and I know they are certainly following Jesus’ humble example of serving others.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  –Galatians 5:22-23

THE SEED

Our lives can be parallel to that of a little tiny seed.  That seed is just being planted into the dirt when we realize the true purpose and meaning of life—life in Jesus Christ.

Growth of the seed will continue when we read and share God’s Word and reach out to one another.  This is the water and food that nourishes the seed.

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 Photo courtesy of  Andrew_Writer under Creative Commons License (CC NY 2.0)

In reaching out to others, we help ourselves grow, as well as bringing others to know and love Jesus more.  This is the “sun” which, when it shines brightly, helps the seed to blossom into something beautiful.

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Photo courtesy of Rennette Stowe under Creative Common License (CC BY 2.0)

At times, clouds and storms may come and shake us, but with the “Son’s” help and with friends to hold us up, the storm will pass, and soon the sun will shine again.  These storms help us stand taller and be stronger than before.

Again, He said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest see you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”  –Mark 4:30-32