God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
I love living in the country; it has so many perks! I love the fact that we have fresh beef that we raise ourselves (I can’t lie…Dave does the raising) we have fresh pork, vegetables and flowers from my gardens that sit on the kitchen island most of the summer and fall and my niece and her family raise chickens so there are plenty of eggs to share. When school started this fall, I instituted a tiny holiday (at least it’s kind of a holiday for me) called “Egg Day With Aunt Sheri!” When I’m out of eggs, my three great nieces come to my classroom after school and I take them home so I can get eggs from my niece. The girls like it because they don’t have to ride the school bus home and because we absolutely have to make a stop and get a treat! These three little girls are such sweeties and they always remember to pick out a treat to take home to their brother. The other day as we were driving home with their treats, I had to laugh because they were busy making trades. I’ll give you 3 Combos for a gummy worm or I think a gummy worm is worth 4 mini Oreos were the sounds that entertained me all the way home. As I picked up my eggs and dropped off the girls I couldn’t help but think of this verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans.
The girls were all about negotiating a trade that was fair for everyone, but God made the most epic, lopsided trade of all time. I’m not sure I fully comprehend the power of this verse so I’ve been puddling it around in my heart for a few days. We toss around the words fair, just and equal quite a bit, but I for one don’t spend much time thinking about how the Father must process those words. Our relationship with him is anything but fair, just or equal. He can’t be outdone or undone or even partially matched in love and mercy and I’m not very good at thanking him for that.
I think the power in this verse lies in the five words “while we were still sinners”. It wasn’t a negotiation. It doesn’t say, after you got your act together Christ died for you. It doesn’t say, when you stopped sinning Chris died for you. It doesn’t say if you do x, y and z then I’ll consider sending my Son to save you. He did it before we got it all together. It wasn’t about scoring enough points to get the reward. It was a matter of; I love you so much, I’ll take you right in the middle of your messy, goofy, sin riddled life and send my Son to show you once and for all how extravagantly I love you. I need to get that through my thick noggin because I go through most days thinking I can trade my measly little gummy worms or Oreos for a life in heaven. He isn’t there to bargain or negotiate with. He takes my puny little attempts at holiness and gives me the grace I need to do better. I think he whispers to me, I did this so you would be able to come home to my loving embrace; I want your love, your trust and I want you to put me in first place. It’s a gift my child; not a trade!
A Seed To Plant: Take a few minutes to thank God for his love and ask him to help you see a couple of things he’s inviting you to do so you can grow in holiness.
Blessings on your day!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not.
At St. Mary’s school, the first of each month means a project. All twelve big hallway bulletin boards are prepared with a focus on one central faith based theme which changes each time we flip the calendar. You might find it funny to know that when I was a freshman at Emporia State University, I specifically remember choosing to teach High School because I didn’t want to mess with all those bulletin boards you find in an elementary classroom! Now I teach 1st grade and have 8 bulletin boards inside my room and the giant one in the hall…God is hilarious isn’t He! Last February our theme was God’s Love…not too tough right…well I had this great idea that I thought the kids would get in a snap! I was feeling pretty smart about the whole thing until I explained it to the kids and I got nothin’ but that “deer in the headlights” look from every single one of them! I’ve been teaching long enough to know when the ship is sinking and I need to bail before I drown...I was there! In a flash I said, “Ok God, I wasn’t so smart here…send me something quick that will honor You and teach all who see this project about Your love, show me what to do, send Your Holy Spirit quickly with a good idea!” Bing…just like that the idea came. I looked at the kids and said, “You know what kids, the Holy Spirit just sent me a great idea, let’s try it again.” I explained the new idea and the little boy in the back corner smiled and said,”Mrs. Wohlfert, next time why don’t you just ask God first instead of wasting time trying to think things up on your own.” Brilliant boy!
My mission with these bulletin boards is always to reveal something new and amazing about God to my students, they are truly a teaching tool and I take these projects seriously because they are a priceless opportunity.
With that in mind, we got started. I explained how I would draw a giant heart for the center of the board which would contain the words “I see God’s love…” Each child would get their picture taken holding that giant heart and then in a small heart, they would have to write the words that completed the idea. After I had carefully explained the instructions, I asked if anyone knew how they were going to finish the sentence. I was prepared to help them stretch their ideas and invite them to dig deeper. I was quite sure I’d have to assist them in their thinking. Once again God must have been just laughing at me because the first child I called on blew me out of the water with his answer! I should have seen it coming because he was an amazing little boy whose faith was so enormous that sometimes it would swallow me up! He raised his hand and said, “Mrs. Wohlfert, this is the easiest question you’ve asked us all year, I see God’s love…(pause and grin from him)…when I see Jesus on the cross. I couldn’t stop the tears that rolled down my cheeks! But wait…it gets better…the little girl next to him put her arm around his shoulder and said, “That’s the best answer ever in the world!”
As I sat and listened to my class one by one announce their thoughts I was astounded! Each answer revealed another great nugget of God’s grace and love. As I dismissed them to their seats to begin, I sat in my chair a minute and wondered….ok…so who’s the teacher here…who is the smart one? It all became clear, that two second prayer of trust, even if it was offered as a plea out of desperation, gave me the truth spoken in this verse from Proverbs. I look back on that day and realize that if God can be trusted to help with little bitty things like a first grade bulletin board, He is certainly equipped to tackle the big things like finances, relationships and whatever else we think we're smart enough to handle on our own!
A seed to plant: At some point before this long holiday weekend is over, find one situation you struggle with and stop in your tracks and say the words “Father I trust you, Father I love you, please send your Holy Spirit and take charge of this.” Put Proverbs 3:5 in action!
Blessings on your day!
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27
Earlier this week I made a quick trip to Kansas to present a teacher in-service. As I was sitting in the airport in Chicago, I was enjoying some people watching. One guy walked past in a T-shirt that read, A blood donor saved my life. After he passed by, my mind began to wonder if he had been in an accident or if maybe he had been afflicted with an illness. Lost in thought, the T-shirt made me grateful for the generosity of people, especially those who donate blood so others like this man might be alive and healthy.
A few minutes later, I saw the same guy walking in the opposite direction and I caught a glimpse of the back of his T-shirt and it displayed the words from Matthew 26:28, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I thought that was an amazing T-shirt!
Once again, my thoughts drifted to gratefulness…but this time for the ultimate blood donor, Jesus. I was thinking how cool it was that he wore that T-shirt in the most public place I could imagine. I suddenly got the urge to tell him how cool I thought his T- shirt was and I heard my mom’s voice in my ear saying “If you’ve got something nice to say to someone, you’d better spit it out cause folks need to hear good stuff.” I decided to find him and tell him…but then I realized that by the time I packed up my laptop, grabbed my suitcase and headed out of the boarding area, I would literally have to run through the terminal to find him and the vision of a chubby woman with a cup of coffee trotting through the airport tugging along a floral print suitcase behind her might be more than the good folks gathered at O’Hare airport were ready for on a Sunday morning! So, I stayed put, said a quick prayer for the guy in the cool T-shirt and went about my business.
A few minutes later I was reminded that God has an excellent sense of humor because the empty seat beside me was soon occupied by none other than the guy with the great T-shirt! It was all I could do not to laugh out loud! I told him I loved his shirt and that led to an amazing conversation that inspired and uplifted me! The gentleman told me that he knew he’d be spending the whole day in airports so he chose an outfit with a message. As he tugged on the T-shirt that morning he thought if one person noticed the message then he’d made a good choice for Jesus. (I’m not sure that has ever been the criteria on which I based my outfit choice…but it just might be someday.) As we sat in conversation, I was impressed by this man’s faith, his trust and his optimism. Both he and his wife had recently lost their jobs thanks to our current economy and in addition to raising their 15 yr. old son; they had recently and unexpectedly become guardians of their 11 month old grandson. He spoke about the way he felt God working in his life and about his expectant hope in God’s good plan for him and his family. He had every right to be frustrated, angry, anxious and cranky but he chose to put on a great T-shirt and God’s peace instead. He truly lived these words from Galatians and “put on the clothing of Christ”. He dressed himself in Christ both spiritually and physically! The situation started with a comment about a T-shirt, and ended up being a lesson in God’s love and grace. Who knew???
A seed to plant: This one is a double challenge! First, one day this week, purposefully wear or display something that will specifically draw attention to Jesus. Maybe it’s a T-shirt with a great message, religious jewelry or a sign in the rear window of your car. Second, take my mom’s advice and each time you think of something good to say…be sure you spit it out…let someone hear you say something good!
Blessings on your day!
Click on the items below to expand the options available to you to explore the Joyful Words blog.