Our Mistakes Don’t Define Our Future – Quote

We’ve all made mistakes – they’re part of the human experience. Oftentimes, we focus on the “mistake” – we get all caught up in ‘I should have’ or ‘I shouldn’t have’. This can lead us into self deprecation and depression. What if we change the way we view our mistakes?

It’s not our mistakes that define us…
It’s what we do afterward that counts the most.
~Numb3rs Episode

Join us this Sunday and we’ll take a look at some main characters of the Bible, some of the mistakes they made, and what they did afterward. Were they really mistakes – or did God use them as the ultimate learning opportunities?

The Greatest of These is Love – Teaching

Quote:

Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
~Prayer of Saint Francis

Thoughts:

Some of the phrases are obvious. For instance: hatred vs. love – the theme would be Love; despair vs. hope – Hope; doubt vs. faith – Faith. For others, it might not be so obvious. However, when we look deeply, we can see the theme. For example, injury vs. pardon. What is pardon? Forgiveness. What is forgiveness? An act of great love. So, to me, the theme would be Love.

In the message synopsis below, we’ll examine each of the phrases and the related topics. And we’ll reference several scriptures associated with each topic. Take the time to read each of the scriptures for yourself and listen to what God has to say to you about them.

Message Synopsis:

Hatred & Love – Love

We can find many scripture verses relating to the Great Commandment to “…Love one another…” (John 13:34). We are to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, etc. Reference scripture:

  • Matthew 5:44-48
  • John 13:34
  • Leviticus 19:18

Though Leviticus 19:18 says “…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself…”, it’s important to remember that the laws set forth in Leviticus were for the Hebrews dealing with how they should treat each other. The New Testament commandment in John is new in that our love for one another should go beyond any such distinctions. We are to love one another as brethren in the same family, children of the same God – praying for one another, bearing each other’s burdens, forgiving each other, and building each other in faith.

Injury & Pardon – Love

Jesus spoke a lot about forgiveness. When Peter asked how many time he should forgive his brother, Jesus answered ‘up to seventy times seventy-seven’. Jesus also tells the story of a servant who is forgiven his debt by his master, yet he himself is unforgiving to those who are in debt to him. We are also reminded in the Epistles to not return evil for evil, live peaceably with all men, live in harmony, share the suffering of those who suffer, be affectionate one to another, and be kind and gentle; not rendering evil for evil, railing for railing, but instead of these, render blessing. Reference scripture:

  • Matthew 6:14 & 15
  • Matthew 18:21-3
  • Romans 12:17 & 18
  • 1 Peter 3:8 & 9

What is forgiveness? An act of great love.

Doubt & Faith – Faith

As we travel this journey of life, there will be times when we face doubts and fears. Jesus reminds us that the birds are fed though they don’t sow, harvest or store up food and wild flowers don’t spin and yet they’re beautiful. God knows all things that are necessary for us. All we have to have is faith.

An example of this faith is the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his son. Jesus says ‘sure, let’s go’; but the centurion doesn’t feel worthy and asks Jesus to just say the word and his son would be healed. Jesus responded with, “Go, let it be done to you according to your belief.” And the boy was healed.

Matthew and James remind us to “…have faith and do not doubt” and “…ask in faith, not doubting.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that every single little wish will be granted – it’s not waving a magic wand. What we’re asking must be in alignment with God’s plan. Scripture references:

  • Matthew 8:5-9 & 13
  • Matthew 21:21 & 22
  • James 1:6

Despair & Hope – Hope

Even in times of despair, we have hope – God is always with us. Even our troubles can be used by God for good. Scripture references:

  • Job:36:15, 16 & 19
  • Romans 5:2-5
  • Romans 15:13

These passages remind us that, even in times of despair, God is always with us – and there is always hope.

Darkness & Light – Love

Things like hate, despair, sadness, loneliness, anger, etc. are all things of darkness. Love, compassion, forgiveness, joy, etc. are things of the light. No matter what darkness we find ourselves in, God is there to light our path. Scripture references:

  • 1 Samuel 22:29
  • 1 John 2:9-11

Darkness and Light cannot co-exist. One cannot live in darkness and in light at the same time. Jesus is the Light of the World. We speak of the Divine Light of God. When we live in hate and ugliness towards others, how can we be living in the light? It is only through love that we abide in the Light, and in Christ.

Sadness & Joy – Faith

Even in times of great sadness, we can find some joy. There is always something, no matter how small it might seem, that we can be happy about and thankful for. If we hold onto our faith, God will comfort us and see us through our times of trouble. Every day is a new day, and holds the promise of better things to come. Remember the old proverb, “I cried because I had no shoes…then I met a man who had no feet.” Scripture references:

  • Psalm 31:7 & 8
  • Psalm 118:24
  • Philippians 4:4-7

Times of sadness are a normal part of living our human experience. When we hold onto our faith, God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, will ease our sadness – guarding our hearts and our minds.

The Greatest of These is Love

As mentioned at the outset, each of the topics tie to three common themes: Faith, Hope, and Love. And, as we read in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now abive faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.”

Final Thoughts

I love this prayer because it’s so simple yet encompasses so many aspects of my faith. If we all keep this prayer in mind, and do our best to live by it – can you imagine the effect it could have on our communities, states, nation, and even the world?

What are your thoughts? What can we do to be less hateful and more loving…more forgiving? How can we help others who might have doubts or who are experiencing ‘tests of faith’? What little things can we each do every day to help those who are in despair, darkness, or sadness to know the hope, light, and joy that are possible through God and Jesus? Post your comments, and, if this message resonates with you, feel free to share it!

Faith in Adversity – Teaching

Quote:

Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.
~William Penn

Message:

God places people in our paths every day from whom we can learn valuable lessons – if we only get out of our own way long enough to listen and pay attention. I recently had the opportunity to meet a most wonderful man. In our brief interaction, he taught me an important lesson about faith in adversity and humility. You see, the gentleman is homeless. He came into the center while I was setting up – we hadn’t even opened the doors yet. Turns out he is an ex-marine, down on his luck. Though homeless, he takes great pride in being “presentable.” He shaves with his knife, rolls his pants in such a way that they maintain a crease, and keeps himself as neat and clean as he can given his circumstance.

We spoke for a while and prayed together. I was so moved by his story I gave him a little money to buy some food on his honor as a marine that he would, indeed, buy food. He gave me his word and started to leave. Before he walked out I offered him all I had to offer – a hot cup of coffee (it was 30 degrees outside). Feeling that he had monopolized my time, he didn’t want to accept it. Finally, with some urging on my part, he graciously accepted the coffee and went on his way. I was struck by his humbleness. He was in tears, and so was I, as he walked off into the cold. Over the next few days I included him in my prayers and went back to the business at hand – setting up the center and getting it ready for opening day.

A couple of days later, I saw this same gentleman walking across the parking lot, heading toward my door. As happens with many of us from time to time, I was completely caught up in the “importance” of what I was doing. Let’s just say, and I’m ashamed to admit, my initial thoughts were less than loving. My computer was crashing, things weren’t going at all well, and all I could think was ‘Lord, not today…I don’t have time for him today’. Well, long story short, he came in and stayed for just a few minutes. He wanted to thank me again, and let me know that he did, indeed, buy food. And, he had worked a few odd jobs and earned a little money. In that short time, his deep and unwavering faith and a little story he shared left me feeling completely humbled.

His Story

He asked me a question – “What do most people do with their keys when they get home?” I looked at him and thought for a moment – “toss them on a table…hang them on a hook,” I replied.

“You know what I learned to do?”, he asked. “I put them under my bed.”

I simply looked at him, a little puzzled. He said, “Well, that way, every morning before I could leave, I had to get down on my knees. While I was there, I took a few minutes with God and prayed. That’s how I got in the habit of spending time in prayer every day.”

Wow – what a simple yet profound lesson!

Final Thoughts

In his eyes, I have everything and he has “nothing.” In truth – it is quite the opposite. He demonstrated to me that he has everything. As he walked away, I was left, once again, in tears. And I realized then that God had blessed me by bringing this gentleman into my life at exactly the right time, and with exactly the right lesson.

There truly are wonderful people and wonderful lessons all around us, every day, if we would just get out of our own “stuff” long enough to pay attention.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any uplifting examples of people maintaining their faith even in times of adversity? How about any “little lessons” God has placed in your path when you least expected them? Post your comments, and, if it resonates with you, feel free to share this message!

The Greatest of These is Love – Quote

Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
~Prayer of Saint Francis

This simple prayer is symbolic of the type of person we all strive, or ought to strive, to be. Each phrase comes down to the same basic tenants – being caring, compassionate, loving, and forgiving. When we examine scripture around each topic, we find three common themes emerge – Faith, Hope, and Love.

You’re invited to join us this Sunday when we explore each of the phrases and some biblical verses that apply to them. We’ll also discuss little ways we can all start to focus a little more thought and energy into love and kindness in our every day lives.

Faith in Adversity – Quote

God places people in our paths every day from whom we can learn valuable lessons – if we only get out of our own way long enough to listen and pay attention.

Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.
~William Penn

On Sunday, we’ll explore the quote, I’ll fill in ‘the rest of the story,’ and we’ll take a look at some scripture that reminds us that, even in times of adversity, our faith will see us through.