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Devotionals

Little Foxes and Abundant Life?

on Sunday, 02 March 2014. Posted in Devotionals

trust God

It was a no good thoroughly rotten week. Yep, there is no other way to describe it. Who wants to deal with these little annoyances? Have you ever had one of THOSE weeks? Any one thing is easy to handle but when the irritations pile up, one on top of the other, it can overwhelm us. We trip over one, almost catch our balance and then trip again. Slogging through each day these trivial circumstances can pry us away from Jesus. Sorry if this seems a bit whiny but here is a recap of my week:

  1. I got a cold.
  2. I had cramps…nothing that 800 mg of ibuprofen every 4 hours can’t handle.
  3. I had a headache…that lasted 5 days.
  4. I threw up from the drainage combined with the headache.
  5. The weather was awful…I had to drive across the state in said awful weather.
  6. I accidently ate a little dairy…I’m intolerant…I had a severe reaction.
  7. I had commitments that I was compelled to keep.

What I wanted was a God–changed situation. I wanted it all to go away. I wanted it to be easy. However, He had a different plan. He walked through it with me.

We’ve all had weeks like this. Jesus told us we would. (Matthew 5:45) Yet, He also promised an abundant life. (John 10:10) How does one thrive when we are just trying to survive? These circumstances were not life threatening but part of me wanted to give up. Song of Solomon 2:15 says “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” Those foxes, life’s inconveniences, are sent to destroy our love relationship with Jesus. At that moment, when life is crushing down we need to make a choice. We cannot let the little foxes rule our life. Our focus centered on Jesus will keep our vines intact and connected to the true vine. (John 15)

Oh, that is so easy to write but complicated to live. If your head is pounding, your kids are crying, the road is slippery, the bills are piling up…it is all too much to ignore. How do we transition to a heart that embraces the abundant life? Ask Him. Talk to Him, worship Him. Work to recognize He is with each of us. Of course, He doesn’t leave but we lose track of his presence. This abundance speaks of a Spiritual richness that each of us can attain. It takes practice but it is possible. Stress, fear, and anger are replaced with peace. Peace that truly does go beyond our understanding.  Philippians 4:7 (NLT) is one of my favorite prayers. We need this kind of peace. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Oh God, let me live in this peace. This peace guards against circumstances stealing His love away. I love this!

Peace is one of the fruit of the Spirit. According to Strong’s, peace means by implication prosperity: - one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one again. Look at that! Tied into the meaning we see abundance and we see our union or oneness with Christ. That peace is a result of His love with His beloved; you and me. Psalm 43:5 (NLT) declares “Why am I discouraged?    Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”

Today the trauma drama continued. Added to the list was an overflowing toilet that soaked through the dry wall below. Oh yes and there was the car that almost overheated because there was no antifreeze in it. My husband is out of town and it started to feel like too much. Then I stopped, texted my praying friends and All is WELL. My peace returned, no more nibbling at my vineyard. My heart and mind are protected.

How about you have you had one of those weeks. Share your story. I’d love to pray with you and hear how you are dealing with it!

©Leslie Schonfeld

Fruit Full

on Friday, 31 January 2014. Posted in Devotionals

kind

Fruit – Full

On a mission trip, I was asked to dress up as a clown.  Clowning? Don’t you have to be trained to be a clown? The organization wanted something fun for the children involved. They had no money. It was our group or nothing.  Do it for the kids and do it for the Jesus.

Balloon animal instructions were distributed as we applied our make- up. Not my forte, I earned the name “Poppy”. Our rag-tag group marched through the streets with the inner city little league team celebrating the end of their season.  After their picnic we headed back to the subway.

It was an interesting walk. I decided to see how many New Yorkers I could make smile. With every passing bus, train, and car I waved. Each person responded with a quizzical look that erupted into a smile. I delighted in the response of others as I skipped through the streets, hidden behind my make-up my inhibitions disappeared.

Kindness breeds kindness. Even in a hardened heart city, child-like joy can be found. The Holy Spirit is saying “Stop hiding child. Share my fruit with others”. Fear of rejection, we hesitate to follow His lead. Why would I risk it? We risk it because it is the right thing to do.

Often we get caught up in our own agenda. Self- focused and determined to check off our to-do lists, we miss opportunities to share Jesus by sharing His fruit. The world needs more kindness. Now when I’m out I try to make eye contact with others.  I smile, than often they smile. It is contagious.

This is a simple truth but so often we don’t live it. It is time to be difference makers. It is time to stand out as unique. Share your smile. Give a pleasant greeting. It may be the only kindness that individual receives. It is a harsh world we live in. I want others to look at me and ask “Why is she so nice?”  The answer is Jesus.

Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)  states“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” The word kind, in Greek is chrestos, also means useful for others. Isn’t that beautiful? Who knew such a small action could be used for serving others. When you are kind you become a safe place for others in a hostile world.

This month we will be examining the fruit of the Spirit on the Dragonfly Ministry Facebook page. We hope you join the discussion!

© Leslie Schonfeld

She Loves

on Saturday, 04 January 2014. Posted in Devotionals

She Loves

She Loves

Bumper stickers are funny. They often reflect our personality.  I am particularly sensitive to Christian themed decals.  The abrasive ones really annoy me. I saw one the other day that started “You are not a Christian if…”  You fill in the doctrine from there. Often the person feels so passionately about the subject they don’t recognize the antagonistic message they are sending.  I found myself grumbling lf the rest of the way home.

Then it dawned on me I was judging a woman I don’t know. How could I know the intent of her heart? Maybe she meant to be judgmental, maybe not.  I don’t always love others. People can be annoying. Do you know what I mean? They don’t drive right, they don’t talk right, they don’t believe right. …Have you caught yourself thinking that way?

 This event provoked a journey that is now the theme for 2014; pursue the Holy Spirit.  Left to myself, I cannot reflect Jesus to others. I need to know and follow Him. I can only do this through a daily interaction with the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus said in John 14:26 (NLT) “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

 None of this is new revelatory information. Yet, we need to be reminded. Living life as a Christian, balanced between grace and truth, is difficult. We often fall too far to one side or the other. We daily negotiate mine fields of cultural rhetoric. Often I want to throw up my hands and walk away. Not from Jesus mind you but from people.

But Jesus said the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) This is our challenge, not only to learn the truth but to live the truth.   I can only accomplish this with a close association with the Holy Spirit. I need to daily allow myself to be filled with His power because ministry requires us to be other focused instead of self-focused.  

Mother Teresa understood this. In my mind she is a true hero of our faith. I love that she instructed us to be “kind anyway” when others were hurtful.  She loved. That is how I want to be thought of. She loves. How about you? Will you join me on this journey?

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