Imagine

Sometimes I wonder
as I live life each day.
If today I met Jesus,
just what would He say?
Would He mention my Facebook,
or perhaps that “great” tweet?
Or would He question my absence
from the few at His feet?

Would He wink at that meme
that I knew wasn’t true?
But I just had to share it
to get back at you.
Would He ask why I’m so bent
on proving I’m right?
Did I honor His name
by joining that fight?

Would He ask any questions
that would give me a chance?
To explain the appearance
of my online “dance”?
I sidestep the truth
and I whirl around.
And get in my jabs
when opportunity is found.

Or would He just smile
and say, “Job well done!
You have lived life quite well
as you followed the Son!
You chose to use My Word
to help and to heal.
And stuck to its truth,
above how you ‘feel’”.

“My Word is a lamp
and a light to your way.
So stay true to it
in all that you say.
And be very careful,
when you say words are Mine.
That you’re not justifying
things you think are ‘fine’”.

“That lamp and that light
can only be lit.
When you speak Words of truth
and don’t add to it.
So, shine that light brightly
as you follow the Son.
And share My full counsel
with each and every one!”

© 2018 by Tom Lemler

As I was praying this morning during the morning building clean, I found myself seeking God regarding various social media posts, meme, and conversations that I’ve wanted to respond to over the past week or so.  While there is much good that can be accomplished through the tools of social media, there is a very real element of danger that exists in the ability to immediately share, post, or comment on things we’ve not spent any time talking to God about.  We see something that pokes us in one way or another and we “feel” that we just have to share it if we agree with it or comment if we disagree.  And far too often we use God’s Word out of context to add “power” to our opinion.  We play fast and loose with what He says His Word is about and instead of lighting a path so that people can see Jesus, we create confusion and conflict when there ought to be clarity.  Out of that prayer time came this poem as I considered what Jesus might say if He were to simply drop by my office for a visit today.  I suspect that the more deliberate I am about sitting at His feet and listening rather than having to have the “last word”, the more likely I will recognize His presence as I “walk in the light as He is in the light.”  I pray that you and I would be very careful in how we represent Jesus in all situations, but especially in our online presence.

In prayer,
Tom

Calming Touch

There are some times
I’m awakened at night.
To calm a sweet child
in the midst of her fright.
And often I realize,
words don’t mean as much.
As just being present
with a soft, calming touch.

I suspect that’s why God
placed us in family.
To be touched by His presence,
when each other we see.
To have someone with us,
through our darkest night.
Is not only calming,
it’s a beautiful sight!

So, as you live your life
and as I live mine.
May we each receive comfort
as we let God’s light shine.
And may all those around us,
be touched by our life.
In a way that brings peace
in the midst of their strife.

In the next interruption
of your comfortable rest.
I pray you are ready
to give others your best.
That you would be present
with just what they need.
And that they would see Jesus
in your very good deed!
© 2018 by Tom Lemler

There is very little that can get a parent’s full attention quite as quickly as being awakened by the sound of your child in distress.  In those moments, adrenaline can be a friend or foe . . . or a little of each.  As I was going about my work tasks and praying early this morning, I was thinking about the previous night and the care our daughter needed from my wife and I.  The first hints of a long night were the sounds of her throwing up in bed — which I can’t help much with without adding to the mess so it’s best I just stay out of the way if possible. 🙂  Once that was dealt with, it didn’t feel like we had done any more than just gotten back to sleep when it was the sounds of a seizure waking us up.  Part of the process of coming out of the seizure often includes a period of fear when help is wanted, even demanded, but words seem to do no good.  While quiet words may provide some comfort, it is really hard to tell, it is the soft, gentle touch that does the most to bring reassurance that we are with her.  Anyhow, that’s the background in my mind as I was praying this morning and this poem showed up to remind me of the power of being present in the lives of those who are frightened and suffering.  I pray that it encourages you and helps you to consider who God has called you to share His comforting touch with.

In prayer,
Tom
Thankful

Thankful

I pause to give thanks,
on this very day.
And when I would do so,
there’s much I should say.
The blessings of life,
we oft notice first.
But what of the things,
for which we do thirst?

I’m thankful for longing
to do what is right.
And thankful for faith,
which sees beyond sight.
I’m thankful for worship
that I long to give.
And thankful for God,
and reason to live.

I’m thankful for family
who walk by my side.
And gives me a safe place
when I need to hide.
I’m thankful for people
that I get to serve.
And thankful God gives me
what I don’t deserve.

And yes I am thankful
for His blessings too.
The turkey and pie
and time spent with you.
A family that loves me
and longs for my best.
And a God who prepares me
to enter His rest.

And so on this day
that we pause to give thanks.
I pray that it spreads
throughout all the ranks.
When a life of thanksgiving
becomes our new way.
We will find ourselves thankful
throughout every day.

©2018 by Tom Lemler

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, I’ve been praying about being more thankful.  It seems that even in the midst of much to be thankful for, it can become far too easy to complain instead of giving thanks.  As I was praying, this poem came to mind as I thought about being thankful not just for the blessings of God, but also for the desires that He has placed in my heart.  I share this with the hope and prayer that God will continue to grow a heart of thankfulness in each one of us!

In prayer,
Tom

Giving THANKS — Give SELF!

This is the sixth and final part of  the “Giving THANKS” sermon series that I am preaching on Sunday evenings at the Deer Run Church of Christ. So far we have looked at messages of “Give TIME”,  “Give HONOR”, “Give ACTS”, “Give NOW!”, and “Give What You KNOW”.  The final sermon of the series was, “Give SELF!”.

God gave me the framework for this sermon series on the drive to work a few weeks ago and now He is giving me the opportunity to preach it!  Paul writes in second Thessalonians 4:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  We are never told to be thankful for all circumstances, but we are told to be thankful in all circumstances.  As we approach a season of Thanksgiving followed by the Christmas holiday, many people turn to thoughts of thankfulness and giving.  This series will give you some great tips on being thankful and some great gift ideas as you give thanks not only to God, but also to the people in your life!

As we wrap up this series on giving thanks, we finish with the very core of our ability to give true thanks, giving self!  When we give Time, Honor, Acts, Notice, and what we Know, we do so with integrity when we give them as a part of our self.

We give thanks when we give Sacrificially!  David understood this important concept when he stated he would not offer to God that which cost him nothing.  How much we are willing to sacrifice for something, or someone, is a pretty good indication of the value we place on the item or that relationship.  True thanks are given when we are willing to set aside, or give, something of value or importance to us for the benefit of the recipient of our thanks.

We give thanks when we give Extra!  While at first it may seem like the same thing, giving extra does not necessarily mean we need to sacrifice anything.  When I think of giving extra, I think of giving more than is requested or needed.  Peter and John did this as they were passing by a lame man.  The man requested help — the only help he could imagine was money to get him through another day so this is what he was seeking.  Yet Peter and John gave extra — they gave the man the gift of healing through the name of Jesus Christ!  We give thanks when we live with a “and then some” attitude — going above and beyond to not only give what is requested but to look for the real need and give the extra.

We give thanks when we give Last!  Are you a person who always has to have the last word?  Can you imagine how things could change if everyone lived with that same drive to be the last to give?  So often we give to people in ways that help maintain the status quo, keeping us even.  Jesus says that if we give to people based on their ability to give back, we are no better than those of the world that are not in relationship with Him.  When we seek to give last, we seek to give in ways that cannot be repaid.

We give thanks when we give First!  While this sounds like a contradiction to the previous point, we must also give first!  The ultimate example of this is the fact that we know what love is because God first loved us!  We also learn that in the matter of giving self, the Macedonians exceeded Paul’s expectations as they gave themselves first fully to God.  When we start out by giving ourself fully to God then the rest of our giving catapults to a new level.  The Macedonians could give generously out of their extreme poverty and hardship because everything they were giving was not their’s, but God’s.  When we first give ourself fully to God, we are able to give thanks to others using all of God’s resources that He has allowed us to be stewards of because it is then that we recognize that we can give only because He first gave to us.

I pray that you and I are living lives that give SELF to God and then to others!  I pray that our thanks is expressed as we give self through giving  of Sacrificially, Extra, Last, and First!

Giving THANKS — Give What You KNOW!

This is part five of  the “Giving THANKS” sermon series that I am preaching on Sunday evenings at the Deer Run Church of Christ. So far we have looked at messages of “Give TIME”,  “Give HONOR”, “Give ACTS”, and “Give NOW!”.  The fifth message was, “Give What You KNOW”.

God gave me the framework for this sermon series on the drive to work a few weeks ago and now He is giving me the opportunity to preach it!  Paul writes in second Thessalonians 4:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  We are never told to be thankful for all circumstances, but we are told to be thankful in all circumstances.  As we approach a season of Thanksgiving followed by the Christmas holiday, many people turn to thoughts of thankfulness and giving.  This series will give you some great tips on being thankful and some great gift ideas as you give thanks not only to God, but also to the people in your life!

When it comes to giving thanks, it is always appropriate to share what you have.  One area of sharing that can be difficult for a variety of reasons is to give what you know!  Sometimes others just don’t want to hear it.  Perhaps it is hard to give what you know without coming across as being very arrogant.  Other times it doesn’t get done because we’ve never stopped to think about it — we don’t really know what we know.  🙂  In this article, I want to look at a passage of scripture and examine four components of what you should know and how to give what you KNOW to others!

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” 
Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV)

Paul writes to the Philippians, and to us, and essentially says since you know what you know, then do something positive about it!  I will look at them in a different order so it fits my outline word, but here is what Paul says you KNOW as a child of God — and some ways to give what you KNOW!

You give what you KNOW when you give Kindness!  Is there any greater kindness than knowing the comfort of Christ’s love?  Where would you be without the kindness of God’s mercy and grace?  Sometimes it is easy to forget just how great a kindness God has bestowed upon us in extending the comfort of His love.  For some reason, many of us reach a point where we begin to think we deserve God’s love and He is lucky to have us on His side.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  We receive comfort from God’s love when we recognize we don’t deserve any of it, yet we accept it as offered.  When we know that kindness, then it is imperative that we give that type of kindness to others.  We take on the same attitude as Christ Jesus when we extend kindness to people who we think don’t deserve it.

You give what you KNOW when you give Nurturing!  In our relationship with Jesus, God has sought us out with a great tenderness and compassion (as well as the necessary discipline) that is the ultimate example of nurturing.  God loves us so much that He’s not content to allow us to remain infants our entire Christian life.  When we spend time with God, He purposes to nurture us into growing and productive Christians.  When we begin or walk with Christ, He provides the tenderness and compassion that is necessary for us to grow from our infancy in Christ to a mature disciple.  No “three strikes and your out” with God!  When we know the nurturing of our relationship with Christ, then He calls us to be involved as His servants in nurturing others.  We take on the same attitude as Christ Jesus when we nurture the infant Christians around us with the same tenderness, compassion, and patience that Christ nurtures us with.

You give what you KNOW when you give Oneness!  To walk in step with the will of God through our being united with Christ brings us into a oneness with Him that should be the greatest encouragement ever.  The age-old question of how do I know the will of God is best answered by the all-consuming response, “Know God!”.  The more we pursue an intimate relationship with God, the more we walk in a fully surrendered unity, or oneness, with Him.  The prayer of Jesus is that all believers would be one in Him just as He and the Father are one.  This oneness only comes when we de-value our opinions and center our words and actions in God’s Word and the truth that is Jesus Christ.  We take on the same attitude as Christ Jesus when we empty ourself in order to live and share a oneness with God that extends a call to the same oneness with others.

You give what you KNOW when you give Wonder!  I don’t believe that anyone could ever experience a greater wonder than God living in them!  We experience this wonder fully when we continually walk by, and have fellowship with, the Spirit.  I don’t know if you’ve thought about it lately, but when I think about God moving in — about Him taking up residence through His Spirit in me — I just say, “Wow!”.  You know yourself and I know myself which makes the thought of God willingly and deliberately living in me one of the greatest wonders of all time!  I don’t know how He does it, but I know the wonder of a God who has chosen to take up residence in me through His Spirit.  We give what we know when we give the wonder of God’s Spirit living in us to all people.  If He can find a way to live in me, He can find a way to live in anyone who would choose to have Him.  We take on the same attitude as Christ Jesus when we open our eyes to the people around us and give the wonder of living in fellowship with God’s Spirit.

I pray that you and I are living lives that give what we KNOW to God and to others!  I pray that our thanks is expressed as we give what we know through our giving  of Kindness, Nurturing, Oneness, and Wonder!

Giving THANKS — Give NOW!

This is part four of  the “Giving THANKS” sermon series that I am preaching on Sunday evenings at the Deer Run Church of Christ. So far we have looked at messages of “Give TIME”,  “Give HONOR” and “Give ACTS”.  The fourth message was, “Give NOW!”.

God gave me the framework for this sermon series on the drive to work a few weeks ago and now He is giving me the opportunity to preach it!  Paul writes in second Thessalonians 4:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  We are never told to be thankful for all circumstances, but we are told to be thankful in all circumstances.  As we approach a season of Thanksgiving followed by the Christmas holiday, many people turn to thoughts of thankfulness and giving.  This series will give you some great tips on being thankful and some great gift ideas as you give thanks not only to God, but also to the people in your life!

It has been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  I read this week of a rewording of that which said hell itself is paved with good intentions!  When it comes to thankfulness, good intentions are often a major enemy to thanks actually being expressed.  That is why it is so important when it comes to giving thanks to Give NOW!  Solomon instructs us in Proverbs 3:27-28, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow’ — when you now have it with you.”

We begin our approach to give NOW by giving Necessities!  James says, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”  God says that if you see a brother or sister in need of the basic necessities of life and you have the means to help, then you need to give now.  How often do we make excuses for our lack of action by arguing about the definition of need and necessity?  Our logic, while not often stated as such, often goes, “If I want it, it is a need.  If “they” want it, “they” are just being selfish.”  While we debate and argue and rationalize, real needs of real people go unmet while God continues to call us to give necessities and give now!

Before we get to wrapped up trying to figure out the legal definition of necessities, our next step to give NOW is to give what we “ought to”!  James also says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  Ouch!  How long is your list of “ought to”s?  Are there people of whom you’ve said, “I ought to call them.”, “I ought to visit.”, “I ought to thank.”, “I ought to help.”, or “I ought to . . . “?  Again, we often go to great lengths to try to explain to ourself why we haven’t, but how often is God’s Spirit prompting you to just give now what you ought to?

So, how do we approach decisions regarding giving necessities and giving what we ought to?  We look to God and we give Wisdom NOW!  James asks the question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?”.  The answer is given not by naming names but by giving a description of what the actions of a wise and understanding person would look like.  God says that a wise and understanding person is one who acts as such — one who gives wisdom through his deeds.  In contrast to “earthly wisdom”, God describes the wisdom we ought to be seeking, and giving, as “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  He says when we give that kind of wisdom, we sow in preparation for a harvest of righteousness.  If you are a child of God, His Spirit lives within you and gives you this wisdom that comes from above!  Are you sowing seeds of righteousness as you give wisdom now?

I pray that you and I are living lives that give NOW to God and to others!  I pray that our thanks is expressed as we give now through our giving  of Necessities, Ought tos, and Wisdom!

Giving THANKS — Give ACTS

This is part three of  the “Giving THANKS” sermon series that I am preaching on Sunday evenings at the Deer Run Church of Christ. So far we have looked at messages of “Give TIME” and “Give HONOR”.  The third message was, “Give ACTS”.

God gave me the framework for this sermon series on the drive to work a few weeks ago and now He is giving me the opportunity to preach it!  Paul writes in second Thessalonians 4:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  We are never told to be thankful for all circumstances, but we are told to be thankful in all circumstances.  As we approach a season of Thanksgiving followed by the Christmas holiday, many people turn to thoughts of thankfulness and giving.  This series will give you some great tips on being thankful and some great gift ideas as you give thanks not only to God, but also to the people in your life!

Jesus gave us what we often call the Golden Rule, “do unto others what you would have them do unto you”.  At the heart of this command is the little word “do”!  Good intentions are of little good when it comes to giving thanks — we show our thanks when we give of ourself in the acts we do.  When we consider how to give thanks, we can begin by looking at the acts we would like to receive from others.

We give thanks to God and to the people around us when we give acts of Acceptance!  Think about it . . . you want and long for people to accept you, right?  Do unto others . . . ?  But how do we do that when we don’t necessarily agree with the actions, attitudes, or opinions of others?  The basic question still applies, “Do I want accepted even when people don’t agree with me?”.  Paul explains the criteria for this, particularly for within the church body, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  So,  how has Christ accepted me . . . and you?  He knows how to accept us as valuable and desirable all while refusing to accept the sin in us as normal or acceptable.  Loving the sinner but not the sin can sound like a trite statement, but it is exactly the manner in which Christ accepts us!

We also give thanks when we give acts of Comfort.  We all face times of hurt, tragedy, and sadness and look for something or someone to comfort us.  Do unto others . . . ?  Have you ever received comfort?  Do you know someone going through something who needs to be comforted?  Paul tells us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  Our comfort in time of need is not just for our benefit.  It is given so that we would know how to comfort others in their time of need.

As we grow in Christ, we continually learn how to live in relationship with God.  We can give thanks when we give acts of Teaching.  When our teaching is founded in the lessons we have learned from God through His Word and His Spirit, we have much to offer.  I think of the great gift that was given by Priscilla and Aquila when they took Apollos aside and taught him the way of Christ more accurately.  Sometimes we think we have nothing to teach or no ability to teach and fail to give thanks in this way.  However Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom”.  While there are special giftings of the Spirit in the area of teaching, we all have the ability, and the obligation, to teach with our life in both words and actions.

Foundational to giving thanks is the giving of acts of Service!  When we place ourself in the position of serving others, we are able to give thanks through our actions to them.  The hard part is that we are so enamored with our rights and freedoms that we begin to think everything is all about me and what I want.  Yes, Christ has set me free but what has He set me free for?  Paul says, “do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”  My thankfulness to God, and to others, shows when I set aside my wants, desires, and freedom to serve someone else.  John tells us that Jesus knew where he had come from and knew where he was going yet he took off his outer garment and took up the basin and towel and washed the feet of his disciples.  His reason?  To set for us an example that we too ought to serve one another.

So, what ACTS are God calling you to do in giving thanks to Him and to the people in your life?  Are there people in your life that he is calling you to accept just as he has accepted you?  Has he put people in your life that need the comfort that he has comforted you with?  Have you learned lessons at the feet of Jesus that he is calling you to teach to others?  Who specifically is he calling you to serve?

I pray that you and I are living lives that give of our actions to God and to others!  I pray that our thanks is expressed as we give acts through our giving  of Acceptance, Comfort, Teaching, and Service!