"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'" - Romans 8:15
I love this verse. It is theologically rich, but also emotionally touching.
Paul, writing to the churches in Rome, is encouraging his brothers and sisters in Christ not to fall back into former sins and the fear of being punished, but rather to trust simply in God's love and mercy as a child would his/her father.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
It has now been over 3 months since the major earthquake that shook communities in Ecuador. Many lost their lives and many more lost their homes. The families in the affected areas were absolutely devastated by the immense losses.
"Our first contact to the affected area was through the wife of one of our Ecuadorian pastors. Karen has family in San Vicente, a coastal town 7 hours north of Guayaquil. We soon received a plea to come and bring whatever help we could," our partner in Ecuador recalled.
Life is a lot like walking.
Most of us have been walking for a really long time. Using our legs and our feet, walking is second nature. We walk from room to room at home. We walk around the office at work. We walk through the aisles of grocery stores. Some of us may even walk around the park or neighborhood for exercise. Walking is just another auto-pilot setting.
But sometimes, we fall down. Our legs and feet which have been so faithful to us suddenly fail. We trip up and skin our knees. Our pride is hurt and our egos are wounded, as if we have never fallen before in our entire lives. We are blindsided as we quickly become reacquainted with the concrete.
A little over two weeks ago, the people of West Virginia suffered one of the worst floods in the state's history. Around 23 people were killed and over 1,200 families' homes were damaged.
Just prior to telling one of the most famous parables in all of history, the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus was having a conversation with the Jewish leaders who were masters of the old law.
Many times within these conversations, Jesus would be questioned and tested by the leaders who wished to bring him down by his words. More often than not, the leaders were trying to find a way to justify their self-righteousness. In this case from Ch. 10 of the gospel account of Luke, a lawyer stood up and asked Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." - Romans 12:9-13
Last week was a very dark one in the world.
With massive bombings in Iraq, plus two racially-charged shootings and an attack on police officers in the U.S., it almost feels like we can't escape the darkness.
"For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock." - Psalm 27:5
We just celebrated the 4th of July holiday, a day that we celebrate the freedom we have as Americans by blowing up thousands of dollars of fireworks and feasting on our favorite grilled meats.
It is safe to say that there are some things that we may take for granted from time to time. To Americans, these things may seem like no big deal. To others, these things are the basic necessities of life and are extremely difficult to secure for one's family, especially during a time of crisis.
Two of the things that we take for granted are food and shelter.