Friday, March 20, 2015

What Should I Wear Today?

 “Clothe your-selves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature”
(Romans 13:14).

Spring and summer are coming here, and one of the things I like about four seasons is wearing a variety of clothing.  However, one inconvenience of my fibro is being overly sensitive to cold and heat.  Some days, deciding what to wear is very challenging.  

The heat of summer doesn’t always mean I can wear less.  Depending on air conditioning settings, I may have to wear long underwear in the summertime.  In winter, I wear at least three or four layers so I can take something off if I get too hot.  When we travel, I may end up in the back seat shedding clothes while my husband guards the car doors!

Given my enjoyment of (and problems with) clothes, this verse in Romans interests me. How do I “wear” Jesus?

Various commentaries identify at least two explanations.  One is to remember that we are clothed with Jesus’ righteousness, including His grace and forgiveness.  The other is to imitate His example, following His commandments and responding the way He would.

As I get dressed in the morning, I can thank God that no matter how many times I fail in my Christian walk, in God’s eyes my spiritual wardrobe of the day will not be stained with spills of anger, guilt, or faithlessness.  I’m wearing the righteousness of Jesus.

Each time I put on or take off a sweater or coat (or long underwear J), I can examine my current attitude and see what needs to be changed.  Perhaps I need to take off complaining and put on praise, or take off worry and put on peace.

It may require some energy and attitude adjustment to change my spiritual clothes throughout the day, but “wearing Jesus” is a beautiful wardrobe that fits any season or temperature year-round.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, as I experience the physical discomforts of my days, give me the awareness and desire to clothe myself with Your attributes rather than my attitudes.  And thank you that even when I “wear” the wrong thing, You see me as righteous and perfect in Your sight.  Amen.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Living Significantly as the Salt of the Earth

“You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).

Recently I was battling a virus for several weeks.  A neighbor was kind enough to bring me some soup, but when I tasted it, it was missing something – salt.

Salt has at least three purposes.  It brings out the flavor in foods, like my soup.  It preserves, keeping food from spoilage and decay. It purifies and heals. And as Christians, we are called to be salt in the world. 

My life seems very insignificant and limited.  How can I possibly be salt?  But Jesus says I already am.

I can flavor the lives of people around me with encouraging words and God’s love. I can share the hope I have of an eternal body free from decay. I can share the healing God brings to my soul, even through my suffering.

I can sprinkle salt through email, regular mail, Facebook, medical offices, support groups, or individually in person. I can do it through prayer and praise.

In one of Charles Stanley’s devotional booklets, Winn Collier wrote the following:

“I am amazed by the simple lives I encounter – people living in quiet ways, often unhurried and unnoticed, as they seek to devote themselves to the way of Jesus and be loyal to the kingdom of God.  With our zealous addiction to gusto and our fascination with brilliance, we often forget . . . it is ordinary faithfulness – ordinary presence – that makes the deepest impact.”

Yes, I live an ordinary and sometimes very contained life.  But God has given me a sphere of influence, and He created me to be salt in it.  Even in my pain and problems I have purpose – to sprinkle the world with the gift of Jesus – and that’s pretty significant.

Prayer: O Lord, thank you for giving me significance in Your kingdom, and let me not miss the opportunities You give me to flavor my world with the knowledge of You.  Amen.





Sunday, March 1, 2015

The "Work" of Living with Chronic Illness and Pain

“See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord”
(Colossians 4:17).

Typically one of the first questions people ask someone new is what kind of work they do. In our society we are identified by what we do, and it’s easy for much of our self-worth to come from our work. Pain or illness may prevent us from having a full or even part-time job, but have you ever thought of them as the work God has given us? 

The job of handling chronic pain and illness is a challenging one.  We work 24/7, 365 days a year.  We have no vacation time.  Our co-workers may or may not understand our issues, so human relations can be difficult. We may be more sleep-deprived from pain than those who commute long hours to their jobs. And a promotion to something better in this life may not come. There is no doubt about it – managing pain and illness is hard work. 

But this work is something we have received from God, and we are to complete it. Our boss is the most faithful, forgiving, loving, and compassionate Being in the universe, and this job is conforming us more into His likeness. Our work provides unique opportunities to share our faith that we would not have in other situations.  Our current paycheck may not be the greatest, but the retirement plan is phenomenal.

We don’t have to feel inferior to those who have “regular” jobs. Living with pain and illness is a full-time job.  We work hard trying to manage our health issues and maintain our faith and testimony through them. This God-given work matters.  We are valuable employees of the kingdom of heaven.  So let’s complete the work well.  Our promotion will be worth it.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I must confess that oftentimes I don’t want this job of a living a pain-filled life.  Yet I know You are using it for my good and Your glory.  Give me the willingness and diligence to complete this work, and to remember that the long-term benefits will more than compensate for the temporary discomforts.  Amen.