Mercy…Compassion…Forgiveness

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’”

Zechariah 7:9-10 NIV

We are not made to be the judge of others…the world is losing sight of compassion for one another.  Let us stop believing the lies of evil and stop looking for ways to tear each other down.  Remember the example that has been set for us by Jesus Christ…His upside-down Kingdom.  Read God’s Word and remember that God is our Creator and look at others through the eyes of Jesus.  May God’s peace be with you and flow through you.  Amen.

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Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2018 on a walk in northwestern Wisconsin)

Shine A Light

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:5-6 NIV

Our purpose is to learn about and believe in Him who loves us and sacrificed Himself for us… and then to shine a light on God’s love, God’s mercy and God’s grace for others to see not for ourselves but for God.  We can show God to others by who we are in how we treat others and by our actions and behaviors.  Shine a light in this dark world and trust in the Lord.  Amen.

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“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.

Luke 8:16-18 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2018 on Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands)

Holy Living

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

It is simple yet very different from worldly values.  It is about living a balanced life with Christ at the center.  It is not about judgement or comparing yourself to others…it is about the Fruits of the Spirit shining through your thoughts, words and actions because in your heart you truly believe.  You confess your sins and have an on-going personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is not perfect and we never will be…it means you will still face difficulties and suffering in life but you will be better prepared to go through them with God as your guide.  It is the only way to find true peace.  Amen.

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Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians 3:15-17 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2018 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

The Experience Of Following

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 NIV

Jesus was very clear about what it takes to follow Him. It does not mean life will be easy and you will not have to face any trouble or suffering…it means we will have trouble because we live in a world that pursues the exact opposite of what Jesus teaches us.  It also does not mean your life will be miserable…again it is the opposite, you can have joy and peace and contentment.  It all comes down to what do you believe?  Your beliefs will drive your values, your perspective and even your attitude.  And so, Jesus said…“Follow me”Matthew 9:9 NIV

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And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Mark 8:34-36 NIV

(This photo was taken in April of 2020 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Contentment

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIV

We would be wise to follow God’s Word and not put worldly values ahead of heavenly treasure.  So much of the suffering in this world is self-inflicted by us and our pursuits using earthly wisdom.  We were created out of love and for love.  Even when we wander off God continues to seek us and bring us back to Him.  No matter where you are or what has happened…remember He will never leave you or abandon you.  Be content with the blessings you have and know that God is with you.

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“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[a]

Hebrews 13:5 NIV

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 near Glacier National Park in Montana)

His Love For You

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:9-13 NIV

God loves you.  No matter where you are, no matter what you have done or left undone…He loves you.  There is no love in this world as great as God’s love for you.  We don’t earn His love and we don’t deserve it…we can’t get more of it because we are good and He doesn’t withhold it when we sin.  He knows everything about you and your life and guess what…He loves you all the same.  The proof is found at the Cross.  Invite Jesus Christ into your heart and give Him thanks for His love for you.

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You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:6-8 NIV

(This photo was taken in March of 2013 at the Botanical Garden in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada)

A Psalm And A Song For Giving Thanks

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

Psalm 100:1-3 NIV

Forever by Chris Tomlin

A spirit of gratitude is transforming for our perspective.  Instead of worrying about what we don’t have, we can be thankful for what we have received.  Rather than having anxiety about what might happen, we can be grateful that God is in control.  Instead of dwelling in guilt and shame about our sins we can give thanks for Jesus Christ and that He has taken our punishment so that we can be redeemed and reconciled with God.  Give thanks to the Lord…for he is good…His love endures forever!

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Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 100:4-5 NIV

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 at Sapphire Point near Dillon, Colorado)

Surrender…Be Transformed

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Luke 9:23-24 NIV

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20 NIV

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Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

(This photo was taken in May of 2020 at the High Falls in Tettegouche State Park in northern Minnesota)

Our Refuge

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:1 NIV

The Good News is that Jesus Christ came down from heaven and sacrificed Himself to death to save us and reconcile us with God.  He did it because He loves you.  He has risen! He is with you.  He will guide you.  Turn towards Jesus for everything…anything.  He is our refuge.  Amen.

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Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2018 at a park near Plymouth, Minnesota)

The Truth Will Set You Free

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 NIV

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:15 NIV

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To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2018 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)