Our Daily Bread
Loving The Stranger
Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt…….Leviticus 19:34
When I moved to a new country, one of my first experiences left me feeling unwelcome. After finding a seat in the little church where my husband was preaching that day, a gruff older gentleman startled me when he said, “Move along down.” His wife apologized as she explained that I was sitting in the pew they always occupied. Years later I learned that congregations used to rent out pews, which raised money for the church and also ensured no one could take another person’s seat. Apparently, some of that mentality carried on through the decades.
Later, I reflected on how God instructed the Israelites to welcome foreigners, in contrast to cultural practices such as I encountered. In setting out the laws that would allow His people to flourish, He reminded them to welcome foreigners because they themselves were once foreigners (Leviticus 19:34). Not only were they to treat strangers with kindness (v. 33), but they were also to “love them as [themselves]” (v. 34). God had rescued them from oppression in Egypt, giving them a home in a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17). He expected His people to love others who also made their home there.
As you encounter strangers in your midst, ask God to reveal any cultural practices that might keep you from sharing His love with them.
By Amy Boucher Pye
REFLECT & PRAY:
Father God, You welcome me with open arms, for You love me day after day. Give me Your love to share with others.
Why is it so important that we welcome people into our homes and churches?
What do you find most challenging and most rewarding in this?
Credit: Our Daily Bread
Willpower sure sounds like a great thing. We are led to believe that we have enough of it to fight off every temptation that comes our way. And sometimes it works. But let me tell you a little secret about willpower. Willpower is your best friend when things go well, but it’s the first friend to check out when you get weary. I have found that if I really don’t want to do something, my mind gives me plenty of reasons why I don’t have to. My emotions even join in, saying, “I agree because I don’t feel like doing it anyway.”
Our soul (mind, will, emotions) would love to run our lives, but the Bible says we are to be led by God’s Spirit. We are never instructed to be willpower-led, we are told to be Spirit-led. Willpower and discipline are important and vitally necessary for a successful life, but willpower alone won’t be enough. Determination gets you started and keeps you going for a while, but it is never enough to bring you across the finish line. Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV) says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
What happens if, instead of turning first to willpower in your time of need, you turn to God instead? God releases His power into your willpower and energizes it to bring you across the finish line. Willpower does not get the credit for our success, God does. Jesus said in John 15:5 (AMP), “Apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.” This is one of the most important and most difficult lessons we must learn if we want to enjoy the life Jesus died to give us.
From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer.
Thanks to Lyle Dietrich for providing the content for the weekly inspirational bulletin.
It’s Your Choice
|Pastor Tommy Nelson describes the beginnings of an affair with the metaphor of a game of tennis. Player A gently hits the ball over the net to Player B. Player A made the contact. He started the game. Now, what does Player B do? She has choices. She can hit the ball back and allow the game to begin because both have expressed interest, or she can walk off the court.|
In our world today the number of people who walk off the court seems to be getting smaller and smaller, maybe because hitting the ball back seems innocent. Although we may think nothing has really happened by hitting the ball back, it opens the door for the next step. Walking off the court closes the door. My question is this: What are you doing today to affair-proof your marriage?
There is only one person in your marriage that you have any control over at all. It’s the person looking back at you when you look in the mirror. If you “walk off the court” daily, you are doing your part to protect your marriage. There will always be temptations in our lives. The grass somewhere else can look greener than yours. It’s your choice. Hit the ball back or walk off the court. Which will you do?
Today’s One Thing:
What are you doing today to affair-proof your marriage?