Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email, provide your email address.
A friend gave me a houseplant she'd owned for more than forty years. The plant was equal to my height, and it produced large leaves from three separate spindly trunks. Over time, the weight of the leaves had caused all three of the stalks to curve down toward the floor. To straighten them, I put a wedge under the plant's pot and placed it near a window so the sunlight could draw the leaves upward and help cure its bad posture.
Shortly after receiving the plant, I saw one just like it in a waiting room at a local business. It also grew from three long skinny stalks, but they'd been braided together to form a larger, more solid core. This plant stood upright without any help.
Any two people may stay in the same "pot" for years, yet grow apart and experience fewer of the benefits God wants them to enjoy. When their lives are woven together with God, however, there is a greater sense of stability and closeness. Their relationship will grow stronger. "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Like houseplants, marriages and friendships require some nurturing. Tending to these relationships involves merging spiritually so that God is present at the center of each important bond. He's an endless supply of love and grace-the things we need most to stay happily united with each other.
Prayer for Today
Dear God, I welcome You into my closest relationships today. Amen.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.
My two year old niece came down the stairs the other day to head to the playground. She was dressed for the adventure... and carrying a heaping armload of her favorite things. Her mother was taken by surprise, and as she contemplated how to ask her to scale back, my niece proudly announced with a grin ear to ear... "I have too much stuff!" Apparently, this was an achievement, rather than a dilemma.
Perspective is everything, isn't it? She and her mother agreed she had too much. But perhaps not that that was a good thing. I think this is common to us adults too. We acquire perhaps far too much and we are scared to leave any of our favorite stuff behind... or share it... or give it away. Meanwhile, God looks at us and shakes a weary head. Perhaps less fortunate people do too, or people who will have to sort and sell our favorite stuff when we pass away. It would of course be little use to reason with my niece that her armful of stuff will keep her from enjoying her walk or the playground or time with friends. Nor would it help to remind her she may lose some things or maybe having too much is a good reason to give to someone with nothing. But shouldn't those clear reasons be sufficient for us with maturity, age, and wisdom? Those of us with faith?
It's easier to giggle at the logic of a toddler than to buckle down and take our own advice. It's easier to judge or be amused than to take our own advice or God's word and build our life on it. Do we have too much? Enough? If so, can we step out in faith and be generous, watching the joy it brings, rather than walking around with our arms full until we can lay it all down to be buried? I'd rather look at my arms, smile like my niece, say, "I've got too much stuff..." and find people who need it. That's what we will do this Sunday. Come join us.
Prayer for Today
Lord, you have blessed me. Help me to see when I have enough and too much and to be bravely generous, giving thanks to you, trusting in you and not my stuff. Amen.
A while back I heard Scott Weimer, former pastor of the North Avenue Presbyterian Church, talking about a woman who was one of their international members from Kenya. She came down front after a service and she told Scott that she missed some parts of the worship from Kenya. Scott asked what she missed. The woman said that she missed how they gave the offering. In her country, they placed the offering plates down front, and then people danced down the aisle while carrying their gifts up to place them in the offering plate. I wonder how that "offering dance" would go over here at JCPC.
This Sunday is the last in our "A Time to Give - A Time to Save" sermon series. We are asking you to bring your 2020 pledge card forward at the end of the service. Now, you do not have to dance - you can simply join others in placing your card on the communion table. However, if you do want to dance, as long as it is appropriate for worship, you can if you want. (We are not Baptists, you know!) Actually, our Presbyterian Book of Order says this about "prayerful participation" in worship: "Participation in worship may involve a wide range of actions: kneeling, bowing, standing, lifting hands, dancing, drumming, clapping, embracing, or joining hands, anointing and laying on of hands. The gifts of the Spirit are for building up the Church." (W-2.0202)
I hope you will prayerfully consider what "gifts of the Spirit" God is leading you to share this Sunday to build up the Church. I want to invite you to consider giving away a tenth or a "tithe" of what God has given you, so that God can use your generosity to save a part of God's world. Together we can do great things here in Johns Creek and throughout our world! See you Sunday and thank you for your generous support of God's work.
Prayer for Today
Generous God, we thank you for the many blessings of our lives. If we were to try to "name them one by one" as the words of a hymn invite us to do - it would take a very long time. So, today we will simply say thank you. Help us to become more generous in our giving. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ, who gave his life for the whole world! Amen.