For this reason…


Ephesians 3:14-20

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.  I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”

 For this reason.  For this reason…and what reason is that?  Paul had just written that he was the very least of all the saints and it was God’s grace that was granted to him to preach the boundless riches of Christ. 

For and because of God’s grace, it is that for that reason that Paul’s knees bow before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.  God’s grace is the reason.

Salvation by grace through faith.  This unlimited treasure of grace.  Let me ask you this question, do you allow yourself to be full open to receive grace?  Are you able to fully receive it and extend it to others?

I am guilty of this.  I am guilty of not taking the time to reflect on all that God has done for me and taking many times for granted.  I am guilty of being closed off to grace at times and of trying to do something to earn it.

Maybe you have done the same.  Gone through a time of spiritual dryness or struggle.  Trying to balance the demands of ministry, family, your own spiritual growth and for those of us that are bi-vocational, a full-time job as well.  Too many things to get done, allowing little time to reflect on God’s work in our own lives.

 Paul was a man that suffered many hardships for the sake of the gospel.  He became a servant according to the gift of God’s grace.  As we all know Paul wasn’t always a servant for Christ.  He persecuted Christians and tried to extinguish the early church.  God’s redeeming work and grace took a man that killed Christians and made him a man that would help save them. 

Paul is the most prolific writer in the New Testament.  If grace can change a heart that hard, what can it do for each of us?  What each one of us are capable of.  For this reason, for the saving grace of our God, my knees bow before the Father.

Pastor Shawn LaRue

Author of Incomplete

incompletedevotional.com

 

 

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Who is Christ?


 

“Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!” the crowds shouted as Christ triumphantly entered the holy city of Jerusalem for the last time.  Save us, grant us blessing in the highest places.  The Jewish people were a conquered people, they carried the brutal weight of the Romans on their back.  They would be saved.
The whole city shook with the question of, “Who is this?”  Who is this man, fully human yet fully divine?  My question is during Holy Week is who is Christ to you?
What kind of God comes to this world, lives precisely the same way we do, lives a life of radical poverty, heals, teaches and allows the very same people he came to save to turn him over to be beaten, whipped, tortured and crucified?
A God of love does that.  A God that has a radical love for his people, a love that is unheard of and that we can only scratch the surface of.  During this holiest of days, let this question of who Christ is not be far from our hearts and minds.
Pastor Shawn, Seymour UMC

The Incomplete Love. 


​“I have been in love, yes, I have tasted of its magical savor. I have eaten of its enchanting fruits, and have been held sway by its mesmerizing bliss. I have danced under the open sky, and have experienced my heart been melted with every touch of a raindrop. I have kissed a thousand times, but did all that on  just one lips, and I have loved in thousand ways, but did all that with just one soul. In all these things, I found, love becomes a blessing when the heart trusts who it loves.” 

These were the words of a much other person I have come  to respect and value in the is short life I have lived. Interestingly  as the words flowed from her lips, like streams of water from a rock, I couldn’t help but notice, in between her words, Love is indeed beautiful, but trust is a different universe of its own. 

Have you ever loved so deeply and so true, that you swore you could step into a building engulfed with flames if ever asked to prove the measure of your love for someone, but somewhere within, you have this reservation that the one you so much love may not do the same? Or have you ever loved so genuinely, but for fear of being stranded in the middle of nowhere or not being understood, you restrict your openness and honesty about a certain past or a situation? Sincerely, it is no child’s play to completely trust someone. 

Now the question, Can love exist without trust? 

The answer, most certainly, yes, it can, and quite frankly, it does exist among us these days. 

Don’t be too perplexed at what you get when ask if there is a difference between love and trust, because the answer is a simple yes; for while trust is very much possible without love, love is incomplete without it, though it may exist. 

Now let’s think for a moment. 

Love is a bliss, love is magical. Love is mystical, love is divine. Love is enduring, love is kind. Love is not arrogant, love is not selfish. Love is selfless, love is endless. Love is pure, love is true. Love is enchanting, love is mesmerizing. Love is beautiful, and love is an epitome of perfection, but with all these savory fruits of love, you often wonder why we find it quite difficult to enjoy the total package love has to offer. The truth is, love will always be incomplete without trust. 

See, it is very possible for us to profess our undying love or affection to another, but when push comes to shove, and we are asked to make a sacrifice to prove the statement of our love, we often find it very easy to retreat back into our shells, wishing we hadn’t made an open statement of our affection. Most times, though our hearts and minds be willing to stand by our words, our heads keeps telling us to do otherwise because we become so unsure if our love is worth the sacrifices we are about to make. It is not because we don’t love that person, it is simply because, love, as we see it, is easy, but trust on the other hand has a heavy price, one we are so reluctant to pay. 

This is the simple truth why many, if not most, unions don’t and won’t stand the test of time. It is not because there is no more love, or lack of the sparks of wild passion coursing through our bodies, it is not because there was an error committed, or the lack of communication somewhere in the middle, no, quite frankly, it is because we haven’t being able to trust ourselves not to hurt each other. 

I may claim to love you so deeply and so true, but for the fear of you hurting me, I may decide to place a restriction on the measure of love I display, not because I don’t love you, but because I am trying to protect myself from being hurt. This is the state of our minds today, probably because of a past experience or a lesson taught by other people, but what we fail to understand is that, until we fully trust who we love, we will always struggle to find the meaning of complete happiness. 

Now, the same goes for our relationship with God, our father; for if we say we love him, then we must back it with our trust in him, only then can we truly experience all that he has for us, because God won’t freely give his precious gems to those who don’t fully trust him as Hebrews 11 tells us. 

For where incomplete love stops, trust will go far, and where incomplete love makes a promise, trust will make sacrifice. Where incomplete love sings its song, trust will be its melody, and when incomplete love make plans for the future, trust will bring it to reality. 

Love, like my friend will say, is giving someone the opportunity to hurt you, but trust is believing they won’t. 

And in all honesty, when it comes between love and trust, love is the easier pick among the two, but more accurately, love is never complete without trust. 

Today’s Tomorrow 

The Curse Of Love. 


​Let me tell you a very short story. 

I once knew of a young man who asked the lady he loved so much, “what does it takes to love me?”, as he stared into her eyes, beholding the vast endless sea of beauty that flowed within. 

“A lot” she replied with a smile, “A whole lot”, and she buried her head in his embrace. 

Bemoaned by her response, he slowly lifted her head, gently stroking her brown hair as he whispered into her ears, “Just how much is it”? 

Her breathing became heavier as she stared at his face in silence. A tear drop escaped the cages of her eyes, dancing freely down her cheek as moments turned to eternity. Like wax before the fire, the words melted off her lips, “It is very expensive”. 

The End. 

Hey, wait a minute. I said it was a very short story, and yes, it was actually longer than I expected, but now that the story is over, permit me to ask you this question. 

What is the greatest lie you have ever heard or ever been told? 

I am pretty sure we have all been lied to at some point  in our lives, but there are some lies that are just too wonderful to hear and imagine. Well, I have got a few. 

Whenever someone says to me, ‘Trust me’, the truth is I don’t. It doesn’t matter if you known for keeping true to your words or not, one thing I know for a certain is that, it takes one day for you to start breaking your promises and making excuses for your inability to keep your word, and I wouldn’t want to be caught in the middle of a letdown. 

Also, whenever someone says to me, “I will ALWAYS be there for you”, in fact, I don’t hold my breath on that. This is not because I have an issue with trusting people or believing that they wouldn’t keep their word, it is just that, I know something, someday, will eventually take you away, and when it does, I will have to stand alone. Within me, I know it is nobody’s fault, it is just a principle of life. 

Now these two are just few examples among many, but the greatest lie I have ever heard been told throughout the human race is, Love don’t cost a thing. 

Let’s imagine you are in love with me. 

The sound of my voice that excites you, the slow movement of my fingers across your soft skin that sends thrills and shivers down your spine, transcending you to cloud nine, or my very absence that makes you grasp at the empty wind, wishing you could get warmth and comfort by my presence. Imagine all these and how it makes you feel. Now, allow me to ask, what makes you so sure that you are in love with me, or makes you believe that I am in love with you? 

Almost everyday, I listen to people who say they are in love talk about how effortlessly it takes them to love someone and cherish so deeply, and every time, I am left wondering, do they really know what love is? 

Pardon me. This is not me trying to lecture you on how you should love, or what method of approach you should use, but this is me asking, how can you truly believe you love someone if it doesn’t cost you anything? In fact, I think the more appropriate question to ask is What is love? 

I am not an expert on the subject of love, but one thing I do know is that love is not just that unexplainable feeling you have or that craving you get when you want someone, no, that is just your body aching to have sex and all, because love is definitely more than that. It is a deliberate act. It is you choosing to be with someone irrespective of what you see and know, hence the phrase, Love is Blind, even though most times, this blindness leads us to our own nightmares, but even with the huge magnitude of blindness, it is very illogical to think, assume and believe that love is free. 

It does not matter how it is painted or presented, love is never free. If it free, then tell me, how will you measure the worth of your love for someone or something? Or you think love is immeasurable? Believe me, it is. 

Don’t get me wrong, love is a beautiful and magical thing, but he who must venture into it, must be ready to bear its curse and the burden that comes with it. For it takes the whole of our strength, our time, and our resources, but with the right person, it feels normal to give them all up over and over again. 

It is like you are choosing to add the burden of another person’s welfare to yours, so how dare you think it won’t cost anything? Love may be enchanting and exciting, but the reality of it is that it will demand a lot from you. If you are used to being alone, like myself, this time, you will have to share your attention with another person. If you cherish those quiet moments when you have the luxury of thinking about yourself and all that concerns you, this time, you will have to create the room to accommodate the thoughts of another person. Most times, it will put you in tough positions where you have to make choices, maybe not necessarily to prove if you actually love someone, but to give you a chance to make a statement of your love. 

Love may be intoxicating at first, but its curse and the burden that comes with it is the toughest load you will ever carry, because you will realize that not only will you have to love someone else, you must also find a way to love yourself for loving that person. This is something that is clearly missing in most relationships. And after that, you must love everything and everyone that comes with that person. You realize that your life no longer belongs to you alone. 

And yes, love may be the fever you wish to be infected with, but the moment you realize that its curse is no child’s play, and we begin to see it for what it really is, we will have less heartbreaks and failed relationships. 

Still, it all comes down to the simple truth, love is costly. For if love doesn’t cost us anything, then we haven’t began truly loving at all. 

Today’s Tomorrow 

The Beauty Of Uncertainty And The Curse Of Tomorrow. 


​What if we have all the answers to our questions? What if our inner doubts are silenced by all the right answers? What if we have a chance to see tomorrow and the end of it? Or what if we have the chance to know what we become at the end of the day? Tell me, will be enough? Will it be satisfying to know the end of our peregrination and where all our struggles will lead to? Or are we going to end up not wishing we had known? Or hate the fact that we even thought about it? 

To some, we wish we know where it will all end, and at what point the curtain will be drawn and we say, “this is it”. To some, we are scared to know what we will see. Will it be good or terrible? Will it be what we expected or will everything go south? To some, we don’t even what to think about it. I think I pretty much fall into this last category. 

To be sincere, it is a bit crazy not wish to know where all our struggles will end up, where all our striving and choices will lead to. Honestly, when we think about it, we are forced to wonder, if we don’t want to know our end, why then do we struggle? 

The truth remains, we are driven by a wind of uncertainty, whether we seek to know or not, our everyday struggles and strive for a better tomorrow hinges on the fact that no one knows what becomes of the next minute or the minutes after that, so we want to know, but we forced to believe that our choices today will determine if our tomorrow’s will be better. 

But tomorrow is not just the day after today, in fact, tomorrow is just a concept of reality, created by the wind of uncertainty, the movement of the clock hand and a change in sky and weather. Tomorrow is an idea in our head which makes us believe that a day is coming, different from the present, where we get to see the results of our choices and the decisions we make, but one scary truth is that, for some of us, our tomorrow could be yesterday. For some, our tomorrow could be the next minute, for some, our tomorrow may never come, and for some, our tomorrow is forever. The idea remains, our lives are being controlled by a strong hand of the unknown. 

All our lives, we are subject to the idea of planning for the future, making preparations for what we want to be, trying so much to have all the answers together so that we don’t make a mistake and become a failure, that we forget that not knowing what happens next gives us the chance of creating what happens next. We go on to live with the idea that whatever we do now must be something that would determine tomorrow, and forgetting that it is okay to do something for now. We never get to ask ourselves, what if my future is now? 

Don’t get me wrong. This is not me saying that we should give in to the fear of the unknown, or surrender our will to the uncertain nature of our lives, no, not at all, but this is me saying that rather than trying to figure out what the unknown holds, perhaps, we can find a way to  control it. 

Here is what I believe: Man was built to thrive in uncertainties, and the more we hardly know, the better our chances of creating the end. 

Think of it this way, because we don’t know, therefore, we must try, and not just try to know alone, but also try to become what we want to know, because it is on this premises of our uncertainties that we must act now.

Forget about what you want people to see tomorrow, think about what you want them to see now. 

I have two simple rules when it comes to this; Act like tomorrow don’t exist, and plan like there is a tomorrow. This way, if tomorrow never comes, at least I know, I never left anything undone. 

And if you ask me why I live like this, I will ask you, where is the fun in living if you already know where how your tomorrow will end? For some it may work, it may take away the stress of thinking if their hard work and striving will pay off, but for some, knowing the end will only bring more sadness, and the wish that they never knew. 

So, it is okay not to know the all the details of tomorrow, or to know how it will all end, because it gives us, not just the chance to create, but the thrill of the adventure and the excitement of carving out a beautiful future out of nothing. 

But thinking about it, there is actually no right or wrong answer. 

Today’s Tomorrow