Breaking Bread

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:14-25

Recently, my office moved to another location and joined with another department. It has been a difficult transition. The previous tenants had been laid off, leaving only 12 employees in the building. It had been a sad and challenging transition for everyone involved. Now my department and 10 others were coming to take over the building and move into offices that had belonged to co-workers. The building had been closed except for one corner for over three months. Moving in made us feel awkward. The team left behind suddenly was surrounded by new people, a sea of new faces. I can imagine that this was stressful on the team seeing new people in old colleague’s offices and cubicles. There was a palatable discomfort throughout the building.  

One team member from the new tenants called a little meeting and invited the team that we had moved in on. Her proposal, a potluck for the entire building. It was well-received. 

On an ordinary Tuesday, the entire building came together to break bread. The front office was filled with voices and laughter. A cornucopia of food lined the tables along the wall filling the office building with a mouthwatering aroma.  

It was amazing to see how sitting down to a meal, and talking to one another removed the fog of tension. That one person that stepped forward and made the gesture to pull everyone together at a table has made a difference to not just one or two but a whole community. An office is a community, each department bringing their expertise, knowledge, ideas, and thoughts to achieve a common goal. 

Throughout the Bible, we see examples where food and the dinner table have been the center of forming relationships, enjoyment, and communication. In the biblical book of Luke, there are ten references to Jesus and meals. I am going to look at three of those meals.

Jesus dined with enemies. No one was considered an enemy more than the tax collectors, yet Jesus ate with them and invited one to join with him and the disciples. (Luke 5:27-32) That would be like you or me having lunch with a local loan shark.

Jesus welcomed the unwelcomed (Luke 7:36-50) While in a “business meeting” with Simon the Pharisee, an uninvited guest showed up. (enter stage left the “sinful woman” 7:37) Jesus stopped the conversation to receive the woman. He knew her heart, she was seeking forgiveness. Simon was aghast. However, Jesus always stopped and ministered to those he encountered. Schedules and etiquette did not stand in his way.

Jesus used the simple meal to put the disciples and the men from Emmaus at ease. When the men that Jesus met on the road to Emmaus got back to the disciples to tell them that they had seen a ghost, Jesus appeared. (That was a room filled with confusion and fear) They had seen Jesus die on the cross, yet here he stood. What better way to prove he was real and not a ghost than to sit down and eat. But it was much more than just proof, he set them at ease by doing something they had done together for years, share meals. (Luke 24:36-43)

Though these stories have specific lessons to be learned, Jesus shared his meals chiefly to enjoy the fellowship. By spending time at the table, relationships were formed, walls were broken down, and communication was opened. 

Typist for Jesus

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Are you Prepared?

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. Matthew 25:1-4

I have just spent my day cozy in bed.  A drizzle of rain outside and a hot cup of coffee has made it perfect.  I have been on the internet most of the day looking at potential restaurants in and around Paris.  Yes, you read correctly, Paris the one in France. I am just a couple of weeks from my first trip abroad.  I will be fulfilling a dream of a lifetime. I will stroll the streets of Paris, visit patisseries, looking on the face of the Mona Lisa and gazing on the Eiffel Tower. 

 My traveling companion and I have been working on this trip for months.  She has been researching, planning, reading reviews, and buying tickets online. We each have packing lists that list each and every conceivable thing that we might need. It has been years of dreaming and months of planning, but it is finally around the corner. We are prepared for this trip.

As I was dreaming of creme brulee and eclairs, it occurred to me how much time we spend planning our futures.  We prepare for our education, building houses, birthday parties, pregnancies, retirement, and vacations. However, how many of us plan for our ultimate future?  How many of us anticipate and are ready for eternity in heaven?

The Bible tells us that no one, not the angels nor Jesus, only the Father, knows the hour when Jesus will return to gather his people.  In the book of Matthew, several parables encourage us to make sure that we are prepared for the coming of Christ. We should always have the kingdom and the ultimate future in mind. We only have this moment to share the gospel, show compassion, and give encouragement to all we encounter. 

We do not know when our time to be called home will come, nor when Jesus returns. 

Are you prepared?

Typist for Jesus

New Wineskin, New Wine

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins” (Luke 5:37-38).

I made some decisions this week about some things that I want to accomplish in the next few years.  These are not new goals.  Instead, they are old goals that I have yet to realize.  For years these items have been on my list but I have allowed circumstances and situations to derail me.  Just as I made up my mind to follow through on the first of this list, a situation popped up.  I began to allow myself to get distracted and in just a few minutes I had begun to talk myself out of following through.  In just a short time, I had already retracted my plans and was convinced that this new situation would not allow me to finish this goal.   I sat alone, disappointed. 

As I was talking with the Lord, later on, I realized that I was just following my Modus operandi.  For my entire life, my MO had been to allow circumstance and situation to hinder my progress.  It is now or never to make a commitment to following through.   I realized I was trying to put new wine in old wineskins.  So, I read up on that particular parable, looking for wisdom.

The parable of the new wine in old wine skin is recorded in three of the gospels.  Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22 and Luke 5:33-39.  Because it is mentioned three times by three separate writers, I think there is definitely a lesson just waiting to be learned.  

The parable was spoken by Jesus to rebuke the accusations of the Pharisees, that he and his disciples were not as pious as the Pharisees.  Jesus was anything but conventional.  He ate with tax collectors and sinners.  Spoke to women and lepers and according to these Pharisees, he was not fasting enough. Unfortunately, these men that had devoted their lives to being scholars and experts on scripture and God, just could not get past what they thought was Jesus’ flagrant disregard for the laws.  The legalistic approach was all they knew.  If the Pharisees were going to be able to embrace Jesus as Savior they would have to let go of the legalistic way they viewed their relationship with God.  They were so inundated by rules and laws they had lost the relationship.  Jesus was offering freedom from the legalism and a relationship of grace and love.  Unfortunately, they were unable to relinquish their old ways of thinking.  Jesus never broke the laws, he just followed them as they were intended.  Not with only legalistic focus but with love.

I cannot continue to use my old way of thinking to accomplish my plans.  Obviously, my old mindset has not worked.  If I am going to do something new, I need to renew my thinking.  I do not want to miss out on realizing these goals because I am unable to change my MO.   I got my new “wineskin” and I followed through on the first step to completing my goal. 

Do not allow yourself to miss out on God’s gift of love and redemption because of old ways of thinking.  Do not be denied realizing a desire or a dream.  If they are not working out or coming to fruition, then examine your MO. 

Get a new wineskin and get ready to make new wine.

Typist for Jesus

Clear Boundaries Make Cheerful Givers

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

I enjoyed lunch with some co-workers at one of my absolute favorite restaurants.  We had taken advantage of the weather and walked to the restaurant. Belly full and spirit renewed from time with friends I suggested we take the longer route back to the office. Though it was hot, a cool breeze made it bearable, and my dining companions agreed.  This route passed through a neighborhood to the foot of the mountain. Beginning up the gentle incline, I heard the barking of dogs but paid little attention. Moments later, the barking became louder, and two dogs came rushing toward us from a house on the hill above.  I realized there was not a fence around the yard and became alarmed. I considered what to do if they came after us and started looking around for a stick or rock. Fortunately, to my relief, the dogs stopped short of the road and stood barking incessantly. That is when I noticed they had on invisible fence collars.  The dogs had stopped three or more feet from the ditch; they knew where their boundary lay.

If only we were as good as they about accepting and enforcing the boundaries in our lives.  In my youth and admittedly, even now, I have often tested, pushed, and crashed through some fences.  I think that many of us look at boundaries as restrictions meant to deny us. Many boundaries are for our protection.  Boundaries are healthy, needed, and biblical, and we as humans have been crossing them since the beginning. Adam and Eve crossed the only boundary when they disobeyed and ate the only fruit they were commanded not to.  A garden full of wonders, a perfect life, the pinnacle of creation, and they couldn’t resist breaking the only rule. However, boundaries aren’t just rules they are boundaries in our lives that we should also erect to protect ourselves and make sure that we are fulfilling our purpose in God’s plan.  

Boundary setting has become something that I have recently begun to explore.  As a southern lady, I find saying “no” feels rude and “not nice.” However, to best serve the Lord and the people that come to me, setting boundaries and saying “no” is the best thing I can do for myself and those in my life. 

As I was preparing to write this Seed, I spent time reading up on the biblical principles of boundaries.  I found that Jesus was very deliberate in his establishment of boundaries. When I think of Jesus, I think of his boundless love for me.  His sacrifice was so selfless that the idea of limitations does not come to mind. However, Jesus set boundaries with the people that he ministered to, the disciples, and to protect his soul and physical health.  Though Jesus is the Son of God and fully God himself, he was also in the body of a human. He submitted to the limitation of this physical shell.  

Points that I realized while studying you may find helpful.  These are just a handful of examples of how Jesus set boundaries and stuck to them.   

  • Jesus made sure he met his physical needs.  He ate healthy foods, took naps, and did a lot of walking. 
  • Jesus enjoyed his time with friends. He often took time to enjoy friendship, meals, boat rides, and hiking with the disciples. 
  • Jesus made sure that he dedicated time in prayer and meditation with the Father.  Jesus understood the need for precious time with Abba (Papa). Jesus separated himself from the crowds and disciples to have quiet time alone.
  • Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry.  He enjoyed the people, the places and he went with the flow.  The only time we see Jesus expressing urgency was when he was traveling to Jerusalem to fulfill his mission. 
  • This final one gave me a bit of a shake.  Jesus left the outcome to God. In Mark 14:32-42, Jesus is in the garden, and Jesus knowing what he was about to face, asked God to “Take this cup from me. Not what I will, but what you will.”  He submitted to God’s Will. He did not try to change the outcome or the plan.  Jesus submitted, obeyed and trusted God.

Jesus set boundaries in his earthly life so that he could minister to the people and lead them to God.  For us to emulate Christ and be as effective as we can be, we need to set boundaries and stick to them. You cannot help anyone or be a “cheerful giver” if you are exhausted, frustrated, and drained.  

Typist for Jesus

You Hold the Key

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 ESV

I stopped by my friend’s place of business one afternoon to drop off a package.  I went into the lobby and met her. We talked and giggled as is our usual custom.  I got the car keys from her and headed to the parking lot. I pressed the fob to open her car and pulled at the door.  However, the car door remained locked. I pressed the fob again and tried the door. Still, it was unyielding. Over and over I pressed the fob and pulled on the door.  The front door opened and my friend yelled out, “Fob doesn’t work, you’ll have to use the key.”

Boy, was my face red.  I was standing in the gray and misting rain pressing a button.  It never occurred to me to use the key.

We are not much different when it comes to our spiritual lives.  We carry around the spiritual keys, yet we fail to use them.

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Throughout the Bible,  keys refer to power and authority.  To be given keys is to be given authority and power to open and close.  Jesus gave His disciples and in following all Christians spiritual authority.  

Often we feel that we are without authority in this life but that is what the enemy wants you to believe.  Jesus left you the keys. He left you with power and authority. You have been given a great privilege. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, he gained access to God for us through his blood. Therefore there are no more barriers between us and God, we have the keys to open every spiritual door. 

Remember, you have the key, all you have to do is use it. 

Typist for Jesus

Jesus is Your Bondage Breaker

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Big Bryan’s white fur shone in the mid-morning sun.  The air was crisp with a gentle breeze that ruffled my curls.  It was a great morning to be out for some exercise. I had taken Bryan to the fenced exercise yard in the apartment complex.  My friend had come to meet me with her beautiful German shepherd, Yue. We were hoping to make a puppy play match. With two rather large dogs and the uncertainty if they would like one another, we left their leash on them.  Once the dog greeting pleasantries were concluded, we were eager to initiate play.

I called to Bryan, I had a stick I knew he would want to chase.  I threw it but he lingered. I coaxed him again and finally and rather unexpectedly he picked up his lead and trotted off toward the stick.  For the rest of the play date, every time Bryan moved he picked up his lead in his mouth and ran. We laughed about. It was funny because he seemed to think someone had to be holding the leash for him to move.

I think that you and I are more like Bryan than we would want to admit.  We have been set free by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross yet unfortunately, many of us fail to live in victory and continue to be tethered to chains of anxiety, fear, sin, addictions and guilt.  Because of Christ’s sacrifice we are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Because of the renewing we need to be living in victory and freedom. You have been unleashed from sin, fear and guilt.  

Jesus is your bondage breaker, start walking in freedom.

Typist for Jesus

Fearing What They Think

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

Hurrying down the hallway, the girl pushed her way into the lunchroom. She found her friends and with a smile as wide and as bright as dawn, she blurted out, “Someone asked me to the dance!”
The table erupted with giggles and chatter and of course the question burning on everyone’s mind. “Well, who is it?”
She leaned back grinning, allowing the tension to build, and when she could no longer contain herself, she whispered his name. Her friends looked from one another and then laughed.
“What?” she asked, her furrowed brow burned with embarrassed heat.
“You mean, you don’t know? He used to eat paste.”
“So all little kids do.” Her voice raised above the din of the midday diners.
“No, I mean like in the sixth and seventh grade. It was weird.”
All the girls begin to laugh. The excitement that just moments ago brimmed drained away replaced by hot tears. She wanted to run back down the hallway and hide. How could she go to the dance with him now? What would all her friends think?

We all care about what people think. We worry about fitting in with people, being accepted. We want everyone to like us, but at what cost?
Not everyone will like you. Not everyone will approve of you, and that is OK. If Jesus had cared about fitting in or making everyone like him, he indeed would have never chosen to die on the cross with common criminals so that you could have eternal life. He would have hung around the Pharisees, but instead, he chose the tax collectors, fishers, prostitutes, a crowd of women, a doctor and a guy that ran around in camel skins and ate bugs (Matt. 3:4).

Proverbs 29:25 reads, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” What does that verse mean? It has nothing to do with being afraid in the sense that we think of the word “fear,” but rather, it means “to fear the disapproval of man.” This verse deals with our insecurities. Worrying about what others think is a snare. The word snare refers to the traps a hunter sets to catch small animals and birds. Allowing ourselves to worry what people think entraps us in fear, doubt, and gags us. Do not focus on what people think. Instead, put your trust in the Lord.

Typist for Jesus

Set yourself free from fear of what they think.