Watching Pennies

And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. Mark 12:42-43 ESV

Last week we had just finished our Christmas caroling time at a nursing home and began to pass out some large print Christmas devotional books as our gift to the residents. Most of them lit up with smiles and thanked us for the book, but when one of our volunteers came to a table in the back, the lady reached out and slipped three one-dollar bills into their hand. Despite urging her that she didn’t need to pay for our gift, she insisted, “No please take it! I want to give something!”

That dear lady not only reminded me of the widow in today’s verse, but she also showed me that longing to give is a basic desire of every heart. Some of us, unfortunately, have had that desire dampened by people who have taken unfair advantage of us. But Jesus never mentioned anything about how well the two little coins she contributed, were spent. What mattered to Him, was that the love she gave with, made the gift precious. None of the rich guys who went ahead of her and made a big deal of their offerings had impressed Jesus. But the small sacrifice that she eagerly gave with a pure heart was a treasure to Him. That also reminded me that whether we have gold, frankincense and myrrh or just two pennies, God sees more than pennies, and He is watching our hearts today!

Counting Blessings – 1-2-3

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3 ESV

James tells us that we are to count trials as blessings. I am always reminded of the hymn, “Count your blessings, but if James means the trials that I have been through I sometimes wonder if our dear brother knows how to count! Can he really mean that when we meet trials of pain or a broken relationships that we should come away saying, “Yup – now that’s a blessing. I can’t wait for the next one!”?

My own recent testing began after having a wisdom tooth removed. Somehow in the process a nerve in the back of my throat was damaged. So for the last three weeks, singing has become a painful process and even speaking I must carefully shepherd both the quantity and volume used in order to communicate. Needless to say, for a big talker like me (Blame it on the Italian DNA) this has been a traumatic lifestyle change. But since James has commanded that I count trials as joy, here are a few,

A) I am reminded that words have value because it is an effort to say almost every one of them

B) I have had to ask for help while singing at nursing home and been delighted by the response

C) I get to listen while others sing around me in church because I cannot get a note out

D) My wife has taken over the bulk of our joint prayers and it is wonderful hearing her bring our family friends and church before the Lord.

Truthfully, I earnestly am hoping this will be temporary (My doctors think so) but in the meantime I know that this is one part of God’s work in my life to build up patience into my treasury of faith. Now that is something only God knows how to do!

Here are a few photos of my friends and helpers from Saturday’s meeting at Sunshine Christian Village. The weaker I have been, the more precious God’s help has become to me!

Thursday Morning Sunshine

Thursday Morning Sunshine is a revised version of our free weekly newsletter called The Sunshine Newsletter and distributed to a growing number of long-term care facilities. The staff consists of Pastor Janice Burnett, Rob Keller and myself – Peter Caligiuri. We believe that Jesus remembers and values people in every chapter of their lives. If you would like to receive a free pdf version contact me at revpete51@gmail.com We purposefully have not copyrighted the material so you may pass the pdf edition on to anyone who could use a bit of Sunshine.

He Watches Sparrows by Peter Caligiuri

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Matthew 10:29

In Jesus’ day sparrows were common and held value only for what brief use anyone might have of them. Sometimes I have wondered, why Jesus tells us that God watches sparrows. After all God is everywhere and He also watches eagles, lions and even alligators (We have 1.3 million of them in Florida)! But unlike animals with talons, claws and teeth, sparrows have no offensive weapons. Instead their only hope is that in the moment of danger they will fly to safety. 

Have you ever felt like a sparrow? Apparently, many of Jesus’ listeners did. They had been oppressed by Romans, exploited by their own religious leaders and despised by the rich. But when Jesus came, they hung on His every word because He was someone who loved to spend time with them and who invited them to come to Him. Have you ever considered that God also loves spending time with you so much that He sent His own Son with the invitation to share eternity with Him? That is an invitation without an expiration date because the God who watches sparrows also watches you and me.

A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows – Saint Francis

Time is not measured by the years that you live but by the deeds that you do and the joy that you give - Helen Steiner Rice
Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com
                                                                           Are You Thirsty? By Pastor Janice Burnett

                                                        If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. John 7:37b NIV

When you are thirsty – I mean REALLY THIRSTY – what satisfies your thirst in the middle of a hot summer day? Or if you wake up in the morning and your mouth is cottony dry, and you realize that you just have to drink something, do you like lemonade or iced tea? For me, there’s nothing that will quench that kind of thirst like ice cold water! Jesus was on a long journey with his disciples as they walked through Samaria. The Jews disliked Samaritans, but Jesus thought differently. He had a plan – He wanted to meet a lady with a different kind of thirst.
Just as we would be worn out from a long uphill walk, Jesus was also tired, hot, and thirsty, so He stopped to rest. He was sitting by a well but he didn’t have a bucket to get any water out so when a Samaritan woman came for her water, Jesus asked her for a drink. It’s funny but as we read this story we see that Jesus never got His cup of water! He knew His physical thirst was less important the woman’s spiritual thirst. In fact, she was shocked that He would even talk with her. Yet she was fascinated by His offer of a living water that anyone could drink and never get thirsty again. Then Jesus asked the woman to go and get her husband (even though He knew she had five previous husbands, and the man she was living with was not her husband.) His knowledge of her personal life convinced her that He was the promised Messiah who was offering Himself as a well of living water that would never dry. Jesus still offers everyone this same living water today. Drinking of this water means never thirsting spiritually again. Are you thirsty? The Living Water Jesus gives is waiting for you today! 

God’s way of dealing with us is to throw us into situations over our depth, then supply us with the necessary ability to swim – Catherine Marshall