Equipping: The Work of Ministry (Week 4)
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 (NIV)
September 26, 2021
Bottom Line: Love must be our way of life.
As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clockin the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared to death. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror. But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”
The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”
I drive by a several groups of sunflowers by the side of the road every morning. I have often marveled at the way the sunflower follows the sun. If the sun is shining in the east the face of the sunflower faces the sun. If the sun is in the west the sunflower faces the sun. If the sun is directly above the face of the sunflower is turned upward toward the sun. If it is a cloudy dreary day the sunflower faces are drooped towards the ground.
Although some sunflower species are perennials, it’s the common (annual) sunflower that exhibits what they call heliotropism. Instead of sunflowers facing each other or oriented in random directions, there’s directional uniformity among plants of similar age. Before their flowers form and are pollinated, young sunflower plants face the sun at dawn and follow the sun’s movement as it moves across the sky.
Sunflowers not only pivot to face the sun as it moves across the sky during the day, but they also rotate 180 degrees during the night to greet the morning sun. At night, the western side grows faster, turning the flower head back east in time to capture the rays of the rising sun. What’s more, once the plant has grown to maturity, the clock genes turn off this differential growth, leaving the flower facing east to gather the heat of the morning sun and provide a warm platform for pollinating bees.
Watching the sunflowers every morning as they proudly face the sun on sunny days or on gloomy days as they look sad and downcast, makes me often think of the story of Jesus walking on the water and how the winds came and the disciples were afraid. Then they saw Jesus coming towards them walking on the water. Peter immediately jumps out of the boat and starts to walk towards Jesus on the water.
How often we are like the sunflower. As long as things are going great in our lives and there is lots of sun shining we can keep our focus on the Son. But when things are bleak or problems occur and we can’t see the sunlight for the storms of life we begin to doubt the Son’s presence. As long as Peter’s face was towards the Son he could walk on the water. As soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus he immediately began to sink.
The sunflower can’t grow and develop without the sun. We can’t grow and develop into what Christ wants us to be without the Son.
When sunflower plants become wilted in the absence of the sun or enough rainfall or irrigation, their turgor pressure drops, and they wilt. Because heliotropism is dependent on sufficient turgor pressure to allow bending of plant stems, wilted sunflower plants will not track the sun’s movement.
Too many times we take our eyes off of Jesus and become fainthearted like Peter. We begin to “wilt” because of lack of worship, prayer, or reading the Word and we lose our spiritual power to track the Son’s direction and therefore we find ourselves stressed out, or in situations that are not of God and yell out to Jesus to save us from sinking. Jesus never hesitates but reaches out His hand to save us and says, “Fainthearted, what got into you?” just like he did with Peter.
The waters of life can and will get rough and we can become battered and torn, but as long as we can be like the sunflower and keep our faces towards the Son we won’t sink but instead become victorious. And as we become mature “Sonflowers” we become a warm platform to help develop others.
Blessings Pastor Fran
"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
God did not address the call to Isaiah; Isaiah overheard God saying,
"Who will go for us?"
The call of God is not for the special few, it is for everyone.
Whether or not I hear God's call depends upon the state of my ears; and what I
hear depends upon my disposition.
Matthew 22:14 "For many are invited but few are chosen,"
That is, few prove themselves the chosen ones. The chosen ones are those who
have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ whereby their
disposition has been altered and their ears unstopped, and they hear the still small
voice questioning all the time, "Who will go for us?"
It is not a question of God singling out a man and saying, "Now, you go."
God did not lay a strong compulsion on Isaiah; Isaiah was in the presence of God and he overheard the call, and realized that there was nothing else for him but to say, in conscious freedom, "Here am I, send me."
Get out of your mind the idea of expecting God to come with compulsions and pleadings.
When our Lord called His disciples there was no irresistible compulsion from outside.
The quiet passionate insistence of His "Follow Me" was spoken to men with every power wide awake.
If we let the Spirit of God bring us face to face with God, we too shall
hear something akin to what Isaiah heard, the still small voice of God; and in
perfect freedom will say, "Here am I; send me."
I am not a morning person. I haven’t ever been. I really don’t think I ever will be. My mom used to tell me, “Someday you’ll get used to it.” I really need a good two hours to warm up and be a person.
I went on a mission trip to the Philippines years ago and a really good friend of mine was also on the trip. We were going to be rooming together along the trip. Having never roomed together or seen each other first thing in the morning I decided the first night I better give her the warning. “I take a while to warm up in the morning. I’ll probably need a few minutes. I’d just like to apologize ahead of time for the grump face you may receive.”
My sweet, cheerful friend who greets every morning with a smile decided to wake me up the next morning to the most cheerful rendition of “Sunshine Day” I’ve ever heard, inches from my face. I was less than enthused or grateful. The darts that came from my eyes stabbed her to the core and she said (still upbeat, but definitely taken aback) “Oh, you weren’t kidding about not being a morning person.” It changed the way she would greet me each morning for the rest of the trip. Gretchen, I am still sorry. I wish I woke up every morning and sang cheerfully “This is the day the Lord has made, let us REJOICE and be GLAD in it.”
These days I am greeted every morning by my gift. My sweet little “extra” child, who is now my alarm clock. He comes into my room anywhere from 4:30-6AM and says, “It’s time to get up mommy” with all the cheerfulness of a sweet innocent child ready to experience what the day has ahead. I am working so very hard not to kill the spirit of my sweet boy who is able to greet each day with rejoicing and gladness and has taught me even further what it means to have new mercies every morning. It’s a beautiful and humbling experience to be taught by a child.
I do not need three to five alarms to wake up every morning the way I did in college. In fact I haven’t set an alarm for 3 year years now, at least to wake up. But I sure do need a daily reminder that the LORD has made this day, his mercies are new every morning, and that is something to wake up REJOICING about and something to be GLAD about. It took a baby to begin teaching me that…a sweet baby Jesus, and a sweet baby Riko to drive it home, he is my reminder. May you greet this day grateful to the God who loves you (morning grump face and all) for the new day and the new mercies. May you rejoice in this day and be glad no matter what time you woke up.
Psalm 118:24, Lamentations 3:22-24
Blessings, Pastor Delinda
Now you are the body, and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
A few months ago I walked in on my kids playing. They had several stuffed animals lined up in rows. My oldest was dressed up and preaching to them. (I guess preachers’ kids play a bit differently than others.) When I asked what they were doing, they exclaimed, “We are playing church!”
At that moment, I wondered how many others do the same thing? Not with stuffed animals, but with their lives. They go to church occasionally on Sundays, but their lives are no different on Mondays. They stand and occasionally sing songs at church, but rarely worship otherwise. They give whatever money they have on them but never tithe or give consistently.
Friends, we must avoid the temptation of playing church. We must remember that technically, we don’t go to church. We are the church—and that’s an important distinction.
When we realize that we don’t go to church, we stop looking for church to meet our needs. Instead we realize that we are the church and that we are here to meet the needs of the world.
Today, as you go to work, interact with friends, run errands, or do whatever your day has in store, remember—you are a member of Christ’s church. You are called to make a difference. May the world be a better place because you love, serve, and bless others as Christ’s representative.
When it comes to prayer, there is one question that often pushes to the fore-front of our mind, “If God knows everything, why should I pray?” The second question that quickly follows is, “Can prayer change God’s decisions?”
First let’s acknowledge, yes God knows everything, but you don’t. That is why we should pray for discernment, wisdom, insight and direction. The one thought to remember is, just because God knows does not mean He is making it happen. Choices we or others make is what often propels events.
The second question “Can Prayer change God’s decisions He is making on our behalf?” The answer is easy yet complex. First, if God does change His mind, it would always be out of love and mercy. Also, if God does change His mind, it does not mean that His original decision was wrong, or in any way a mistake.
There are indeed different roads we can travel on our way to heaven, as long as each one leads through the gateway of salvation. John 14:6 says, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.”
Never forget, free moral agency (the ability to make choices) incurs personal responsibility.
God is waiting to hear from you today. Go ahead, talk to Him!
Equipping: The Work of Ministry (Week 3)
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (Common English Bible)
September 19, 2021
Bottom Line: When we use our gifts as he has called us to, we are part of what he’s doing.
______________________________ the purpose of each gift.
___________________________ the benefits of each gift.
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” I Cor. 11:1
When I first met my husband, he always had a toothpick in his mouth. Always. It wasn’t a bad habit; it wasn’t a good habit; it was just a habit. As I recall, he left his toothpick home on our wedding day, but otherwise it was just part of his appearance. One day, several years later, that habit came to a screeching halt. Why? Because we had a small son who wanted to do everything his daddy did. And nobody needs an eighteen-month-old running around with a toothpick in his mouth!
We can draw two lessons from this. First, every believer has “little ones” following him. They’re not all so little, either. As a believer, you can be sure that somebody is watching you!
What you do right, he or she emulates. When you blow it, you make it okay (in his mind) to do the same thing. Of course no one is perfect, but it’s helpful for me to remember that I am an example and be on my best behavior. I have a friend who is a Christian leader in the community, and from him I learned that I am responsible to those “little ones” every second of every day. This friend takes this so seriously that when standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, he deliberately averts his eyes from the “rag mags” on the rack. Somebody seeing him look at them might get the wrong impression. I also have a clear memory of a time I blew it in the checkout line. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but I know that I was angry, and I behaved in a way unbecoming to Christ. Later I looked down and was reminded that I was wearing a witnessing t-shirt. Uh, oh!
Lesson #2 – we should all be like that toddler, wanting to do everything his daddy does. Our “daddy” God is the perfect example, and His example is all written down for us to follow. I need to be in His Word daily, learning more about Him and becoming more like Him. I’ll never be perfect, but I can and should do better each and every day. Many “little ones” are watching.
God bless you!
In 2 Corinthians 5:11 – 6:2 Paul describes believers as new creations (or creatures) in Christ who are given the ministry of reconciliation, the process of restoring friendship or harmony where separation or enmity exists. As ministers of reconciliation we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ, and this is a responsibility of all Christians, not just members of “the clergy.” An ambassador’s primary duty is to carry a message, to deliver that message to a chosen recipient. The ambassador is not responsible for what the recipient does with or about that message.
Over the years I have heard many people claim they just can’t witness to others. They have a variety of reasons, but usually they all involve some sort of fear. But have you ever thought about just telling others your story when the opportunity arises? Each of us has a story to tell – what it was like before we were saved (all have sinned . . . ), what happened to bring us into that relationship (we all have a “Damascus Road” experience of some sort), and what it is like since then (how joy and peace manifest in our lives).
You may never be called to speak from a pulpit, but each of us is called to share our story. The shorter the story, the better, but be sure to cover the three basic points. You will probably be surprised how well it is received by the listener when you’ve shared it in general conversation. The Holy Spirit will prompt and guide you if you are willing. Carry the message of His love, mercy and grace as it has worked in and for you. You don’t need to add excitement or glamor; just be you, the one GOD called to tell your story. Keep it simple, somehow.
How Much Does God Love Me?
Have you ever thought about how much God loves you? Have you ever just stopped for a moment and thought about how much God loves you? I think it can be difficult for us to truly grasp the idea. It’s easy for me to know how much my wife and kid loves me. I get to see them every day, and they do things that show that they love me. We don’t have the same kind of physical interaction with God as we do with our friends and family, which can make it difficult to grasp the magnitude at which He loves us.
Let’s look at Ephesians 1:3-6 3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. 5 He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.
Before God had even created this planet we are living on, he chose us to be his children. He knew we were going to sin, and He created us anyway. Not only that, but He sent his one child who would never turn His back on Him into the world to die so that we might be able to be with God forever.
I remember how much I loved my son before he was even born. Even when he was a small, weird, alien looking thing. I can’t imagine how much more God loves me, even before I existed. Next time you are wondering if God loves you, remember these words in Ephesians. Before the foundations of the world were created, God loved you.
Genesis 10 is an account referred to as the Table of Nations. It shows how the nations of the world all grew out of and descended from Noah’s sons Shem, Japheth, and Ham following the flood. It reads similarly to other Old Testament genealogies but focuses on large groups of people instead of individuals.
Here’s the thing that struck me as interesting as I was reviewing this passage last week. In the Old Testament, Israel had five people groups that were their major enemies: Egypt, the Canaanite Clans, the Philistines, Babylon, and Syria. According to the Table of Nations, four of these five (all except Syria) directly descended from Ham, one of Noah’s sons, whose descendants were cursed by Noah.
This got me thinking: how many major issues have started small? When there’s a crisis, does it immediately start as a crisis? No, usually we can trace that crisis back to either one small event or a series of small events that then snowball into large issues. This is true on both a global and personal level, just like one family causing issue after issue for the nation of Israel. However, in the Biblical narrative, God was able to use all of the conflicts Israel had with their enemies to guide them and shape them into the people that would be the family of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Always remember, God can turn any crisis into an opportunity if we are only faithful to allow him to mature us through it.
David and Heavy Metal Music: A pondering by Holly Woodbridge
We often imagine David sitting with his harp in a flowering meadow. He sweetly sings his praises to God as the sheep graze peacefully beside him. Perhaps there is one crazy little lamb hopping around, but for the most part it is a serene scene with azure blue skies and a stray cloud on the horizon. But anyone who has read through the psalms and the life of David know he is more warrior than harpist, more passionate than passive, more metal than meek. When David came to the Lord. He came real. He came raw. Try the opening verses in Psalm 28…
A Heavy Metal Song of David.
Lord, you are my Rock.
I am calling to you for help.
Don’t close your ears to my prayers.
If you don’t answer me,
I will be counted among the dead.
2 I lift my hands and pray toward your Most Holy Place.
Hear me when I call to you.
Show mercy to me.
I don’t imagine this as a whisper, but a loud weeping, even a scream. I love this about David because I have days like this. Days when my prayers are heavy metal crying out, not quiet melodies of calm. And God invites me, real and raw, to come to Him.
I also love that David so often finishes his metal music pieces with a ballad of surrender, he has been heard, he is known, and he is loved.
6 Praise the Lord!
He has heard my prayer for mercy.
7 The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trusted him with all my heart.
He helped me, so I am happy.
I sing songs of praise to him.
8 The Lord protects his chosen one.
He saves him and gives him strength.
9 Save your people.
Bless those who belong to you.
Lead them and honor them forever.
Today may be a good day for you. Enjoy the sun and the flowers your Father has provided. Sing your ballad of gratefulness with a full heart.
Today may be dark and difficult for you. You may not even be able to articulate your pain to the Father. In that case, join me in screaming out a heavy metal tune to the One who knows you and loves you and is present in it all. Then after it is all relinquished, hum a little tune of surrender and trust. He has you on good days, bad days, and boring days too.
If you’re brave enough, Here is a little Christian Metal for you to enjoy or endure….😊
We Are A Gifted People
September 12, 2021
The One Thing: We need to understand why God gives gifts.
Monopoly Fails and Dragon Scales
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:15-18
God tells Elijah to do the very thing he least wants to do, ‘Go back the way you came’. Elijah has been forced to flee for his life, and God says, ‘Go back the way you came’. He’s walked for forty days and nights, weak with hunger to reach this place of safety, and God says, ‘Go back the way you came’. He’s discouraged, despondent and depressed, and God tells him to face his failure and fear, saying ‘Go back the way you came’. He’s longing to linger in this holy space of spiritual encounter, but God says, ‘Go back the way you came’.
Isn’t the Lord supposed to be calling me forth to new things, not sending me back to confront painful ones? Why is the Holy Spirit asking me to address areas of fear and failure in my past? Just when I was turning the corner on Park Place, Boardwalk, he says, ‘do not pass go and do not collect your spiritual payday’!
This passage reveals that at times the spiritual way forward is at first a journey back. When we have never dealt with the spiritual baggage from our past, we have the tendency to carry it around with us in the present unawares. What shadows am I running away from that it’s time for me to confront?
There's a scene in one of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books … A boy named Eustace has been turned into a dragon. It's a picture of how sin dehumanizes us. He's invited by the Great Lion Aslan, who's the Christ figure, to bathe in a pool that can cleanse him, that can remake him, that can rebirth him, but first, he's told he has to undress. He's confused about this till he realizes it means he has to shed his old dragon skin. In other words, he has to repent. He tries to do this. It's hard work. It takes a long time, but he peels off that hard, scaly, dragon skin. When he goes to get into the water, he looks down at his foot, and he notices it's just as hard and scaly as it was before he started. In other words, there's a whole layer of dragon skin under the first layer. He tries again, but the same thing keeps happening and he despairs. Then the lion Aslan, Christ, says to him, "You'll have to let Me do it."
When it comes to the sin, dysfunction, and failures of my past, there is work for me to do. I must make a deliberate offering of my spiritual junk of my past before the Lord. It is not enough, however. The Lord must do the deeper work. I have good news for you though. “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to carry it to completion until the day of Christ.” The same one who made you is the one who carries the get out of jail free card for your life. The way forward is at first a way back. Don’t worry though, God is the master of the board. Your spiritual payday is coming!
Would you pray this prayer with me as you begin your day? God, could you take off that hard, scaly stuff around my heart? Let me plunge once more into the pool of your grace that stings and smarts and makes me new again. We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.
ASPECTS OF PRAYER AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US IN OUR LIFE
Session 5: PRAY ALWAYS AND EXPECT RESULTS
Jesus said that, "...men ought always to pray, and not to faint." (Luke 18:1)
God speaks to us through Bible reading, but we speak to Him through prayer. We need that special time alone with God, just one-on-one in prayer. Jesus realized the need to pull away for a while and get alone with His Father in prayer. Mark 1:35 says: "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."
In our fast-paced society this is sometimes hard, but it is both necessary and we will find it to be worth the effort. Society was the same in Jesus’s time as it is in our time. The words “it’s hard to find time” seems to be the universal excuse we use and it’s no surprise to find it was the same for the disciples in the Garden.
If your source of food for each day is your local grocery store, you’d go there each day to meet your need for sustenance. Then, by the same need to sustain life, it should be natural for us to go to God in prayer for our daily needs, the needs of others and make our petitions known.
I Thessalonians 5:16-22 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil...
If we pray ALWAYS, we'll never become over-loaded with problems. That does not imply all our problems will just vanish, rather that He wants us to carry a LIGHT load. Jesus said, "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:30). The Lord will sustain us, carry our load and see us through; only if we pray, turn over the burden to Him by faith believing He WILL. PS: Don’t give your burdens to Him and then pick them up once again to carry by yourself. Give-m and Leave-m.
Now that we have emphasized the need to pray always, we must confront the deeper question; do we really have a positive expectation regarding what God can and will do in response to our prayers?
If I were to plug in an electrical cord to an outlet that would carry 220 volts of electricity, expose the wires and ask you to grab the ends you would expect that power to set you free, (or something like that) right?
Prayer taps into the overflowing power of the Holy Spirit; flowing down from a living God. God’s Word demands that we have Great Expectations about His response to prayer! His Word says that unbelief will hinder our prayers!
James 1:8 says: “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”According to James, if we ask God for things in prayer, doubting that God is able to deliver, it is like expecting to receive nothing from the Lord”!
Prayers are powerful, if we expect them to be!
Jesus believed it - Matthew 17:20 If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up;
So, pray without ceasing (this is keeping Jesus in your thoughts all day long) and by faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit, expect God to move (remembering He will respond in His wisdom, His will and His Way, not our own. Thank You Lord!)
Remember: Pray Always and Expect Results!
Yours in Christ, Rev. Jerry Schmid
Time to Fill Up?
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else guard you heart for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
I find myself being more and more of a procrastinator. I don’t like it. I really get upset at myself for putting things off and then realizing time has flown by and those things still aren’t done!
My late husband used to always get on to me about keeping my gas tank full, especially in the winter months. He used to tell me constantly to fill the tank up when it gets to the half way mark. I had every intention of filling it up but invariably I would forget to turn off at the Sam’s exit and would think about it as I crossed the Kansas River. “Oh crud, I forget to get gas! Oh well, I’ll get it tomorrow. I still have plenty of gas.” Then next day would come and I might be running late and I look at the time as I approach the Sam’s exit again and think, “I really don’t have time to stop now. I will do it over my lunch hour.”
Lunch hour comes and I find myself busy or someone comes into the office or I think of something else that is more pressing that needs to be done so once again I didn’t get to the gas station. I chide myself for forgetting once again and promise myself I will stop on my way home. I get busy and then it is quitting time and getting gas is the furthest thing from my mind. Once again I find myself driving past the Sam’s exit and heading home only to realize I am now way below the half way mark and down to the quarter of a tank mark!
Again I chastise myself for being so forgetful and always putting things off that need to really be done! I have even written a list of things that need to get done and put it on the top of my list and I still find myself driving past the Sam’s exit!
Ever been there?
So many times in our lives I am afraid we do the same thing with our quiet time with the Lord. I have every intention of carving time out to study His word and to spend time in prayer. But so many times I find myself busy with other pressing things and He takes the back seat and my heart tank doesn’t get filled! I’ve even tried getting up a little early and carving that a time out for devotions but then find myself worrying about getting ready on time for work. I often fall asleep while praying if I wait until late at night.
So what am I to do?
I have found that I can come in to work in the morning and usually since I am the first one here, I can have some quiet time with nothing to disturb me. I have time to read a devotional and read His word and have some quiet time to spend in prayer. It fills my heart tank for that day. But I have to intentionally take that time I have for Him so that I am not serving on an empty tank. I have also found that I need a daily filling not just when my heart gauge gets to the half full mark!
How about you?
Do you struggle in your spiritual walk trying to keep your heart tank full? Perhaps a good devotional book or study Bible would help. Perhaps getting into a Sunday school class or Life Group would help you grow in your walk and also provide you with others that can walk along side of you and provide the fellowship needed. Maybe a good Bible study with others can help you stay in His word. I know for me, all of the above have helped me tremendously to grow in my walk. It helps me keep my heart tank full.
Well, I have put a sticky note on my phone to remind me once again to get off on the Sam’s exit to fill my gas tank. It’s only half full! Hopefully it will help me to remember the car won’t run on empty and neither will I.
Have a blessed day!
"I want to know Him." Philippians 3:10
The initiative of the saint is not towards self-realization, but towards knowing
The spiritual saint never believes circumstances to be haphazard,
or thinks of his life as secular and sacred; he sees everything he is dumped
down in as the means of securing the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
There is a reckless abandonment about him.
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God . . . took a towel . . . and began to wash the disciples’ feet.”
The aim of the spiritual saint is "that I want to know Him."
In a book I’ve been reading by Billy Graham he writes, “I once saw a cartoon of a man rowing a boat toward a golden shore labeled ‘heaven.’ All around him were men and women struggling in vain to reach the shore and safety, but he was heedless of their peril. He was singing, ‘I am bound for heaven, hallelujah!’ That is not an adequate picture of the Christian life.”
He made a completely different point out of this in his book, but the picture of this I have in my head strikes me hard. How many of us are going about our daily lives with no regard for the others around us suffering, struggling, trying to catch a breath, crying out for a Savior? We think “hey I’m good I know where I am going.” What if the people around us are struggling to get there, what if they don’t know The Way, what if you’re the only person in their path who does know? Wouldn’t you get out of the boat and help them? Isn’t that what Jesus would do? Wasn’t the great commission all about that? We steer so clear of controversy sometimes, and I’m speaking to myself at times, that we forget to share The Way. The Way is controversial but it should be the one thing we aren’t afraid to share. It is the single most important information we can give to others. Stop your boat for a second, look around, who’s sinking, who needs a hand, who needs The good Word?
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
Blessings in the sharing,
Equipping: The Work of Ministry (Week 1)
Ephesians 4:1-16 (NIV)
September 5, 2021
Bottom Line: Christ gives each of us a role in the Body of Christ.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Remember when you were little, how a simple hug and a Band-Aid could fix any hurt? My kids love to play outdoors. Occasionally one will skin their knee on the driveway or get a cut climbing a tree. No matter the injury, it seems as if all it takes is a gentle hug, a Band-Aid, perhaps a kiss on their ouchy and they’re ready to get back at whatever they were doing before. In a few days the wound would heal and would quickly be forgotten.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all wounds healed that way? The problem is, as adults, we often carry chronic wounds from complex injuries in our past for a long time. Unfortunately these hurts don’t heal overnight either. These internal wounds to our souls stay with us, slow us down, and sometimes color the choices we make. They might be a brutal word from a parent, an unspeakable betrayal from a friend, or a harsh disappointment with a spouse. Whatever the wound is, it doesn’t just heal with a simple hug, Band-Aid and kiss. These wounds require God’s healing power.
Here’s the good news. Our wounds can heal through Christ. You see, Jesus knew both physical pain as well as emotional and mental anguish that come from the offenses of others. Having lived without sin, Christ took on all the pain of the world—the burden of all sin—through his excruciating death on the cross. His death brings us life. His wounds bring us healing. His forgiveness sets us free. Today, ask God to heal all those hurts that still linger from your past.
So come on, let’s leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. But there’s so much more. Let’s get on with it! The Message
We all face adversity. You cannot run from it. Eventually it catches all of us at some point or another. The events of this past year teach us that adversity does not bend to our desires or demands. It always charts its own course.
How we choose to handle adversity and challenges dictates a lot about what happens after. After things return to some kind of normality. After the fire burns low and loses its power to hurt or destroy. After the night of fear gives way to the new day of hope.
We can easily slip into the trap of believing this is the new normal and we must settle for less. The Hebrew writer had it correct when he said, “but there is so much more. Let’s get on with it!”
Don’t allow any current or past adversity to change you into something less than what you were created for. There really is so much more. A wise person once said, Ships don’t sink because of the water around them. Ships sink because of the water that gets into them.”
So today stop being motivated by what you may have lost and set your mind on what you have left. “There is so much more, let’s get on with it!”
In my last devotional, I shared my challenging experience following the directions that came with models I wanted to build, and also how I struggle every now and then with following the Bible’s instructions. OK, the Scriptures refer to those “instructions” as “commandments”. A commandment is not a suggested way of doing things, but GOD saying, “DO IT THIS WAY!” They’re not intended as an option, but as orders that the ultimate military commander is passing down for his followers to obey.
I think that too often we may be tempted to think that we really don't have to obey all these commands, that Jesus loves us anyway, and his grace will cover all. That is all well and good, but He did emphasize in John 14:15 – "If you love me, you will obey my commands.”
Although I don’t know exactly how many commands Jesus gave (research varies, placing that number between 50 and 123), the good news is that we don’t have to keep them without help. John 14 goes on to say that Jesus would send the Holy Spirit to help us. It is clear that the Holy Spirit in our lives encourages us to at least attempt to keep those commands. And I believe the primary evidence of the presence of GOD’s Holy Spirit in our lives is the fruit generated through us, as spoken of in John 15 and in Galatians 5:22-23, where we find nine character qualities that are evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. I personally think that the first, agape love, is the fruit of the Spirit, manifested in the following eight character qualities – but you don’t have to agree with me about that. The question I ask myself daily is, what would a fruit inspector see in my life right now? No matter how mature a believer may be, the Vinedresser continues to work at producing fruit that is sweeter every day. I must continue to surrender to that ongoing pruning and hope you do too.
Did you know that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions every day? These could be something simple like figuring out what to have for breakfast or what pen you want to sign that document. They could even be more complex like trying to decide what car to buy or whether or not you should have a difficult discussion with a friend/co-worker. You would think that with all the practice we have making decisions that we would be experts by now. However, I would argue that most of us (including me) have a difficult time making some decisions.
We are surrounded by a multitude of different voices (family, friends, social media, politicians, celebrities, advertisers, etc.) each trying to influence our thinking. It becomes overwhelming to figure out which voices we should and shouldn’t listen to. So what do we do? Who do we listen to?
We find the answer in James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Let’s read that again! “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” If you need help knowing what to do in life you simply have to ask God! He loves us so much that if we are willing to go to him when we need wisdom he will give it to us.
But when we ask God for wisdom, we need to make sure we pay attention to the following verses James 1:6-8 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. When we request wisdom from God we have to put all of our faith in Him. We can’t ask God for wisdom and then go off and also rely on Bob to fix our problems for us (sorry Bob). We have to be all in for God.
What decisions do you have to make today, this week, this year? What voices are you allowing to influence you? God’s or someone else? Remember, our God is a generous God. If you need wisdom he will give it to you!
Dysfunctional Family - Week 4
Philippians 2:3-5 (NIV)
August 29, 2021
Bottom Line: Healthy families serve each other.
In the book Perelandra, C.S. Lewis imagines a scene where the story’s hero finds himself in a precarious position where his life is on the line. Before he takes the leap of faith, he says “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, here goes! I mean, amen!”
I’ve had some days where my prayers have felt like they would be more appropriately ended by saying “here goes.” Other days, I’ve had prayers that were nothing more than “Jesus, I need you today.”
Romans 8:26-27 says “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
God knows. When you have those days that you don’t have the words you think God wants to hear, the Holy Spirit is already going ahead of you to intercede for you.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, here goes!