God’s Answer to Doubt
October 24, 2021
This One Thing: Moses doubt leads to a demonstration of God’s power.
• There are TWO SIDES to the doubt issues:
A) When OTHERS DOUBT you.
B) When YOU DOUBT yourself.
• God’s answer to DOUBT and EXCUSES is His POWER and His PRESENCE
• PARTIAL obedience carries UNINTENDED consequences.
• God PROVIDES where He DIRECTS.
• God NEVER ACCEPTS excuses.
• What’s in your HAND?
There were ten. A common number, but they were anything but common. These ten were sick, seriously sick! So sick they could not even communicate face to face with those they loved. They needed physical and medical help. Short of a miracle their lives as they had known them was over. (Luke 7:11-19)
Their sickness was leprosy. Their miracle was Jesus. Their problem was lack of thankfulness.
Perhaps they were just too eager to see their loved ones and to share their miracle of healing. We really don’t know. What we do know is they left. They did not pause to speak to the One who had provided their healing. They just left, and I oftentimes wonder if they left more than their leprosy behind.
One did stay behind though. We don’t know his name, but we do know his heart. Maybe he was in awe of the Miracle Maker. We are really not sure, we just know he stayed while the others walked or rather ran away.
It doesn’t take long to say thank you. But it does take a thankful heart. In your devotional time today, pause for a moment and enumerate some of the things you are thankful for. Then stick around for a while and say thank you! Maybe, just maybe, Jesus would like to do something unexpected for you!
One thing we know for sure. The unexpected blessings do not always occur instantly. Those deeper unexpected gifts come from spending time with the Gift Giver!
In Matthew 6:25 our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
I was not raised in a Christian household, and because of the worldly values I was raised with, anxiety was a frequent part of my life. I found that alcohol seemed to help ease my severe bouts of anxiety. This led to self-medication, dependency, and full-blown addiction. As happens frequently, tolerance to the “drug” increased, requiring more and more alcohol, followed by other drugs. I became “poly-substance dependent” and ended up on skid-row, suicidal. I was sleeping in a dirt-floor garage and looking for something to use to hang myself when the Holy Spirit intervened. This began the process of repentance and brought me into a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
I have to tell you that my anxieties did not disappear right away as I became a believer. During the first few months of sobriety, I frequently didn’t know where my next meal was coming from, and I came closer to being “under the bridge” as a new Christian than I ever did while I was in my addiction. Even getting together enough money to launder my clothes was a challenge.
It took time and a certain amount of Christian maturity before I could look back with eyes of faith and recognize that the Lord was providing for my needs all the time. I never went hungry, my clothes held up just fine, and I always had a bed to sleep in with a roof over my head.
Let’s go back to Matthew 6:25 for a moment. Any time you see “therefore” in a passage, it’s a good idea to see what it’s there for. In verse 24 Jesus is telling us that we can’t serve two masters: “ … for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Therefore, don’t be anxious! Way too often anxiety leads to putting our faith in the wrong thing(s), and this can lead to various forms of idolatry. I share this because it seems that anxiety is on the increase, including among believers. We are living in challenging times. Where are you putting your faith?
May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
I was singing “Only a boy named David” with my granddaughter this morning, and the thought occurred to me that this is one of many stories in the Bible that causes some people to discount the entire Bible. Really? How could a little boy kill a giant with a slingshot? And how, indeed, could a man be swallowed up and then spit out by a whale? Giggle, giggle; snicker, snicker… My answer to those questions is, “Why not?”
Maybe what we already believe determines how we react to some of the old Bible stories, and to some of the controversial topics we face in today’s world. If I already have doubts and misunderstandings about who God is, it will be easier to convince me that the Bible is full of myths and children’s stories. But what if I am radical enough to go even beyond belief and KNOW that God is who He says He is? If “nothing is impossible with God,” then we can believe that He could create the world in six days. It’s no stretch to accept that he could (and did) appoint a big fish (not a whale, thank you) to swallow up Jonah until he had learned his lesson, then spit him out in time to hear God say, “Now go!” Why couldn’t the God of the impossible shut the mouths of the lions so that his servant Daniel is spared? And send His pre-incarnate Son into the furnace to protect Daniel’s three friends? Especially when the Word clearly reflects that these incidents bring glory to God in the eyes of the king. I believe every story in the Book is true; there is nothing that needs to be explained away. And what I don’t understand reflects on my human inability to understand, NOT on the validity of God’s Word.
And on the controversial topics of the day? The world, in rejecting God and His word, has elevated humankind to the role of King of the Universe, a position correctly belonging to God. If man is king, it follows that his “rights” must not be denied. And sin reigns.
But ultimately, God’s Word is true. And God reigns. Period.
God bless you!
Ephesians 5:21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
I am a huge fan of martial arts. Especially MMA and JiuJitsu. If you follow any of these sports, you will hear about submissions a lot. A submission is one of the few ways you can get a win in the sport. You manipulate your opponent's body to get them into a position where they have to submit or risk getting injured. In that moment the person submitting is acknowledging the person has gotten the upper hand and is in that moment better than them. In our culture we often see submission as a negative. We think of ourselves as less than and weak if we submit. However, this is not what scripture teaches us about submission. In this passage Paul is challenging us to submit to each other. So what does Paul mean by this? He is not telling us to think less of ourselves, rather he is giving us an opportunity to grow in Christ. Ephesians 5:21 follows a section about how we are to live in the light by being filled with the Holy Spirit. We live this out by submitting to one another, which really means putting others first and seeing everyone as worthy of our time. Jesus modeled submission in his own life by submitting to God’s will and dying on a cross for our sins. Because of this He was exalted above every other name.
(Philippians 2:1-11 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.)
This is how we need to think about submission. When we do we begin to transform into the people who God created us to be.
Moses: Following God into the Unknown (Week 2)
Exodus 3:1-12 (CEB)
October 17, 2021
Main Point: I can follow God into the unknown because God invites us to join him.
Main Point: I can follow God into the unknown because God invites us to join him.
TOO OLD? I DON’T THINK SO! A Pondering by Holly Woodbridge
The kids and I are studying the book of Joshua on Wednesday nights this month. Joshua is a great warrior and a great leader. He inspires. But there is another old guy mentioned in the book that has lots to teach us, Caleb. Old, but strong, and he is faithful like his friend Josh. Joshua and Caleb had wanted to go into the Promised land 45 years earlier, but the people were afraid and would not trust God for the Victory. They had watched their generation fall away because of doubting hearts, but Joshua and Caleb held fast for 45 years. Nothing swayed their trust in the Almighty God. Nothing kept them from serving Him. Well, they are finally in the Promised land with the children of all their friends. They are now the oldest Israelites and Caleb approaches Joshua as the land is being divvied up.
Joshua 14 : “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.
Caleb didn’t say, “Hey, I’ve done my time, let the young people do the work.” No, He walked with the younger generation, showing what faithfulness looks like. He was a role model as he fought and served side by side, shoulder to shoulder. The key was this phrase “the Lord helping me.”
You are never too young or too old to serve Jesus. So if you find that you are just sitting on a pew each Sunday morning, get busy. You still have a work to do “the LORD helping you."
Gardens in Babylon
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’
In this passage of Jeremiah, we find God’s people are physically in exile in Babylon, but their hearts are still living in a sense in Jerusalem. Surprisingly, God doesn’t give them a pass about this. He asks them to redeem the times. He asks them to help shape their space. God says, you can’t just twiddle your thumbs until I take you on to heaven. There is work for you to do in the meantime. You have to embrace the disruption. Live in the place you don’t want to be as if it were your true home. Oh, and you know how you used to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, now do the same for Babylon. This is a radical call. In the midst of pagan and godless empires, we are called to build pockets of redemption. We are to seek to enrich this culture with the life of the kingdom of God.
Were there any words or phrases that jumped out at you from this passage in Jeremiah 29? I noticed two phrases. ‘Plant gardens’, ‘Increase in number’. In these words, there are reminiscent echoes from the Garden of Eden. God is saying to his exiled people, whether you like it or not, you are here now, so grow and build this alien place into a garden Paradise - a place where God’s presence can dwell. Be fruitful! Increase! Multiply! Grow!’
What an amazing thought: Even in the worst of times, places, and situations, the people of God are called to flourish and grow in number; and together seek the peace and prosperity of where they are. Not waiting for things to get back to normal; seeking God’s redemptive purposes right here and now.
I know when I feel alienated from the world around me, I am tempted to withdraw and not get too involved. Am I avoiding getting involved rather than engaging right now? Lord, help me to care for the community in which I live. Lord, I pray for my city, my town, my village. Father, I yield myself to You and the way You are shaping me through the disruptions and limitations in my life. May I find Your peace where I am, with all its noise, dirt, and challenges.
There is a great song my son Joel loves to play that seems an appropriate prayer for this day. Here are the lyrics.
Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Are you at peace with your faith? Your faith in Christ should be the source of your feelings. But you say; then why don’t I feel forgiven? Christianity has nothing to do with your feelings. It's not about how you feel, it is about the blood of Jesus being enough, enough to cover your sins.
So why do we keep giving Satan credit and glory by confessing our sin over and over again? Isn’t God big enough and His Grace sufficient enough to forgive you the first time you ask for His forgiveness? Jesus, your Grace and Blood are enough!
Satan loves and wants you to keep your focus on your sin and the past. Instead, look at Jesus, look toward your future. It was enough that Christ looked past the cross to the future and saw you. We only look to the past if there is sin we have harbored in our heart and never asked God for forgiveness, that is a killer of our soul.
Christianity is not a focus on you or me, rather it is on God, His love, and the act of loving God. It is forgetfulness of self and re-focusing from our old sinful nature which has been forgiven and to a renewed focus on God.
Paul said: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
You and I must cooperate with that gift of Grace, believe it, accept it and live it day by day growing in Grace. If we strive for Holiness in itself, it can become an object of our pride which we can never reach. Rather we should strive to love God and others more as He commanded, then we become holy, because it is a byproduct of love. Jesus tasked us to be Holy as He is Holy. But how? Live each day as Jesus lived, loving God, loving others rather than self, so that day by day we become the very image of His love and self-sacrifice for others.
Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. (2 John 6)
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)
Christ paid the price for your forgiveness and give you peace. When you don’t feel it, it's not because of Christ, it's because you are focusing on you, not Him. Look to Him and focus on Him in prayer.
The first half of the Lord’s Prayer teaches us to focus on the Father, honoring Him, then to bring our petitions and love focused on Him.
Remember; you are CHOSEN, you are FORGIVEN and the LORD IS SUFFICIENT!
God Bless and Keep you wrapped in His loving arms.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Jerry Schmid
Romans 12:4-5 (TLB) Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.
When Jesus spoke of the “body of Christ” in the Bible, He was referring to all of us. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete. All of us have different gifts and talents as you discovered when you did your gift inventory. It takes all of us to do the work that Jesus spoke of. We all belong to each other and we all need each other.
Someone once compared this verse to a jig saw puzzle. When you put it together and one piece is missing, what are you going to notice? The one missing piece.
That’s the way it is in the body of Christ. Everyone is needed!
The thumb is a very small part of our body, but have you ever hurt your thumb? It may be a very small part but it does play a very prominent role. It becomes hard to grasp things, to hold things and to even comb your hair. It may be a very tiny part of our body but you sure do notice it when you can’t use it!
Never confuse prominence with significance. Something can be prominent but not really significant. I can always live without a thumb, but inside of me there are things no one ever sees like my liver, my heart, and my lungs. They are not prominent, but if I lost them I would die.
You may not feel prominent in the body of Christ, but you are very significant! There are many parts to this body of Christ, known as the church. Each part is very significant! Each part is needed! We all have important work to do.
We may never know in this life time just how important a role you and I might have played in someone’s life. A Sunday school teacher may never know just how important her role was until that troubled kid that was such a nuisance in class becomes a pastor or missionary. A worker in the coffee shop might never know how much that friendly hello or extra touch meant to that person who just finished a very trying week. The friendly greeter at the door may never know how much that moment meant when they were the only Jesus that stranger saw all week!
That delivery person might never know just how much that visit or meal meant to that lonely shut-in that has no family or contacts outside of their four little walls. We all play a very significant role in the body of Christ!
Ray Boltz has a song that says it all!
I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me
We walked upon the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw this young man
And he was smiling as he came
And he said, "Friend
You may not know me now"
And then he said, "But wait
You used to teach my Sunday School
When I was only eight"
"And every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
And one day when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart"
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry
You didn't have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that's why I am here today
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
One by one they came
Far as the eye could see
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven now proclaimed
And I know up in heaven
You're not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
He said, "My child look around you
Great is your reward"
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave
Won’t you give your talents and gifts to the Lord to be used of Him today? You never know just how much you are needed to make the body complete!
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as a chance.
God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you cannot understand at all,
Never put your hand in front of the circumstances and say – I am going to make my own decisions,
Am I making the Holy Spirit’s work difficult by being indefinite, or by trying to do His work for Him?
I must do the human side of intercession, and the human side is the circumstances I am in and the people I am in contact with.
I have to keep my conscious life as a shrine of the Holy Ghost,
Without INTERCESSION, someone will be impoverished.
Moses: Following God into the Unknown (Week 1)
Exodus 1-2 (CEB)
October 10, 2021
Main Point: I can face the unknown because God is always redeeming.
Main Point: I can face the unknown because God is always redeeming.
“You do you, I’ll do me.” Have you heard this phrase? It’s pretty popular these days. To me that phrase says “leave me alone and let me just do what I want.” I was reading in Job today and I came across this verse: “Will you continue on the old paths where evil people have walked? They were snatched away in the prime of life, the foundations of their lives washed away. For they said to God, ‘Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do to us?’ Yet he was the one who filled their homes with good things, so I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.” Job 22:15-18 NLT
Leave me alone. Have you ever said that to God? You know what He wants you to do, you may know you’re in the wrong or maybe you know He’s asking you to take on something that may not be comfortable or convenient and you’ve blown Him off with your own version of “you do you God…” As the passage says, the very one who filled their homes with good things, blessings, was pushed away with a “leave me alone”.
I hope that I never say that to God. I hope that’s not what my actions speak of me. I hope this is where I rest: “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” Job 22:21 I’m not looking for the riches of the world but the joy found in surrender to Gods will, purpose and plan for my life. That kind of growth. I don’t want the kind of loneliness that comes with saying “Leave me alone”. I want the richness of communion with God and knowing Him intimately. I want to submit or yield to Him rather than turn my back and say, “leave me alone”. Even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it means I was wrong or I need to change. There’s a joy in knowing I am at peace with God.
I leave you with a couple questions that stuck out to me this week in my Bible study: “Are you distracted by urgent but empty pursuits and ambitions? Will you trust the One who offers God’s acceptance and transformation to real security and peace? The King is at hand, here for you.”
May peace fill your heart as you rest and submit to His love.
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seek, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
We all have moments in our life where things do not go the way we want. Cars break down. Bills pile up. Kids keep needing new clothes. Work demands more and more. Pandemics strike and change everything. Before long, some unproductive messages play over again in our minds: You’ll never have enough. You aren’t good enough. God doesn’t care about you. You don’t have what it takes. God won’t hear your prayer.
Sometimes it feels like our faith is incredibly small. But remember, Jesus said that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed—think about the size, small like a grain of sand—you could move mountains. In Jesus’ day, the mustard seed was the smallest seeds known. Mostly like that wasn’t a coincidence to Jesus. He understood something about our faith.
Jesus knew we would sometimes feel like our faith is stretched to the breaking point. Jesus knew we would often look at situations and feel absolutely hopeless. But Jesus knew all it takes is a tiny amount of faith in a great, big God.
If you are praying for a miracle—even one that feels small or unimportant—then keep the faith. If you are praying for someone to be saved, continue believing. If you are trusting God to restore your marriage, don’t stop. If you are begging God to help you change, keep seeking him.
It’s not the size of your faith that matters—it’s the size of your God. And with Him, all things are possible.
God is not looking for exceptionally talented, educated, or gifted people. These qualities are certainly admirable and beneficial, but they are not required. What he is looking is men and women who are willing to relinquish whatever they have to him.
Too often we think there is power in holding on. The laws of the kingdom are in reverse. We must turn loose. Jesus wants us to tell him, “Lord take me and use me wherever you want me to go, whoever you want me to speak to, whatever you want me to do I am yours.”
Total relinquishment of self will brings God’s power into your life; this is the power of relinquishment…
Keep Looking Up,
You know, when you think about it, the entire Bible is the story of good vs. evil. God, who is always and eternally good, is at war with Satan and the fallen angels, whose only goal is to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). It’s not about me at all, but I, along with all of God’s children, am caught on the battlefield.
One of the places in Scripture where this ongoing battle is very clear is in Genesis chapters 37-50, the story of Joseph. The bad guys are Joseph’s own brothers. They threaten to kill him, throw him in a pit, and sell him into slavery. Wow! Talk about sibling rivalry! And what does Joseph, representing Jesus, do? He feeds them. And then he brings them to Egypt so that he can more effectively meet their needs.
Doesn’t it seem that people expect others to think like they do? Joseph’s brothers, though bathed in love for years, in the end still expected Joseph to think like they did. They couldn’t believe that he was caring for them out of genuine goodness; they thought he only did it out of respect for their father. And once Dad was dead, they expected Joseph to take his revenge on them. But no. That wasn’t who Joseph was. And it’s not who God is, either. His love is genuine.
How did Joseph do it? How did he respond graciously year after year, trial after painful trial? The answer is simple, but so, so difficult: He took himself out of the equation. It’s not about me, he realizes. I am a tool in the hand of a mighty God, being used to bring good to many people. “You intended to harm me,” he tells his brothers, “but God intended it for good.”
There’s a goal to reach for: recognize that God intends good, not only to me, but to everyone with whom I interact. When stuff happens, it’s not necessarily about me. Sometimes problems are God’s way of helping others through me.
Every believer, over the course of his or her life, has the potential to impact literally thousands of people for Christ. No wonder the enemy tries to stop us, to distract us, to harm us. Let us remember, with Joseph, that what the devil intends to harm us, God intends for the good of those around us.
God bless you!
The Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:3-9, is a well known teaching of Jesus. Here the Lord is the Sower of the Seed which falls on different types of soil, ranging from fertile to rock hard. Jesus said that the seed represents the Word of GOD.
In my last devotional I referred to the importance of sharing one’s individual story, our testimony of coming into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. I shared the basic outline I like: what it used to be like, what happened and what it is like now. Since Jesus Christ is the living Word of GOD, the Logos, I believe it makes sense that when we share our story/testimony we are spreading the word/seed. This is something all Christians are called to do – to be a sower of the Word. (See John 14:12)
Just like in Matthew 13, some, maybe even most of the seed we sow will not produce fruit; but some will fall on good soil and produce a crop – some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Jesus goes on to tell us in verse 9, “He who has ears, let him hear.” If you don’t see immediate results, the enemy may attack and seek to deceive you into believing your efforts are wasted. This is not what we are being taught in GOD’s word.
Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of GOD, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which GOD prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Each of us has been created for good works. Those works may vary, but we all have a story to tell, a testimony to share. Be prepared! Opportunities will arise to be a sower of the seed GOD has given you to share.
This past month we have been in a series with our youth called Rad. We have been examining the radical way that Jesus lived and how we can make radical changes in the world around us. I think we can all see that the world around us is broken, and our culture is straying away from God more and more every day. We all want more love and peace in the world. How do we accomplish that? The book of James gives us some very practical straightforward advice on how we radically change the world around us.
1. Radical People Listen More than they Speak. James 1:19-20
This is one of the best ways we can love people. We are often quick to have our voice and opinions heard. It seems to be against our sinful nature to allow ourselves to take time to really listen to those who are around us. When we learn to listen instead of speak, it gives us opportunities to truly know someone's heart. Which then gives us opportunities to love them like Christ would.
2. Radical People Don’t Play Favorites. James 2:1-10
Pull out your bible and read those verses. If you are struggling to relate to the words James is using in this passage, replace rich and poor with other words; Conservatives and Liberals, Liberals and Conservatives, People Who are like me and people who are different, Christians and Non-Christians, Boss and employee, ect. James forbids favoritism. Why? Because we cannot bring people into a life saving relationship with Jesus Christ if we allow superficial things to influence the way we treat others. God made us all, and Jesus died for us all.
3. Radical People Watch Their Words. James 3:1-12
Our words have the power to heal and to destroy. Like a tattoo the things that we say can never be unsaid. James challenges us to think about the words we say. How can we sing to God on Sunday and insult our co-workers on Monday. How can we post bible verses on our social media feed but also leave a hateful comment on something we disagree with. How can we lead others to Christ if we are saying things that bring others down? Our words are a reflection of what is in our hearts. So how can we claim to love God and yet choose to say things that are divisive and destructive. Instead speak words that heal. Speak life.
4. Radical People Fight For Peace. James 3:16-18, 4:1-3
We are called to be peacemakers. This implies that peace is not something that happens naturally, but rather is something that has to be made. Our culture tends to be selfish. We want what we want when we want it. And when we don’t get it we fight each other. Jesus doesn’t tell us to never have conflict. Rather, when we have conflict our goal should be to strive for peace. Jesus fought for us selflessly when he gave his life for our sins. Are we willing to fight for others, and to fix broken relationships.
Jesus is pretty rad (meaning both cool and revolutionary). What about you? Are you willing to be radical? Are you willing to do something different in order to change the world around you and to show everyone the love of Jesus?
(Adapted from Grow Curriculum)
When I was young, the story of Samson (Judges 13-16) was one of my favorites. He had super-human strength, and it felt like I was reading about the Incredible Hulk. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that Samson seems to have done more wrong than he did right. He had taken the Nazarite vow, which said he couldn’t drink any alcohol, go near anything unclean (including animal corpses), or cut his hair as a symbol of being on this oath. As you read Samson’s story, you’ll see that he does all of these things at one time or another except cutting his own hair. However, he allowed himself to get involved with (and even married to) a woman from a nation they were at war with, and told her that if his hair was cut, he would lose his strength. So, guess what happens. She cut his hair, and he lost his strength. However, in his lowest point, he cried out to God in repentance, got his strength back, and laid waste to the enemy army, although killing himself in the process.
This is yet another story where God uses imperfect people to accomplish His plan. However, Samson wasn’t just imperfect; he was full-on rebellious at certain points. When I was a kid, the moral of Samson’s story was “if I don’t cut my hair, God will make me the Hulk.” When I read it today, I see that no matter how rebellious someone may have been in their past, God will still use them today if they’re truly repentant.
Think! Think! Think!
A pondering by Holly Woodbridge
The Joy of the Lord is My strength
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart?
Except sometimes I can’t find strength, I‘m not happy, and I don’t have joy.
On those days I need to get my thinking in right order, but I feel more like Winnie the Pooh, a bear of little brain. It takes quite a bit of effort to correct my thoughts.
Philippians 4:8 gets me headed in the right direction.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Here is an exercise to try the next time your mind gets hijacked.
True – God loves Me
Noble – Soldiers who allow me to be free
Right – Donny is a gift to me
Pure – A hug from Brodie
Lovely – A note from Ryann
Admirable – My dad taking care of my Mom
Excellent – My family making music
Praiseworthy – The sunset God made
Now it is your turn:
True – ___________________________________________________
Noble – ___________________________________________________
Right – ___________________________________________________
Pure – ___________________________________________________
Lovely – ___________________________________________________
Admirable – _________________________________________________
Excellent - __________________________________________________
Praiseworthy – ______________________________________________
Long Drivers and Prayer Strivers
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
In the beginning of the scriptures, God establishes a certain kind of rhythm that his first human creatures (Adam and Eve) are to abide by if they are to live according to the design that he has established for them. He has made them male and female in his image. This image bearing includes creative work that he has called for them to do. It also includes a time of Sabbath rest and celebration when the work is done. When they operate in proper Sabbath rhythms, they will experience a sense of wholeness in their lives. God’s peace(Shalom) will be with them as they live in the rhythms of both work and Sabbath.
The Sabbath rhythms remind me that there is a kind of peace that only comes after hard work. “Strive with me in prayer,” Paul writes. In Greek, agonizomai – literally means, agonize with me. It is a word borrowed from the world of athletics; describing the discipline of an Olympic athlete determined to win a race. Paul is basically saying, “come and train in the prayer-gym with me. And then, when we have finished this race together, I’ll come and see you; we can celebrate victory, and I will rest with you.”
My oldest son Joel is training to be a long drive golfer. I have seen him hit golf balls over 380 yards. To put that in a visual perspective, that is almost four football fields. It takes a lot of work and training to do that kind of a thing. I have been going out and doing some training with him. If I am honest though, I am for the most part just keeping him company. I am pretty much just a spectator.
As I reflect on the passage from the Apostle Paul, I ask myself this question.
Am I a prayer athlete or a spectator? Am I learning from the Lord to strive in prayer, to agonize well? The strong people of Faith who helped shape my life during the time of my youth used a phrase called praying through. You can call it old fashioned if you want, but those folks knew how to get ahold of God and it made a difference.
There is a warped view of God’s sovereignty in regards to prayer that can lead to spiritual laziness. Why would I ever go to the prayer gym when God is in control? When God owns the universal gym, why would I ever even put my prayer sweats on? God has got this and it would be a whole lot easier for me to just hit the snooze button and stay in bed.
I find it interesting that Paul takes quite a different prayer approach than this. He believes that the prayers of God’s people will actually make a difference in the effectiveness of the mission in which he is engaged. Paul, the Apostle of grace, believes there is a work for us to do in prayer. In fact, he is counting on his brothers and sisters to join him in the struggle by lifting him up in prayer as he seeks to be faithful to all that God has called him to do. And that one day he may celebrate those victories in prayer together with them.
There is much godly work for us to do here at Wanamaker Woods church. There is a lot of rebuilding that must happen after the pandemic. We are going through a pastoral transition together as we seek to win the next generations for Christ. Much of the work to be done must start on our knees as we seek the Lord’s guidance for each and every step.
Lord, teach us to strive in prayer, to agonize well. We look forward in faith to all that you will accomplish through ministry in this time and place. May you also give us times of rest and celebration as we give thanks for all that you have done in our midst. May the God of Peace(Shalom) be with us all!
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
Have you heard the joke about the farmer who won an award? He was always out standing in his field! Do you feel like you are outstanding in your field?
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Revelation 20: 11-15 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Dr. King once said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”
D.L. Moody once said: “Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal- a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.”
In Acts 2 we find the day of Pentecost ushering the Holy Spirit into several thousand believers who then became steadfast in spreading the gospel through which the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. But with the later burning of Rome by Nero, the Christians began to drift away, finding it no longer popular to mention their faith or to proclaim they were Christians. Paul knew then, things would get worse both then and now.
That brings me to the question, “Where do you stand”? Are you standing strong in your faith, proclaiming Christ, preaching the Cross, or are you finding it more comfortable to sit in the back seat as a silent passenger along for the ride?
How will the message of Christ go on after you are gone? In this marathon of life who will pass the torch on for you and do they know what to do? Paul encourages us as Timothy, to pass on what we live for by preparing the next generation to carry on our faith. You have a holy calling to pass your faith along.
“I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. (II Timothy 1:3-5).
Paul appealed to Timothy to remember his spiritual heritage. We each have one, be it good or bad, but we are who we are today because of someone influencing us to come to Christ. Others have left their mark on our life, and by God’s grace we can pass on the hope for others to come to that place. Those who will one day lead in our place, one day speak in our place, their feet will walk the path to touch other hearts.
“For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (II Timothy 1:6-7).
Keep repeating to yourself “I am not ashamed of the Gospel; I am not ashamed of Christ”.
Paul asks us to join him in suffering as a bold witness. Not everyone will like your witness for Christ, but be bold in your faith because of what God has done for you. You were saved by His grace through Christ, death has been defeated, and through Christ we can have immortality in heaven with Him. So, reject fear; it is only a disguise of Satan, stand strong on Jesus Christ the rock.
Remember, for you as a Christ follower, heaven is not a threat, it’s a promise, but for those who fear or reject you sharing God’s grace, for them Hell is not a threat, it is also God’s promise to all who reject even the name of Jesus Christ.
In conclusion; Power up for the battle, and GET-R DONE!
May God bless you with His peace, assurance, confidence and boldness.
Confidently Yours in the Victory,
Rev. Jerry Schmid
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."