The Lord covers the heavens with clouds,
provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.
He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry...
the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:8-9, 11.
Both my Father and Father-in-law considered a man named George Muller to be one of their favorite spiritual heroes. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard stories about him over the years. It really helped my faith as a young believer to realize that the God of miracles was still alive and well working on planet earth intersecting the lives of His children. It’s not just something that God only did back in the days of the Bible. I thought perhaps it might be encouraging to you as well to take some time to share his story.
George Muller was born in the Prussian village of Kroppenstaedt. While at university a friend took him to a Bible study. The experience affected him deeply and He chose to follow Jesus. George became passionate about reading the Bible and bringing every need to God in prayer. When he graduated in 1829 he moved to England to train for missionary work.
In 1832 George and his wife Mary moved with a friend to Bristol in England to lead Bethesda Chapel. Soon after they founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution which supported missionaries, distributed Bibles, and educated adults and children. A few years later, George was disturbed by the increasing number of children who had been orphaned and made homeless by the cholera epidemic, so he decided to open an orphanage.
For five months George prayed for the people and provision he needed. God answered his prayer and the first home opened on Wilson Street in Bristol. Over the following six years three more homes were opened on the same street and over 100 children were cared for. The neighbors started to complain, so in 1846, George asked God whether he should build a large orphanage in a more rural area. After discerning that God wanted Him to do it, George prayed for the then huge sum of 10,000 pounds to buy land. George had made a habit of not telling people about financial needs, instead he brought his need to God alone. By the following year George’s prayers were answered and building work began.
Ashley Down Orphanage opened in 1849 and welcomed 300 children but within two years George had a waiting list of children, so he prayed for the funds to build a second orphanage, then a third, a fourth and a fifth. By 1870, over 2000 children were at Ashley Downs and each one was receiving an education. After years of experience trusting in God, George Muller shared this advice for younger believers.
“Be slow to take new steps in the Lord's service, or in your business, or in your families: weigh everything well; weigh all in the light of the Holy Scriptures and in the fear of God. Seek to have no will of your own, in order to ascertain the mind of God, regarding any steps you propose taking, so that you can honestly say you are willing to do the will of God, if He will only please to instruct you. But when you have found out what the will of God is, seek for His help, and seek it earnestly, perseveringly, patiently, believingly, expectantly; and you will surely in His own time and way obtain it.”
Do you need to know God’s will and direction for ministry in your life right now?
Would you ask the Lord to guide you? As you listen, ask the Lord to help you to surrender your agenda, and to patiently trust in Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
What is God asking you to do to serve and love your community? What do God’s folk here in Topeka need to begin, or maybe continue in God’s work?
Would you pray with me today?
God, please provide all we need to serve You. Teach us to be a little more like George Muller and bring to You every challenge along the way.
Father, help me to live this day to the full, being true to You, in every way.
Jesus, help me to give myself away to others, being kind to everyone I meet.
Spirit, help me to love the lost, proclaiming Christ in all I do and say.
Resurrection (part 2 of 2)
1 Corinthians 15:14 CEB
John 17:1-3 CEB
John 11:25-26 CEB
Matthew 7:21 CEB
Psalm 46:10 NIV
John 15:5 CEB
Galatians 5:22-23 CEB
Main Point: Resurrection life calls for two essentials.
“Trust in the LORD with all your
heart, and do not lean on your own
understanding. In all your ways
acknowledge him, and he
will make straight your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
As I sit here this morning and I get to thinking about retirement and what that might look like, I find myself trying to calculate all it will look like and try to figure out how I am going to make things fit into my human design. Twenty years is a long time with many friends and many memories and sometimes I find myself questioning if this is the right choice for me. Moving is very scary for me. I have lived 43 years in the same house and raised all my children there, so there are many memories there. But then the reality sets in that I am called of God to be His hands and feet and His voice and I have to follow where He is leading. Then God will give me a scripture to hang on to like the one for today in Proverbs 3:5-6 and the feeling of being overwhelmed and all the agonizing over whether this step or decision is right or not vanishes and I know I am to fully lean on Him and NOT on my own understanding.
To “lean” (Hebrew: Shaw-an) on God literally means “to put all of your weight on” the wisdom and love of the Lord. It is to completely rely on, and completely rest in, the One who knows all and supplies all. He is the One who can make our paths straight.
But I think that sometimes I make things too complicated or harder than it needs to be because I begin to run every possible scenario in my mind. What if this and what if that…and I begin to obsess about what the future looks like. Then I realize that isn’t what God would have me to do because that isn’t fully leaning or “putting my whole weight” on His understanding.
I remember then that to acknowledge Him is to know deep in my spirit who my God is and I am confident that He sees all and is working all things out for my good. Then the peace comes that He has it all under control and I need to just continue to walk beside Him and hold on to His hand as we walk this new journey together. Trusting and leaning on His Word (His understanding) and He will make my paths straight!
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38
Harvest season on the farm was one of those periods of time when you could prepare, be ready, patient and on the day when the weather was right and the grain was dry “Get-R-Done”. There was no delay in starting the harvest. All other things were put on hold. All attention, resources and labor were focused on bringing in the grain as quickly as possible before any changes in weather conditions could destroy it all. Even Luke mentioned it “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is”.
Harvest season was surrounded by a sense of urgency shared by all; neighbors helping neighbors, implement dealers working round the clock to supply repairs, fuel suppliers keeping tanks full and on and on but the weather was something you could only observe, hope and pray would stay favorable. If a forecast changed to potential storms the urgency now increased to twenty-four hours a day, non-stop. Even an electrical storm could mean fire that would consume the harvest in minutes. It was scarry being in the cab of a self-propelled combine; a four-foot square of glass and steel, when the static electricity in the air makes hair on your head and arms stand out like straw, it quickens even your spirit to finish and exit harvest field. And yet, the harvest continued regardless.
God has given us that same sense of urgency to reach the lost now. We can talk, plan and watch all the weather apps, but it does not reap the harvest. It takes action before the coming storm.
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:13
Christ is coming but no one knows the exact moment, but when He comes it will be as quick as a flash of lighting, quickly coming and gone.
If we have not accepted Christ as Savior and Lord, or those we could have, should have, would have ushered in from the harvest field leading them to Christ, be it husband, wife, children, mother, father, friend or stranger, satans storm can destroy.
Christ’s solution regarding the urgency of you and I not delaying our help in the harvest is found in John 9:4 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” The NO ONE is all inclusive to you and I, emphasizing we, you and I, need to be about the Fathers work, in the harvest field, now. The storm is on the horizon!
God created you. God will equip you. Who has He placed on your heart, in your path to bring in from the harvest field, today, without delay or hesitation? Let’s be found Out-Standing in the Lord’s harvest field, reaching the lost for Him.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Jerry Schmid
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?
There are times when you are cornered by the circumstances, and no matter which way you turn, it seems that there is no hope, no way out.
When you face a situation such as this,
Wait just a minute.
In Jeremiah 32:27, God asks a question of man, "Is there anything too hard for Me?"
The obvious answer is, "No!"
Now, think of the desperate circumstances surrounding your life, your family, and the millions of lives around the world.
May I ask that same question, "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?" Is there?
Do not measure God by the height of your circumstances; rather measure your circumstances by the height and width of His power.
Resurrection (part 1 of 2)
Text: John 10:10; 12:24-25 (NIV)
Main Point: Resurrection life is available to us all.
Far too often we trade resurrection for RESUSCITATION.
Refuse to trade infinite JOY for short-term PLEASURE.
Resurrection isn’t for EVERYONE.
David was God’s chosen man to rule as king of Israel. But David was a deeply flawed man who slept with a married woman and then had her husband killed to cover his transgression. He then rose up and presided over a great kingdom for God, from whom God built an eternal dynasty.
Peter hung out with Jesus. He saw all the miracles, as well as the transfiguration. A few days later Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. God then built the church through Peter.
James, the half-brother of Jesus was not an original believer in Jesus deity. The resurrection changed James and God used him as a church leader.
It is not how well or how many mistakes you make in life, but rather if you have the fortitude and character to own your mistakes and then give of yourself to God!
Little can become much when you allow God to be your focus and pursuit. Never fear the potters wheel, rather fear never making it on to the wheel!
“…who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
We live in perilous times. Isn’t it exciting? Every day we have the opportunity to live like Noah, serve like Joseph, and influence like Esther.
I believe revival is about to break out around the world. Why couldn’t it start right here in Topeka? As we serve faithfully wherever we are planted, people will respond to our love and care, which is the first step toward responding to Jesus. God is doing great things in Montara and on Wanamaker Road!
Or maybe revival could break out in Columbia, MO, where He is also at work. There my sister-in-law and her husband responded to God’s call to minister in their retirement complex. Livestreaming their church’s Sunday morning services and offering a Bible Study every Wednesday, they have developed a community of elderly believers. In the past few months they have baptized one and ushered another through the door to her face-to-face meeting with Jesus.
Back here in Topeka, I was privileged to learn that a TUMI (The Urban Ministry Institute of Topeka) student of mine, originally from Kenya, came alongside a Kenyan acquaintance who had lost a loved one. Bringing Jesus into that difficult situation, she helped her friend walk through the maze of grief and daunting funeral arrangements in this foreign country, with my friend’s pastor, also from their native country, conducting the service.
Today’s world seems full of self-centeredness – and it is. Our neighbors may seem angry and hard-hearted – and some of them are. But as in the days of our Bible heroes, God is at work, and He gives us exciting opportunities to join Him as He calls dry bones to come alive! As part of his remnant, this is our responsibility. And what a privilege it is!
The Serenity Prayer is one of the best-known prayers in Christianity and possibly among non-Christians as well. This beautiful prayer, however, is so often quoted that its wisdom can be lost. To obtain the desired wisdom we must first seek the source of true wisdom.
The children of GOD are promised in Proverbs 9:10 (ESV) that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Other translations use the word understanding instead of insight (KJV, NASB, NIV). I really like how the New Living Translation states that “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”
When the Bible refers to the “fear of the LORD,” it means having a deep respect, reverence and awe for GOD’s power and authority. Rather than causing someone to be afraid of GOD, a proper “fear of the Lord” leads one to love Him. Wisdom proceeds from a healthy fear of the LORD, and the value of that wisdom is clearly presented in Proverbs 8 & 14. Those same passages also show us the result of a lack of healthy fear. In Proverbs 8, the personification of wisdom tells us:
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.
My prayer is that we as children of GOD will be strengthened in these darkening times through the wisdom born of our fear of the LORD. As we seek GOD’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33) we are seeking His royal strength through which we can be changed as we are transformed to His acceptable image (see Romans 12:1-2). Take courage, the wrath of GOD is not intended for His children; but we must continue to seek and follow Him!
Shalom, Pastor Bill
Turn Right to Go Left.
Remember the Pixar movie “Cars”? It's a fun kid’s movie about sentient cars, more specifically a race car named Lightning McQueen. McQueen is your typical arrogant hot shot who thinks he is the best thing that has happened to the world. There is a scene in a movie where he gets beat in a race by an old worn out race car named Doc. Doc was able to beat McQueen by drifting around a certain turn of the race track. In order to prove himself McQueen begins practicing trying to get the move down. Doc eventually comes to him and gives him some advice. He tells McQueen. “You must turn right in order to go left”. McQueen gets frustrated. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It kind of seems like the opposite of what you should do. I won’t spoil the rest of the movie if you haven’t seen it. This reminds me of the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’ “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
I’m sure this young man was thinking what Jesus said to him didn’t make any sense. He spent his whole life following God’s law and commandments and yet he still can’t have eternal life. And what does getting rid of all your stuff have to do with serving the Lord?
As we approach Easter I am reminded of Philippians 2:5-11 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 privilegeshe 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.
Jesus gave up His life in order to serve the Father. Not only did He give up His life, He gave it up in the most painful and humiliating way possible, death on a cross. We are commanded to have this same mindset. To be willing to give up. This is what Jesus was telling the young man. He looked at him and saw something that was keeping him from serving God the best he could. For the man it was possessions. For you it could be something else.
It seems backwards (kind of like turning right to go left), but In the economy of God when we give up, we gain. Not in the way the world expects. But in a way that has an eternal impact. As you are reading this, ask yourself, “What am I willing to give up?” “What is something that is keeping me from serving God the best I possibly can?”
Today, we are less than a week away from Resurrection Sunday. This week is widely known as Holy Week, in which we celebrate Maundy Thursday (the day Christ gave his apostles the command to love each other) and Good Friday (the day Christ was crucified).
As a teenager, Good Friday confused me. We're celebrating the fact that our Lord and Savior, God in the flesh suffered public ridicule and died the most horrific public execution that humans have come up with. What about that is worth celebrating instead of mourning? Today, I have matured enough to know that He died that death for me. For us, for humanity, yes. But also for you and me as individuals. However, His story didn't end there! Three days later, He rose from the grave, conquering death and hell (2 Tim. 1:10, Heb. 2:14, Rev. 1:18).
This week, as you remember that path to the cross that Jesus walked for you, I encourage you to remember Hebrews 12:1-2: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
He is Risen!
Convenience or Contentment: A Pondering by Holly Woodbridge
Matthew 16:24-26 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
I love schedules. I love order. I love calm. But, you would never know it if you walked in my shoes for a day. I have found a T-Shirt that would suit me well: “Coordinator of chaos.”
Interrupted schedules, noise, chaos; these are my life and they are inconvenient. A knock at the door, a surprise phone call, a ride needed; these are inconvenient. A spill, an unexpected errand to run, bills; these are inconvenient too. A headache, bad weather, cancelled plans, a body that won’t cooperate; all inconvenient.
Then there are shipwrecks, jail time, beatings, persecution, hardship, death; these are a different level of inconvenience. In fact, my inconveniences do not hold a candle to these. And yet, we read Paul’s answer to these in 2 Corinthians 12:10 “10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Do I want convenience or contentment? Do I want to live for my sake or for Christ’s sake?
A life of convenience does not grow us. It stagnates us. So, I will choose inconvenience, knowing as I do, God is at work in me, and in time I will find that I too can be “content in all things.”
Philippians 4:11-13 NIV “11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
What about you? Will you choose convenience for today or contentment in all things?
But the LORD reigns forever,
executing judgment from his throne.
He will judge the world with justice
and rule the nations with equity.
With the tragic circumstances that are taking place in Ukraine right now, I have found myself drawn lately to the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident living in Germany at the time of the Second World War. This would eventually lead to his imprisonment and death. At 39 years old, he was executed, just one month before the war ended. Some of his parting words of faith testimony were, “This is the end—for me the beginning of life.” Bonhoeffer’s life lives on through his writing and through the powerful witness of his defiant stance against the sinful wrongs in the world of his day.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote,
When a madman is tearing through the streets in a car, I can, as a Christian who happens to be on the scene, do more than merely console or bury those who have been run over. I must jump in front of the car and stop it.
The challenge issued here by Bonhoeffer is a profound one for every follower of Christ. As we come to the closing days of the season of Lent, we are reminded that this is exactly what Jesus did for us as we relive the Good Friday moments. He literally jumped and took the impact for all of us who are from Adam’s helpless race. And we all say, thanks be to God!
As well as his witness and teaching on standing up against the world’s injustices, Bonhoeffer also taught powerfully on the cost of discipleship. He urged Christians not to settle for cheap grace, he wrote that:
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.
I wonder what my faith in Jesus might cost me today? The Lenten season reminds me that is not only Jesus who has a cross. Obviously I am not the Messiah and I could never have carried his cross. There is, however, a cross for us to carry. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” And all God’s people said…..Amen!!
God of all justice and grace, I submit again to the all-consuming call of Your gospel: to give all that I have in order to gain the true treasure found in You, and only You.
SOLITUDE WITH JESUS, HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW HIM?
Luke 10:22 ….no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
Have you ever brought the question to mind regarding just how well you know Jesus? Jesus knew that for Him the times of complete solitude and silence were paramount to His drawing close to God. Each of us, regardless if you are a ministry leader, pastor, caregiver or just you, we must have that same desire and priority to find our place of solitude and silence with Jesus.
Luke 5:16 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
I’m not speaking of the occasional passing prayer, or the thoughts and communication with Jesus as you’re driving down the road, or when you take a second here and there. Like for instance, do you find your cell phone gets more time and attention than you give Christ? OUCH!
When you interrogate the scriptures, you will find it was a priority with Jesus, everywhere in the Gospels. It was the beginning of His ministry and progressed to His preparation for death on the cross. Even Mark urges us to slow down our way of life to be unhurried, wherein we can feel the peace of Jesus, hear God’s voice above the chaos of day-to-day sound of busyness, phones, computers, television and the rest of life noise that drowns out what God wants us to experience through His grace and wisdom as we grow in a deeper relationship with Him. But this can only be accomplished as we approach the Father, Son and Holy Spirit through solitude and silence to develop a greater intimacy with Jesus so we can experience His peace and power in all we do.
John 15:1-16 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
When was the last time you took a WHOLE day, to “rest in God’s presence”?
At first it may not be easy, for when we do our mind begins to go speeding through the things we could/should be doing, reviewing our mental to-do-list, and then our mind begins patching and piecing it all together. Stop, re-focus on the one thing that must be number one on our list; JESUS.
Matthew 26:41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
Focus your cares and concerns on the Lord, BE STILL and KNOW that I am God (Psalm 46:10)
I encourage and pray for you to be purposeful in taking a full day, stepping aside from all busyness of life and ministry, get alone somewhere (you find your wilderness) and be alone with Jesus for rest, reflection and renewal.
God Bless You
Respectfully yours in Christ,
Rev. Jerry Schmid
There is a song by the Kingsmen Quartet that really touches my heart.
This is my testimony today.
Really hear the lyrics! May this be your testimony also!
Cost Of The Cross
If I could share my heart for just one moment
I would tell you how much Jesus means to me
And the joy that overflows from the depth of my soul
Just knowing that I have been redeemed
I don't deserve the mercy I've been given
That came with great expense on Calvary
When the weight of my sin was placed upon Him
As the Lamb of God laid down His life for me
Oh the cost of the cross, the price my Savior paid
Oh the blood that He shed from the riches of His grace
May I never forget the debt my sin cost
And live forever grateful for the cost of the cross
I cannot comprehend the love of Jesus
And the lengths that He went through to save my soul
To think the father was pleased to punish Him yet pardon me
I owe my life to Christ and Christ alone
Oh the cost of the cross, the price my Savior paid
Oh the blood that He shed from the riches of His grace
May I never forget the debt my sin cost
And live forever grateful for the cost of the cross
May I never forget the debt my sin cost
And live forever grateful for the cost of the cross
"But when God . . . . . . . was pleased" Galatians 1:15
As workers for God we have to learn to make room for God - to give God "elbow room."
We calculate and estimate, and say that this and that will happen,
never looked for Him to come?
Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him.
However much we may know God,
All of a sudden God meets the life - "When it was the good pleasure of God. . ."
Keep your life so constant in its contact with God that,
I have taken a vow to humbly submit to the Lord and follow the open doors He puts in my path. We have had some crazy turns of events in our life lately as most of you know, and in my desire to follow where God leads we have submitted our will to His and He has led us to a new ministry and a new place. We are hanging on for a whirlwind ride.
My Bible study the other day said, “Gods sovereign plans prevail over all opposition and determine all outcomes. Jesus’ surrender to His Father’s plan calls us to humble submission to Him. He is worthy.”
I absolutely recognize my need for Him more with each passing day. My mouth is His mouth and I hope everything that comes out of it will always sound like it. I hope that everything I do will also reflect that. My feet will go where He leads. I humbly submit to Him, He is so worthy and we trust him in our transition and in yours. He knows what’s best.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:2
We are always going to have some “why” questions about God’s decisions concerning our lives. God is in no way opposed to these questions, but we need to realize there will normally be a stipulation.
When God does answer some of our perplexing why questions, He already knows you are usually not going to be completely satisfied with His answers.
Perhaps a question we should contemplate is, “What will I do with the answer(s) God gives? What will the answer do to my daily walk or my work of faith?”
Few satisfying answers will come if we are just trying to prove a point or use God as a hammer in someone else’s life.
The hard truth is, we can question ourselves into apostasy. There is a time in our journey with God, when we will have to simply and without question accept His answer(s). That is called, walking by faith.
“Once more a remnant of Israel will take root downward and bear fruit upward.” II Kings 19:30
Since The Woods at Montara transitioned from a traditional church setting to a house church, I have been asked several times, “Do you want to grow as a church?” Because a living room will only hold so many people, and it seems to limit our potential. But that’s a superficial perspective!
The easy answer is, “Of course! All churches want to grow!” And we do. But there’s more than one way to grow a church. Along with numerous theologians, I believe that the “remnant” referred to in II Kings speaks of today’s true believers in Jesus, and I believe that our responsibility as believers is to “take root downward and bear fruit upward.”
There may only be five people attending church at Montara or there may be 25. But what I care about more than numbers is that the people entrusted to us are growing in grace and in their understanding of Christ. When someone begins to attend Sunday School regularly, participate eagerly, and worship joyously, this is growth. When another begins to release her anxiety and relax in our presence, truly seeking God’s guidance for her life, this is growth. When we are privileged to deliver a warm coat to a small child or give a ride home from work to a young man who lacks transportation, this is growth. We (and they) are taking root downward. (That young man, a self-identified pagan, finally allowed Bill to pray for him last week.)
When one has sunk his or her roots deep into the Word and come to understand Christ on a deeper level, they will be ready to “bear fruit upward,” the fruit of holiness (Galatians 5:22-23). That’s the next step…
The Serenity Prayer is not mentioned in the Bible; however, many underlying principles can easily be found in Scripture. Scripture is clear that we are to be both active and passive in the face of trials and tribulations. Active in changing what needs to be changed while being passive in the sense of allowing the Holy Spirt to guide and direct us according to the Father’s will and plan.
Luc Bovines (Professor of Philosophy at the University of N. Carolina at Chapel Hill) says that “Hope lies between active change and passive acceptance.” I consider this to be fulfilled for believers as the Shalom of Christ.
In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Following His resurrection, Jesus meets with His disciples and repeats to them, “Peace be with you”(John 20:19,21,26). This concept of peace has a fullness of meaning that goes beyond the general usage of the word in today’s world. Reflection on the Hebrew term shalom can help us understand this fullness.
Shalom most commonly refers to a person being uninjured and safe, whole and sound. It is also a key word for salvation in the Bible. In the New Testament it is revealed as the reconciliation of all things to GOD through the work of Christ (Colossians 1:19-20). The Shalom of Christ is experienced as a form of well-being flowing from GOD to ourselves and others. This state of well-being results from seeking the kingdom of GOD as a priority in our lives (Matthew 6:33). As we choose to seek GOD’s kingdom the Holy Spirit will lead us deeper into that kingdom. The courage and wisdom involved in this process lends itself to the serenity we seek.
Shalom, Pastor Bill.
Let’s Go To The Other Side
John 16:5-7 (NASB)
The One Thing: Change in the hands of a changeless God is safe and productive and will yield good fruit, especially to those who respond with a positive outlook and an optimistic attitude.
This is What Love Looks Like
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.
Jesus could have come to earth and had it all. He was in fact God, the creator of everything. He could have used his authority to force people to respect Him. He could have used His power to let everyone know exactly who He was. He could have forced people to tend to his every want and need. But He didn't. Instead, Jesus chose Humility, Sacrifice, and Kindness.
An incredible example of this is when Jesus was on the cross and chooses to have a conversation with the criminal hanging next to Him. Let’s think about where Jesus is right now and what he has gone through up to this point. He has been whipped, beaten, mocked, betrayed, spat on, and now he nailed to a cross slowly suffocating. Jesus is excruciating pain. If there was ever a moment where we could have forgiven Jesus for thinking about himself, this was it. And yet he uses his final breaths to communicate with the man dying beside him. To not only talk with him but to bring comfort to him and invite him into paradise. (Luke 23:32-43) Jesus, even in this painful, broken place, chose to show love to someone who didn't deserve it.
Ask yourself, “Am I willing to have the same attitude as Christ today?” If you are, it means choosing the road most people don’t take. Choosing humility, sacrifice, and kindness over power selfishness and control. And finally choosing others over yourself. Sometimes that means showing love to people who don’t deserve it.
In His life and death, Jesus consistently chose us over Himself. That's what love looks like.
You don’t have to be a Christian to see that our world is in trouble. I believe that everyone recognizes that on some level and that’s why there are so many different and conflicting religions and philosophies. People of all political persuasions, religious beliefs and ethical systems are trying to identify what exactly is causing that trouble and trying to fix it in the way that they believe is best. For Christians, the answer is remarkably simple: the world is in trouble because of sin.
When you break it down, there are two types of sin: Personal Sin and Original Sin. Personal Sin is any sinful act that any individual does. This is what draws so much of our focus because we can easily point to it and say “That! That right there is what’s wrong with the world. If everyone would stop doing that, everything would be great!” However, when we start looking at original sin, we see that the problem goes so much deeper than just the sinful acts we commit. Sin entered into the world in Genesis 3. The Serpent deceived Eve, Adam stood by and went along with it, and everything went downhill from there. Our fellowship with God was given up, and death entered the world.
When we live without Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are still under the penalty of Original Sin. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death...” When our sin is left unchecked, it leads us further and further into it. Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion says that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If we apply this to our understanding of sin, we realize that every act we commit against God pushes us further away from him. However, Romans 6:23 continues with “…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Every sinful act a person commits pushes them farther from God, but never far enough that He can’t reach us.
God cares about the state of our hearts as much as he cares about what we do with our actions. Let God change your heart, and pull you closer to Himself.
Prayers of War: A Pondering by Holly Woodbridge
I have been watching my sisters and brothers in Christ in war-torn Ukraine by Facebook. My heart breaks anew each day as they share the horrors and death they experience. My heart is amazed as I watch their courage and care for one another while the sound of missile strikes fills the air. My heart is challenged as they show up at church singing praise all the while facing what I have never had to face.
One of the Nazarene Ukrainian pastors that I follow, shared a post of Ukrainians, many in bomb shelters, reading Psalm 31. I have read this Psalm many times, but it came alive in a way I have never experienced. David was a warrior and he often wrote prayers of war. The Ukrainians are in the middle of a war. Watch and listen as they read Psalm 31.
I have pasted the link below, or you may read it for yourself as you connect the reality of this war with the words of David.
Watch “Ukrainian Church Prays Psalm 31” on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/683930091?ref=em-share
I am thankful for the Psalms that give words to my heart’s cry. I need words to help me pray these days.
Too often I just don’t know what to say.
Here is another prayer I came across that helped me put words to my heart’s cry, written by J. D. Walt of Seed Bed.
Would you join me in crying out to the Father?
“We come before you today to declare Peace, in the name Jesus, over the war taking place in Eastern Europe. We boldly ask you to establish and strengthen the bond of Peace across the Body of Christ in Russia and Ukraine, draw near to all the followers of Jesus scattered across these nations and bind them together in supernatural love that moves with the power of the Gospel.
Let your Kingdom break forth in demonstrations of Peace in ways that confound the ways of sin, darkness, death and evil. We pray for you to intervene in the hearts and minds of the leaders of Russia, to turn from their invasion and to seek Peace. We pray you would strengthen the invading soldiers with the resolve of human decency and compassion and a miraculous empowerment to lay down their arms in the face of such egregious destruction and loss of innocent life. We pray for the leaders of Ukraine, to protect and preserve them from harm and to fill them with such a spirit of travail and prayer that it touches Heaven and changes the course of life on earth for their country.
We pray for the leaders of governments around the world, for wisdom and courage for the facing of this hour. We rebuke the spirit of fear that would cower in the face of evil rather than confront it. We cry out for an awakening of the church around the world, to realize both our responsibility and our power to intervene and exercise our Kingdom authority for such a time as this.
We pray you would leave in the wake of this manmade disaster and all its ruins the seeds of a great awakening and the raising up of a generation who would rebuild the ruins and who would be called the repairer of broken walls, and the restorer of streets to dwell in.
Finally, and most urgently, we pray for the children who are crying and afraid, many of whom may be lost and alone, wondering if they will ever see their fathers again, longing for the safety of their homes, anxious about their next meal, afraid for their very survival. Holy Spirit send wave on wave of compassion in the midst of trauma, light in darkness, and the peace only love can bring in the midst of utter madness.
We ask these things, declaring the things that are not yet as though they were already, believing in your power to do beyond all we can ask or even imagine, and trusting in the strong name of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen."