Posts Tagged ‘Christ Follower Today’

Christ Followers looked to God for strength to Witness in their Hometowns

October 21, 2013

and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom not-without-honorand these mighty works? Is not this qthe carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.  (Matthew 13:54-58 ESV)

Can you imagine this scenario? Jesus grew up around these people from his hometown. Jesus was like every other kid, the lack of information about his youth is apparent. However, since Jesus was fully human it is fair for us to assume He was just like us in the fact that He played with other kids. He did kid type things minus committing any sins. Yet, if you have grown up in a town and aspired to greatness or have been alleviated to a position of leadership… those that knew you when you were younger see you different.

“I used to change your diaper.” “I used to babysit you.” One of the hardest things anyone can do is to return back to lead those whom you grew up around. If you have ever tried to witness to a family member or friend who has seen you in a different stage in life.  Yet, this is exactly what Jesus was doing. He was bearing witness to what our Heavenly Father had in store for us.

There He was teaching in the synagogue about God’s plan for our salvation.  Picture this; you attend church and hear God’s Word proclaimed to you. It works on you to the point where you just have to share it with someone else. Since we are shy about engaging strangers, we approach the safe people around us, family and friends. Often times instead of hearing what we have to share they will call us out on things we have done in the past, but that is exactly the key. We did those things in the past and God has revealed to us a new life as His children and we no longer do the things we once did.

Jesus says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Stand fast, while we are seen with honor amongst those we grew up. We have honor and glory in God. Through Baptism, we have been set apart, we are His holy people. It is through this life in the body of Christ that we don’t worry how others see us from the past, but how they see us, the change God has made in our lives. We alse need not worry about finding the right words, we simply need to be faithful to planting seeds.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

Gracious Father, thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed upon us. Lord forgive us for faltering when witnessing to family and friends. Forgive us for our past sinners. Lord, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, help your lost people us in our new lives in the body of Christ. Send Your Spirit to provide us resolve, courage, and strength so that we may be the witnesses and missionaries for You in this broken world. Amen

Christ Followers Pray, Confess, and Forgive

September 18, 2013

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:13-16 ESV)

ConfessionPrayerForgivenessJames delivers a simple message to us for life. When things are bad, he tells us to pray. When things are good, he tells us to praise. Christ Followers naturally gravitate towards God in every situation in life. It is part of our new life in Christ, a life completely dependent on God. James clearly lays out how we should pray and the type of person, Christ Followers, that should expect prayer to be answered. Wonderful words that remind us that people who truly know the our Savior Jesus Christ still sin. We have this simultaneous existence of sinner and saint (simul instus et peccator). We will not be completely freed from it until we leave this world and enter into eternal glory. Let’s face it head-on, we sin against each other and God like it is greatest thing since sliced bread. The real question before us is what are we to do in these situations? James confronts this very situation by telling us to confess our sins and pray for one another.

Confession should always be as wide as the sin. When we sin against God, we should confess those sins to God. When we sin against someone else, we should confess it God and to the person whom we have wronged. When we have sinned publicly, we should confess it to God and in public. If a fellow Disciple of Christ comes to us to confess that he or she has sinned against us, we MUST always be willing to grant forgiveness. It is only in this way that we can be healed and reconciled.

What great news, the coming of Jesus brought. His message was the proclamation of Repentance and Reconcilation. We should be continually praying that this becomes an intergral part of our daily lives. Praying for all of our daily needs. Confess our sins to God our Father with Christ as our intercessor. Confess our sins to each other and God when we have wronged others. Not only confess our sins to God and each other, but stand ready to accept others confession and forgive them.

Gracious and Heavenly Father in whom the whole world finds its truth and its destiny. We have forgotten to honor everything you have done in the past, We have neglected what you are doing for us presently. We have lost sight of the future you have promised for us thanks to the sacrificial work of Your Son. Merciful Father, we pray that You continually bless us with Your Spirit to work within us to pray for each other, confess our sins to each other, and forgive each other as it demonostrates the Gospel shining in our lives.  AMEN

Are you attending His Church?

August 23, 2013

GodGivesGrowthBut I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:1-9 ESV)

Whose church are we attending? Is it our grandfather’s church? Is it our grandmother’s church? Is it our parent’s church? Is it the youth’s church? These are questions that come up from time to time. Each time the answer seems to change and ownership is attributed to another group. Is the question really about ownership of the church or is this all a question of spiritual maturity?

Yes, that is a different way to look at things. Paul seems to be dealing with the same issue in his letter to the people of Corinth. Could it be that we are not as spiritual mature as we often think? If we are attributing what church we attend to anyone, but Christ, then we all need to take a step back and read the text above again.

You are not attending your grandfather’s church, your grandmother’s church, your father’s church, your mother’s church, or the youth’s church. You are in fact attending the Heavenly Father’s Church. You are attending Christ’s bride, the Church. For man did not establish the church. Man did not plant the Church; not Peter, not Paul, not Apollos, and not Luther. Christ established the Church and is it’s cornerstone, He is the patiently waiting groom. God has done wondrous things through man to expand His kingdom and the Church, but make no mistake God does the planting, the watering, and the growing. Knowing and understanding that comes with spiritual maturity.

Yes, we have ownership in the Great Co-Mission, “we are God’s fellow workers”. We are the vessel of which God uses to continue the preparation of the Kingdom of God to completion. What sense does it make for any group to claim complete ownership of something they can’t possibly fathom. The Church you are attending has grown only by the grace of God. It is founded on the sure foundation of His sacrificial Son. We keep slipping up on the same thing Peter did, we know Christ is the Son of the Living God, but then we get in the way of the kingdom time and time again adding aid to the Devil. (Matthew 16:13-23) Peter would eventually understand it because God continued to water him and his spiritual maturity grew.

Whose church are you attending?

Heavenly Father we thank you for the establishment of Your Church. As the Bride of Christ, the Church, we look to always be ready and presentable for the Bridegroom. Merciful Father at times during our preparation we forget who we belong. We forget that this is Your Church. We place our self-righteous indignation above others and place ourselves on the same level of you. Forgive us for these sins and many more. Cleanse us and guide us daily through Your Word and Sacraments. Send Your Holy Spirit to remind us and strengthen us in Peter’s confession and the ultimate witness of Your Son’s life and sacrifice on the Cross. Bless us with Your Spirit’s nourishment so that we may continue to grow in our spiritual maturity. Loving Father protect us from Satan’s constant attacks. Amen.

A Cheerful Giver

July 30, 2013

sowing-seed“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 ESV)

This has to be one of the top 10 misused scripture verses in the Bible. We hear it right around “Stewardship Sunday” and whenever there is money issues in the church. We also hear it on television channels like TBN where many times people preach what is called a “prosperity gospel.” In both cases, we have been led astray on both accounts. These teachings tell us that if we give more we will receive more in return. Unfortunately, due to misuse when we hear giver or steward we immediately think of money. Did anyone read anything about money in that text? There are times when Christ talks specifically about money, but even then it is getting at something different. At no point will anything we do or money we give  provide you with salvation. It is however, a response to the salvation you have been given freely through God’s grace.

Here Paul is teaching about our response to God. He uses an illustration that speaks to the people of that time, that of a farmer who sows seeds. One sows sparingly and reaps sparingly. The other sows bountifully and reaps bountifully. This is not just talking about money, although a component, but it speaks to our actions and mindset as stewards of the all the blessings God has entrusted to us. Have we stopped to think about these times to share the saving Gospel with our neighbors? What about the time that could be spent serving our neighbor? Sowing seeds of God’s love and desire for all to be saved?

As children of God, Christ Followers, and Disciples of Christ we are to give joyfully in all aspects of our life to the glory of our Heavenly Father. What are those aspects? Checkout Matthew 28:18-20. What does that mean for us? We must pray to God for guidance and a renewed heart towards Him. We must pray to God to empower us to show the same love He has extended to us to each other. The Gospel lesson for this past weekend was Luke 11:1-13 where we saw a friend giving out of obligation. God desires us to be cheerful givers and that only comes as you grow in your understanding of the Gospel, what God has done for you, and what He desires from the body of Christ.

Can we put others first? Can we let go of the irrelevant? Can we let go of hate, greed, grudges, and selfish desires? We can and must. We must turn away from all of these aforementioned things, turning back to God who is the ultimate example of a cheerful giver. He gave us His only begotten Son. His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, gave all of himself including His life. His entire time walking amongst this world was that of a cheerful giver. How about that? Paul changed His ways and gave the Gospel in many locations and continued that cheerful giving even while he was under arrest.

Giver of all that is good, we thank you. We thank you for our lives, the blessings you have given to us in family, friends, jobs, shelter, clothing, and food. Forgive us when we forget about Your cheerful giving to us and respond with holding the Gospel hostage. Lord, thank you for sending us your Son to see how being a cheerful giver looks in our flesh. We are blessed to see examples of the Holy Spirit working in the likes of Paul to be a cheerful giver, a sower of the seeds of faith through Your guidance. Heavenly Father provide us with the necessary guidance and power to be cheerful and bountiful sowers of all You have entrusted to us.

One Body in the Midst of Tragedy

July 23, 2013

unity_in_one“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-26 ESV)

While news coverage has died down slightly now, chances are you are all informed about the Trayvon Martin death and George Zimmerman court case. It is safe to say, that you have chosen a side on how things went down and the outcome that followed. You might even have joined protests, posted your opinions on various social media outlets, and quite possibly engaged in heated debates. There is still some of you who have kept quiet because of fear and backlash from friends and family.

What has been very disappointing through this whole situation, from start to finish, is the lack of a voice of comfort for all involved and affected by this tragedy. Yes, it is a tragedy all around, not just one side or another, but completely. Where was Christ in all of this? Where were His faithful followers? Where was the comfort that only God can provide being proclaimed and shared? Clearly, the media has no interests in sharing that with the world unless there is once esteem religious leaders pushing some sort of agenda.

As a Christ Followers Today, whom longs for our Savior’s return, it is understood that there is a number of hurt people out there, that a life was lost, that no amount of talking or political maneuvering will ever explain this tragedy. As Disciples of Christ, it is not for you to choose sides, but proclaim Christ Crucified regardless of the situation. If it is the person who is lost in their sin, we show it in love and point to Christ. If it is the person mourning, beaten down, and hurt – we are to give them fullness of the Gospel. In this tragedy, we should have been praying that everyone would see Jesus. We should have realized and understood that, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” We should have remembered that God alone will judge us on that last day, not the news, not social media, and not you, but God. We forgot to do the one thing we can do; pray that God’s Will be done, that forgiveness take place, and that love be extended to our neighbor in the midst of hurt and suffering.

All is not lost. Today is a new day. Know this, that Christ died for this very specific reason. He sacrificed Himself out of obedience so that when a misstep happens we can recognize our sinful decisions, humbly ask for forgiveness, and know that we are indeed forgiven. It is through that very forgiveness, thanks to completely to our Lord and Savior, that we are moved by the Spirit to love our neighbor even more. It is through Holy Spirit that we can proclaim the work on the Cross so that all affect may see Jesus.

Loving Father, we come to you again this day as a broken people who have lost our way. We implore you to forgive and forget these sins we have committed. We thank you for the steadfast love and mercy you continue to have on your people. Help us to see our roles as witnesses of Your great love in our day to day lives, but especially during tragedies. Grant us the empowerment of your Holy Spirit to walk, talk, and live as the faithful followers You desire us to be in Your Creation. Amen

A Time for Everything

July 22, 2013

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–14a NASB)

timeWhere did the time go? We remember scheduling the best plans for our week. We schedule in devotion time, gym time, time with friends, time at church, and the obvious time with family. Yet, at the end of the week we look back and somehow we have missed doing most of those things. Life is busy, there is no mistaking that fact. Thanks to deadlines and the wonders of information technology we are wrapped up into something each minute of the day. We feel that we are great time managers and have complete control over our lives.

How foolish of us. God on the other hand is the keeper of all time and He has set specific times for actions in our lives. The problem is that we try to live in conflict of God’s time schedule for us. Some of the ways you can see this is fustration, exhaustion, anger, and feeling of being lost in the midst of everything. When we attempt to take control of things, become like God and we simply fail miserably.

Martin Luther weighed in on this topic as well, “All human works and efforts have a certain and definite time of acting, of beginning, and of ending, beyond human control. Thus this is spoken in opposition to free will. It is not up to us to prescribe the time, the manner, or the effect of the things that are to be done; and so it is obvious that here our strivings and efforts are unreliable. Everything comes and goes at the time that God has appointed. He proves this on the basis of examples of human works whose times lie outside the choice of man” (Luther’s Works volume 15, pp 49).

Where does that leave us, if we are not truly in control? How are we to live our lives? The easy answer is to follow the appointed schedule by God. Yes, that answer is very vague and not helpful to anyone. Try this one on for size. We are trapped in our sins and finite lives and this is a clear sign of our mortality. What we do, how we labor is a lifelong action with no eternal results. This means two things; our entire life is to be spent laboring for the sake of our neighbor in response to God love towards us and this work has no bearing on our salvation. There is a time for everything in our lives, in its appropriate time. This should not only be accepted, but acknowledged as such. While we long for eternity to dwell with our Father in heaven, we cannot be content with time alone.

As Disciples of Christ, Christ Followers, we have been blessed with the knowledge that life in itself is a gift of timeforeverythingGod and is under His control. We know that God’s work has the perfection and eternal worth for which everyone longs. We know from Scripture that God uses time and mortality to humble us. We know God completes all things (especially His Promises) according to His time. How are we to live our lives? Leaning on God’s word for discernment, direction, and knowledge in our walking, talking, and living. You are never along in this journey, God is always with you. The Father and the Son have sent the Holy Spirit to walk with you every step of your life to provide you all that is necessary to continue living in this time. The key is to lean on God’s timetable and not our own.

Keeper of All Time, we admit we have made schedules and planned things that conflict with your timetable. As we look back we now see those plans that were not in accordance with your timetable have failed mieserably. We ask that you renew in us daily a sense of your timing for our lives. Remind us to stop, to pray, to rest, to serve, to listen, and to go witness your wonderous works. Bless your Holy Spirit who works with and in us to accomplish Your ultime goal, that all be saved on Your timetable. Amen

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 15: Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Last Words of David, 2 Samuel 23:1-7. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

 

History vs. Pressing Forward

July 10, 2013

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14 NIV84)

angry_meetingDo you dabble in history? Of course you do, everyone dabbles in history. Correction, everyone is living and making history on a moment by moment basis. Every decision and action has consequences that affect future decisions. Understanding any and all history prepares us to make future decisions. How many times have any of us heard, “those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it?” We hear it in our history classes, from media analyst on news shows, from our family, and especially in our churches. In the latters case, it would seem this is a good thing to reminded about the past.

However, when we are in the church and history is brought up it is about meetings, buildings, numbers, promises, grudges, and mistakes. The church has a unique way about using history as a weapon to hold the ministry hostage. “I remember back when…, Those were the good ol days, Oh yeah, that is when so and so made a goofed, Remember when you hurt me, etc… ” These things can cause us to waste time arguing, to re-opening wounds, and to boost our own egos.

When we are engaging history or the past, it would probably be good to ask ourselves, “What is my aim in referring back to historical event?” “What is my purpose in bringing this us up?” We can become so distracted with the past that we miss what is happening in front of us.

As Christ Followers we must learn from the past and ever be focused on the path in front of us. That path in front of us is to Follow Jesus’s lead in proclaim the life saving messages of repentance, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and steadfast love the Triune God. It is a path that calls us to be laborers in the vineyard, laborers for the harvests, and fishers of men. When we engage in this destructive behavior of looking back in reality we are saying, “God, hold on for a second. This is more important.”

Read through all four Gospels have you ever seen Jesus use history and stopping the ministry. Maybe that is the key. Jesus used history in an effort to build up. Or if read right, Jesus pointed out errors, calling for repentance so that the ministry could move forward. At no point in His ministry did he stop to reflect on our past sins against God. Can you imagine how long the ministry would be halted to be hung up on every persons sins against God?

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgression, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25 NIV84)

We have a forgiving God and His ministry was too important to be derailed by dwelling on the past. We have a Loving God who gives runnerforchristup His own Son to be the perfect Sacrifice that saves and frees us from those past sins/history. The Apostle Paul follows suit as he uses history to set the stage to clarify the ministry God has set for him. He admits we have not been made perfect yet, that happens when Christ returns. He does emphasize we are to be constantly “straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has call me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14)

Know your history, grow from it, and keep pressing on. We cannot take our eyes off the Cross of Christ and where it leads us. Looking back only serves to allow us to stray and lose focus. Disciples of Christ keep their eyes on their leader in order that they may follow Him and stand ready for His instructions. Reflect on the past to see where God has brought you from and then immediately pray for guidance to where He is leading you. Press ON!

Heavenly Father, we come to you distraught because we have lost sight of your direction. Lord, forgives us for turning our attention from you. We thank you for sending your Son to show us how we are to live according to you. Bless us with the Holy Spirit to give the laser focus and endurance to press forward of reaching the lost and teaching the found. Give us the strength to resist the desire to turn back and perserverance to be your faithful children. Amen

Unwholesome vs. Wholesome Talk

July 9, 2013

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)

gossipersJust  a few weeks ago, I overheard how “Christians” are such hypocrites. The discussion continued for some length, but the main focus was how “Christians” speak out of the two sides of their mouths; praising God from one side and talking about any and everyone out of the other side. That never happens right? Sure it does, we all do it.It starts off so innocently. One moment you are bringing up a topic based off of concern for some person or issue. Next thing you know the conversation has moved to a misstep by that person or how they annoy you. Instances are easier to see and hear. Maybe, you have been present for one of these conversations and it caused you to feeel uncomfortable, but you couldn’t figure out why.

Those who follow news cycles or blogs have found there is little wholesome talk out there. We shouldn’t be stunned by this activity. It is a natural escalation over time of what “Christians” have deemed as acceptable. First there was the normal gossip outside of church, then it moved into fellowship areas in the back of the church and over coffeee, and then all of a sudden it was happening inside the worship areas and bible study classrooms. The very moment that it became acceptable in those areas made it acceptable everywhere and the gates for unwholesome talk via social media burst open.

Many will say this text only refers to “foul language” or “blasphemy.” Those that do that are fighting an internal battle because they can’t fathom that their criticisms of others and the church is actually sinning. For “Christians” unwholesome talk chips bit by bit away at the unity we have in the body of Christ. Could it be that unwholesome talks gives the Devil the necessary foothold to undermine the work of Christ and the love of God? How often have we seen damage that unwholesome talk by anyone who constantly finds fault or always seems to be tearing down rather “building others up.”

The greatest thing about God’s love for us and the work of His Son’s death on the Cross for us is that He is awaiting for us to turn from our sinful ways and our unwholesome talk. He is there to encourage us to speak in love to others that is helpful for building up according to their needs. Disciples of Christ learn from their sinful mistakes and strive to speak wholesomely about and to others. It is a wonderous sight to see brothers and sisters in Christ who have learned this lesson and whos et about bringing some wholesome talk to people that “may benefit those who listen.

encouragement_roadsignWe’ve been talking about Disciple of Christ who strive to be Christ Followers Today. To be a Disciple of Christ and to heed His Call, to “Follow Me,” means we are to live with light of Christ shining through us  and to be encouragers. The Holy Spirit empowers you to godly, righteous, and holy people. It is my prayer that when we speak it be for the purpose of building up and not tearing down. Satan does not need any additional help from us. Re-think the next thing you say, realize you are an advocate for Christ and not Satan.

Almightly God, we thank you for the grace that you have bestowed on us. We realize unwholesome talk has in the past been a part of our lives. We ask that you forgive us for these mistakes and others. Help us to speak in such a way that builds up. Send your Holy Spirit to grow us to be about your work daily. We thank you for sending Your Son to set the example for us. Lord, continue to be gracious through our speaking of Your Word. Amen

 

Movement or Stagnation

July 3, 2013

Stream_Tree“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1 NIV84).

 

If someone would ask you to look back on the past week and account for all of your time, what would it show? I’m not talking about the normal accounting of your time. Let’s make it a bit more interesting. Think back to not only how you spent that time, but also think about the actions during that time. How much of it was spent bickering, thinking bad thoughts, or simply doing things contrary to the new life in Christ you have been blessed? If you are thoughts only resemble your time in church this past Sunday, alarms should be going off all over the place. The excuse usually is it was a bad or busy week. Our co-workers, friends, and family would sympathize.

We love our sports teams, television shows, movies, and hobbies… even if they are contrary to God’s path for our lives. Some would say this is how I relax, it is where I find my delight. I’ve heard that before, “I find delight in my favorite sports team, shows on TV Land, politics, etc.” Very rarely do we hear anyone say, “I delight in the God’s Law and Instruction.” Maybe that is due to our belief that the “Law” equals bad. I know it is always condemning or showing us what we have done wrong. Just for a brief moment look at it from a different view.

Jesus came down and dwelt among us keeping the Law perfectly, heeding the instruction of our Father in heaven. We know that there is something good about Jesus doing that right? This is how He was able to bear our sins, punishment, and death sentence. This is how He was able to present himself as a perfect sacrifice offering for our sake. What does that mean for you and I since we desire to be Christ Followers, that is one of His disciples?

It means we must strive not to be like those described in verse 1. Being a disciple of Christ means being about the work of the God in psalm1our daily lives. However, in verse 1, those who are not are simply walking, then they are standing, and finally sitting. This slowing down to a halt progression shows what happens when we delight in things not God. We align ourselves in something new, we make that something new part of us, and finally it assimilated into us pushing God to the side. This is what it mean to be leading a life that is like chaff that strong winds blow you away.

Those of you who follow Jesus, try desperately to abide in His example, teaching, and commandments are planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, your leaves will not wither. God has planted you on the firm foundation of His Word. God nourishes and sustains you through the work of the Holy Spirit. Our lives as disciples of Christ are ones of movement. We are to be moving where ever the Holy Spirit moves us, being examples of God’s grace upon this world, to be sowing seeds of faith, and especially to be bearing good fruit. This the life of a disciple.

What is your delight in life? Will you take the challenge to spend more time learning more about God and His love for you? Will you set aside (more) time daily to spend “delighting” in the instruction God gives us in His Living Word (the Bible)? These are the challenges before you today, how will you respond to God’s steadfast love for you and Jesus’ call to “Follow Me!”

Heavenly Father, keep us moving in our faith. Send the Holy Spirit to encourage, inspire, and motivate us to delight in Your instruction and Law. Nourish us with Your Word. Replenish us daily so that we may bear fruit pleasing to you. Lord, we ask all these things as humble servants to You and Your ministry. Amen.

 

Stumbling Blocks in the Ministry

July 2, 2013

Stumbling-blocks-gray1-300x226“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:21-28 NIV84)

Has this ever happened to you? So quickly are we to do ministry that we often forget whose ministry we are doing. Is it God’s ministry or our own personal ministry complete with our own desired preferences? Many times it is the latter of the two. We desire a specific number of services, specific types of music, or preaching styles. To take it even a step further we like to even dictate what type of ministry is acceptable to us. When pushed to get back to the basics (aka what Jesus says in these regards) we simply cry out, “Never Lord.”

It is the times when we would rather do ministry based on our own needs, wants, and desires that Jesus addresses us directly the same way he addressed Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” That is an extremely tough pill to swallow. Who me? Yes, you, me, us… When our eyes are only set on things that will make us happy, we have missed the message of the Gospel. We have stopped at the part where we learn we’ve been saved through the death of Christ. It is as if we missed the other part of the message.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

The only preference that matters is God’s as we work in His creation. We are simply to follow His lead in sowing seeds, serving our neighbors, and teaching all that our Lord has commanded us. Not to fear God equips us with this thing called the Holy Bible that provides us instructions on how to do ministry through the recounting of His ministry. He has set you free through His life-changing work on the Cross. Put your preferences aside, deny yourself, release those stumbling blocks, and follow Jesus.

Gracious and Loving God, my only desire is to walk, talk, and live as one of your disciples. Forgive me for the stumbling blocks I place in front of the ministry. Lord, free me from my own personal preferences, guide me daily, use me as an instrument to share with others the Love and Grace that you freely give to us. Send the Holy Spirit to shape me, lead me, and work through me to be beacon, a disciple, and a Christ Follower today. Amen!


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