The tones of most of prophecies in the Bible do not sound pleasant and they are rather strong and harsh. God has promised blessings if we would listen to what he has commanded to us, but has also warned us to destroy us if we are not obedient to Him.
October 25, 2017
1 Peter 3:11
“They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.”
I love this passage because it gives me a plan of action. This verse tells me precisely how I should react as a Christian to people in my life who aren’t easy to get along with (at least for me!) and to those who somehow or in some way offend me. There, I’ve admitted to you, my Christian brothers and sisters, that I do find myself taking offense at times.
Interesting phrase,” taking offense”, isn’t it? It implies the very choice to which Peter refers in our scripture. We have to “take” the offense. Or, we can choose to “turn” and in our turning, ignore what upset us and move on. Because, as we all know, those who have offended us, most likely have first been hurt by us as well. So, it’s what I choose to do with the offense that matters most. Do I” take it up” and, in so doing, perpetuate the cycle? Or, with God’s help do I turn, and in my turning, do the good that Peter alludes to? Is this always easy for us? Absolutely not! But in spite of this difficulty, with God’s help, we must choose to move forward and seek and pursue the peace He promises. Not only for our own lives, but as His people, we must point the way for others to find this divine peace as well.
As we go through the rest of our week, we’ll have a few chances to be offended, if we haven’t already. Let’s choose, with His help, to not take them up. I believe our week will end better if we do, And it’s entirely possible that it will end better for those who are watching us as we walk with God as well.
Have a blessed rest of your week!
October 18, 2017
Our Global Position System
Bible Study, just two words with significant, out of this world importance. It is a map for our journey while here on earth, traveling through life to our destination – Heaven, home with God.
Who among us would start on a journey, not knowing the way, hoping we would reach the right destination? In today’s modern time of GPS, we can be given direct instruction to our destination. For those of us directionally challenged, we are even verbally told to turn right or left several times before we come to our actual turn. God’s Living Word is like the GPS only better! (John 10:27; Romans 8:14; Psalm 37:23 - 24
There is great news for us as we travel this journey toward our Home. We have a perfect GPS and it is our BIBLE. From beginning to end, mankind is given directions, guidance, wisdom, and instruction through the inspired word of God. The Bible is God’s Word to us. We can believe the Bible is true because it is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). However, God’s Word needs to be read and studied to know what God is saying to us, as a community and as an individual. To not read and study God’s Word, is to miss drinking living water, to see the world through God’s guidance. To not read and study is to miss the love that God is wanting to pour out on us and to pass that love on to others. Without His Word, we are missing a treasure just waiting to be opened.
God’s Word does not change. It is as relevant for us today as when it was written. Only through Bible study will His Word, His will for your life and guidance for your life be revealed. His Word is golden. It is exciting and alive. From His Word, we know how much He loves us. (John 3:26)
God wants to meet you in His Word. He’s waiting for you. Bible Study – the perfect guidance system to God.
As Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see…” (John 1:44-46). God is waiting.
October 11, 2017
Marriage is a Marathon
Have you seen those bumper stickers that say “26.2” or “13.1”? Perhaps you are one of the elite in our culture who can proudly say that you have run a marathon or half-marathon. I envy you! However, the other day I saw a bumper sticker that said, “0.0 - I DON’T RUN.” Many of us can identify with THAT sticker!
Marriage is a beautiful gift from God. Genesis 2:24 says “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh”. This gift reflects God’s love for and relationship with us.
Marriage is also a marathon. When I was in high school, I ran the one-mile and two-mile races. I was a pretty good runner, and one of my strategies was to pace myself. In most of my races, several runners would begin the race too fast, only to slow down after a few laps and get passed by others. In the same way, almost all marriages begin well with a good sprint. But over time (2 years, 10 years, 20 years) marriages get tested - by temptations, distractions, and the realization of our own brokenness that surfaces in the crucible of relationships.
None of us are exempt from facing these challenges. I know that I am not! However, we must ask ourselves, “Am I going to be a 26.2 person or a 0.0 person.” Too many marriages fail because at least one person chooses the 0.0.
So wherever you are in your marriage (or, if you are single, may someday be), please hear this:
- Jesus loves you. God loves you. The Holy Spirit loves you. Period.
- It takes two to tango. You cannot make your spouse love or like you, or even stay married to you. Yet, because of the grace of God available to you, God has given you the power to run your part of the marathon.
- Finally, this is possible because of God’s love. In the words of 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”
- So, to my fellow marathon runners, let us ask God to give us the strength for this wonderful but not-always easy gift of marriage.
Grace and peace,
October 4, 2017
Prayer As A Lifestyle
When should we pray? How do we pray? Do you often wonder as I have if we are “getting it right”? I have not one but two copies of Richard Foster's book Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home. Even before Shera asked me to write about prayer I committed to learn more about it by reading Foster's book. Though I am by no means an expert, I am on a quest to develop my lifestyle of prayer. There are a couple of misconceptions I would like to share as well as an idea which has helped me to pray.
Foster explains in his preface that he felt inadequate to write about prayer. So what am I doing offering help on prayer?! One common assumption people make is that there is a right way and a wrong way to pray. Yes, the Bible tells us to “pray this way” Matt 6:9, when He gives us the Lord's prayer, but I believe God just wants to hear from us. Yes, there is value in practicing the long list of prayers in Foster's book like the prayer of relinquishment, the prayer of adoration or the prayer of petition, but we should not feel inadequate if we simply offer thanks for a magnificent sunset or the earth quenching rain.
Another misconception is that prayer has to be formal. We are to kneel, preferably in a church, fold our hands and spout out big words with lots of thees and thous. For years I felt like a failure because I didn't get up at 5:00 in the morning and spend hours in serious, contemplative, meditative prayer. Is there anything wrong with formal prayer? Of course not. Foster has not sold over 250,000 copies of his book on prayer in vain.
In perhaps Fosters most famous book, Celebration of Discipline, he suggests flash prayers.
These are anything but formal as they are said in a flash of thanksgiving, a sudden need brought to our attention or the sight of desperate people as we drive down the street. Anytime or anyplace is appropriate for prayer as we engage in relationship with God. See Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, 7 And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
First Thessalonians is a great lesson from Paul's lifestyle of prayer. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you.” I Th 5:16-18. Many are familiar with verse 17 to pray continually, but it takes on a fuller more relative meaning for me in the context of verses 16-18. All things come from God which gives me great joy. God instructs us to find the joy in everything. If everything brings us joy then surely we are to thank him for it every day, anytime, anywhere.
Our “125 Years of Grace” slogan in 2017 reminds us where we came from, where we are now and where we will be in the future as a “grace-filled” downtown center of worship.