Christian Life Helps
November 7, 2018
We cannot get away from someone being offended everywhere we turn. It is in the media, online, work, school and even church. There are always people upset and offended by something in our hyper-connected culture. The offense often makes for interesting, dramatic, scandalous and enticing conversation. We have all been offended at some point by something or someone. Is it just human nature?
There are many reasons why we might be oﬀended. We could all name something that someone said or has done that offended us. Even the Bible says that offenses will come to us. Matthew 18:15-17, James 1:12, Proverbs 19:11 and others tell us about oﬀenses. Offenses will happen, but how we handle them is what is important.
What can we do to try to live an un-offended life? James 1:19-20 states, “You must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
We can choose to not be offended and take everything that is said or done to heart. No one on earth is always good and never sins. If we absorb every offense towards us, we will go through life very wounded and scarred. The choice is ours to make.
Pick your battles! People will hurt and offend us and it is hard not to dwell on those actions. Some things are just not worth it. Paul instructs us to dwell in the Lord. In Philippians 4:8 he tells us to “fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable”. These are the things that are worthy of praise and ground us in the Lord. There are things that we must stand up for and speak out about. We do not have to be everyone’s “doormat” and just ignore things around us or bite our tongues, but it is how we present our views that count. God fills our lives with so many things to be thankful for, so we need to try to cultivate a grateful heart. We need to decide if the offense will really matter in a day, week, or years from now. Will it be worth losing a friend over? Should we let our hurt feelings become the focus of our lives? Our focus should be on the eternal and our future in God’s house. God is faithful, where those here on earth sometimes are not.
We must soften our hearts and become more forgiving. People who listened to Jesus teach and observed the miracles he performed often walked away, offended by what he said and did, because it was diﬀerent. They felt threatened. He did not berate them, but forgave and continued on his path. Jesus showed love in the purest form. It is hard to change other people’s viewpoints and it is even harder to change their hearts. The Holy Spirit is always with us and helps us to persevere through trials. As Psalms 46:1 states: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in time of trouble”. We must ground ourselves in that belief.
Our happiness, outlook on life, relationships, love we give to others, and our spiritual journey all begin from within. We must decide whether to be offended or not and model our lives in a way that would be pleasing to God. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 tell us, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suﬀered, does not rejoice in righteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”.
October 31, 2018
Why Bible Study
The Bible is a collection of writings, comprised of 66 different books, written approximately 1600 years ago, by at least 40 distinct authors. The Old Testament contain Ts 39 books and the New Testament contains 27 books. Bible study is defined many ways. In Christian communities, Bible study is the study of the Bible by ordinary people as a personal religious or spiritual practice. (Wikipedia)
The Bible was the first book to ever be printed between 1400-1455. Today it’s printed in more than 600 languages and portions of it are printed in more than 1,000 tongues and dialects. It is the world’s best-selling book.
Bible study can be with a group of people who want to grow in their knowledge and love of the Trinity – God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It can also be individual, with silent contemplation of what the scriptures are teaching.
The Bible is God’s story of love, mercy and redemption calling us back to Him. It is his way of speaking to us, always calling us to Him. From the time the Garden of Eden was closed to all mankind, God has been preparing the way for our return to him. The Holy Scripture is Him calling s to return. The Bibles=’s inspired word of God guides believers in their Christian walk and prepares them for life here on earth and with Him in Heaven.
Should you at any time find yourself alone, restless, unhappy, bored – pick up your Bible and start reading from any of the books. You will find you soul calming, your restless spirit finding peace, and you will discover all kinds of treasures in His word. More of the treasures are found each time His word is read and studied.
Pray for understanding, for open heart and guidance as you read. The Psalms are a treasure trove of beautiful scriptures. The Prophets, the Books of Law, the Gospels, the writings of Paul – all are there for us to use as we go through this life and in preparation for life with Christ in eternally.
If you are in need of an answer for those who have doubt about studying God’s message – Come and see what God has prepared for you. There is never disappointment in studying God’s message for us today.
Psalms 139: 1-24
October 24, 2018
In the beginning, God created a human being.
And it didn’t take long for God to say something like “this is good - the best of my creation … “
God continued … “yet it is not good for man to be alone … I will make another to be in a relationship with him.”
And God created woman.
This is the world’s first human to human relationship,and the first marriage too.
No need for match.com - only one man and one woman to choose from.
And God said it was good
Marriage is one of God’s first creations. It is the first institution in the Bible. Marriage is not an afterthought, but wired into the very fabric of who we are as humans. A man and a woman -complementary parts - made for one another.
There they are - Adam and Eve. And God. Adam and Eve’s marriage was inseparable from their relationship with God.
So when Adam and Eve allowed sin into their hearts, their first action was to hide not only from God, but from one another.
Relationship with one another - parallels - relationship with God.
Paul comments on this parallel in Ephesians 5.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
And so we have come full circle. On one hand, marriage comes from God. On the other hand, marriage points toward God. Our marriages are meant to bear witness to the relationship between Christ and his church.
In a world that tends to view marriage in functional and utilitarian ways, we have much to rediscover about this gift from God. And for those of us who have been given the gift of marriage, hopefully we can experience God’s love through our spouse. For those who are single, may you experience God’s love through the gift of singleness as well.
Grace and peace,
October 17, 2018
PRAYER - A WAY OF LIFE
In 2010, when he was 92 years old, the Reverend Dr. Billy Graham was asked if he would do things differently if he could live his life over again. He answered, “I would study more. I would pray more, travel less… If I had it to do over again, I’d spend more time in meditation and prayer and just telling the Lord how much I love Him…”
Dr. Graham’s statement resonates with me. If Dr. Graham should have studied more and prayed more, then surely I have much room for improvement in these vital spiritual disciplines, as well.
We were created to worship God, to glorify Him, and to fellowship with Him. How can I fellowship with Him, if I don’t spend time with Him? How can I glorify Him if I don’t seek His direction and don’t listen for His voice?
Prayer can be my safe haven from the chaos of the day, of my mind, of my heart. Prayer can be like “calling Home” to connect with the One who truly knows me and truly loves me anyway; to share my joys and heartbreaks, seek guidance, and remember Whose I am, and Who He is.
In those times I see something so beautiful, I just NEED to share it with someone; I can share it with Him! If it’s beautiful, He created it. I can worship the Creator with joy and thanksgiving.
My prayers are not eloquent, but He hears them. When I am wrong; He corrects me. When I am confused, He speaks clarity; if I listen, I can receive it.
In this season, I am convicted of excessive “busy-ness” that consumes my time and energy. What am I doing that is more important than hearing my Lord’s voice, listening for His direction and heeding his correction? What could be more rewarding than glorifying Him? A wise man once said that if he had it to do over again, he would study more and pray more.
Grace and peace, Dana
October 10, 2018
I’m going to make a few assumptions about you the readers, so please forgive me. I’m going to assume that you are familiar with the basics of spiritual disciplines. That you could list prayer, fasting, service, worship, scripture reading, and others as spiritual disciplines that are worth devoting our time and energy to. With that being said I want us to consider the application of such practices in our lives.
When we think about spiritual disciplines we can often start thinking about all the things we should be doing that would make us better Christians or better people in general. It can seem daunting to consider adding more “things” to our life and our daily routine,that already feels so overloaded. It can often turn into a feeling of “I’m not good enough” or “I won't ever be able to be as spiritually disciplined as I wish I could be”.
Excuse me while I invite us to be vulnerable for a minute.
This can be such a hard place to be in. A place where we think that because we can’t seem to meet the expectation of our devotional hour, or we didn't meet our fasting goal, or we missed worship more than we had hoped for, or we fell off track with the Bible reading plan, that we must not be doing right or good enough. It is in these moments that giving up may enter our minds.
Hear me say this, don’t give up!
In our Wesleyan tradition there is this thing called grace. And it is because of grace we are saved through Jesus Christ. So if God our creator and Jesus our savior are willing to freely offer us grace… why is that we can’t seem to offer ourselves a little grace?
Spiritual disciplines help us grow and more fully understand our faith. They help us navigate the complex realities of the world we live in, they help us re-center when things get difficult. They should be a part of our way of living, not just another thing on our “to do” list. When we engage in spiritual disciplines as a way of life rather than a “to do” list our life can be transformed. What if we went through the days seeking to see and find moments of gratitude, or we were actively engaging those in our circles by serving them and building relationship? What if we dug into community that helped mold us and hold us accountable to our prayer and reading plans? When we choose to go it alone we won’t make it far. When we choose to go it alone it becomes about us and what we are capable of. When we choose to go it with Christ and with community it becomes about how God transforms us and those around us.
Let me invite you to consider what the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 could look like in our spiritual lives. Could we become a part of community that encourages us and lifts us up in the name of Christ? Will we find a community that reads the scripture plan along with us and offers grace and accountability when we miss a week (because, it will likely happen)? Will we be willing to offer ourselves grace and start again rather then give up when we sleep through our prayer time? Will we be willing to look throughout our day and find the good and will be willing to “be the good” in our communities and to those whom God has place in our path?
When we consider living out and into our spiritual disciplines rather then checking off the to do list transformation is bound to happen!
Grace and Peace,
October 3, 2018
We are created for relationship by a God who longs for intimacy with each of us. To gain an intimate relationship requires time, transparency and submission. The reality is however, that we tend to resist a deep, authentic relationship with God in favor of a superficial, respectful but distant relationship. Perhaps we are careful of our time, afraid that God may not accept us if we are real or we simply are afraid of what God may ask us to do. Regardless of our reasons, as long as we hold God at a distance there will be a nagging feeling of empty dissatisfaction. This week I challenge you to schedule 30 minutes with God during which you tell Him what you really think and feel and then commit to simply act upon whatever you feel Him leading you to do. You will be amazed at how readily God reveals Himself to those who seek.
Just as God created us for relationship with Him, we are also created for relationship with one another in order to spur one another on to good works and deep relationship. We can all use a little help from our friends! Each week, FUMC members will share their insights, helps and encouragement as we move deeper into relationship with our God. Be watching your email each Wednesday for the Christian Life Helps message aimed at helping us apply practical Christianity to our every day life and engage in friendship with our loving God.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Contact Gloria Ashby to receive Christian Life Helps emails.