When My Best is Not Good Enough
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
We’re told from the time we are little, “Just do your best.” Most times that’s really good advice. Most of the time giving your best effort nets really good results. But when it comes to our salvation our best isn’t good enough. It will never be good enough. In fact, that’s why Jesus came to earth to live and die for us. God knew our best would never be good enough. Our sin, however small, separates us from God and no amount of effort can bridge that gap.
And yet a recent survey showed that 71% of Americans agreed with this statement: Good deeds contribute to my salvation. On that same survey, over half of those polled believe that “Jesus Christ is the one true savior.” And yet, there is this deeply held belief that it is Christ + your effort that saves you.
And hundreds of groups have created a version of Christianity that accommodates this belief. This new version of Christianity requires Jesus + something: Jesus + circumcision; Jesus + the Law; Jesus + Joseph Smith; Jesus + a list of rules, etc. . .
What sets Christianity apart from every other faith--every other religion--is that Christ on the cross completed what was required for us to be saved from sin and death. What is required of us is to put our faith and trust in Him. To rest in Him, and then to live for Him.
There is nothing you or I can add to the finished work of Christ on the cross. His best is good enough for all of us. That’s good news!
The Mystery of God's Will
For I know the thoughts that I have about you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you the end you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11
God will fulfill His promises. The people of Israel were in exile for their disobedience. God gives a promise and in the end what they experienced was used for their good. In the midst of the wickedness and suffering of the exile, God had a special blessing planned for them! God blessed them not only with hope but also with well-being in their families, even in foreign lands. The hope for the future restoration and the well-being of their current life was combined, and the result was a greater blessing than they had imagined when they were marching towards their exile. Their situation did not allow them to see that God was already working. That was the mystery of His will. God did not abandon them in exile. He blessed them with His presence and His guidance.
He does the same with us (His church). God never leaves us, and He comes to bless us with His presence. What He allows to happen to us we do not understand at the time because we do not see that it is under His will and purpose. God's purpose is to make us better and more like His Son, Jesus Christ.
God's ways are not understood. The fact that God allows pain and suffering in people's lives is a mystery to us. It is a mystery for us, but not for God.
Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, that is, those who are called according to his purpose.” Here Paul affirms that God, who interprets the groanings of the Spirit in hearts, also works in all circumstances of life for the good of His people. This verse talks about something that is generally recognized as true but in the case of the Apostle Paul it is something that he has verified, experienced, and lived in his own flesh. "All things ... work together for good"... (including the coronavirus). Understanding this verse in the light of the pandemic, we know that it doesn’t mean that everything will go well, but that God will use the circumstances for good.
One of the teachings of the prosperity gospel is not accepting that God will allow you to suffer or go through exceedingly difficult situations. Another teaching is the motto "STOP SUFFERING." The phrase “all things work for good” is not meant for everyone. It is for those who are characterized by “those who love him…” and “those who are called according to His purpose.”
The million-dollar question here is do you love God at all times? The love towards God is the sign and proof that you will receive the benefit of God's work in everything, and it will be for your good.
performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be
counted. 11 When
he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him. Job
First of all, I would like to thank everyone that supported our youth this past weekend to make Base Camp possible. Whether you sponsored a student or prayed with us leading up to and during the weekend, know that it did have a huge impact and we are grateful. It was an event that definitely had its struggles. From budget, to transportation, to new guidelines, events present new challenges that we have never had to deal with in the past. In addition to that our guest speaker had to bow out at the last minute due to issues beyond his control. So Friday afternoon I sat watching the students load up on the bus not knowing how the weekend would go, but trusting that God had a plan. The weeks leading up to the event I spent trying to plan every detail only to see it all crash around my ankles in the last half hour. Yet in that moment I was surprisingly not anxious or stressed. I was just reminded of Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.” Praise Jesus for that!
Jim talked on Sunday about the mystery of God’s will and I was truly thankful for it. Thankful that I have a God who shows Himself in times where we think everything is going wrong, and who’s will is not always known to us but is working for our good! A God who has a purpose for us that will withstand all things. Our weekend was a testament to that. Our students got to spend needed time to rejuvenate and become closer to each other and our awesome God. We had new students that had never met us become part of our family of believers and students that usually stay in the background come out of their shells and build new relationships. So as we go through our week and things don’t go as planned let us lean in to God’s will and not our own even if we don’t understand it. Love you guys!
Make good decisions,
In that day you will no longer ask me
anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my
name. 24 Until
now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will
receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:23-24
During your growing up years do you remember hearing the following statements from your parents at various times? For example, “If you keeping asking me…”, “why do you keep asking me about...”, and “Don’t ask me again!” Of course we have used those same statements with our kids and grandkids especially standing in the check out line at the grocery store because there is an abundance of candy and snacks.
Since those statements are so ingrained in us, we may feel that if we ask and keep asking God that His response one day will be, “Don’t ask me again!” But the Good News of the Gospel is all about His grace, mercy and lovingkindness. John 16:23-24 is not about “hounding” God till He gives in, but it is all about our intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. As we keep asking, the Father reveals His will through our asking and the great blessing is not only what we receive but that we receive the fullness of His joy.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
"So Abram said to Lot, 'Let's not have any
quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we
are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If
you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to
the left." Genesis 13:8-9
Abram and his nephew, Lot, experienced a dilemma upon arriving to their new homeland. The land before them could not support the enormous flocks they had accumulated. The problem caused issues among their herdsman and could have become a huge stumbling block in their relationship with each other. Rather than allow the issue to escalate, Abram took the initiative in settling the dispute.
Abram gave Lot the first choice of the land. He did not say, "Lot, this is my land. God called me. So I will take the best and you take the leftovers. That probably would have been my reaction if I'm being honest. However, Abram humbly offered Lot his choosing and gave up his rights.
Abram chose the way of peace and reconciliation no matter the cost to his personal wealth. This revealed Abram's character. He had a heart of humility and he wanted to be right with God more than he wanted his own rights. Lot's choice also exposed his character. Genesis 13:11 says, "Lot chose for himself." He prioritized worldly blessings and he chose the best share of the land.
What rights do you believe are yours? This chapter in Genesis challenges me to think about this question. Abrams' story makes it clear that choosing humility can help solve the problem. Humility can keep the peace, restore relationships, and serve as a great witness to the world around us.
Pain Into Progress
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Several years ago in Newport, New Hampshire, a temporary power outage was blamed on a man who choked on a piece of food while driving. Ronald Tinker, 40, was eating chicken when a piece got caught in his throat. He choked, blacked out, and veered off the road taking down a wire that was supporting a utility pole. The pole snapped cutting power to the several nearby businesses for much of the day. Tinker said the impact of the crash must have dislodged the chicken out of his throat and allowed him to continue breathing. He was taken to the hospital and released with only minor injuries.
Tinker’s car crash was not a “good thing.” It caused him to be injured and could have cost him his life. But this car crash most likely saved his life. A bad thing worked for good. The very thing that was hurting him saved him and served him. This does not happen by accident, This is what God often does in our life. He takes the unpleasant, the difficult, and the painful things in our lives--failures, scars and disasters--and retools them to shape, chisel, and make something helpful and hopeful for us.
God is always at work. He has a plan. We don’t always understand it, but you can be sure He has two purposes for everything that happens--your good and His glory. Ultimately, He is going to use everything we face as a way to make us more like Jesus Christ. But we have to commit to His plan and His purposes in this world. We have to follow Jesus every day.
How does He work this ministry of His will? I don’t know. It’s an incredible and beautiful mystery. But more importantly it can become your story.
How Should a Servant of Christ Live in Times of
Depending on the truth that is the Word of God, as it is written: All Scripture is inspired by God, and useful to teach, to convict, to correct, to instruct in righteousness. II Timothy 3:16
The Bible is God's instrument--that beacon of hope to guide the lost and free them from slavery of sin by giving them salvation (redeeming them). And for us as servants of Jesus Christ, the Bible gives us instruction, training, and strength.
This portion of Scripture shows us how the Word of God also works in our lives.
The first way the Word works is that it is useful to teach us. What does it teach us? It teaches us the greatness of God--even in the midst of this pandemic He is still in control and brings peace and security to our lives. Another thing that the Word of God teaches us is about the sin within us which cannot be hidden or camouflaged. God's Word exposes it so that it can be destroyed through the truth in His Word. The Bible also teaches us the way to salvation which is though Christ Jesus our Lord.
The second way the Word works is that it serves to convict us. To convicted us of what? We are convicted by the innermost part of our being so that we do not try to be clever believing that we can hide certain things. In Hebrews 4:12-13 we are told, “Because the word of God is alive and effective, and sharper than any two-edged sword; and penetrates to the breaking point of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no created thing that is not manifest in his presence; rather all things are naked and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account.” So be careful when you try to hide something. God cannot be fooled.
The third way the Word works is that it serves to provide correction. Correcting us of what? He corrects us from wickedness and from sinful actions. It is written in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to man; but its end is the way of death.” The Bible makes us understand that Christ offers us the best. Christ said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Finally, the fourth way the Word works is that it serves to instruct us in justice. What exactly is meant by instructing us in justice? A human being’s idea of justice is "an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth." The Word instructs us in the justice of our great Father. A wonderful example of this was how our Lord Jesus reacted when they brought a woman to him who had been caught in the act of adultery and who, according to the Law, should be stoned to death. What was Jesus' response? “He who is free from sin… let him cast the first stone.” At the end of this Jesus said to the woman, "Go and sin no more."
My prayer is that God will give us more discernment and wisdom to move forward and free us from all evil, depending on everything in His Word.
Puzzled About God’s Works?
And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28 (Amplified Bible)
I am not a puzzle person. I am talking about the puzzles that have one thousand pieces or more. But Pam is a puzzle person. We have a number of Springbok puzzles that she has done through the years. When she is doing a puzzle my suggestion every time is “trim the edges of the pieces and make them fit.” I love the phrase from the Amplified Bible which says “God [who is deeply concerned about us]”. All of us need to repeat that phrase every day until it is one of our first thoughts about God no matter what life throws at us. That phrase needs to be one of the spiritual anchors in our heart. Many times we want to grab the “puzzling pieces of our life” and tell God how all those pieces/circumstances need to fit according to our will. Our “new normal” of everyday life does not change God’s grace and mercy for His kids. So in our current season of life we must breathe deep and recognize that God has called us, God has His plan, and God has His purpose. And He works all things together for good.
God is Deeply Concerned about You!
"At this, Job got up and tore his robe and
shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked a
came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord
has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:20-21
Why do godly people suffer? Why does God allow underserved suffering? I have asked myself these questions so many times. Especially as I watched my Mimi, my best friend, slowly and painfully suffer from cancer. She was the godliest woman I knew and truly trusted The Lord with her life. I wrestled with wondering why God would allow her to suffer so much, for so long. But I have come to a place of trusting God's sovereignty in loss and suffering.
In the story of Job, it's interesting how it all begins so picture-perfect. Scripture describes to us how Job was blameless and upright. He was blessed in many ways. He had a large family, a thriving livelihood, and feared God. God was pleased with Job.
However, disaster struck in Job's life. God allowed Satan to test him. The test was to prove Satan wrong that Job's faithfulness was dependent on his riches and possessions. In the end, God was glorified. Through it all Job still worshiped The Lord despite his suffering. Job acknowledged that he came into this world with nothing and would take nothing with him. He knew that all he had belonged to God and he trusted The Lord with every aspect of his life.
I don't know what you're facing today or what suffering you have experienced, but I do know this: Although suffering is a part of life in this broken world, God can and will use yours and my suffering for HIS greater good. God has purpose in all things. He is with us in the suffering. A day will come when there is no more sorrow, pain, heartache, or tears. Our joy will be made complete through Christ.
Prophecies, Mysteries and Heresies
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matt. 24:44
Yesterday I started a new message series - Prophecies, Mysteries and Heresies. (You can watch the message online - Coronavirus and Signs of the End Times.) I hope you will join me this Sunday online or on campus as we look at the what the Bible says about the future--what we must know, what we’ll never fully understand, and lies we should never believe.
My hope in this series is that we will gain a deeper understanding of God’s good plan for us. How He is using even difficult circumstances and unseen forces to work for our good. We need to know His Word so we can sort truth from error, make wise choices, and trust Him with those things beyond our ability to understand. Most of all, you and I need to trust that God is sovereign over everything that is happening around us and ultimately His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I don’t know what challenges you are facing today. But here is what I do know. God loves you. He is for you. He has a plan for your future, but you have to place your future in His hands. If you are in Christ, He promises that one day He will come back for you or you will go to be with Him. And you’ll spend forever in an amazing place called heaven. In the meantime, be ready. Live each day as if Christ is coming at the end of that day. Love others out of the overflow of Christ’s love for you. And rest in His good plan for you.
In Memory of Me
It is written: “For I received from the Lord what I also taught you: That the Lord Jesus, on the night that he was delivered, took bread; 24 having given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body that is broken for you; Do this in remembrance of me. 25 After supper he also took the cup, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this every time you drink it, in memory of me." I Corinthians 11: 23-25
Do you know that many people have a very good memory? They remember EVERYTHING... in a very special and surprising way. And do you know that there are others who are very forgetful? They remember LITTLE or NOTHING…
In the church these two groups of people have to be reminded very often about what JESUS has already done, or what Jesus said on the cross for them... IT IS FINISHED!
That is why in the Lord's Supper we are taught that we must repeatedly live this ordinance. The juice and the cracker create this activity--a scene--an illustration that reminds us but does not save anyone. The Lord's Supper does not just convey grace--it celebrates grace!
A keyword that I want you to remember as it directs us to the ordinance is “Recreation.” Recreation involves the five senses of a human ... touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. The body of Christ was slain, His blood was shed, He was buried, and on the third day He rose again.
The image of His body is illustrated in the image of the cracker (not that the cracker is or becomes His body). The small glass of juice illustrates the image of His blood (though the juice doesn’t become and is not His blood). These two elements symbolize His body that was sacrificed and His blood that was shed--the price that was paid
for us to free us from sin.
Imperfect symbols of a perfect Lord and Savior.
Church, my prayer is that God will save us from Celebrating the Lord's Supper lightly. We must do it with great seriousness, solemnity, and respect, to give it the courageous, spiritual meaning that it is, until He comes or calls us into His presence, in Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN!
“ Or don’t you know that all of us who
were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We
were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:3-4 NIV
I am excited about this Sunday! Not only is it Stacey and my 17th anniversary, but it is baptism Sunday! What a great day it will be watching new brothers and sisters tell the world about the decision they have made to follow Jesus.
Baptisms are one of my favorite times during service. To see someone step out and shout to the world that they have a whole new life just fills up my heart. What is more exciting to me though is what it means. It means that a new brother or sister now have hope in the knowledge that through Jesus death is defeated! Do you remember thinking that when you were baptized? Do you think about it often now? We talk about the new life that we are born into and how transforming that is and that is all very true. I am a living testimony to the life-changing love of Jesus Christ but none of that is possible unless we are “buried with him” and die to ourselves. Ephesian 4:22-24 says this, “22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (NIV) We live a new life in Him because we continue to “put off” our old selves daily, sometimes hourly. There are times when my old self shows through (some days worse than others) and it is a constant battle to die to the old me so I can live the “new life” Jesus has for me. The good news is that although we must continue to battle against our old selves and for our new lives, Christ has already been victorious over death and through Him we get to share in that victory.
So let us celebrate on Sunday! Come join us as we share in the joy of our new family members in the kingdom! Let us celebrate their new lives and the transformation that has already begun, and let us celebrate the victory over death that they have received through our Savior! Love you guys!
Make Good Decisions,
15 Jahaziel said, “Your Majesty
and all you people of Judah and Jerusalem, the Lord says that you
must not be discouraged or be afraid to face this large army. The battle
depends on God, not on you. 16 Attack them tomorrow as
they come up the pass at Ziz. You will meet them at the end of the valley that
leads to the wild country near Jeruel. 17 You will not
have to fight this battle. Just take up your positions and wait; you will see
the Lord give you victory. People of Judah and Jerusalem, do not
hesitate or be afraid. Go out to battle, and the Lord will be with
you!” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 (Good
There used to be a TV sports show called “Wide World of Sports.” The last line of the show's opening narrative was “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” All of us love victory and we definitely don’t look forward to any kind of defeat. It’s interesting that the battle for victory and the battle against defeat impacts every area of our life. No matter whether it is relationships, finances, health, work, or spiritual growth we are constantly equipping ourselves with the armor of God (Ephesians 6) to experience victory.
In the 2 Chronicles passage we find Jahaziel shouting victory to the children of Israel even though discouragement and fear were trying to create a wedge of defeat in their hearts because they were facing a large army. The victory was not a maybe but was a certainty because the children of Israel knew that the Lord would give them victory as long as they would take up their positions and wait. The battles we constantly face must be covered with prayer. And through many of our battles we need others who will come along side of us and be with us in those battles. The really great news is the fact that as we go into battle, the Lord will be with us and He will give us victory.
- What do you think? What does this passage mean to you? How does it apply to your life?
- What will you do? How will you put this verse into practice?
- How will you pray? Take a minute to write a prayer of response to God and listen because He knows your heart.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of
our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day
of eternity. Amen." 2 Peter 3:14-18
Peter had a desire to see growth and he was determined to help the believers in Rome grow in faith. He knew that this was a necessary part of a spiritual walk with Christ. In today's key verse Peter states his last words to the believers as they are waiting for Christ's return. He gives them encouragement on how to grow spiritually in the meantime.
He commanded the importance of making every effort to be "without spot or blemish, and at peace" (2 Peter 3:14). He reminded them that they were to "count the patience of our Lord as salvation (2 Peter 3:15). We have to remember we are running a marathon, not a sprint as we wait for Christ's return. He warned them not to be swayed by false teachings and to trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The growth Peter spoke of is an encouragement to continue beyond where they were. We all have a responsibility to mature and grow spiritually. Spiritual growth is something we all participate in once we give our lives to Jesus. It draws us closer to Him and prepares us for His return.
A Thousand Words
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
There are some pictures that are unforgettable. Once you’ve seen them--and if you were a part of the experience they describe--the image will stay with you forever. Steve Ludlum took a picture almost 20 years ago that captures the heart of a story most of us will never forget. Steve Ludlum, an amateur floral photographer, was out on his morning walk on Sept. 11, 2001 in Brooklyn, when he saw a puff of smoke come out of the north tower of the World Trade Center. He grabbed his camera and drove to the Brooklyn Bridge to get a better view of the damage.
As he was snapping pictures a second plane came into view and slammed into the south tower, creating an explosion resulting in the both towers coming down and taking the lives of almost 3,000 people. Ludlum took his film to CVS to get it developed and then took it to the New York Times who published it the next day. The next year he won the Pulitzer Prize for taking that single photo.
The power of the image is not just about the attack and the evil and hatred of the hijackers. It also reminds of the heroes on that day--the 412 emergency workers who went into the tower and gave up their lives trying to save others.
Jesus gave us a simple picture that tells a life-changing--a world-changing--story in the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. What a joy it was to celebrate that simple supper together this past Sunday! Jesus died for me. My sin is covered by His sacrifice. I have resurrection power for whatever I face today and one day I’ll celebrate around a table in heaven with all those who follow Jesus.
If you are a follower of Jesus the same is true for you. His sacrifice changes everything.
Have a great week and see you Sunday,
How to Honor God in the Upcoming Elections
“Put Him First Before Your Politics”
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
We are told to obey God’s command or ordinance--but seek first the kingdom of God and His justice--the promise of the King (God)--and all these things will be added to you—is not that of a ruler as is the president who promises so much to the people. This verse is the antidote to eliminate and avoid anxiety.
Our part is to unconditionally submit to the reign of Jesus Christ and seek His will. God's part is to provide all that is essential for us to fulfill His will. The servant may enjoy abundant provisions, or endure minimal provisions, but they will always be sufficient (see Philippians 4: 10–13). God does not promise to provide "all things," or "all that we desire," but "all these things." This refers specifically to the things just mentioned: food, clothing, and shelter. It is also necessary to observe that we must balance this promise with the teaching that sacrifice and deprivation of the Cross are also discipleship.
This modern parable is relevant. A conversation was heard in a garden between two sparrows that were resting on a branch in a tall tree. As they watched the people walking in a hurry, confused and nervous, one said to the other, “Hey, tell me, why do you think people walk like this, nervous and worried?”
To which the other replied, “I do not know for sure, but it must be because they do not have a Heavenly Father who takes care of them, like we do.”
God does not give us the things we capriciously ask for, but the things we really need. And when God's children take care of His kingdom first, He takes care of all our needs, not only spiritual, but also moral and material. Here is a great truth! Take care of the Lord's things He will take care of yours! Put Him before politics.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions,
prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings
and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in
all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our
Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come
to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV
To “live peaceful and quiet lives” doesn’t seem to fit the current situation we find ourselves in. Peace and quiet certainly are not what you see on the news or on social media. Everything I see is about choosing sides and creating conflict rather than what we read here in Timothy, and to some extent that makes sense. We live in a broken world full of people, including our leaders, who are not “saved and (have) a knowledge of the truth.” So yes, the chaos and conflict we see online and on the cable news channels should not surprise us. But what about those of us who do have that knowledge of the truth? Are we petitioning, praying, interceding, and being thankful for our authorities? Even when we disagree with them? Are we seeking peaceful and quiet lives of Godliness and holiness? Notice that Timothy says we should be praying for all people not just the ones who agree with our views. I know that I want to be doing things that would have the result promised here that, “this is good, and pleases God our Savior.” Let us not look like those who don’t have the knowledge of the truth and the hope that comes from our salvation, but rather a people of peace. Timothy says that we are to live in holiness which means that we should be set apart. In today's world if you are living in peace and quiet you are certainly set apart.
As we get closer to the election it is our responsibility and our privilege to vote based on our faith; but first we must petition, pray, and intercede for both the leaders and the voters. Show the world what living peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness looks like in order to be the light in the darkness that God calls us to be. Because we want the same thing that God wants--for “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Love you guys!
Make good decisions,
In the Commons Area and in the church office we have a flyer from World Vision titled “6 Ways to Pray for Our Country During the Election.” You are more than welcomed to come by the church and pick up a copy.
Here are the 6 ways to pray for our
country during the election.
- Pray for candidates to seek God’s guidance.
- Pray that candidates (and all of us!) would have listening ears and soft hearts.
- Pray for candidates to address poverty and justice issues.
- Pray for strength and encouragement for our leaders and election candidates.
- Pray that our leaders would commit to working together (and that we would too).
- Pray that we would see each other through Jesus’ eyes.
God, forgive us for the times we’ve failed to
treat each other as Your creation. Forgive us for celebrating unloving behavior
in our candidates and our leaders. Call our leaders and political candidates to
a new level of respect and civility. Remind them that You are sovereign and
that the wisest choice we can make is to serve You and serve others. May there
be a new movement of collaboration and respect in our nation’s capital and
throughout the country. Give Your people the strength to lead like Jesus and
pray for spiritual revival.
"...remembering before God and Father your
work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus
Christ." 1 Thessalonians 1:3
In 1 Thessalonians 1, Paul details how the believers in that time turned to God and away from idols. "...to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven." (1 Thessalonians 1:9b-10a). These people were loved and chosen by God. Their new identity that was found in Him then changed to a new way of living for them, as well.
In today's key verse above, Paul points out three results of the new way the church of the Thessalonians were living: "Work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope."
The Thessalonian Christians show us some important things throughout this passage. The first being that no one can produce saving faith, but that our faith produces work. It is the picture of faithful, daily obedience. The second is that because the Thessalonians had tasted God's love for them, they were then able to share God's love with others even when it was painful. And finally, they had an unwavering, firm and enduring hope. They had a confident expectation of what's to come.
We can learn much from the Thessalonians church as we wait expectantly for Jesus to return. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we too can produce works of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope.
Be joyful in hope, patient in
affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
I find great joy in the hope that comes from the Lord and it helps me to be patient when I having hard times, but that third one is something that I am not always as good at. During hard times I do tend to be more consistent and even show bigger faith in my prayer life. The rest of the time it can be difficult. I look at these words from Paul from two different perspectives. One, that when we pray we should pray with a faith that God is who He says He is and He is capable of all things that we might pray about. Second, that we are faithful in how often and what we pray about. That we are disciplined in our prayer life so that we can have a consistent relationship with God, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Eph. 6:18 NIV).
As we go about our week let us be faithful in our prayers as well as how we pray. Love you guys!
Make Good Decisions,
Prayer Changes Us!
…one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray…" Luke 11:1
Oswald Chambers in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest states, “To say that ‘prayer changes things’ is not as close to the truth as saying, 'Prayer changes me and then I change things.' God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.”
This past Sunday, Pastor Jim walked us through Psalm 139 which is a prayer by David. The prayer expresses the overwhelming presence of God the Father in David’s day-to-day life. The pray transforms David’s life. Truly David was more concerned about his “inner nature” than the external circumstances that surrounded him.
Is your prayer life more like a grocery list, hoping that God fulfills your list, or are you willing to let prayer be the beginning of transformation from within and a deepening of your personal relationship with God?
I recently heard a pastor make the following statement, “let every decision have a chance for glory.” Every day we make decisions. Are those decisions made foolishly, selfishly or are they made because of spiritual transformation? Because through prayer God is at work in us and through us.