Monthly Archives: September 2018

In Trouble? Then Remember!

We all face times of trouble – moments when we don’t understand – moments when events occur and our circumstances seem hopeless. But God’s promises never change. They were Truth when they were said and recorded and they continue to be Truth today.

When Jesus was facing the Cross, He was trying to prepare the disciples for His death and resurrection, but they did not understand. How could they? But he told them anyway, because later they would remember His Words. Later, they would comprehend and understand. Later, the Spirit would come and make it clear. Later, they would celebrate His Way.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God a; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7 NIV

Jesus continues to answer the disciples’ questions with Truths to remember:

Philip said, “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.”

 “You’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, ‘Where is the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.

“Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do. John 14:8-16 The Message

So Remember – refresh your memory with the Words of Jesus. Repeat those Words to yourself. Sing them. Whatever it takes to remember . . . He is the Way the Truth and the Life! Anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but shall have eternal life.

Completing the Assignment with Intentional Love

We are to be disciplined in following Jesus – seeking His direction and then acting upon it. But how do we act? How do we fulfill His directive?  

Paul answers this question in his letter to the Romans.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13 NIV

Or translated another way:

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Paul continues his answer by reminding us that our job is to complete our assignment through the love of others both friend and foe:

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.  Romans 12:9-21 The Message

Remember, it takes discipline to find direction and it takes intentional love to fulfill it.

 

Disciplined Direction

Are we “doing” things for God in the Name of Christ that have nothing to do with Him? Are these good deeds merely our ideas and impulses which have not been properly vetted through prayer and petition? Are we seeking His guidance to determine our role in His Church?

These are questions Paul answered for us in his Letter to the Romans over 1900 years ago.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Or translated another way in The Message:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Paul goes onto advise us on how we should view our relationship with God and our role in the Church:

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. Romans 12:1-8 The Message

Remember, “doing” for God without disciplined direction from God is merely self-centeredness. Our role in the Church is at the direction of Jesus Christ who is the head of the Body – so let us keep our eyes on Him!

Story Time!

Never Without a Story

26-29 Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!

30-32 “How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It’s like a pine nut. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it.”

33-34 With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.

The Message Mark 4:26-34

What was the purpose of Jesus’ method of teaching? Obviously, it was to teach a lesson about the subject matter. But wasn’t it also to guide us in how we share our faith with others? How do we do that?

With a story – our story – unique to us – designed by God – perfect for the situation He places us in – filled with our mistakes and God’s grace.

If we can picture our lives as the backside of God’s tapestry, we will understand that there is a story that the Weaver has designed that we just don’t know in its fullness. It is our story. Uniquely ours. It is interwoven with other’s stories – people that the Weaver places in our path – whose strand intersects with ours.

Each strand weaves its way through the tapestry. Each strand has a unique path – none are the same although for a period of time, the strands might mesh to make a beautiful splash of color or form the critical juncture with another strand. Some day our strand will complete its place in the tapestry.

The tapestry of life is so complex that we have no way to control it. When we do try to control it, we lose sight of the purpose of being in the tapestry – to go where the Weaver directs us in order for the tapestry to be completed in accordance with its original design.

Each day can be viewed as a day of weaving. Each day we have the choice to cooperate with the Weaver – to follow the example of the Weaver’s son, Jesus – to exhibit his love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness and self-control – to obey the pull through the loom so the going goes smoothly except when it doesn’t which may have been the point.

It is the journey that is important and whom we have partnered with that makes the difference. Each day our eyes can focus on Jesus, the one who shows us how to live by making each moment holy – whose love, mercy, and grace form the path of each strand.

We also have the choice to do it “our” way – twisting our way through our day. Our way is the hard way – the way of turbulence and restlessness. The Weaver will still be in control but it will be difficult for us when He straightens out our twisted strand. Of course, sometimes the straightening has nothing to do with us because it is caused by the choices of others who may have chosen their own way.

But regardless of the choices we make or others make, the Weaver is in total control and the Tapestry will be completed in accordance with the Weaver’s pattern, not ours and not anyone else’s.

So back to the original question – how do we share our faith?

Like Jesus did – in the form of a story. Our story of love, grace, and hope – of disappointments, trials and tribulations. Not in a complaining way, but in a way that brings hope and comfort to someone else.

Our journey intersects with other’s journey at the direction of the Weaver. At those intersections, we are to come up along side the other strand bonding with them as Jesus has bonded with us in order to bring glory to the Weaver whose masterpiece is in the making. We are to treat the other strand as we desire to be treated. Our desire comes from the Weaver, our direction from the Weaver’s son and our power flows from the Weaver’s Spirit.

So share your story – woven by God through the love and grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit!

 

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