2019-01-22….Wednesday….Mission

2019-01-22….Wednesday….Mission

Unusual but a question for the day…. what is the difference between the “means” and the “end?”

Jesus is now working through His disciples. This is one thing Jesus wants people to know. His presence and His power are still at work, still available to men. His great love and concern for the world is still being manifested through the lives of His disciples. In fact, Jesus has…• no feet but our feet.• no hands but our hands.• no voice but our voice.If we do not go and do and speak the work of God, His work does not get done. In our scripture there is no doubt there is 4 significant lessons for us to learn.

I find it interesting that he was not even looking up at Peter and John when he asked for alms (Acts 3:4). Years of having people look the other way had taught him he was different and did not fit in. From the first, even as a small child, he had probably grown into a shy, withdrawn, embarrassed person, a person unable to look people in the eye.
The point is this: the man was hurting within as well as without. He was a living picture of so many in the world…

So many of us who are wounded and suffering so much (both within and without) from the neglect of others—from an unconcerned and selfish and hoarding world—from a world that will not let go and share what it has with those who do not have. But even more critical…there are persons who are suffering so much from the neglect of God’s people, the very people who profess to know the love and care of God for all, and yet who act just as unconcerned and selfish and hoard just as much as the world.

The needs exist and abound. They are all around us. They are us….

Peter looked and saw the man in need and would not look away. He could have looked away and just passed by the man. Most people did, but not Peter. He was now indwelt by the Spirit of God, and he was on earth to meet the needs of the world for the Lord. Therefore, he fastened his attention upon the man, being full of concern and compassion.

Peter answers the question he fastened his attention upon the man. The man needed healing from not only what you could see but also his spirit. The means certain establishes a goal or a purpose and God gives us the means of how he wants it accomplish. In the end it is God’s will…if we follow..and following starts with prayer.

We are the means…there is no doubt.

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2019-01-21….Tuesday….Always Prayer

2019-01-21….Tuesday….Always Prayer

Our scripture for this week is Acts 3:1-16 so take moment to read it.  The story is powerful and has great meaning to us all.  It starts with the word “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.”  While Peter and John’s ministry to the lame man was not a result of their temple prayer, there’s a close connection between their desire to pray and the way in which God used them with the lame man. 

Interesting the context in the scripture says “the ninth hour,” as Peter and John were faithful prayer warriors.  The ninth hour was 3:00 in the afternoon.  We must remember the Jews observed the faithful times of prayer •  the third hour (9 a.m.) •  the sixth hour (12 noon) •  the ninth hour (3 p.m.). The very fact that Peter and John were going into the temple to pray indicates they were men of prayer. Imagine having three specific times for prayer every day! Not just praying while on the run, not just praying always while we go about our daily affairs, which is what we so often claim and use to salve our consciences. But imagine! Actually having…

  three set periods,

  three concentrated times,

  • three prayer sessions,

…when we can shut the world out and focus solely upon God.

Such was the prayer life of Peter and John, and such was the reason Jesus was able to work through them in meeting the desperate needs of suffering men. It was how he was able to take care of “The Least of These” in this world.  Dedication to God changes a man’s heart.  It makes him see things different, act differently, feel differently.  

This is the church’s first recorded miracle. God was now ready to reach another great harvest of souls. It was now time to attract the attention of the people, so He reached down and healed a single man, a man whom everyone knew, and filled the man so full of the Holy Spirit that he just went wild with excitement and joy. Such a miracle and behavior naturally attracted the attention of the public.
The miracle was more than just a miracle. It was a sign, a demonstration of two things. Jesus is alive. His power is just as active upon earth today as it was when He walked upon earth. Jesus is now working through His followers. Through them, He is reaching out to save and heal the world. His followers are now His instruments, His emissaries, His ambassadors, His representatives, His messengers, His witnesses to a world lost in suffering and death, sin and shame.

In this first recorded miracle of the church, God is demonstrating His power, and bearing witness through His followers. In so doing, He has given us some of the greatest lessons on witnessing to be found anyplace.  It starts with prayer.  How do you feel after you pray?  Do you feel re-energized, recharged, clearer minded….?  Me too.  I am the guy that definitely will pray on the run.  If I had 10 minutes I would much rather pray than read the bible.  Everyone is different for sure but the real issue is we find those moments throughout the day.  

God can do great things as long as you are communicating with him.  But more than anything he can love you, so you can share that love with all that is within the world

2019-01-21….Monday….Global

2019-01-21….Monday….Global

The Least of These series takes us from our communities and our lives and brings the Great Commission of the Bible to the forefront.  As you know we are following my pastor through this series.  The reflections I am writing but am following his topics.  Sunday’s service was cancelled but he put the story below in the teacher’s notes.  I thought I would share it with you as our introduction into the week.

In the late 1700s, churches did not send out missionaries. Many felt the “Great Commission” was only given to the eleven disciples in the New Testament and wasn’t applicable in modern times. At a ministers meeting, William Carey (formerly a shoemaker with a 6th grade education) tried to share his burden and vision for reaching the lost in other lands. He was told by an older pastor, “Young man, sit down! If God wants to convert the heathen, He will do it without consulting you or me!”

Soon after there was another ministers’ meeting. At his opportunity to preach, he urged the obligation of missions, concluding with the phrase famous to us now, “Brothers, attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God!” At the conclusion of the meeting, the ministers passed a resolution: “Resolved, that a plan be prepared against the next ministers’ meeting at Kettering, for forming a Baptist Society for propagating the Gospel among the Heathens.” 

Opposition still abounded. Some felt the church could not afford such a thing. Only two dozen of the congregations in their association approved. 

In the next months, William was led to offer himself as their first appointee. His wife flatly refused to go. (Though she eventually relented, a depression that began when her first baby died continued to grow. She was mentally unstable a good portion of her adult life.) His father was bitterly opposed. The East India Company feared missionaries would interfere with their trade and opposed them; in fact, William could have been arrested and deported except that a Dutch settlement in India took him in. 

Though he had many hearers, there were no converts for seven long years. The first convert was bitterly persecuted, but his family and others turned to Christ instead of away from Him. 

Other missionaries eventually followed, with churches and a school established. Thanks to one man’s perseverance and God’s grace to him, many were saved. A great work was done that not only impacted Carey’s world for God, but continues to have influence on believers today. 

William Carey was a shining example of his own motto, “Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.” Near the end of his life, when another missionary came to visit him and discuss his work, William said, “You have been speaking about William Carey. When I am gone, say nothing about William Carey — speak only about William Carey’s Savior.” 

As I look through the notes for the week there is plenty for us to reflect on and maybe study a little in preparation for what is to come.  We like William might not feel we are making a impact but the life you lead, the people you meet are all being influenced at this moment,  

The least….often times turns out to be the greatest.  When we attempt and expect.  Just remember it is always perfect timing as it comes from God.

2019-01-20….Morning Coffee

2019-01-20 ….Morning Coffee

Sunday Morning and it’s about this time we are all getting ready for church.  I am out of town but understand the weather has everyone home ridden today.  I hope you are safe and finding time to enjoy the extra time with family.  I thought I would take a moment and reflect out of my study,    Part of me is happy because my devotion on Saturday mornings is grace.  This morning in my extra time I have been able to read and study….Grace…

My bride if 30 years is still resting and me, well I am a morning person.  I do love the them,  So a little extra today. Below comes from one of my very first posts on Grace many years ago.  To go back and read, see where one has been, measure moving forward.  Certainly a measuring stick for sure

I am at a realization that Grace comes with a cost.  Freely given but it has a cost as it demands a change in a persons life.  Freely given….awesome words.  

“As C. S. Lewis says in The Four Loves, “Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our need, a joy in total dependence. The good man is sorry for the sins which have increased his need. He is not entirely sorry for the fresh need they have produced.”

As the gospel of grace starts to consume my thoughts there is a stark distinction of truth and what is reality.  The truth says that even the most holiest of thoughts, actions, lives, there lies a touch of vanity in our lives.  In class I have made the statement several times, “At the bottom of every good deed lies self interest.”  Why, why can’t I do something for just the good of it?  We live every day in the truth and reality.  There is not reason to deny it.  Self accepts God’s grace but reality is we are a vain person that can’t fully rely on what God has to truly offer us.  Yet there he is…always holding the cup, ready to pour into yours.  You just have to turn around and accept it.

I know you are thinking…same as I am.   Well I did ___________!  And nothing I ask in return, I gained no material gain.  It was truly done from the goodness of my heart.   Great for you. Did you tell anyone?  Post it on FB? Instagram, phone a friend?  There he comes again that ol’ man Self.   If we get honest in discussion whether you are a pastor or a person of the world, a religious person or a bad one, you ca never escape the toils of the world or from sin.  So lets put a bold face on it, and all the more because we can rely on the true Grace of God at all times in our lives.   I hope the vanity in our lives become less as we begin to realize that our actions carry God’s grace if we let it.  It is God in our lives that carries the Grace that seeks us and justifies us, sinners, though we are, and we must take courage and confess in all things.  

When I get honest, I admit I am a plethora of lives being lived out.  I am truly a paradox.  I try to live the gospel, do things without recognition, practice mercy and carry God’s grace as my shied.  I believe and I doubt, Yet i find hope  and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting but call me suspicious as I wonder what your angle is. I am honest and I still play games. 

Aristotle said “I am a rational animal”   if you read above you probably laughed and called me bi-polar.  The world hardens us and yet God’s grace soften us.  Such a war that is taking place.To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

Grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours, not by or of prayer. If we always turn to God, God will always be there…Always.  Can you really digest the word Always.  God is always seeking you, grace ready, but we have to turn to him.  Turn…why do we always have to turn?  Because we are constantly moving away from God and he is always following.  Oh how he loves you and me.

My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.    Our pastors sermon series has stirred my heart.  Matthew 25 has moved me to understand how my life is serving the “least of these”  and how certain aspects must get better if I am going to continue to grow.  Our God gives us Mercy and Grace each day.

Realizing what God does for us in our daily lives is a first step to change.  We all want to change..but we must change for the greater good.   Lots to reflect on this morning,  Hope you stay safe and out of the weather!!

2019-01-19….Saturday….Our

2019-01-19….Saturday….Our

Grace….I sit here amazed at the wonders, the infinite possibilities that can define the word as action in my life. I think of God’s wisdom when he decided to make Grace and yes Mercy part our lives. The true God is no other than the One we see in the person of Jesus. Jesus came to make the invisible God both visible and audible—“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” he said (John 14:9). You want to know what your heavenly Father is like? Look into the eyes of Jesus. Jesus Christ alone shows us the full and astonishing revelation of the Father. Jesus is the human face of God.

Smiling as I think of all the wonders that have been put before us and I can’t help think of the scripture in the Bible that has the Lords prayer. I know enough to say Matthew (yes and Luke) but it is chapter 6 in Matthew

One day, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Jesus replied, “When you pray, you are to say, ‘Our Father…’”

Our Father.

Familiar words to us, certainly. But to the twelve apostles, revolutionary words never heard by prophets and priests who had come before. In that revelation of Jesus, all the false images of God are blown away.

Do you believe that God is your Father, or do you still find that news too good to be true? It is hard to imagine but to believe and then take action. Believe the word “our” as in we share the same Father as a group of believers that bring us into like mindedness. There is a special bond we share in that Grace dispensed is the understanding of who we are and why we call one another brother and sister. The radical message is that God is love. It is all he is and his nature that all he can be to us is Love. I can’t help but think Love is the precursor to Grace.

To accept Grace is to Love. Wisdom tells us it is the only way we can live. Below is a 8th century Irish Prayer
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught is all else to me, save that thou art.
Thou my best thought by day and by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
“Be thou my wisdom, thou my true word;
I ever with thee, thou with me, Lord.

The only thing I could possibly add….I thank you God that I look at this man in the mirror I can find solace knowing that all I do you are directing my paths. Thank you for always being with me, even in those times I was not with you.

As we accept Grace it turns our hearts ever more toward Him. The only thing we have to do?

Accept

2019-01-18…Friday….Diligent

2019-01-18…Friday….Diligent

As I read this week there are several keys to the diligent life but an example can be the greatest key of all. We finish up this week on Citizenship as we continue on the series “The Least of These.” One key to diligent, faithful service to God is to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Obviously if we are in Hebrews we have the Hall of Fame and in our chapter 6 we have the great example of Abraham. But to be diligent has character traits written all over the statement.

Would you agree that it starts by honoring God as the source of all success. If you did then your life would bear witness in all you do. Truly you would automatically be a hearer and doer of the word if your mindset was just as simple as your source for all that you have is simply just God. So many times that self absorbed, self dependent man attitude kicks in and you start attributing your success, the goodness dispensed from you life to you. What does your character show? Does it show God…does it show you? If you are like me it is a constant fight.

Me personal I think I this path of assurance of my citizenship started years ago when I started honoring God in my family life. The diligent part of my character, the person someone could rely on really came into being when I gave up or should I say sacrificed my ambition for the success of my family. Yes the earthly man often wonders what if…but my spiritual man leaps inside because success is found in HIM and my family has prospered because ever how feeble my attempt was to put Him first in my family succeeded it was my effort that he blessed.

Dilgence comes in many forms but for true as God comes first that diligence spills over to the rest of your life. I am not going to elaborate on the steps but there is an hierarchy. Being diligent to keep character above career is first and foremost. A person must do what is right. Simple is as simple does as Character builds the man for the race. We wont move overnight from being a self‑centered, negative, grumbling person to being a joyful, competent, successful one. Rather, our lives will be built over years of godly character development. Be diligent to work on godly character. Let God take care of the career successes.

Be diligent to keep competence alongside character. I think of Joseph as he was not only godly, he was good at what he did. He proposed a wise plan of action and he had the skill to carry it out. His plan involved collecting a fifth of the harvest each year for seven years, so that they had enough surplus not only for Egypt, but also for surrounding countries hit by this famine. It would have taken skillful administration and a lot of discipline to make this happen on a national scale. No doubt Joseph caught a lot of flak from people who wanted to use all the harvest and not save it for the future. But he was good enough as a leader to pull it off.A lot of Christians think that character is enough on the job. They expect that God will get them the promotion because they’ve been faithful to have morning devotions. They sit around praying for the promotion instead of developing competence on the job to go with their Christian character. You need both.

As a Christian, you need to be godly, but you also need to be good in doing what you do. It always starts with the diligence to take care of “the least of these.” Hope you have had a great week!!!

2019-01-17….Thursday….Work

2019-01-17….Thursday….Work

Yes it is early…Sometimes old guys fall asleep early. As I read Hebrews again today I see that Love is not spontaneous and effortless. The author calls it “work,” and exhorts them to continue showing the same diligence. He doesn’t want them to grow sluggish or lazy, but through faith and patience, to become imitators of those who inherit the promises. It’s as Paul writes (Gal. 6:9-10), “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

The Christian life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. I don’t know about you but I love Paul’s encouragement about not losing heart. The reward comes at the end of the race. We need to commit to the long haul and fight the natural laziness that we’re all prone to. Let’s face it, it’s almost always inconvenient to show love to others. But love isn’t an optional character trait for those so inclined! It is the primary Christian virtue.

This is from me but I hear so many times the word “burnout.” I am not trying to be over simplistic here but burnout just tells me we aren’t making ENOUGH time each day to maintain our relationship and devotion to Jesus Christ. If we let other things crowd out time alone with God in His Word and in prayer, and if we do not think often on His great love as shown to us at the cross, the work of loving others will soon drain us. Ministry is having your cup full to the brim of God’s love and then slopping over on others. When you let your cup go dry, you burn out.
We’ve seen that genuine salvation is always accompanied by visible evidence and that a major evidence is diligent, faithful service to others out of love for God.

We live life from the overflow.

In all things we achieve greatness from the overflow.

The bedrock of Christian assurance is that God has promised eternal life to those that believe in Jesus Christ, and you know that you have trusted in Him. But, how do you know if your faith is genuine, saving faith? The biblical answer is, your life should reflect the reality of what God has done in your heart. I found this reference verse for us (1 John 2:3), “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” The more that you see God’s working through you, the greater will be your assurance that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

In Hebrews 6:7, the author uses the analogy of ground that drinks in the rain. If it brings forth vegetation useful to those who tilled it, it receives a blessing from God. In other words, fruitfulness is the result of salvation. But when you are fruitful, God adds further blessing, a fuller salvation . As 6:10 implies, God will reward your service for Him, and one reward is “the full assurance of hope until the end.” Persevering in good deeds is not the cause of why God keeps you, but it is the evidence of it. That evidence strengthens your assurance.

But diligence is hard to maintain and laziness is easy to fall into. So how do we keep running the race when we feel like dropping out? I think that is for tomorrow but let me leave us with two statements of fact.
Love for others is work that requires diligence, faithfulness, and patience.

Diligent, faithful service to others out of love for God will strengthen your assurance of salvation.