The Body

body

In 1 Corinthians 12, a passage familiar to many, the church (group of believers) is referred to as a body.

I’ve been pondering that analogy lately. Mostly in thinking about, “what is the purpose of the church?”

When I say church, I don’t mean the building, or even the institution. I mean the church, the body of believers, the body of Christ.

Now, getting back to our question, “what is the purpose of the church?”

The church, to me, seems to have many purposes, including (but not limited to):

  • Providing a place for corporate worship
  • Providing a place for the preaching/teaching and hearing of God’s word
  • Providing a place where people can seek prayer for various needs
  • Providing a place for believers to fellowship with one another

I’m sure there are many more and the purpose(s) of the church, but those are a few I came up with off the top of my head.

Lately I’ve been thinking of another purpose. One that I think we probably don’t like to think of or talk about.

Before I get into that, let’s look a little deeper at 1 Corinthians 12.

Let’s look at verses 15-21:

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

Here we can see each part of the body has a purpose. Each part belongs. Each part needs to do its job.

If Christ is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18), then it’s pretty safe to say we could think of Him as the head/brain in our body analogy.

The brain sends out signals to all parts of the body to carry out their various functions and responsibilities. I think we can all agree on that.

So, in our analogy, Jesus sends out “signals” for the different parts of the body to follow.

Here’s where things get messy. Sometimes our physical bodies get infected. As far as I know the brain sends out the command for antibodies and blood cells to attack these infections. Don’t quote me. I’m no scientist :)

Sometimes we find ourselves in sin, or a member of the body is in sin. Something we don’t like to confront or deal with many times. Often times when members of the body reach out in a loving way to help correct sin so that another part of the body can be made whole (just like in our body analogy).

Often times you’ll hear the phrase “don’t judge me” bandied about.

I get it. I do. There are times when people don’t have our best interest at heart and just want to come down hard on us, because well, that’s what they do.

However, I believe there are other times where the Holy Spirit, working through a fellow believer, wants to speak correction into our life. Not to condemn us, but to bring us to a place of wholeness and complete health.

Often times when the “don’t judge me” attitude or phrase is used, people are quick to point out the encounter between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. Let’s examine that passage for a moment.

John 8:7-11 says:

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Yes, Jesus saved the woman, and yes He didn’t condemn, but we usually stop right there. Whether that’s a conscious choice or not, I’m not sure.

And then Jesus makes things quite clear, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”. To paraphrase, “knock it off”. I think we forget that. Jesus was tough on sin, while not condemning the sinner. He loved, but He also spoke the truth.

And I think that’s what He wants from us as a body. He wants us to love, without condemnation, as He loved. But, I believe He also wants to use us to confront sin in a loving way so as to help prevent people from further pain. He wants to and can, by the work of the Holy Spirit, make something beautiful out of our mess.

He, with us functioning in our proper roles and capacities, can make the body whole. And a whole body is necessary for the awesome work He has for us to accomplish – together.

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A safe place…

“I do not need safety
As much as I need You
You’re dangerous
But Lord You’re beautiful”

nosafeplace

Every now and then I get stopped by lyrics in a song I’ve heard a hundred times because they hit me from an angle that is new and fresh – whether from a current experience, or pain, or joy.

In Luke, Jesus says “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” and we often apply this to building buildings or starting projects…. but here Jesus is talking directly about being his disciple.  We are to take up our cross daily and follow him – follow his example – be the people we were called to be: co-heirs with Christ.

There is a lot of language that floats around about finding “a safe place” and I’m not sure that it is God’s desire for us to seek safety as much as it is his desire to seek him.  I am sure that this is not a popular proclamation.  But truth isn’t always popular.

God is dangerous. It is true. I believe this is why Jesus said “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” Ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven is scary because you never know what God is going to do when he starts moving. But it is beautiful when he heals people, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

So I pray today – “God – help me to to not desire safety – as much as I desire you” – and then I go on to run with endurance the race God has set before us.

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The devil cometh…

 

This morning my devotional time took me to 2 Kings 18.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m an Old Testament kinda gal. I love the wisdom that comes to God’s church from the OT, and I love the “voice” God uses and the examples He provides in those ancient texts.  For me, they make sense. They explain struggles and victories we humans are still experiencing centuries after the words of the book were recorded for the Hebrew people. 

Yeah, I love the Old Testament.

Anyway, as I read a passage from 2 Kings 18:29-33 today, I experienced an other-worldly presence in the room with me.  It was him, the enemy of men’s souls.  I could almost feel the devil’s sulfurous breath on the back of my neck as I fingered my way to the passage God had for me this morning.  

Creepy, hunh? 

I could almost hear his devilish lies audibly coming through the text. I could sure identify that same ole lie he’s been telling for millennia now: 

Do not let the King deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand.  [can you hear the serpent hissing??] Do not let Him persuade you to trust in the Him when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be lost.’  Do not listen…This is what I say [at this point I imagine satan puffing out his chest and being filled with pride]: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own well, until I come and take you away, to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey and Big Macs [sorry, I couldn’t resist]. Choose life and not death!

It all sounds so good, doesn’t it?  But it’s not good. 

It’s lies. 

When Satan says we cannot trust God, he lies.

When he says he can provide you a better life, a better way, a better _______________ (you fill in the blanks), he is lying, people. 

Life without God is nothing.

Worse than nothing–it’s hell, with or without a Big Mac.

Today, we must trust God and listen to Him only.  The devil is a liar and he’s always been a liar; he will always be a liar. 

He loves to lie. 

He may dress his lies in God’s goodness, and even use God’s words to speak to your heart.  Don’t listen.

Shut him down. 

Run from him. 

Kick him in his slimy shins and run for your life, crying out to God the whole way. 

Resist the devil and he MUST flee from you.  It’s the Bible’s promise.  It’s God’s promise. 

Do it.

Live it.

Be wise.

Run, and remember to pray.     Prayer Changes Things!

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Called to be a reporter? Maybe…

 

000keeping secrets

 

Have you ever been tempted to tattle on another? Conversely, have you said nothing about a situation that maybe should have been talked about.  Did you look the other way, or decide to “stay outta it?”  We Christians sometimes find ourselves torn between two opinions, don’t we?  On one hand, we want to be non-judgmental, forgiving, healing, and helping people.  On the other hand, we see and hear things that prick our conscience, challenge our resolve to remain quiet, and maybe turn our stomachs on occasion.

Who among us has not ignored the scolding of a too harsh mom with her toddler in the grocery store?  Who among us has held our tongue when we thought inappropriate practices had been adopted at work? We tell ourselves that we don’t know all the particulars, in an effort to mitigate our involvement.  We say to our conscience, “Who are we to judge? We do wrong too.”

Today, if you have been asked by someone to tattle on someone else or circle back around and fill them in the on the details of something that you suspect was intended to be confidential, don’t do it.

Conversely, if you have seen or heard something that is being done or said to cause harm to another, even if the abuser doesn’t see their behavior or conversation as abusive, should you remain quiet? Would Jesus?

What is your responsibility? What is mine?

Maybe as Christians we are required to act in a more excellent way, employing the gift of discernment the Holy Spirit gives and trusting Jesus with the outcome when we publicly or privately address dangerous situations.

Perhaps in those situations we should:

Be points of Light in a dark world.

Be anchors victimized children can cling to and find safety from the roaring surf.

Stand up for what is right.

Keep confidences that have been made to us, but only if no one is being hurt by keeping the information we have confidential.

Maybe we shouldn’t make promises to keep hurtful things away from the light of detection.  Ever!

Consider why God allowed you to see or know that thing you saw or knew, than act righteously about it, whether that means keeping quiet or reporting what you found.

Note:  Not all urges we experience to report are of God.  Similarly, not all Commanders are godly, but the Holy Spirit can be depended upon in troubling  situations. Check in with Him today, if you face such a thing.

No one can tell you what the right thing to do might be in any given situation; no one but Jesus, that is.

He knows.

He sees.

He directs and guides, and teaches, so that his Bride might be spotless and blameless at the end of days.

That Bride is YOU.

Look to Him for the answer you seek.

He’ll never steer you wrong.

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Grace, Patience, Mercy

From time to time, Writing From the Wall invites Christian writers to share with our readers what is on their heart, concepts God might be impressing on them, and lessons they have learned along the Christian way.  Today, Fred Simpson has consented to share with us a devotional he wrote and will deliver to a group he will be attending soon.  I hope you enjoy what Fred has agreed to share here, and that you will come back again to read other wonderful essays and devotions by some of our area’s most thoughtful writers.

Grace, Peace, Mercy by Fred Simpson.

I think all of us at times have had difficulties understanding Biblical principles over the years; things that God sticks in our mind, sometimes running in the background, sometimes running on the surface. The last three years, for me, it was all about Grace, Patience, and Mercy. Ultimately, I know these are “God” things, far beyond our little mind’s ability to fully comprehend. However, for three years these things were often on my mind. Very humbling thing I found, constantly turning these over, and over, trying to look at them from a different perspective–aren’t they all the same, how are they different? On and on it went.

An interesting book I read this summer summarized all of my frustrations. It was “James Madison and the Making of America” and in it Madison, trying to summarized his frustration with the process of creating our Constitutional republic, says how much he lamented “having to use something as imperfect as a human language to work with”.

Often times I would find myself anguishing with God…. “Lord, you are too much for me!”, or “Lord, I don’t understand!” So, with all this in mind, my learning process went something along these lines.

Patience
Huge! Most convicting and most humbling thing for all of us; to know yourself, to know all the good, the bad, and the ugly; to know just how patient God is with you. Too know how impatient you can be with other brothers and sisters in Christ, with your wife, your husband, our children, our co-workers. Sometimes you just hang your head in shame and you cry out, uncle… “Lord help me!” As a father and husband I can recall times when I have abused my authority, and I simply would blow my stack. Then comes God and his gentle hand, reminding of how constant his patience is for me, and rightly I am convicted to say, “Lord I don’t want to be that person ever again.”   So as a believer, at times I am thinking, Okay, Lord… it’s all about being patient.

Mercy
Is it forgiveness, is it patience, is it grace, is it all three?  Mercy could simply be wiping the slate clean, (forgiving). You can act mercifully towards another, seeing mistakes being made, handling, teaching delicately as to not offend, and trying to help in a productive manner, (displaying Grace, as well as patience).

The “Plank in the Eye”, is one of the most important lessons for us. From it you can have full assurance that others can see all of your frailties, just as clearly as you can see theirs. And from this lesson we learn that we alone are not the sole recipient of Gods rich Mercy. He expects us to lavish that same mercy, that same Grace, and the same Patience on other sinners just like us.

Grace
The mere sound of the word sets my soul at peace. Ahhhhh, unmerited Grace. Something you just kind of drink in. As believers we depend on it more than the air we breathe. Of the three, Grace is clearly the hardest to wrap these little minds of ours around. Given a million years, we might just begin to scratch the surface.
For me the picture of Grace that comes to me is from a grandmotherly figure in my life. I lost both my grandmothers at an age too young to remember, but a neighbor of ours, Mrs. Sterling, became the face of a grandmother for me. Mrs. Sterling had one of those faces that emanated Grace and although she was wealthy, you knew it wasn’t just that she was poised with a tremendous sense of social grace. She just beamed with the love of Christ. Whenever I had the chance to see her, she just couldn’t wait to hear from me, to look at me, and was always thrilled to have me in her presence. As a father, and uncle, and with the added blessing of so many incredible children in my life, I now understand that look she so often times had on her face. Although she was fully engaged with me, she was also looking right through me; as if she was also looking at that little three-year-old boy that would steal from her cookie jar.

Last fall this all started coming together for me, and from an unlikely source. We were at a family reunion and a friend of mine started talking about the Penn State ordeal. Referring to Sandusky, he said, “Do you ever notice that a mother could never do such a thing?” Struck with the general truthfulness of the statement, I started to reflect on my own life experiences with the important mothers in my life. Then, last Mother’s Day, all the pieces started to come together. Presently, as a father looking back on my own childhood and having such a wonderful and loving mother, I have developed a richer sense of all that my mother was too me, (then and now). Also, watching my own wife grow as a woman, mother, and Christian–I remember watching Valerie working in the Garden once. I was watching out the kitchen window. She was pregnant with our first daughter, Emma, and in the middle of the sweltering heat I watched as she placed her hand on her stomach, and as she just smiled. That connection, that love of a mother was all over her face. She just glowed with it! That connection has only grown over the years.

000baby

With the added years and experiences from all those wonderful grandmothers in my life, I have developed a “fuller” and more complete picture of all that motherhood is. It’s been said, “That all humanity lines up behind a pregnant woman,” and rightfully so.  It’s that bond a mother has with her children, as well as all children. It is the absolute and unconditional love, as well as all the personal sacrifices (all second nature to a mother). It is the best part of humanity. Others can know and experience much of Christ’s unconditional love, but to a mother it is innate. Simply put, the love of a mother is the closet and purest form of the Love of Christ that we have here on earth.

Grace, Mercy, Patience, and forgiveness, are they overlapping? Are they the same thing with different sides? Probably. Can a human language adequately describe them? Not a chance. However, the greater point, and what is intended for us not to miss, and where this faith of ours always, always comes back to is Gods unconditional love for us. No condition whatsoever, nothing you could ever do, could separate you from His love.

Grace, Patience, Mercy, and forgiveness, are all outward expressions of God’s unconditional love, found through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

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Divinely Aware & Forgiven

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. Lamentations 3:31-33

In reading the word of the Lord from Lamentations this morning, it was refreshing to realize that our hope in the Lord and our skepticism regarding his people don’t necessarily cancel one another out. I found this in the Matthew Henry commentary, describing part of the passage that makes up Lamentations 3: The struggle between unbelief and faith is often very severe. But the weakest believer is wrong, if he thinks that his strength and hope are perished from the Lord.

Did I hear a big amen to that?

Lamentations 3 is the heart cry of the Prophet who sees himself clearly, and recognizes the difference between him and God.

He is aware of his failings.

He knows how far he has missed the mark.

He realizes the trouble he is facing is partially the recompense that comes of not behaving as he ought to behave.

He’s guilty and he admits that guilt.

He shares his understanding that society is flawed, hateful, and scummy sometimes, but he knows the sting of personal sin too.

He laments and laments about the condition he finds himself in at the moment, but that is part of the beauty in the passage for me. He knows. He understands. He has seen himself as God sees him, and yet his hope is intact. He knows punishment comes from the Lord to all sinners. He is aware of the wages of those sins. He feels the weight of them on him, and in response, he cries out to the God of all hope.

Save me!

Heal me.

Change me, and change them.

This is the Prophets plea and his hope rests on believing that God hears, He cares, and He answers. Yay! The promise of personal awareness of sin and grace fills me with hope.

Are you lamenting your lot in life today? Are you in pain? Has personal sin tripped you up, again? Has someone else’s sin stained your otherwise spotless world? Is God punishing or trying to get the attention of someone you know, hoping that pain will teach and souls will turn? The best thing to do in times like these is pray.

Tell God.

Cry out to Him.

Ask him for help.

Ask Him to point out where the problems lie, and to grant you strength to address them. Pray for awareness, either for you or others. God hears, He cares, and He is always and only our best hope for the remedy to sin. Trust Him!

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Showers of Blessings

Yesterday, I wrote here about making the Lord your all in all–about surrendering everything we have to the Mighty One and receiving from him the blessings that comes from that surrender process.  I believe you cannot out-give God.  I also believe that whenever we surrender ourselves to God, He blesses that surrender.  In fact, I believe He is blessing us all the time, but we are so distracted, preoccupied, and troubled by what the world is doing that we miss out on those blessings.

We don’t see them.

We forget to acknowledge them.

We don’t act on them, or we hide the fact that they are happening from others.

Why do we do that?  Are we afraid that others will think we are boasting, if we tell them how God is blessing us in our lives?  Pshaw!  We need to get over ourselves.  Our bragging on God is about Him, not us.  Don’t worry about sharing the good stuff.  People need to hear it. They need to be encouraged.  They need to have something to shoot for, and they need to have something to hope in.

000whispering

The telling of your blessing might be what they need to hear today.

Sharing freely of what God gives to you, please.  This is what God gave to me today:

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:  Deuteronomy 28:1

Have you ever been blessed?  I mean really blessed.  I mean blessed in the sense that someone did something for you, or said something to you that was totally unforeseen and took your breath away?

I have.

One time a woman I knew gave me ten $100 bills, cash, telling me that an aunt had left her an inheritance after passing and that God has put it on her heart to direct some of those funds for use by my family.

Wow!

This was in the days when we were barely eking out an existence as a husband and wife with little formal education, two small boys to feed and cloth, and a mortgage we sometimes couldn’t handle.

That money meant the world to us.

Another time, I had a pastor come to me and ask me to lead a youth ministry.

I knew nothing about leading a ministry, and had no inclination to direct teens to do anything, but he believed in me.  That youth ministry grew and grew, and in God’s hands it became an instrumental part of the spiritual development of nearly thirty men and women who have since gone on to become wonderful Christian examples to others, examples that have provided convincing enough evidence through their own lives of Jesus’ power to change, that others were encouraged to accept him as their Savior.

I still wonder at why that Pastor put so much faith in me.  But then, he trusted me no more than Jesus trusted those uneducated fishermen, right?

His belief in me meant a great deal to me then, and still does.

The passage that I have referred to in this message today contains  valuable information for the Christian regarding God’s blessings stored up for them.  Shall I list them for you?

Those who love the Lord and follow his guidance, obeying Him and putting him first in their lives shall enjoy:  blessings in the city and the country–wherever you are.

They shall have blessed children, crops, and land.

Their homes and jobs will be blessed places for them to reside and work.

Their barns and cars and tractors, their airplanes, and swing sets, and bicycles will all be blessed, along with any other mode of transportation they owe or use.

What they save will be blessed, and what they spend will be blessed, and they will be a blessed people and a blessed nation that the world may look to and wonder, “Why do they seem so joyful? What do they have that I don’t have?”  Those people will want it, and they will ask you about it, and you will fulfill your purpose in this place by telling them about the wonderful Lord you serve, who blesses you in every way.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

All God asks in return for so many blessings is love, commitment, and obedience.

Pretty good deal, if you ask me.

Today, pray that the people in your circle of influence want to be blessed, are willing to be blessed, and will do what is necessary to be blessed.  Blessings are being saved up and in due time will rain down on those who love the Lord.

Will it be you?

I’m betting it will–be blessed and pray for the blessings of others.

 

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Want More? Give More!

[After Jesus has destroyed all dominion, authority and power] he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he (God) has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.  1 Corinthians 15:24-28

bible-reading-guy-782907

I’ve been reading from a book for a few years, off and on, in my devotional times.  The title is Absolute Surrender, and it is a collection of essays and sermons written by Andrew Murray that really make me think.  Every time I spend a little time with this book, I go away feeling a little richer and a little  more connected to my God.  Having gained so much from what is written in this little book makes me want to share, so here goes.

Speaking about the passage chosen for this post today, Andrew Murray wrote:

What mystery there is in this section of Scripture! We speak of the two great acts of humility on the part of the Lord Jesus: His descending from the throne in heaven and becoming a man upon earth, a servant among men; and His descent through the cross, into the grave, and the depth of humiliation under the curse of sin. But another mystery is spoken of here: The time is coming when the Son of man will be subject to the Father, and shall give the kingdom into the Father’s hands, and “God will be all in all”! It is hard to grasp this; it passes our human knowledge.

Here we learn the precious lesson: The whole aim of Christ’s coming, the whole aim of redemption, the whole aim of Christ’s work in our hearts is summed up in the one thought–“That God may be all in all.” We need to take this thought as our life motto. [end quote]

I couldn’t agree more.

Until we get to the place where we can turn everything over to God, put everything in his care, surrender everything to his will, and care about nothing so much as we care about what God thinks about this or that, we have not done all we can do to improve the level of intimacy we have with God.

Yes, it does take discipline to get there, but what of value does not require something of us?  We are commanded in Scripture to train our bodies and minds to respond to God, but also to open up and allow God to infiltrate those same vessels for His Holy Spirit.  Opening up is part of His plan, but it is not what the natural man wants to do. No way. The natural man wants to stay closed off to God’s directives, his guidance, and his blessings.

If you’re gonna fight anything, fight that natural inclination to fight God!

Reading what Andrew had to say about God being our all in all has got me thinking.  I question everything, its just part of who I am and how I’m wired.

What is hampering that level of intimacy in our lives today?

Is it a family gathering where drunkenness is part of the plan?

Is it a relationship that we know God would not want us to pursue?

Is it resistance to start a initiative that would make our minds, bodies, souls and serve stronger, more vital, and energized in divine ways?

Maybe we have a problem with submitting to any one’s authority and it has shattered our marriages, our career options, our education possibilities, or our place in our family of origin.

All these things and many more enter our lives as a result of sin–missing the mark of God’s will for his kingdom inhabitants. Maybe we’ve missed the mark by a little bit, or maybe we’ve missed it by a mile; doesn’t matter. What matters is that today we have a chance to begin again. We have a chance to draw on God’s wisdom, power, and grace to do better.

Will you?

Will I?

Will we, together, as the Church of Jesus on earth?

Let’s try. Let’s really try.

Let’s do all we can to try and make God our all in all!

Let’s start with some honest and searching prayer.

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Got Troubles? Get God!

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall… Psalm 46:1-5

uphill climb

Sometimes the weighty issues of this life get me down. Do they get you down?

On Sunday, my Pastor quoted that verse from the Psalms that I often ponder in my own mind, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalms 43:5)

Life in enemy territory can get dicey at times, and a tad discouraging, but when I am tempted to spend too much time or energy focusing on the wrong, or the bent, or the broken places of life the Spirit lovingly goes to work wooing me back.

There is peace with God, He whispers.

There is rest with God.

There is confidence, courage, strength and the ability to overcome with God.

Our Lord breaks through every dark place, every broken place, and He re-places sorrow with joy.  Praise Him! He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Today, I don’t know what troubles you. Maybe nothing does.

Maybe you are invincible.

Maybe you are a man of steel.

Maybe you are a perpetually full well, overflowing with liquid optimism.

If you are, I praise God for you. The world needs your kind!

For the rest of us, though, troubles come, and with them worries. It is to you I write this morning. Be of good cheer, the answer is on the way.

Be encouraged, God sees what you’re going through.

Be full of praise for who God is, for He is surely your Deliverer.

Also, be faithful in sharing honest appraisals of the Christian life with others, for in being honest, others will see that strength, stamina, courage, persistence, and yes, even periods of stubborn refusal are gifts from our God and make living a victorious life possible. Our God is not wooden, nor plastic. He is not unapproachable, nor unfeeling or fake, but He is the Mighty One, Maker of Heaven and Earth, Surveyor of all He created, and Master of Everything. In Him there is no shadow.

Life may be tough, but He’s tougher.

Today, put your full trust in the One who will still be standing after all the mountains have floated into the sea. Praise, Praise, Praise Him!

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Gift Give-Away

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4: 7-11

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

Today, I wanted to share some borrowed wisdom, this time from W. Herschel Ford’s book, Sermons You Can Preach.

“We have been told that ‘in the spring a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love.'” But true love knows no season. If we love someone sincerely we love them in the summer and in the winter, in the spring or in the fall. The greatest proof of love is found in giving to the beloved. A young man brings candy, flowers, and finally a ring to the one he loves. A sick husband is nursed by his wife night and day because she loves him. A mother brings a child into the world. She cares for him, watches over him, sends him away to school while she silently weeps and counts every sacrifice as nothing, because she loves him. When a patriot’s country is endangered he volunteers for service because he loves that country. But God is the greatest lover. How does he prove that love? He does it by giving. “God so loved the world, that he gave…” He proves His love by His giving. Let us think of four of his gifts today.” W. Herschel Ford

gift

Preacher Ford goes on to teach that there are FOUR wonderful gifts God gives to his children:

1. The Gift of His Word

2. The Gift of His Son

3. The Gift of His Keeping Power

4. The Gift of a Home in Heaven

I wish you could read the entire sermon on this topic, the way I did.

Wow, good stuff!

I would add to what Rev. Ford says, in that I believe Christians are the blessed recipients of God’s Gifts only as we turn away from sin and surrender our souls to the concept of being loved, protected, nurtured, saved, sheltered, guided, and enfolded in mighty arms forever.

Not everyone is willing to do that.

Not everyone wants to surrender.

Not everyone will believe that the promise God makes to keep one safe is true.

Not everyone has the power within to set aside their skepticism for even a little while.

Not a bad offer, if you ask me.  I’ve lived other ways, and I’ve got to say, the Way of Jesus and the Cross is the most satisfying by far.

How about you? Are you willing to embrace the Christian path to peace with God?

Are you still holding out on God?

Are you holding back?

Are you holding onto your own agenda, your own way of acting and thinking?

What would it take for you to let go of that and get on board with the plans of the World’s Premiere Gift Giver?

Gift giving starts with love, it moves forward with caring, it sends out tendrils of understanding and in the end it is the only thing waiting for you and me. We will take none of this world with us into the next, except the love we have for others.

Today, let Love teach you. Let Love hold you.  Let Love meet your needs.  Let God help you shed whatever is holding you back.

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Our God gives and gives, and then gives some more. Praise and Glory to His Name!

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