Archive | April, 2011

United

12 Apr

 

This morning after praying for guidance about our church and the changes that are taking place, I opened the bible to Jesus’ prayer in John 17.  This prayer was said by Jesus right before his betrayal by Judas and crucifixion took place.  He looked up to the sky and spoke to his father.  As I read it, I was struck by Jesus’ prayer for unity among his followers after he went up to heaven.  His desire is for us to be united:

“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! John 17:9-24

This prayer gives me a stronger drive to work together with all of my brothers and sisters in Christ; to not let change or anything else put a spirit of division in the body of Christ.

I also needed comforting this morning and God gave me these words:

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Thank God for his grace. Thank God for this gift. The gifts that we have received from God are worth more than anything this world could ever offer.  Thank you Jesus!

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Called to be

11 Apr

Yesterday I found out that my pastor and his family are moving to another  state in June.  I am sad that they are leaving; I almost cried during our last worship song.  At the same time, I want the best for them, so I am happy that they are following what they feel led to do.

I hope that the members of our small church stick together despite the loss of our pastors; we really have become a family in Christ.  I think that the good thing is that it is pushing us all to take a more active role in our walk with Christ. I think it has left everyone thinking, ‘well, what can I do to make this work? How can I help others and myself stay strong in faith?’

Changes can be hard.  I also am left thinking, ‘man it took us so long to find a church that we really loved and now we have to search all over again.’  But, I believe that everything happens for a reason and I am trusting in God for this one.  After all, the reason we go to church is to feel nearer to God, and he is not limited to a single church or location or person.  He is everywhere and it is him that I seek.

Jeremiah 29:11 speaks to this situation perfectly:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

See, God has plans for us.  He wants us to call on him with our whole heart so that all of his wonderful plans for us can be fulfilled. He doesn’t want half our heart; he wants it all.  I think that sometimes changes like this one in my church can be good because it stirs in us a desire to seek God more; to do more.

This morning as I prayed about this, these scriptures really spoke to me:

“fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of timidity and fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Timothy 2:6-7

“the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

We have to count on God to lead us and strengthen us, allow ourselves to be filled with the hope that he graciously gives us and trust in Him.

“‘I see that the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.” Acts 2:25-28

I pray for each of us to call on the Holy Spirit to give us the strength to be everything that we are called to be.

I’m counting on you, God.

Please bless us father and help us to be the people that you want us to be. To do all of the things for you that you deserve and desire.  Lead us father. Guide us through this life.

Amen.

Less

6 Apr

In Pastor Greg Laurie’s daily email today he wrote, “the resurrection of Christ gives us power to live the Christian life (see Romans 8:11).  Certainly the bible does not teach that we will be sinless in this physical body we now live in.  On the other hand, we can sin less, not by our own abilities, but by the power of the Spirit.

Christ can make us altogether different kinds of people.  We must believe that. ‘Old things have passed away … all things have become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  God can give you the power to live this Christian life.”

It is hard to struggle with sin. To know that you should be doing better. To know what you are striving for and feel like you are falling short.  I like how Pastor Greg puts it, ‘we can sin less.’  With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can do this.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:11

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. Romans 8:26-30

In John 7:37-39, Jesus promises living water:

Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

Isn’t it such a beautiful image of a river of living water of the Holy Spirit and love flowing out from Jesus’ heart to help us and be there for us.  What a wonderful blessing! So I pray today for us to all call on the Holy Spirit to give us the power to sin less while we walk through this world.