Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The S Stands For Hope

We Serve to Save

This was on a fire dept. marquee sign I saw in passing the other day. I found it ironc that I was on my way to see the new Superman movie when I saw this. Within the Man of Steel film was an interesting tidbit on the signature S worn on Superman's chest; before he was even called Superman, the S on his chest symbolized hope to his native planet Krypton.

Those of us who serve faithfully in our churches may sometimes feel like Superman, which is either a good thing or a bad thing. We may at times feel overwhelmed and blurt out when asked to do more, "I'm not Superman!" Or we may feel as strong as Superman and feel like we can take on any task that is brought before us.

 Psalms 100 tells us to serve the Lord with gladness and come before His presence in singing. That is hard to do at times when we take on more than we can handle, but if we can balance out our serving with remembering to praise our Father, the serving part becomes more joyful.

 Jesus doesn't call us to be like Superman and carry the burden of saving everyone.

"God is not saving the world; it is done. Our business is to get men and women to realize it."     
 --Oswald Chambers

I love this quote because it brings to us this truth:

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:16,17)

Whether we feel like Superman or not, our job in serving others is to just give them hope; a hope that can only come through Jesus Christ. A hope that is eternal compared to the false temporary hope that the world provides.

If we can try not to be like Superman and just be humble servants delivering a message of hope to those in need, we will succeed in all that we do.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fox in a Jar

The young fox travels down a less traveled dusty road with his head stuck in a jar; he obviously got into something he shouldn't have.
A military jeep pulls to the side of the road and two Russian soldiers exit the vehicle as the baby fox precariously approaches them. As the soldiers chuckle, one of them kindly removes the jar from the fox' head. The fox retreats to the woods but upon entering, the fox first turns to acknowledge the soldiers who saved him from despair, and probably embarrassment from the other animals. A cute video recently posted on YouTube: http://youtu.be/pdAeeG6at5M.

How many of you have ever felt like you were stuck in a jar, even if for a moment?

Even for those of us who are followers of Christ busyness can be a stranglehold on our daily life. Just this past week I felt overwhelmed with too much busyness and felt depleted spiritually. I usually can handle the busyness of all my responsibilities including those outside of work, but when my strength feels lightened I know where to go for strength. It took me quite awhile to form this habit of wanting to be in God's presence, even if for just a moment within my busy day. It is upon God's presence where we draw strength.

"What does the Lord your God require of you?
To fear Him, to live according to His will, to love and worship Him with all your heart and soul.
(Deuteronomy 10:12)

When we make it a priority to not just follow Christ, but carry out that desire to be near Him, joy, strength and peace follow.

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." - John Piper

For more encouragement of God's Word, checkout: www.biblegateway.com


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Game, Set, and Walk Away?

"Winning is for a day, Sportsmanship is for a lifetime."

This is the motto for the New Hampshire Student Athletic Association, but their latest state title in tennis, didn't quite live up to this.

A New Hampshire teen walked off the court after the first set due to heckling from the crowd, and subsequently forfeited the match and the title. Her own coach acknowledged that dealing with the hostile crowds is an integral part of sports. One of the conclusions you can draw from this is, "Should the girl be involved in organized athletics if she cannot take criticism, even if that criticism is coming from the spectators?"

In the last few years most kids involved in sports are receiving verbal abuse from their own coaches, which is wrong. But the heckling and booing from the crowd has been a staple in sports since the beginning of time.

So the question I asked myself of this tennis teen, "Was she not tough enough?"

When it comes to the questioning of toughness, this led me to the life of the Apostle Paul, who I have been teaching about in the Book of Romans at church.

The Apostle Paul wasn't exactly a "holy roller" when God called him to the mission field. In fact he was the complete opposite:

As for Saul (Paul), he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
(Acts 8:3)

Paul's dramatic conversion happened on the road to Damascus, where God got a hold of him and blinded him for three days.

As Paul began his ministry and calling to follow Christ and preach, he faced many obstacles:

Following his arrest in Jerusalem, Paul was sent to Rome (story in Acts 21 and 28). Paul was released from prison allowing further missionary work, rearrested, imprisoned again in Rome, and then beheaded outside the city.

The Apostle Paul's message and mission throughout every obstacle was the same:

1. He was grateful for his salvation and went wherever God sent him to tell others what Christ had done for him/

2. Paul's hearts desire was to do the will of Him that sent him, at all times, and at all costs.

Those of you who read this post and are living in a different country may face the same obstacles as Paul did, so I encourage you to read the Book of Romans which is written by Paul for insights such as these:

1. Practical truths for living as a believer

2. Teaches us patience in trouble

3. How to walk in the Spirit

4. Trusting God in present difficulty to bring us hope for future glory

God calls His people to walk in wisdom. Wisdom is knowing how to apply the truth that God has revealed to us. The Holy Spirit will train us to practice wisdom and discipline that will lead to the fullness of the life that Jesus has promised us.

God's instructions to Moses were simple, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

When you choose to follow Christ remember:

When we live in His presence through the power of the Holy Spirit, He gives us peace and rest.

For more scripture reading of God's encouraging Word, checkout: www.biblegateway.com

And for some great books on the Apostle Paul and commentaries for the Book of Romans, checkout: www.ivpress.com


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Luck or Blessing?

Clark: Since this is Aunt Bethany's 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of Grace.
Aunt Bethany:  What, dear?
Nora Griswold: Grace!
Aunt Bethany: Grace? She passed away thirty years ago.
Uncle Lewis: They want you to say Grace.
[Bethany shakes her head in confusion]
Uncle Lewis: The BLESSING!
Aunt Bethany: [they all pose for prayer] I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands/ One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Clark: Amen.

- scene from Christmas Vacation

Most people associate the word blessing with the act of giving thanks for the meal they are about to partake. But there is so much more to the word blessing.

This past week I was able to experience a once-in-a-lifetime moment; one that will go down in Chicago sports history as one of the most memorable games ever. And I have the privilege to say I was there. A game 7 playoff hockey game between 2 arch rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit RedWings. A game that was decided in overtime. You can't get any more climatic than that for a game 7.

Some folks called me lucky to go and experience such a thrill. But one of my best friends said it best, she simply said, "You are blessed!" And I am thankful that she is someone who gets it.

For those of us who are followers of Christ we should know that it isn't about luck or carrying a rabbits foot, a 4 leaf clover, or having a horseshoe in the pocket. It's about following Christ, doing the work that He expects us to carry out to reach more people to Christ, but more importantly, it's about worshiping and loving Christ daily whether our lives are up or down.
And that is how I believe blessings overtake over us.

When we truly come before Him and make a  conscious effort to seek His face in worship and prayer as we are asked to do, blessings overtake us; as long as we are seeking Him just to be in His presence to feel His glory.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. (Mathew 6:33,34)

I have truly been blessed and overtaken with many blessings the last 2 months and I believe it is the result of my wanting to be in His presence more through worship and seeking after His face. And within these past 2 months of blessings God reminded of my work and love for Him through this piece of scripture:

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. (Hebrews 6:10)

If you are searching for miracles and blessings, seek after God first without ever wanting anything more. Sing to yourself and to Him:

Jehovah Jirah
My Provider
You are more than enough for me

If you can sing this and live this everyday, miracles happen.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click n www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.