Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sorry the formatting isn't very good. I just couldn't fix it. Luckily, formatting (good or bad) doesn't change the message. 
Ice-Cream Social Devotional 
                                 
When a friend shared what was on her heart with me, I got excited.
First she wanted to bring the women of the church together in a social gathering. She wanted us to move toward being a community of women. Getting together for ice-cream is a great first step!
Second, she wanted this community of women to be strong. Strong in Jesus as we face the situations the world creates. Strong when we are asked the hard questions. Not to shrink away from the tough stuff.
Finally, that we handle the tough stuff in a godly fashion with a strength that reflects Jesus in our response.
This passage from Philippians 2 (1-5a) aligns perfectly with what God placed on my friend’s heart.
1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Now, let’s take another look at that passage and see how it applies in the context of bringing women of the church together and making us strong in Christ.
I see verses 1 & 2 speaking to us about community.
The definition of community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,[Paul says] 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
We become of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, [and] intent on one purpose when we pray together, study together and even when we eat ice cream together. We learn who likes chocolate or sprinkles. Who has hurts and who has been heeled.
We grow into a community of friends and sisters in Christ by spending time together; by helping each other through the easy things and through the hard things.
Taking a look at verses 3 & 4, I see strength described through meekness. In Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Bible Theology, Samuel Meier wrote “Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up.”
We are strong when we rely on the presence of God and assume a position of meekness, living in Christ’s example. We are strong in Christ.
3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Finally, how do we provide a godly response to the hard questions and in tough situations, especially when we know what we are witnessing is not of God?
5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
God provided scripture to help us know Him, to give us wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15), and to strengthen us. It is for us to use for His glory. In 2 Timothy, Paul is telling Timothy to be on the look-out for false teachers, as should we. He tells Timothy that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (3:16). We need to develop an attitude in [ourselves] which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5a), so that we can, guided by the Holy Spirit, recognize and correct error. This only happens when we are secure in our identity in Christ and live in His presence.
In His presence
I saw a story online a few years ago about how we can sometimes forget our identity in Christ as we just live life. The author wrote about how a speaker at a women’s conference she attended illustrated God’s presence in our lives. The speaker used two simple vases. She filled the smaller one with water, representing the believer. It was placed inside a larger vase and then the speaker proceeded to fill the larger vase, overflowing the smaller one until it was completely filled.

I attempted to recreate this illustration at our ice cream social. I put a few drops of red food coloring in the smaller vase to bring out the contrast of the two vases and one of the ladies asked if the color represented the blood of Christ. Yes, I guess that would further illustrate God’s presence and protection in our lives. Without His blood we would have no identity, or community, or strength, or the wisdom needed to provide a godly response.

So, in our all-too-busy lifestyles it’s not always easy to feel like we are in His presence, is it? But, it’s oh so sweet when we let God’s presence flow over us to fill every curve, every laugh line and every empty space in our hearts. When that happens He finds a way to bring us together, He makes us strong, and He provides the godly response.

So, let’s do a quick review--
We are in community by learning together; about each other and about what God can do in and through us for one purpose – His.
We grow stronger when we rely on the presence of God, understand our identity in Christ and assume a position of meekness (strength under control).
As far as a godly response goes, God enables us to use scripture in the right circumstances and in just the right way, for His glory. When we intentionally seek Him in His word, we find ourselves in His presence and intentionally ready to give a godly response. Sometimes our words might be as sweet as our ice cream dessert and other times they may be a bit to perky for some. One thing is for sure; when God is leading the words are always right.

References:
New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation, 1995
http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27308-why-christian-meekness-does-not-equal-weakness, Charisma Magazine

Sunday, March 27, 2016

He is Risen! 
Amen and Amen!

Praise Jesus, my Lord and Savior!

He can be your Lord and Savior, too. Please ask Him; invite Him into your life and you will never be the same.

Romans 10:9 
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God
9 not as a result of worksso that no one may boast.


He is Risen! 
Amen and Amen!

Friday, March 25, 2016

It's Friday.

When I'm close to God, through prayer and reading His word, life is so good. When I'm not, it's not. I choose to be close to Him, especially today, when He sacrificed His Son for me. 

Thank you, Jesus for paying my sin debt on the Cross. It is the only time You were separated from God, when you bore the sins of the world.  

It's Friday.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Divine Design

1 Timothy 4:5-6  For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. [NASB]  

We are all God’s Divine Design. Just like a butterfly undergoes a metamorphosis, so shall we only this transformation is from the outside in. Our outward appearance remains pretty much the same. It’s what God is doing on the inside that renders the transformation; one even more beautiful than the emerging butterfly. In this transformation we become conformed to the likeness of Christ.

Metamorphosis: 
A change of the form or nature of a thing or person into 
a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.

The butterfly begins life as a tiny egg on a leaf and it then grows into a fuzzy caterpillar; sometimes cute, sometimes not so much. After a time in its cocoon, no longer a caterpillar it emerges as a beautiful butterfly, then it takes flight -- transformation complete. This little thing isn’t only beautiful, it gets to fly too!
     
You are His Divine Design. You are beautiful even though you may not always feel like it, or even believe it. He made you to fly. This is a gift that many of us are reluctant to accept. We see ourselves as plain, not so smart, timid, fearful, old, fat or thin, or whatever it is that’s keeping us from accepting His gift, but it’s not the way God see us. He sees each one of us as His own, His beloved child. Seek Him and you will find Him (Matt 7:7, Luke 11:9). He is waiting for you.
     
Accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and you too can soar to heights never imagined. Allow God to transform you heart (Rom 12:2). He wants a relationship with you, to set you apart, sanctified (John 17:17) and transformed into His image. That’s what sanctification is and it happens when you make it your business to know Christ. Read, study and pray (1Tim 4:5-6). The more time you spend with God the stronger your relationship with Him becomes.

At some point in this transformation process you will begin reflecting Christ to others. It is at those times when you could not be more beautiful. This is His Devine Design.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Third Week of Advent -Joy

Luke 2:14
 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Hebrews 12:2-3 
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

A prayer of Thanksgiving for the Joy of the Cross

Holy Father,

     We thank you for the Joy we experience at Christmas; the joy in giving and receiving, of Christmas present and the most Holy Christmas past.
     In these verses we read about the gift of Jesus to us on the night of His birth and we read about His death and suffering on the Cross. It is through the Cross that we received the undeserved gift of Grace, that we received the Holy Spirit, and through the Cross that You, Lord, receive us. Jesus endured the Cross, at Your will, knowing the joy set before Him. It is through the Cross that Jesus sits at Your right hand. And it is through the cross that we have an example of the Joy set before us, that is our hope in glory. It is through the Cross that You removed every barrier for all those who believe.

We praise you and thank you, in Jesus name.

Amen