Archive for May, 2011

Living To Worship

…whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 1Corinthians 10:31 NRSV

MP900216072[1]By this point in the week, Sunday seems like a distant memory for many. Lots has happened since we were last worshipping God and bringing praise to the Lord. There’s also lots more to come before we will return to our churches and focus fully on God next Sunday.

That gap bothers me. I don’t believe faith is designed to work like a gas station. I’m not supposed to go to church to fill up, and hope I have enough to get me through the end of the week, when I fill up again.

Faith is to be lived out in the gaps. Faith is to be proclaimed, engaged and practiced everyday. When that happens, the way we live becomes the way we worship God!

Today’s video reinforces that idea. Click here to view it.

Then let your faith energize you to live a life of worship!

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Standing Strong

If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all. Isaiah 7:9b NRSV

MP910216389[1]Standing is a good thing. When the winds of trouble blow, storms roll in and dangerous waves come crashing into my life, I want to be left standing. I don’t want to be knocked over, swept up or washed away.

Ahaz was king over Judah. A terrible storm was rolling his way. Nations were surrounding him, preparing to invade his country and end his reign. He was scared, and shook like a tree in the wind.

God sent Isaiah to call Ahaz to faith. Even though he hadn’t been faithful to God, this was his chance to step up, align himself with the Lord and come under God’s protection. But he didn’t. He turned to Assyria instead.

God’s call is a call to faith.

MP900216140[1]It’s hard to stand firm in faith when you are under attack. It is especially hard if you’ve turned away from God most of your life, as Ahaz had done. It’s really much easier to trust someone you can see and weapons you can hold in your hand. The Assyrians had weapons and an army. What did God have? Just a prophet with words. In the end, Ahaz did not stand firm in faith.

I’m not like Ahaz. I’m not a king, and I don’t have nations plotting to overthrow me. But I do have storms that blow my way, and dangerous winds that whip up trouble around me. I believe God’s message to Ahaz is a good one for me too. I could put my trust in alliances I forge, or in resources I have. But the only way to really succeed is to stand firm in faith. Trusting God, whom I can’t see, is the only response that really makes sense.

Our success depends on standing firm in our faith.

MP900227508[1]Well, my faith is in God. Some people may believe that is misguided, but I believe it is what has allowed me to stay standing all these years. It is faith that has brought me safe so far, and it is faith that will bring me home!

Why not join me, and stand firm in your faith this week? Otherwise, you may find yourself standing on sinking sand!

Faith in God is the only firm foundation!

Prayer:

Great God of all, your word is calling me to faith. Your word is calling me to put my trust in you so that I can keep on standing strong. That’s what I want. Help me to always lean on you and to walk in your ways!

Amen.

 

Faith Sees

A True Friend

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NRSV

Now that we live in the Facebook era, I think it is time for someone to ask, what is a friend anyway? What does it mean if someone friends me?

Am I anything more than a name on their list? Do I get a window into the heart and mind of that person, or just a window into their posts and the posts of their other friends? Do I get a place in their life, or just the right to post on their wall? What kind of connection have I really forged?

Social psychologists have tried to understand why some people have tens of thousands of Facebook friends, and others only a few. They have not found any clear answers. But I wonder if Facebook friends are actually friends at all?

I am not interested in arguing the benefits of social networking, which can be many. But I do question whether what Facebook and the other social media web offerings give us is actually what we really want, and so desperately need, in a friend.

In the song, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Joseph Scriven tells us there are some unique things Jesus offers those who befriend him. Jesus bears our sin and carries our burdens. He shares our sorrows. He sustains us through trials and temptations. He lifts us when we get discouraged. He knows our every weakness. He is our refuge, our shield, and our source for solace. He offers us a future in glory, where we will enjoy rapture, praise and endless worship.

MP910220956[1]How many friends on Facebook can offer all that? How many friends on Facebook even care much about our real struggles, issues and eternal destiny?

Being popular and connected is nice. But I want, and frankly need, much more. I need a friend who is closer than a brother. I need Jesus. I’m glad he’s friended me. Aren’t you?

Our Glorious God

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 NIV

God is great, and God is glorious! How do I know that? I’ve never seen God. But I have seen, and continue to be amazed by, the works of God’s hands.

Most of us know that if you want to get a window into an author’s mind, you read what the author writes. If you want to get a window into a musician’s heart, you listen to the music composed. If you want a window into the soul of an artist, you look at the art produced.

If we read the words given by God to us, we get a glimpse into God’s mind. If we listen to music of nature, we hear the song of our Creator’s heart. If we look at the world God made, we begin to understand the limitless nature of God’s glory.

Take a moment today to take a peek at what God has done. What you see will amaze you!

Telling

A Man of Authority

“For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:8-9 NRSV

MC900410935The stories of Jesus’ miracles bring hope and encouragement to many of us. When we read what he did, it opens our minds to what he can do in and through us.

But when I read the miracle stories, I don’t just want to be reminded of Jesus’ love and power, I want to learn from the mindset of those he healed. What was it they were thinking that encouraged them to go to Jesus? What kind of faith did they have? What was their response to our Lord?

One of my favorite miracles was the healing of the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10). As healings go, this was pretty typical. The really memorable part is the attitude the centurion had toward Jesus, and Jesus’ response to that attitude.

U.S. Army First Sergeant Epaulet --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisThis Roman centurion was wise enough to realize the extent of a person’s power and ability depend, at least in part, on that person’s authority. Centurion’s had the power to make a soldier do whatever they commanded, because the centurion had authority over that solider. That means the power Jesus had to heal and perform miracles was related to his authority.

What the healings and miracles Jesus performed revealed was that his authority extended far beyond any Roman commander, far beyond any Jewish elder, far beyond any government official, and far beyond the authority of anyone else who had ever lived. Jesus’ power revealed he had authority over disease, over demonic forces, and even over death itself. With that kind of authority, Jesus had the power to do anything!

This centurion understood the connection between authority and power. Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s insight and show of faith. But really, how hard is it to believe that Jesus could do a miracle, if you understand who Jesus is and the authority he has? Maybe the problem many of us have is not a lack of faith, but lack of fully appreciating the authority Jesus actually has, and what that means to those who love and serve him.

The most foolish people I know think they are something they are not. This centurion knew who he was, and knew the limits of his own authority. He also recognized the reach of Jesus’ authority. That recognition opened the way for Jesus to do a miracle in his life!

Laughing Man Head and ShouldersI know what I can do and what I can’t. I want to be as wise as this centurion and recognize the authority Jesus has. Then I know Jesus’ power will be able to work more fully in and through my life.

Grace That’s Truly Amazing

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NRSV

By definition, grace is amazing. It’s amazing because it’s undeserved. But that’s just the beginning.

If I got a gift that I didn’t want or need, the gift would be of little value or use. Even though I didn’t deserve it, it didn’t really impress me as amazing.

beautiful girl portraitGod’s grace is amazing not just because it is freely given, but also because of what it does. Even when we least deserve it, God steps in with grace to heal and lift, to cleanse and renew, to encourage and strengthen, to guard and to guide, and to set us right. That’s why God’s grace is so amazing!

This idea is powerfully illustrated in today’s video. You will hear the familiar words of amazing grace, while seeing what makes that grace so incredible. Please click here for the video.

Then take a moment to thank God for the grace given you, and its transforming work in your life!

Bless God!

Blessed be the LORD forever. Amen and amen. Psalm 89:52 NRSV

What an amazing statement! Actually, you might not think it is so amazing until you read the verses preceding it. As you read, you see the psalmist praises God after a long list of complaints and tough questions. Before this outburst of praise, you might conclude that the psalmist is fed up with God. He sounds like he is ready to abandon his faith.

MP900443595[1]When he wrote this psalm, nothing was the way the writer thought it should be. The throne of David’s line was overturned. The crown was defiled. The walls of the city were in ruins. The battle was lost, and the army defeated. The enemies rejoiced and continued to taunt and insult the people of God. Worse yet, it looked like God was fed up and ready to walk away from the people God had loved and called to be God’s own.

Surprisingly, as the psalmist nears the end of his prayer, he pleads one final time for God’s help. Then he utters these words of praise to God; “Blessed be the LORD forever.” That tells me praise is possible even in the worst of times!

MP900302951[1]If that’s true, then praising God is not just something we do when everything is going our way. It’s something we can do in times of want and need. It’s something we can do when challenges threaten to overwhelm us. It’s even something we can do when everything comes crashing down around us.

Praise is always possible!

No matter what the time or circumstance, we can do what the psalmist did. We can go to God. We can fall on our knees; bring our questions, our complaints, our petitions and our pleas to the throne of God. So, when the going gets tough, we can go to God!

But that is only the beginning. Psalm 89 didn’t end with a desperate cry. It ended with a proclamation of praise. The psalmist affirmed who God is. That affirmation revealed the depth of his devotion and the enduring nature of his faith.

Praise affirms who God is.

This was not a fair weather follower of God. This was a man who clung tenaciously to his God. This was a man who lived by faith, not by sight.

He blessed the Lord, not because everything was going right, but because he believed in God. More importantly, he continued believing in God even in the depths of despair. So he prayed, he petitioned, and then he gave God praise!

MP900401661[1]The question for us is, will we walk by faith or by sight? We would do well to follow the psalmist’s example and praise God, even in the midst of the storm.

Acknowledging who God is and honoring our Lord in our hearts is key. Let’s never forget to give God the praise and honor God is due in every circumstance!

Blessed Be The Lord Our God!

Prayer:

Great God of all, you deserve all the praise, honor and worship I can give you. But there are times disappointment and fear cloud my faith. Help me to always do as the psalmist did. Help me to lay my burdens at your feet, and exalt you with praise in every time, place and circumstance!

Amen.

Pr God