To Fear or Not to Fear

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38 NLT)

What are you afraid of? What are the things in life that cause you so much concern that you get fearful? We all have them. Is it the fear that you might get sick and not be able to work? Is it that the economy will suddenly turn bad and you might lose your job? Do you worry about your children’s future? Don’t feel alone, we all have fears. The important thing is what we do about those fears.

Fear will steal the enjoyment from your life. Your focus becomes centered on that fear and life can seem to take a dark turn. We need to recognize fear when it comes up, identify it for what it is and eliminate it. How do we do that?

At the risk of simplifying let me just say that it’s really easy. We have access to the very God who actually created us and who loves us. He wants only the best for us. His plan for us is all about giving us hope and a future, not that we should live in fear. God’s word tells us,  “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”  (Philippians 1:6 NLT) As we see in Romans, nothing can ever separate us from that love.

Father, when I start to feel fear come up in my life please help me to remember that I need not be fearful because you created me, you love me and you desire for me to have a life of fulfillment and purpose. Amen.

The Heart of Jesus

‘I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. ‘

1 Timothy 2:1, 3-4

 The heart of Jesus is full of compassion. He went about His time on earth reaching out to the oppressed, the sick, the demon possessed and the homeless ones that were rejected by society. He wept over the death of a friend, He raised the dead and restored joy to families who were in grief.

The heart of Jesus is focused on service. When He was with His disciples He served them supper, He cooked breakfast for them on the beach (after His resurrection) and washed their feet. He taught them that they should do the same.

Of course the heart of Jesus is primarily concerned with restoring as many as will accept Him to fellowship with the Father. This was His primary mission and that mission now falls on us as His disciples.

John 17 is a prayer that Jesus prayed for His disciples, and He makes it clear that we are included in that prayer. So let us fully take on the heart of Jesus as we reach out in compassion, service and restoration ministry to our neighbors.

 

Lord,  teach me how to have the heart of Jesus as I go about my day.  May I have compassion, do willing service and reach out to the lost, so that I might be a worthy servant. Amen

Beyond the church

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence. (1 John 3:18-19)

 

Jesus tells us in several places in the gospels that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This teaching is reinforced by Paul and other writers throughout the New Testament. In John 15 He also tells us that we are to love each other as He has loved us, and that when we do what he commands we are his friend.

 

Who is your neighbor? It is your fellow worshipers that gather with you every Sunday, even the ones that you rarely talk to or even know their name. It is your fellow Christians that gather in other churches on Sunday that you may never meet. It is your doctor, your teacher, your students, the clerk in the grocery store, your Uber driver, the barista at Starbucks. In short, everyone you meet or see today is your neighbor.

 

How do you love yourself? What actions do you take to show that you care for yourself? Are you willing to love your neighbor in the same way? You have at your disposal time, talent and treasure. Will you use those things to show true friendship to a new neighbor who walks through the doors of your church? Will you make a conscious effort to invite a neighbor to church and thus create the opportunity for new friendships?

 

Lord, show me a neighbor I can love as you loved me. Help me to be a positive influence with my neighbor, and most of all, may I have the courage to invite that neighbor to come to God’s house where He will be welcomed as a friend. Amen.

Why do I pray?

magic

I pray, that is just who I am. Some may wonder why I spend time in conversation with God, God who is unseen and yet omnipresent.

First, God knew at the moment I was born in 1946 exactly who I would be in 2018. He knew in advance all my strengths, my weaknesses – He knew I would sin in various ways throughout the past 72 years. He also knew that I would struggle physically with Parkinson’s Disease and that I would occasionally get depressed about that.

Further, despite that knowledge, He loved me. He loved me. He did not love my sin, but He loved the me that He knew I would be. He took the time to plan for my life, and that His plan would cause me to prosper and not harm me, a plan that would give me hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

He recognized that to see His plan fulfilled in me, I would have to be cleansed of the sin that was in the world and was in me. The only way He could do that was to provide a sacrifice that once and for all would allow me to have fellowship with Him. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to live as a man, take all of the sin in the world – past, present and future – on to Himself and take that sin to a horrible death on a Roman cross. That death assured that I could have access to the God of all creation.

His love didn’t stop there. Even though His son paid the ultimate price to restore my relationship with Him, I continued to rebel and sin. Each time, upon my confession, He forgave me, forgot it ever happened and restored me to full fellowship.

 

Why do I pray? I pray because I can. I can pray because I have full access to the ear of God through the intercession of Jesus Christ His son and the power of the Holy Spirit. I talk to God because He wants to talk to me. I talk to God because I want to be separated from a life of sin and be totally sanctified as His disciple. I don’t understand it at all, why He would be so interested in my life, but I will pray.

 

 

Compassion

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”

Mark 6:34 NLT

 

The compassion of Jesus towards the crowds he dealt with while on earth is well documented in Scripture. He felt their hunger, he felt their pain, he even cried over their death. He demonstrated this compassion by forgiving their sin, healing their sickness, restoring their sight and even raising them from the dead. This trait of the compassionate Savior is understood by and accepted by those who profess to be his disciples.

We need to also know, however, that Jesus may not be physically walking the earth today, but the compassion of the shepherd towards his people hasn’t changed. He continues to have compassion towards us and feels our pain and our failures.

One of the things Jesus taught us throughout his ministry and continued to drive home through the ministry of Paul, Peter and the other apostles is that as his disciples today we are to demonstrate that same compassion towards our neighbors.

Look around you as you go about your day. When you see a situation where you tend to feel sorry for someone, go the extra mile and see if there isn’t something God will lead you to do about it. This action is the essence of true compassion.

 

Lord, allow me this day to become sensitive to the needs around me and not to merely feel sorry and move on, but empower me through your Holy Spirit to reach out and touch someone’s life in a tangible way that will serve to draw them to you. Amen

 

 

 

Meet Red

Red_InPixioMeet Red, my able assistant. Red is what is known as a rollator. Whereas a walker is usually just a frame with four tiny wheels, a rollator has large wheels, handbrakes and is much better suited for outdoor use.

You may or not know that I have Parkinson’s disease. One of the ways it has affected me is that my stability and balance are not what they used to be. I have always been a runner, but with my current issues I am not only unstable but my legs get very fatigued in a short time. I had to stop running after taking a fall and cracking four ribs. Yeah, wake-up call for sure.

So I took up the next best thing – fast walking. I am too unstable to fast walk without support so I started out using trekking poles. The poles help, but I still feel unstable on the sidewalk or at the mall (where I walk 3 or 4 days a week). They still are good on the trail but I needed something different to allow me to fast walk.  That’s when I found Red.

I started thinking about what it would be like to have some sort of walker to walk behind that would enable me to walk fast. Poking around the Internet I soon found Drive Medical and the Nitro Rollator. It’s like a hot red sports car for a guy in mid-life crisis, except I am not exactly in mid-life. I will just say for now that Red has been just what I had hoped. I will do another post later with more detail.

Dealing with sin

I know, sin is not the most popular thing to talk about. It is important to talk about it though because sin is insidious and rears it’s ugly head without notice. The fact that you are a disciple of Jesus does not give immunity from sin. 1 John 1:8 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

To be clear, a disciple of Jesus cannot be living a sinful lifestyle. 1 John 3:6 makes it clear. “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.” This verse refers to those who keep on sinning, living a sinful lifestyle. It does not mean that Christians can never sin. Read 1 John 5:16If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life.” So if it was impossible for a Christian to sin, why would we need instructions to help a brother who has sinned?

What to do? Jesus purchased your salvation and you have accepted that gift and become His follower. You allow the Holy Spirit to guide your everyday life and make every attempt to live a holy life, and yet suddenly you do, say or think something that you immediately recognize as sin. We have all been there. It does not mean that we are not really saved, it does not mean that God has stopped watching out for us – it just means that we are human beings and continue to be subject to the influence of the fall.

Let me encourage you. When you sin, do not keep on sinning. Instead acknowledge your sin to God and ask Him to forgive you according to the sacrifice of His son and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to help you resist temptation, then continue in your service to God

In another post I will deal with what sin actually is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Believe God’s Love

1 John 4:16

“And we have known and believed the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him”

Growing up, I never thought about whether I was loved or not. I didn’t have a traditional family structure, but I was well taken care of by my Dad, grandparents, aunts, foster parents and, through my high school years, the I.O.O.F. Children’s Home. I certainly did not spend a lot of time thinking about whether God loved me.

As an adult I can look back and recognize that I certainly was loved. I understand the sacrifices that were made to assure my well-being. Most importantly, I am aware of the great love that the Creator God and His son Jesus have for me. God the Father told His son to come to earth as a flesh and blood human being and sacrifice His life to make sure that I would have the opportunity to accept the offer of eternal life with Him. There is no greater love than that.

I believe that God loves me, I would be a wreck if I didn’t. As many times as I have failed him by yielding to my own desires, as many times as I have disappointed Him by failing to pray, the long periods of time without even thinking of Him, yet all that time he continued to love me. I believe God loves me.

Father, thank you for your boundless love. May I forever remember how much you love me and may I show that love to the world by showing love to those around me. Amen

What is your red stew?

Genesis 25:29-33
Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (that is why he was also called Edom) Jacob replied, “first sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” but Jacob said, “swear to me first.” So, he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

A birthright was an honor given to the firstborn, bestowing “head of household” status and the right to inherit his father’s estate. The son with the birthright would receive a double portion of whatever was passed down. So if there were two sons:

120 cattle, first born gets 80, the other son gets 40
$1,000,000, first born gets $660,000, the second son gets $330,000
1200 acres of prime farmland, firstborn gets 800 acres, number two son gets 400
Esau was willing to give all this up for some bread and some “red stew”.

So let’s talk about this, as a Christian, what is your birthright, or your inheritance?
• Your testimony
• The Word in your mind and heart
• Salvation
• The faithfulness of God
• Understanding of truth
• God’s presence always
And this is just the beginning. How about eternal life in heaven with Creator God and His son Jesus?

Ask yourself, what is the “red stew” that you will choose and risk losing your inheritance
• Drinking
• Drugs
• Illicit sex
• Dating or marrying an unbeliever (someone without an inheritance)
• Money
• The desire for fame
• The desire for power
• Focus on having a good time

What do you want your legacy to be? Do you want to leave a legacy of trading your inheritance which is eternal for a “red stew” which is temporary?

Ephesians 1:1 – a verse study

Paul has been delegated by God to preach. He actively chose Paul according to His eternal purpose. God used Paul to deliver His message to the consecrated followers of Jesus, those who had believed and were trustworthy and true to the cause of Christ. Most translations attribute this letter as addressed to the church at Ephesus, but many important manuscripts do not include ‘at Ephesus’, so it seems apparent that the letter was intended for a much wider distribution. Since it is included in the Holy Scriptures that would include the church of today.

If I consider myself to be a faithful follower of Christ and God has chosen Paul to speak to the church across untold generations it would behoove me to pay careful attention to what he has written.