The UGLY beautiful day

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It’s Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ death on a Roman cross. Why did it happen?  Let’s make it personal.  What is the darkest, ugliest part of your life, some choice you made, something you did, an attitude that hangs on? What memory brings regret, is buried so deeply you hope no one else remembers it?  God sees it, knows about it. That is why Jesus went to the Cross!

Oh yes, much of sin is much more ordinary than the moments just recalled.  When we are Self-willed, when we worship something or someone other than God, when we choose to ignore or dislike another person, when we refuse to love – we sin, too.  But, those things are so common in our experience we come to accept them as normal. But, that is why Jesus went to the Cross, too! That is the UGLY.

Now the beautiful – there is an invitation offered to you, to me. Here it is – “Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-6:1)  The Holy One calls us close, despite the filthiness.  How can that be? Because the Son of God became a sin offering for us so that we could become beautifully whole and holy.

Do not make the tragic mistake of many; minimizing your sin by comparison, excusing your behavior with rationalization. Most likely you have not brutally murdered anyone but have you assassinated another’s reputation with malice?  You have not worshiped an idol god, but have you loved your money with a fervor like religious devotion?  Getting the picture yet?

Isaiah does not spare the graphic description of our state without God’s grace. “We continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:5-6, NIV)  Even our best choices are compared to dirty, greasy rags!

And yet, God loved us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:8-9, NIV)  That’s why Jesus went to the Cross!

Today, an ugly, beautiful day, let those thoughts weigh heavily on you.  Jesus once asked a self-righteous man who loves most.  The man was deeply offended that Jesus would allow a prostitute to touch Him, to bath His feet with her tears of gratitude and worship because of the release from shame He gave. But the Lord reminded the man that his own sense of well-being kept him from knowing God’s love. “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” (Luke 7:47, NLT)

Spend some time with the ugly.  I did! But, I looked past that to the beautiful – my sins carried by a Savior, my relationship to the Father secured by His willingness to become sin for me.

Ah, yes, this is Good Friday!

_______________

Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)

(worship at this link)

One day when heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men my example is He
The Word became flesh
And the light shined among us
His glory revealed

 Living He loved me dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
O glorious day (glorious day)

 One day they led Him up Calv’ry’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish despised and rejected
Bearing our sins my Redeemer is He
The hand that healed nations
Stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

 One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose over death He had conquered
Now is ascended my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him
The grave could not keep Him
From rising again

 One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day my beloved one bringing
My Savior Jesus is mine

 O glorious day glorious day
O glorious day

John Wilbur Chapman | Mark Hall | Michael Bleecker © 2009 My Refuge Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Be Essential Songs (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Word Music, LLC (Admin. by WB Music Corp.) CCLI License # 810055

 

Pastor Jerry Scott- FAITH DISCOVERY CHURCH- www.FaithDiscovery.com

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Kingdom Come!

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“Why do we celebrate Easter with colored eggs and rabbits?” the young girl asked.  A good question since for so many that is about the extent of their recognition of what should be the most important Christian holy day! The egg and rabbit traditions are left over from pagan fertility rituals that marked the coming of Springtime.  While those of us from northern climates do appreciate the renewal of the Earth and the return of “life” in the Spring, our celebration is about a grand renewal, the coming of the Kingdom of God!

When Jesus sat down to the Passover with His disciples, it was to celebrate the Lord’s calling of the Jewish people out of captivity in Egypt to return to the Promised Land, where they became a nation, “a people belonging to God.”  At that meal Jesus revealed God’s ongoing plan, another deliverance, calling all people out of captivity to sin and the creation of His Church, a holy people, whose mission would be to announce that Christ has conquered sin and death, the  ‘Kingdom Come!’

Do you remember?

  • When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them,  “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
  • After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:14-20, NIV)

Holy Week helps us to renew our hope and understanding, individually and together as His holy people.  At the Cross, there was an intense battle. In a mystery that is beyond our full understanding, God dealt with sin, evil, and death by becoming sin for us.  Jesus emerged from the tomb the Victor, the sacrificial Lamb of God, now the King of Glory. What a tragedy to reduce our commemoration of this amazing cosmic event to some chocolate candy, colored eggs, and the Easter bunny.

Let us come to the table and remember, reverently, yet joyfully that the Kingdom is come. We are no slaves to sin, no longer doomed to death. We are beloved children of God, called to Life and Light. Our Jesus is both Savior and King!  Jesus said – “Do this in remembrance of me!”

When we share the Lord’s Supper, we will pray to go again to the Cross, the altar where His sacrifice changed our destiny, where He tore down the barriers that kept us from God’s Presence, where the authority and hope of the new Kingdom was released. and made possible. As you walk through these closing days of Lent, when you take the Cup and Bread in Communion, when you sing of the Empty Tomb – pray as Jesus taught  –
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, NIV)

Here are words from the Word. Lord, inspire us to live in the ‘Kingdom Come!’
“Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” (Mark 1:14, NKJV)
“For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20, NKJV)

New life, new dedication, healing, hope – this is the Kingdom Come.  Has the kingdom come to you?

______________________

King Of My Life I Crown Thee Now

King of my life I crown Thee now
Thine shall the glory be
Lest I forget Thy thorn crowned brow
Lead me to Calvary

 Show me the tomb where Thou wast laid
Tenderly mourned and wept
Angels in robes of light arrayed
Guarded Thee whilst Thou slept

 Let me like Mary through the gloom
Come with a gift to Thee
Show to me now the empty tomb
Lead me to Calvary

 May I be willing Lord to bear
Daily my cross for Thee
Even Thy cup of grief to share
Thou hast borne all for me

 © Words: Public Domain

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More than a little magic

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For 50 plus years I have been a Christian, a disciple of Jesus.  For me that is much more than stating my agreement with a religious doctrine or being part of a church.  It is not just about my culture or the holidays I celebrate. “Christian,” to me, is about trusting the words of a Man about knowing God. That faith, a response to the Spirit of God, allows a divine life to enter me, making me spiritually alive. I am, through faith and by grace, a child of God. That gives me reason to live differently – to love, to know real joy, to forgive, to hope for an eternal home. The ‘wisdom’ that forms me is found in Jesus Christ.

John tells us a story about the powerful Word of Jesus. A royal official found Jesus and begged him to come to heal his dying child. Jesus appears to brush him off, challenging him with words that seem so insensitive. In the 4th chapter of the Gospel we read this: “Jesus put him off: “Unless you people are dazzled by a miracle, you refuse to believe.” But the court official wouldn’t be put off. “Come down! It’s life or death for my son.”  The man was asked to think about his faith. Was he just looking for a moment of magic or was he ready to completely trust? Did he only want momentary relief from the pain in his life or was he ready to make real change?

So, what happened? “Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.” (John 4:50-53, NIV)

That man’s faith is evident in one simple phrase:  The man took Jesus at his word.

  • Is your faith integral to your life or does ‘faith’ exist apart from your day to day decisions in life?
  • Do you actually believe Jesus is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’  deeply and profoundly so that His words shape who you are and what you do?

To answer those questions, we must not just think about the words we sing in church on Sunday or the thoughts that come our way in some inspired moment. We should look at our responses to difficulties, the priorities in our time management, the allocation of our resources. A disciple follows the Master. He does what he sees his Lord doing, learns the patterns and values of the One Who leads.

After He had taught the amazingly revolutionary truths in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7) Jesus closed this way.  As you read this word from the Word, I invite you to engage in reflection.  “Do I take Jesus at His word?” And, then choose the Way of the Lord – for life here and eternal.   

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” (Matthew 7:21-24, NLT)

_______

Abba, I am pulled from Your wisdom and ways
by the glitter of my world, by a ‘wisdom’ shaped around Self.
Help me to hear, to listen, to understand –
And then to do what You say.

Spirit of God, gift me with vision that sees past today.
May Your promise of a home in Heaven never be far from my mind.
Lead me on, a faithful disciple.

This I pray so that You will be evident in my life,
shining brightly in me and through me,
not just in the big moments, but in the ordinary interactions of the day.
In the Name of my Savior and Master, Jesus, I pray.   Amen

 

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What’s wrong with you?

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In her amazing devotional for Lent,  40 Days of Decrease, Alicia Britt Chole reflects on the who stood around Jesus’ cross hurling insults at Him. Mark gives us this glimpse …  “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!” (Mark 15:29-31, NIV)  Ignorant of what was actually happening in those moments, they accused Jesus of being a fraud. We know that He hung there in agony, bearing our sins! What wonder. What grace. What love. They only saw a Man condemned.

Before we rush on from that thought, let me borrow Ms. Chole’s thought and ask about your reaction to those who are suffering around you, to those who lives are marred and scarred, to the bruised and the broken. Are you only a critic? Do you shake your head and blame them for their lack of discipline, their failure to choose wisely? Does any reaction of compassion get overtaken with the need to distance yourself by assigning blame for their misery?  Jesus taught that how we treat others is an extension of our love for Him. Yes, He said, that cup of cold water offered to the least and the unlovely is a cup offered to His lips.

Perhaps I write today only for myself, but I find myself fatigued by the human need around me. The quickest way to avoid a response is to make those in need into ‘not me.’  If I see them as children of God, as my brother, my sister, then I must love.  But, if I can somehow make them different, if I can blame them for their state, I can become a modern Pharisee gathering my robes tightly and thanking God that “I am not like these sinners.”  And, if I choose that route, I miss out on opportunity to love – them, Him!

Throwing grenades is a lot easier than engaging in thoughtful conversation. A grenade can be launched from the safety of a place behind the lines.  A sneering ‘what’s wrong with you?’ is a reaction so much simpler than a conversation that asks “how can I help?”

“But, Jerry, there are consequences for our actions.  We do reap the harvest of the seeds we sow.” True that, dear friend, but are we in the place of God, to judge, to condemn, to consign others to worthlessness, discards along the road of life?  That is not what I see Jesus doing in the Gospels. He loved, always hoping for redemption. His love gave hope that led to change.

When a woman who was having an adulterous affair was dragged in front of Jesus for judgment, He did not point out her moral failings, though they were obvious to all. There were no scathing words about her shamelessness, or her failure to understand the consequences of her choices, or her lack of character.  Instead, He offered her dignity. And, then He did say, “Now, go and sin no more.”

His worst critics lobbed grenades while He suffered. Isaiah had foretold that day. “He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.” (Isaiah 53:3-4, The Message)

Paul instructs us to engage ourselves ‘the ministry of reconciliation.’  How? Secure your heart in the love of Jesus, the grace He gives us that takes away our fear, the assurance that we have every resource we need to serve Him.

May this word from the Word challenge us to love Him, by loving those with whom we live. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40, NIV)

____________________

This Is Amazing Grace

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?\
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder?
Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

This is amazing grace.
This is unfailing love.
That You would take my place,
That You would bear my cross.
You laid down Your life,
That I would be set free.
Oh Jesus, I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

Who brings our chaos back into order?
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter?
The King of Glory, the King of Glory.

Who rules the nations with truth and justice,
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.
Worthy, worthy, worthy.

Jeremy Riddle | Josh Farro | Phil Wickham © 2012 Phil Wickham Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) Seems Like Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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What’s YOUR Story?

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Do you read reviews?  I do! When I am shopping online for something, I go to the review section to read what others think of the product or service. Some of the comments are obviously written by cranks, so I ignore them. Some gush, overflowing with superlatives; “best ever, greatest place in the world, best cheeseburger in America.”  Oh really? I tend to discard those, too.  The ones I find helpful are honest, tell me something about a first-hand experience.  What’s so valuable about that? I get the benefit of another’s time and experience. A  line like this about a vendor – ‘good follow-up in customer service, got back to me the same day’ – makes me much more willing to make a purchase from someone hundreds of miles away.

Do you know what people remember from the sermons I have preached in the last 40 years? Mostly, they remember the stories!  When I tell about those moments when God touched my life, when I experienced His forgiveness and renewal, when I saw Him heal, when there was some new direction, how He has sustained me in my loss and grief – it’s is like giving a review. People identify and there is this response – “He can do that for me, too.”

Since Jesus gave Christians the commission to “go and tell,” the primary way that people are brought to know Him is through our ‘’witness.” At the core of that word is this – we just speak up, giving a review of our experience of the Lord! In John’s Gospel, a woman with an ugly past, a social outcast, met Jesus at a well in Samaria. He engaged her in conversation and her heart was changed. What happened next is amazing. “The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.” (John 4:28-30, NLT) John summarizes those days at that village telling us that “Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” (John 4:39, NLT)

Invariably, when I hear someone telling their “Jesus story” – this is who I was, this is who I am – deep emotions stir in me. Sometimes the story is raw, like those told by the men who come to our church who are a part of the Teen Challenge ministry.  Addicted to cocaine or heroin, perhaps slaves of alcohol, often estranged from their families because of their drug abuse, they tell the story of meeting Jesus and finding their way to sobriety.  Most are authentic, though not eloquent, and it is moving to hear!  But, I also love to hear the stories of people who are not full of drama, those who found God early and walked through life’s ups and downs with Him.  Yes, am moved by the witness of people who have it all together, who have done ‘all the right things,’  as they recount finding the Lord when it all turned into an empty and meaningless existence.

By definition, a review requires an experience.  Who wants to read a critic’s review if he has not seen the movie? Who wants to hear a opinion about a local restaurant offered by a person who has not eaten a meal at the establishment?  How do you know Jesus? What has He done in your life? Where do you struggle, what are your triumphs?  When you have met Him, know Him, are living with Him in your life – tell about it.

Now, this is important.  When you tell your story, be authentic. We do not always get it right, nor can we be hero in every account. Often our most profound experiences of God’s Presence are when we are at our lowest, or in times of awful failure, or when we have lost our way.

When our words are a reflection of the Spirit, they can become transformational- for our family, our friends, even our world.  As we begin this Holy Week, hear what Jesus said to His first followers. “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5, NIV)  And, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV)

The word from the Word – “He replied, … One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25, NIV)

Let’s tell the Story!

_____________

We’ve A Story To Tell To The Nations

 We’ve a story to tell to the nations
That shall turn their hearts to the right
A story of truth and sweetness
A story of peace and light
A story of peace and light

 For the darkness shall turn to dawning
And the dawning to noonday bright
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come to earth
The kingdom of love and light

Henry Ernest Nichol- Public Domain

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Stones of Memorial – Ebenezer

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March 23, today is Bev’s (my late wife) birthday. She would have been 64 today, but now she is ageless, an eternal being of unimaginable splendor.  Last night, I paged through pictures – our wedding, her with our kids and grandkids, scenes from the life we enjoyed together. Each one brought up a memory – some happy, some sad, some wistful.  I spent some time at my Ebenezers. (What? Read on)

I’ll stand at her grave later today knowing full well that her body is decaying, but that she is, not was; that in a way that I cannot fully understand she is present with the Lord she served and loved. And, I will bring to mind the promise that Jesus gave us – “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” (John 11:25)

The loss is hard, grief real. I am not without hope nor do I consider myself ‘abandoned’ by God.  I am convinced that “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23, NLT)  I have no idea why He allowed Bev to be taken so soon but I walk in faith. I remember her, yes!

The four decades of life are full of “Ebenezers,”  places where we knew God, in the good and bad, the wonderful and the awful -as the Faithful One.  Ebenezer comes from this passage –  “Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer—“the stone of help”—for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” (1 Samuel 7:12, NLT)

Are you in a time of victory and celebration?  Make a memorial so you will remember!  Are you living through frustrating situations, stressed by multiple problems for which there are no ready solutions?  Visit an Ebenezer!  (I am not just encouraged by my own experiences. I love to read of the faithfulness of the Lord in other’s lives, too.)

In preacher Malachi’s word, we read about God’s people receiving a harsh rebuke and their response was to turn to God and to remember. “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.” (Malachi 3:16, NIV)

Even if we cannot see past our present hardship, even if Heaven seems far away, there is a choice that we make, supported by the Ebenezers we have built along the way – Obedient surrender. We hold onto the promise that here or perhaps in Heaven, His ‘delight in every detail of our lives,’  will become evident.  And, as understanding comes, faith will become sight!

Here is a word from the Word – ” I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6, NIV)

_____________

Here I raise mine Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I’m come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wand’ring from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

From the hymn, Come, Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing

 

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A Drink Unlike Any Other

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Water; for most Americans is resource of abundance, so much so that we turn on the spigot without a thought.  A readily accessible drink of clean water seldom occurs to me as a thing for which to be grateful.  Can you imagine walking for 30 minutes to a well and carrying water from that source back to your dwelling?  There are millions of people in our world who do just that.  In some cities, particularly on the African continent, even the municipal water supply is unreliable, unavailable for days at a time.

Water is critical to our life! A person can survive weeks without food but the human body starts to shut down in 3 days without water. We are more than 60% water. It lubricates our joints, flushes toxins and waste out of us, and is a key to health.  Perhaps next time you take a long drink of fresh, clean water you will offer God thanks for the supply.

Jesus spoke of ‘living water’ in His sermons and talks. John tells us about an encounter with a woman whose soul was parched. She had tried to find life in multiple relationships, knew something of spiritual matters, but was still thirsting.  As the Lord Jesus conversed with her at that well in Samaria, He said “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, NIV) Her response makes me smile. She was eager to find this source of water so she would not have to make the trek to the well every day. How natural her desire. But, when Jesus redirected her to spiritual truth, she found eternal life, a soul-satisfying drink of the Spirit.

Do you love the Presence of God with an intensity similar to the thirst you feel on a hot Summer day?  Do you even recognize the thirst, or do you sense some longing, only to try to satisfy it with stuff, with entertainment, with achievement?  “Come and Drink!” Jesus invites. When we raise our hearts to Him, turning our face to Heaven, He promises a refreshing drink of the Spirit. In worship, in expectation, we find Him. The Psalm paints a vivid picture for us. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2, NIV)

On another occasion, “Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “If you are thirsty, come to me! If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit.”) (John 7:37)  How I love this promise. Not only will the Spirit quench my thirst, He will make me a fountain from which a thirsty world can find refreshing.  Yes, those who are dying, alienated from the Lord, who are slaves of their lust, greed, Self, or stuff – can come alive like a desert that blooms with life after a rain – when the Spirit is poured into their lives.

Would you join me in praying to drink of the Living Water and then to become a source of renewal in this spiritually barren world?  There are many who are consumed with hate, whose love for Self is so all-consuming that they are like a hot, dry wind.  Let’s make it our heart’s desire to be the people who overflows with the water of the Spirit. Ah, may our Christianity make us much more than just ‘nice’ people. May He make us life-giving, vital, creative, holy, and beautiful sources of Life!

The preacher, Joel, said that a day would come when God, the Holy Spirit, would live in us! “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29, NIV)

We live in that time! This is the age of the Spirit. On the day that the Church was born, after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, the Spirit fell and those who received Him were ecstatic, speaking in unknown languages, and rejoicing with such abandon that some accused them of being drunk. Peter explained – “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” (Acts 2:16, KJV)

 Christian friend, we need renewal of the Spirit, to drink deeply of the Spirit.  Will you pray today for His overflow in your life?

Here is a word from the Word. “Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-20, The Message)

Oh, Lord, give us of the blessing of Your Spirit that we may be refreshed and overflow with your life-giving water. Amen.

__________

Holy Spirit

(a beautiful song, a prayer, listen at this link)

 There’s nothing worth more that will ever come close
No thing can compare You’re our living hope
Your Presence, Lord. 

I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
In Your Presence, Lord 

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your Presence, Lord

 Your Presence Lord
Your Presence Lord
Your Presence
Oh God how we love Your Presence Lord 

Let us become more aware of Your Presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness (Lord)

Bryan Torwalt | Katie Torwalt © 2011 Capitol CMG Genesis (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Jesus Culture Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

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Do you know your place?

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The happiest people I know are those who know who they are and why they are walking this earth. They are grounded, real, and content.  That person builds relationships, is effective at what she does, and generally makes her world a better place.  By contrast, those who are always wanting to be someone else, somewhere else, are a source of misery. He who looks around enviously, wishing for a different life, brings discord and unhappiness to himself as well as to those who have to deal with him!

John, the Baptist, became a popular preacher in his era. People flocked to hear him. His name was on everybody’s lips with some speculating that he could be God’s Messiah. Then, Jesus appeared, and people started to listen to Him, following Him.  One of those ‘wonderful people’ who like to stir up controversy went to John and told him, “Everybody’s going after this new guy!”  The Gospel gives us no reason to think that he had even a hint of envy or jealousy. His reply is rich with lessons for us –  “To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:27-30, NIV)

This is Jesus’ wedding and I’m just the best man, happy for Him.” He is not just resigned to his place, giving up a great sigh, grudgingly accepting his role. He embraces the call of God to be who he is.  He does not chalk it up to luck. He says that it is God who gives us our gifts and calling. Knowing that, he finds contentment and is able to honestly step back to a lesser place as Jesus ministry begins.

Have you found God’s call for your life?
That does not mean that you have to become a pastor, by the way.
Do you know who you are, your strengths, your gifts that are unique to the situations in which you live?
Are you content in that place, making the most of those opportunities?

Let me make a confession. Since Bev went to heaven a little over two years ago there is one area in which I find it hard to accept my place. When I see other ministry couples working together in a church, I feel some envy!  Bev was a big part of the work I did for four decades. Though she was often quiet, behind the scenes she was my number one counselor, my confidante, who let me work through the difficulties that come with leadership with her listening ear and prayerful support.  I miss her partnership, but am I right to envy another couple?  We both know the answer to that.  This is the place where I must now walk in contentment, accepting the grace God has for me at this time.

What robs your contentment, your joy in the Lord?  Will you bend your will to His, accept the place He’s given?  “He must become greater; I must become less.”

The word from the Word is short one today. Pray that God will help you to find contentment so that He can use you with maximum effectiveness today. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6, NIV)

________

To Be Used Of God

To be used of God
To sing to speak to pray
To be used of God
To show someone the way
Oh how I long so much to feel
The touch of His consuming fire
To be used of God is my desire

When I think about the shortness
Of my earthly years
I remember all the wasted days
The wasted tears
I long to preach the Word
To those who’ve never heard
Of the One who can dispel all fears

Audrey Mieir © 1954 Manna Music, Inc. (Admin. by ClearBox Rights, LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

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But God …

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Finding one’s self under scrutiny by ‘the law’ is not at all pleasant, is it? Who likes to be judged? When the police car falls in behind us and follows us for a mile, what do we feel?  Some sense of discomfort, don’t we? We wonder, “Was I speeding? Did I make an improper lane change? Is the officer getting ready to issue me a summons?”  We are told that if we have not done anything wrong, we have nothing to fear. In a perfect world that would be true.

 There is a perfect Justice!  God knows us – inside and out – every motive, every action, all the circumstances surrounding every choice. Does that cause you to fear?  It should because we all, even the best of us, know there are things we have done, words we have said, that do not align with God’s plan, that resist His purpose. The heavy weight of justice is bearing down on us … until the amazing Gospel reveals to us that His justice has been satisfied on our behalf! But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” (Ephesians 2:4-5, NKJV)

What a glorious thought. God who knows me better than I know myself is filled with compassion, loves me, and desires to settle the case against me, with an offer of forgiveness and peace.  Our God does not ignore the evidence. He does not choose not to see our sin! Instead, He turns to His Son, who gave Himself for us. What He gives is not amnesty nor is it a probation in which we prove ourselves.  We are ‘saved by His grace.’  Thus, we find a new life and there is “no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (Romans 8:1-2, NLT)

Christian, trust Him. Love Him and let Him love you to life. The persistent lie that evil – whether from our old sinful nature or from the Devil’s demons – whispers to us is that God is angry, that He wants to destroy us. “Focus on your failures and imperfection,” is the message.  But God says, “Look on my Son!”  Alluding to a story from the Exodus, where faith brought healing – Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15, NIV)– John teaches us that a look of faith will bring us salvation.   

Are you hiding from God, fearful of His justice?
Do you somehow think He will be unfair, or misunderstand who you are or what you have done?  That is untrue because “the One who knows you best, loves you most.”

Here is a word from the Word. Meditate on the promise. Don’t scurry into the shadows. Step into the Light. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:19-21, NIV)

____________

Lord I Need You
(worship at the link)

Lord I come I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
And without You I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

 Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

 Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

 So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay

 Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

 Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher
© 2011 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Sweater Weather Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055

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Your Birthright!

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I teach a small group of middle schoolers at our Awana (Sunday School).  Yesterday, we went over the most basic, amazingly wonderful, and transformative truth in all of Christianity.  And, what might that be?  I loved the earnestness of those students as they wrestled to understand this passage – “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19, NIV)

Sin came to us through Adam’s Fall. Life Eternal comes to us through Christ Jesus’ Resurrection!  On this Monday morning, I urge you to keep reading even if the story of Jesus and salvation is familiar. Let the declaration of God’s favor fill you up with joy.

Born Again! John tells us that Nicodemus came to see Jesus in the night to avoid being seen. Jesus saw his heart and His word were cryptic to the man, at first.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, NKJV) The man, learned in the Scripture, took Jesus’ words literally and he was confounded.  “How can an old man enter into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus responded to him with the explanation that just as we are born once naturally, we must be born again spiritually! The Bible summarizes the crisis this way. “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.” (Colossians 2:13, NLT)

By faith in Jesus, we are given a new heart, a new start –  “born again.”  Let’s not think of this as just a metaphor for religious reform or a moral renewal.  God does not just put a new paint job on the old house. He rebuilds it. Jesus says we start over, fresh as a newborn baby before God! “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)  Some mistakenly make this only about gaining access to Heaven at the time of death. Wrong! New birth is the preface to living a new life, now. When we are born again, hate is replaced by love, forgiveness replacing bitterness, purpose shaping our choices around something more than the next meal. Because the Spirit makes our spirit alive, we can enjoy a daily conversation with God.

Christian churches are filled with good people who are trying hard to do good things. But, unless they are ‘born again,’ they are still ruled by Self and Sin. There is another powerful word used by the Bible about the state of those who have not accepted Christ Jesus and been born again.  That word? “Slave!”  “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.” (Romans 6:20, NIV)

Before you rush off to your busy week, spend some time with this story that John tells us. As you read thank God for a new birth. Ask the Spirit to shape your life by this transformative truth. Live in the amazing assurance that you are no longer a slave, but now a child of God, your beloved Abba (Daddy).

Here is our word from the Word. “There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. … 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. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. … those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.
” (John 3:1-5, 16-17, 21, NLT)

Believe. Receive. Live!
__________________

No Longer Slaves

(worship at this link)

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my Mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into Your family
Your blood flows through my veins

You split the sea so I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God

Brian Johnson | Joel Case | Jonathan David Helser© 2014 Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

Pastor Jerry Scott
FAITH DISCOVERY CHURCH
www.FaithDiscovery.com

 

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