The Joy of Reconciliation

As I sat to reflect and pray, the phone buzzed signaling a text message.  I picked it up thinking it was a notification from a repair tech scheduled to visit the church.  My eyes took in words that instantly made my heart sing. A person from whom I had been separated by misunderstanding reached out and asked to restore our relationship.

We are often advised to just ‘move on,’  dropping people with whom we have had difference from our lives. Some may think that possible, but I am convinced that unresolved conflicts create a kind of soul wound that never really goes away.  It was my deep joy to return the text, to ask for forgiveness for my part, and to anticipate a time when full restoration of our relationship in Christ is complete!

Do you know the joy of forgiving and being forgiven?
Are you prepared to seek and to give this gift of grace?

Jesus tells us that answered prayer is connected to keeping whole relationships, where it is possible. He said “When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25, NLT)  In another passage He says that hanging onto old resentment is antithetical to living as a forgiven child of God. We are forgiven by God.  How could we decide to refuse forgiveness?

In Matthew 18 we read the story of His answer to Peter’s question about forgiveness. Peter suggests that an offending person should be forgiven seven times, thinking that a generous response. Jesus tells him he has it wrong! “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:22, NLT)   

He told a teaching story about a man who owed the king a huge debt, who came and pled his case before being tossed into debtor’s prison. The king mercifully released the man who promptly left the court and found a man who owed him a little money. He grabbed the man and threatened him with destruction if he did not pay up.

The injustice was too much for those who witnessed this and they reported it to the king who then said, “Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny.” (Matthew 18:32-34, NLT)  Jesus concluded by telling His disciples that this was a model for their forgiveness.

God saved us from eternal destruction, released us at His expense from the penalty of our sinfulness. Now, He desires that we are merciful. Our world desperately needs people of grace and mercy today.  Our nation is tore up by strife. We are ready to ‘cancel’ those whose words offend. We hurl insults at those with whom we disagree. My friend, this ought not be true of Christians. We must pray for tender hearts, asking the Spirit of God to make our first impulse one of mercy.   

I do not mean to imply that forgiveness is a simple thing or that the impulse of grace erases all justice.  Forgiveness, in a godly sense, is never just ‘forgive and forget,’ as if that was even possible. Forgiveness is a process of releasing the offense to God, of processing our emotions in prayer, of asking for His perspective on our pain. It is sometimes very hard! But, it is always possible for us to forgive in a way that leaves the ‘debt’ in the hands of God.  Forgiveness is our personal choice. Reconciliation, the next step, requires two and thus, may sometimes not happen regardless of our own desire.

We must not be too quick to conclude that one prayer will heal us, that one conversation can clear up the fog of misunderstanding and/or offense. Healing of a relationship is similar to healing a physical wound. We must cleanse and care for that cut on our skin as the body heals. We cover the wound, taking care not to further harm it. I love this word:  “Continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8, NLT)  

Wounds of the heart also need time and active care for healing to take place.  The Gospel is sometimes presented in a way that makes it seem that one quick prayer magically wipes out years of pain or regret. It is true that the Cross of Christ is completely sufficient. We are made right with God – completely – by faith.  We gain an unshakeable assurance of eternal life, a gift that is provided fully by His death and resurrection. Our healing, however, is a process.

The value and power of forgiveness cannot be overstated. Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. ” (Luke 11:4, NIV)  He reminds us that our own reconciliation to God requires our willingness to forgive others. Even on the Cross, He showed the way when He cried, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”   

Do old wounds still hurt?
Is the way you live today too often shaped by pain from yesterday?

There is healing in forgiving and being forgiven.  The scars may persist but the pain can be erased. When I was 9, I crashed through a glass door, slicing my wrist deeply, creating a bloody wound. 55 years later I can look still on the marks in my skin that remind me of that frightening blood-soaked experience, but the pain is long gone. 

Ah, Christian, have you received God’s forgiveness and healed? Are you forgiving others and seeking forgiveness where needed?  These are keys to a whole heart.

Here is a word from the Word. “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:12-15, NIV)
_________________

This Is Amazing Grace (sing with Phil Wickman)

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
And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory the King above all kings

(Yeah) (Oh) This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
ou 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 is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy worthy worthy

Phil Wickham © 2012 Phil Wickham Music (Admin. by BMG Rights Management [c/o Music Services, Inc.])

Seems Like Music (Admin. by BMG Rights Management [c/o Music Services, Inc.]) CCLI License # 810055

Trying to ‘fix it?’

I really dislike life’s ‘loose ends.’  I like to finish the job. I try to resolve problems, fix what’s broken, clean up the mess. Even as I write these words, in the back of my mind, I am thinking about getting the latest snow removed from my driveway.  One of the trying things for the recent 11 months is that the pandemic drags on, new wrinkles complicating life just when we hope for better. When will we be able to enjoy company, travel to see family, and gather in church without concern?  When will the sad news of another death from this ‘thing’ stop coming? 

The fact about life is that problems never really go away, they just change names and places. We are tempted, at least most of the people I know are, to wonder if God is working when difficulty resists our efforts at a solution. “Where are You, Lord?” we ask. It’s not wrong to wonder but if we begin to accuse Him of not caring, if we conclude that He is untrustworthy, an even bigger problem is created.  We take things into our own hands, working at controlling people and situations.  And what happens?  We alienate our friends and family. We tend to lose hope and get bitter. We grow more isolated, cutting ourselves off from the very resources we need.

In a little book of Scripture written by a man with a strange name, Habakkuk, we meet a preacher who was frustrated. He saw the godless Assyrian military machine coming at his nation, the people of the Living God.  It made no sense that God would let a terrible, cruel empire overrun Jerusalem, but that was about to happen. “Fix it, Lord, please!” he cried, but the threat only become worse.

Habakkuk gives voice to what we all think at some point:  God is not working.  But, he knew the Lord and went to prayer. The answer he received was a call to steady patience, to long-term vision. “Write my answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that a runner can read it and tell everyone else. But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked; but the righteous will live by their faith.” (Habakkuk 2:2-4, NLT)

Faith, we remember, is ‘the evidence of things unseen.”  (Hebrews 11.1)  We live, indeed we thrive, when we anchor our hope in God’s purposes over our own, when we submit to His will, even when the future is murky.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, teaches patient faith from his own experience. Under house arrest in Rome he cannot continue his missions work.  Even some of his colleagues came to the conclusion that Paul must be doing something wrong causing the Lord to remove his blessings. Paul, with great vision born of faith, saw that the Spirit of God put him in a place of witness inaccessible by normal means. He was guarded by young men of the palace guard, elite men from all over the Empire. Day by day they heard the Gospel.

Paul says “everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ.” (Philippians 1:12-14, NLT)  Some of those guards came to faith in Christ Jesus and took the Message home with them.  Was it costly to Paul? No question about that! But, God let him see from a higher place, to find purpose in the problems!

Are you wondering when God is going to ‘fix it?’  Pray for vision asking the Holy Spirit to steady you until you’re able to grasp the ‘what, why, and when’ of His purposes. That’s not an easy assignment. Those without faith will likely mock you for avoiding ‘reality’ or condemn you for being ‘too passive.’  A few may even adopt the hostility of Job’s wife who saw his terrible suffering and told him to “Curse God and die!” (Job 2.9)  Don’t give up. Like Job, be silent before the Lord even as you hold onto your trust in Him.  God sees your tears and weeps along with you. 

Don’t allow yourself to doubt His love or His ability to accomplish His purposes!   Take this promise with you today.  Meditate on this word from the Word and it will strengthen your faithful resolve to serve the Lord.

“So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
“So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.
The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song.
All the trees of the forest will join the procession,
exuberant with applause.”
(Isaiah 55:11-12, The Message)
____________

Thrive

(Casting Crowns reminds us that God is at work!)

Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died
Like a tree planted by the water
We will never run dry
So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire

Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Into Your Word we’re digging deep
To know our Father’s heart
Into the world we’re reaching out
To show them who You are

Joy unspeakable
Faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable
Anything is possible
We were made to thrive

Mark Hall | Matthew West

© 2014 Atlas Holdings (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing)

Highly Combustible Music (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing)

House of Story Music Publishing (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

Insurance or Investment?

There is a document in my files, an agreement with a company that I hope I never have to use. My homeowner’s policy  would pay for reconstruction in the event of fire or flood. It would protect me in the event of a suit for another’s injury on my property. It is an important thing to have but something bought and forgotten for the most part. The various insurance policies that are in place to mitigate the impact of disaster on my life actually cost me several hundreds of dollars each month! But, to go without homeowner’s, health, auto, and life insurance would be a shortsighted choice- pennywise and dollar foolish.  A person who financially astute person buys insurance, enough but not excessive. It would be folly for me to buy a $1,000,000 policy on my home which is worth much less. Insurance is an expense.  

I send money off to another firm each month, too. Those funds are an investment!  I anticipate receiving this money back, plus accrued interest, at a point in the future.  I retain an active interest in those dollars, checking rates of return periodically, shifting ratios of investment to take advantage of opportunities as the economic climate changes.

So what’s my point today? 
How do you regard your Christianity? 
Is your practice a kind of ‘fire insurance,’ a  minimal expense of time and money spent to in the hope of avoiding eternal destruction,
or is your faith an investment that anticipates a rich return, both in this life and the one to come?   

A company seeking investment discloses its financial state and the anticipated rates of return to potential investors.  God gave us a promise of a rich return on investment in the work of His Kingdom. When we pour ourselves, our time, our resources into His work – worshipping, serving, giving – with joy, we can rightly expect that He will keep safe our treasure; with a reward of true wealth for our lives – present and future. 

Jesus gives this investment advice- “Don’t store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them.” (Matthew 6:19-20, CEV)   In the middle of a talk about  generosity of heart that reaches beyond money, Jesus promised this – “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full— pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38, NLT)

I hope you do not read that as ‘I put into $1 and He returns $100!’  The rewards of a life invested Christ’s enterprise are deeper and richer than a bigger bank account balance! In a passage that is too often set in the context of taking a collection at church, Paul speaks of the way a Believer invests his life.  

The law of sowing and reaping is foundational to the thought. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-11, NIV)

Are you generous in love, in forgiveness, in service? Which is your first thought: to preserve your own life, or to give yourself away for the purposes to which God calls? Note that phrase, “God is able to make ALL GRACE abound to you.” He is our Source of every good gift of life. As we give, He returns grace, “pouring on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.” (The Message)

If we are invested in Heaven’s treasure, we will live in peace, our minds and hearts resting on the One who is now managing our life treasure. Paul penned words of assurance, words that reflect the investment of his life in Heaven’s secure bank.  He was about to die as a martyr in Rome.  Is he bitter, wondering how a life given to God could end this way?  Is he full of regret wishing he had remained an obscure tentmaker? No, he is looking forward to a reward!  “I am not ashamed, (embarrassed by my present circumstances) because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (the Day of Judgment)” (2 Timothy 1:12, NIV)  “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8, NIV)

Summing up today, I ask – 

How do you think of your Christianity,
as insurance – minimal outlay to secure present wealth the in event of catastrophe;
or as an investment – maximum participation with assured return in Eternity? 
Your answer will shape every decision, every part of your life.

The word from the Word for the day.  “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”  (1 Timothy 6:17-19, ESV)

______________________

Build My Life

(A great song that points us to real faith in the Builder)

Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sin
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You

Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You We live for You

Holy there is no one like You
There is none besides You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me

I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken

Brett Younker | Karl Martin | Kirby Elizabeth Kaple | Matt Redman | Pat Barrett

© 2016 Martin, Karl Andrew (Admin. by Arkyard Music Services Limited)

Kaple Music (Admin. by Bethel Music Publishing)

Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

Yes! Amen!

Words are a wonderful gift, aren’t they?  Words can soothe, excite, inform, comfort, motivate …  and more.  Tragically, in our time, words are cheap, multiplied and amplified. Today a trial will start in the United States Senate that is mostly about how words were used by our former President. Some insist he was trying to incite a  crowd to violence and insurrection. Others say he was giving a political speech to his supporters.  Whatever the outcome of that bit of political theater, without any doubt I believe that ‘free speech’ is in peril in our nation.  We must carefully choose our words, avoiding those that ‘trigger’ others.  If we have thoughts or ideas that are anathema to those with authority, we know the best choice presently is to keep those ideas to ourselves, lest we lose our job, get banned from social media, or risk an outpouring of shame.

Certainly we ought to use the gift of words wisely. Slanderous words, untruthful words, judgmental words have no place in the Christian’s life.  Basic to our Christianity is the concept that we say what we mean and mean what we say. Jesus told us “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37, NIV)  There should be no reason for anyone to question our sincerity, to wonder if we are using words to deceive, to mislead, or to manipulate. When we are secure in His love, when evil’s darkness is overcome by His pure light, Jesus says that our words will reveal that fact.  What we say is, He says, the overflow of what and Who is at the core of our being.

Anxiety will lead to fearful words. Insecurity will lead to critical words. Envy will lead to demeaning words. Peace will produce words of comfort. Hope will produce words that edify. Love, at the center, will produce words that heal and bring life. James, the apostle who practically challenges us to holy lives, speaks directly to our use of words. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” (James 3:9-11, NIV)  

Who are you at the center of your being? Does the tone and content of your communication reveal at heart at peace with God, that you are being filled with the Spirit’s life- evidenced in “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”? (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)  If our words are foul, hateful, or cruel the remedy is not a better filter at our lips but a transformation of our heart! My prayer – “Lord, change my heart! Fill me with Your grace.” Can you say an Amen?

My friend, know this: God’s Words are secure, true, and worthy of our trust!  The enemy of your soul and all that is good uses the same tactic on us of which we read in the story of Eden. His goal is to drive a wedge between us and God Himself.  The devil prods around the edge of our mind asking ‘Did God really say?’  ‘Can He be trusted to do good?’ ‘What of those things in your life that are so hard, so painful?’  There are experiences that defy our understanding, in which the ways of God are beyond our comprehension. However, we are secure in His promises. 

Paul reminds us that God’s “YES” means that. We need not doubt His love or our salvation. “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, never wavers between yes and no. He is the one whom Timothy, Silas, and I preached to you, and he is the divine Yes—God’s affirmation. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in him. That is why we say “Amen” when we give glory to God through Christ. It is God who gives us, along with you, the ability to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us.” (2 Corinthians 1:19-22, NLT)

What kind of heart are your words revealing this day? Let’s go back to His Word, anchor our lives in His Promise, and become people who speak words of life.

Here is a word from the Word. It is a prayer excerpted from the 119th Psalm, a song of the power of the Word of God. Let’s make it our prayer today.

“Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope.
Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.
The proud hold me in utter contempt,
but I do not turn away from your law.
I meditate on your age-old laws; O Lord, they comfort me.

I am furious with the wicked, those who reject your law.
Your principles have been the music of my life
throughout the years of my pilgrimage.
I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord,
and I obey your law because of this.
This is my happy way of life:
obeying your commandments.”
(Psalm 119:49-56, NLT)

____________

All Your Promises (An old praise song about His faithful word)

Oh Lord our Lord
How majestic is Your name
Your words are true
Your mercy does not change
All Your promises are precious
Reviving our faith
Ev’ry one of them
Will be fulfilled one day oh

All Your promises
Are yes and amen Jesus
Your promises are true
All Your promises
Are yes and amen Lord Jesus
We’ll keep running after You

We will run
We’ll run and not grow weary
We will rise upon the eagle’s wings
In the presence of the Lord
Our spirits will soar
Till we one day gaze upon our King oh

My foot had almost slipped
Oh Lord you know I’d almost lost my way
‘Till I entered the house of the Lord
And heard Your sweet Spirit say oh
All Your promises
Are yes and amen Jesus

Your promises are true
All Your promises
Are yes and amen Lord Jesus
We’ll keep running after You

Andrew Smith © 1995 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing (Admin. by Vineyard Music USA) Vineyard Songs Canada (Admin. by Vineyard Music USA)

CCLI License # 810055

Hold the Line

All of us have moments when we think, “I cannot do this even one more day!”  Last night, as I prayed about the day, for some reason I remembered an awful evening in December, 2015, just a couple of weeks before Bev died, when exhaustion – emotional, spiritual, and physical – caught up with me.  Her long struggle with cancer was obviously coming to an end, she was unable to care for herself, weak and mentally confused. After helping her get ready for bed, which at that point was much like caring for an infant, seeing her deathly pallor, I collapsed in tears. Frustrated, sad, angry, confused, worn down – it seemed like despite my intense love for her that I could not do it all even one more day.  But, I did.

That evening, God sent two friends who saw my need. They urged me to get some rest, told me that they would take over for a while. I found a place alone, where I wept, prayed incoherently for the sustaining grace of God, and put the pieces of life back together.

That is a hard memory and I only share it because I want you to know that you can keep going!  When you think the well is dry, you can dig deeper and find a way. You are stronger than you think and God has resources for you, if only you will ask. Oh yes, we pray for fairy tale ending, don’t we? I wanted Him to heal Bev. I dreamed about having a whole and loving wife back again, but that was not His plan. That pit was deep and the months that followed her death the pit got even deeper.

But, now with 5 years of perspective, I use Paul’s words to describe His faithfulness: “We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead. And he did deliver us from mortal danger. And we are confident that he will continue to deliver us.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10, NLT)

In those awful years I re-discovered a plain, perhaps too obvious truth. Christian, God needs people who are willing to be steady plodders. Consistency must not be overlooked or under-rated.  We often find ourselves admiring those who are attractive, who look like they are untouched by the trials of the ordinary mortals. Have you ever wondered, “Why can’t my job be as fulfilling as his?”  “Why isn’t my marriage as loving as theirs?”  “Why is my faith so tested and theirs comes so easily?” 

The fact is much of the time we are deceived by appearance, unable to see the struggle beneath the surface.  If we let ourselves become captives of envy, we who are ordinary mortals may well decide that we do not have ‘what it takes’ to compete in the race, to bring glory to God. One of the Devil’s most successful lies is this – “You don’t measure up so give up, retreat, surrender.”  In that choice the Kingdom loses a faithful servant of Christ.

While watching the SuperBowl last night, I heard a lot of talk about Tom Brady, who is undoubtably an outstanding leader and quarterback. Those men who stand on the offensive line in front of him, men seldom named, who almost never win the Most Valuable Player award, make it possible for Brady to do what he does! They get slammed, play after play, to keep him from being touched so he can throw those passes or make the hand-off. Stars may get the attention, but the faithful plodders carry the heaviest part of the load in life.

On this Monday morning are you wondering how you can make it to Friday?
Does the thought that you just cannot do it another day play through your mind?  You can!

Pause, even for a moment, and look up.  
Pray! Eloquence is not needed. “O God, I need You” is enough.
Then, receive the strength, the provision, He gives. 

The Spirit of God is with us, right here, right now. He gives strength to the faithful who seek Him. God, the Spirit, asks us to keep walking in His strength.  Plodders needed who, in those moments, choose to put one foot in front of the other. Paul reminds us: “I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.” (2 Timothy 2:10-12, NLT)  Keep walking!

Take the wisdom of God’s Word to heart. Our word from the Word says “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. … So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:23-24, 35-36, NLT) 

Then, you will be able to look back and say – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NKJV)

Ah, disciple, I want to finish well and hear His commendation, don’t you?

______________

Who You Say I Am

Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

Free at last
He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me

In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

I am chosen not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me not against me
I am who You say I am

(Oh) (Yes) I am who You say I am

Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan © 2017 Hillsong Music Publishing Australia (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

I Love Me!

The tragic story of Edward VIII fascinates me as a lesson in regrettable choices!  He was born a prince, became loved by the English for being approachable, very different from their king. He was handsome, intelligent, and engaging; but undisciplined. When his father died in January, 1936, he became the King and Emperor of empire that spanned a quarter of the world.  

Just 11 months into his reign, he became the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne, a decision he made after the British government, public, and the Church of England condemned his decision to marry the twice-divorced American – Wallis Warfield Simpson. He lived out the rest of his life without purpose, a part of the ‘café society,’ giving lavish parties for celebrities, indulging his desires for clothes, fine food, and exotic vacations. Even his friends and close associates described his life as ‘shallow.’  Those who knew him well saw a man who, in spite of wealth and comfort, was a tragic figure, deeply sad.

In our time the worship of Self is taught from our earliest years. The best life is supposed to be found in ‘being your best self,’ chasing your bliss. We tend to discard relationships rather quickly if they become inconvenient or difficult. We regard self-sacrifice with deep suspicion, skeptical about the value of putting God, family, church, or country above our own ‘needs.’   

“Me first!” is an American as apple pie. The evidence of our self-love is everywhere, seen in the disappearing pool of volunteers that are needed to staff fire companies, ambulance corps, and church ministries, for example.  Our government is besieged by interest groups clamoring for their ‘rights’ to be recognized while our disunity tears us apart. We talk about cooperation but do political war to protect our own interest. Our failure of discipline is evident in our crisis of health that comes from high rates of obesity.  We insist that most any sexual expression is ‘natural’ in spite of multiple negative consequences for family stability.

Jesus meets a culture of indulgence with a call to follow Him with an obedient heart.  His invitation to real and lasting life is nearly incomprehensible to those who are addicted to Self.  He holds open the door saying, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8:34-37, NLT)  Can you hear Him?

Saying “yes” to God’s will, when everything in us is screaming for “freedom,” is hard- so hard it feels like dying.  Every person who chooses to say yes to the Spirit of God will encounter situations where Self meets the compelling voice of the Spirit.  It is quite natural to feel an internal war!  An honest disciple will find a prayer like this  on their lips more than a few times –  “Jesus, I don’t want to do that. You’re asking too much. It just doesn’t make sense.” 

Even Jesus, the sinless Son of God, prayed about the difficulty of doing His Father’s will. The night before the Cross He was in agony – suffering emotionally, spiritually, and with knowledge of the awful cross that was before Him. He prayed “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup.”  He did not get up from that place of tears to do what He wanted.  He surrendered“Do what You want, and not what I want.” (Matthew 26:39, CEV)  

His obedience brought us salvation and “God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11, NLT)   A cross led to a crown.  It still does. Every day we can choose our way – to serve Self or to serve Christ.  We cannot do both. I would be lying if I said we could not find some measure of happiness by seeking our own way, by serving our desires. 

Self has a big appetite that grows when we feed it! There will never be enough.
We can, by faith and in love, choose the way of the Cross, dying to Self, and embracing obedience. 
In this, we find God’s commendation and a life of purpose, of lasting joy, and Heaven’s rich reward.

Our word from the Word asks great faith of us.  It is an invitation to a counter-cultural life, one that seeks God.  
Jesus says “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

“Don’t be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself. Before you know it the Son of Man will arrive with all the splendor of his Father, accompanied by an army of angels. You’ll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift. This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you standing here are going to see it take place, see the Son of Man in kingdom glory.” (Matthew 16:24-28, The Message)

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________________

O Come To The Altar
(an invitation song … from Elevation Worship)

Are you hurting and broken within
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well
Jesus is calling

O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling

Oh what a Savior
Isn’t he wonderful
Sing alleluia Christ is risen
Bow down before him|
For he is Lord of all
Sing alleluia Christ is risen

Bear your cross as you wait for the crown
Tell the world of the treasure you’ve found

Chris Brown | Mack Brock | Steven Furtick | Wade Joye© 2015 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

Knock on wood

“Thank the Lord!” I exclaimed, as I reached over and knocked on a wood table.  I was joking, not about being thankful, but about the old superstition of knocking on wood. Some think that the practice goes back to the ancient nature worship of the Celtic people who believed that spirits lived in trees and that ‘knocking on wood’ roused them to bring good luck.  How about a ‘lucky rabbit’s foot?’  Could that item really keep ‘bad luck’ away? I am full of faith, but I am not superstitious!    

Christian, do you think that going to a church, wearing a cross, or saying the “Lord’s Prayer” wards off bad luck?  Are you confusing discipleship with superstition?  

Here is a check on that.  When life is rough, when some big decision needs to be made, do you suddenly get religion?   If Jesus is more like a lucky rabbit’s foot than your Lord, a lot of “God talk” will show up in your conversations when life gets dicey. The superstitious decide it is important to go to church when a suspicious lump shows up under their arm.  When their son goes off to war they put the Bible they have not really opened for years on display in their home. I am not poking fun at such things but practices like that do resemble carrying a rabbit’s foot for good luck more than true Christianity. 

Disciples of Christ are faithfully devoted and their lives are centered on obedience to the will of God. They act in faith, on sunny days and stormy days, making the directives of the Word their first priority all the time.

Jesus describes the life of the disciple as one of close connectedness with the Spirit that gives life. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:5-8, NLT)

Think with me about that phrase – ‘producing much fruit.’ If you visit an orchard seeing fruit on the branches of an apple tree is a sure sign of life. Dead trees do not produce fruit.  Yes, a fruit tree must be tended to by the owner, pruned and sprayed,  to enhance both the quantity and quality of the fruit, but life makes apples appear.  A person who is “in Christ” through faith will produce evidence of that life. Through divine pruning the fruitfulness of his life will be maximized. 

Unlike a passive apple tree we who are Jesus’ followers (disciples) have an active part in the process. Jesus says “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4, NIV)  That word, ‘remain,’ means that we choose to live with, to stay near, to be close. We do not do this just when we need some ‘good luck.’  Walking with Jesus is our life, a daily choice, a priority in our private thoughts, our work life, our family time, and in our worship.

The blessing of going beyond a superstitious religion and becoming a true disciple is the meaning, the purpose, the steadiness that is discovered in Him. The Presence of the Holy Spirit spills over from that person into the lives of those with whom they interact. When tough or spiritually dry times come they have a reservoir of faith on which to draw.  Most importantly, that person fulfills the true reason for human existence which is to glorify God. 

Friend, there is a real depth of character, a truly effective faith, found in real connection with Christ which stands in stark contrast to the shallow superstition of the religious. Have you found that kind of faith and built your life on it? I encourage you to choose to love and serve Christ – all the time, in every situation, as much when the sun is shining brightly as when the darkest clouds are approaching.

Here is the word from the Word. The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Proverbs 4:18, NIV)

Now, what are you going to do with that old rabbit’s foot?

______________

Lord Reign In Me

Over all the earth You reign on high
Every mountain stream every sunset sky
But my one request Lord my only aim
Is that You’d reign in me again

Lord reign in me
Reign in Your pow’r
Over all my dreams in my darkest hour
You are the Lord of all I am
So won’t You reign in me again

Over every thought over every word
May my life reflect the beauty of my Lord
‘Cause You mean more to me
Than any earthly thing
So won’t You reign in me again

Brenton Brown © 1998 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire) (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook))

CCLI License # 810055

Pastor Jerry Scott
Faith Discovery Church
FaithDiscovery.com

Living in an uncertain world

The Messenger app on my phone buzzed around 7 pm and a picture of a car appeared, upside down, airbags deployed. Recognizing it as belonging to one of my kids. My heart skipped a beat, and I hurried to read the words … and found that my granddaughter and daughter-in-law were OK,  just bruised and shaken up. The other driver was fine, too.  Only then did my tears fall, and my eyes still well up with emotion this morning thinking about the wreck.  A generation ago, before the advances in automobile safety, the report would likely have read much differently!  

Yes, life is  fragile. We learn to live with that knowledge, but keep it mostly out of our consciousness.  If we thought about too much, fear would paralyze us, making daily life an impossibility.  Then, a near miss with death or injury knocks our illusions down and we are reminded that it is God’s grace that we are seeing another day. Sometimes it isn’t a miss!  We might run headlong into a crisis that changes us forever. Such was my encounter with mortality as I watched my late wife valiantly live and die with cancer six years ago.

In my morning reflection I turned to the words of James. His little letter near the back of our Bible is pragmatic, blunt, directive. He does not have the eloquence of Paul, nor does he focus on the wonder of God’s grace. His words are ‘in your face’ challenges to live what we believe.  ” Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15, NIV)

Under the Spirit’s inspiration, Pastor James holds two truths in a tension that gives us balance and creates wisdom.

First he reminds us that life, as we see it,  is uncertain

As much as we might want to control all outcomes, we need to know that we cannot. A snowstorm blew over my state on Sunday, dumping 31 inches of the white stuff on us over a 48 hour period. Life stopped. Plans changed. It is a minor inconvenience but a reminder of the unknowns.  The world deals with a pandemic that turned life inside out 10 months ago.  The best and brightest are still trying to figure out the best way forward. Thousands still grieve the ultimate result of COVID, left with memories of a loved one who was taken, sometimes in a matter of days.

If we are realistic about our limits of control, we will grow wiser. I’m glad my kids bought a car with features like airbags, well-engineered for safety. That’s wisdom, not fear.  Years ago, knowing that it was likely that a time would come when my earning ability would be diminished, I set aside some money regularly.  At the end of 2021, when I step down from the pulpit, those funds will become essential.  But, safer cars and 401(k) accounts are no guarantee that we will escape the uncertainty of living in a world where there is cancer, wrecks, financial crisis, and COVID.  “You are a mist.”

So …

Second, James reminds us that we trust the ‘will of God!’

Here is the true security of the Christian. He knows, by faith, that the Lord of the Universe holds his life in His hands. We need humility to say, “Lord, lead me.”  This is not resignation to fate. This is a choice of wisdom that allows us to avoid spending our lives in trivial pursuits.  Asking God to lead us will cause us to love Him and others better, to be generous, to see life with an eternal perspective.  Those things that cause such stress – machines that break, rude people,  crazy politics – fade in significance if we know that we are on our way Home and can be led by the hand of God.

The Song of Moses (Psalm 91) includes this line – “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NIV)  Lord, help me to know I won’t live forever so that I will live my best life in Your will right now!  

Are you living wisely and well, dear friend?  There is no need to be pre-occupied with death and danger. That is a terrible way to live and Jesus says it is foolish, too.  His words are our word from the Word today.  I hope they are comforting and instructive.  I have chosen to use the modern language paraphrase of Scripture, The Message.  Read these excerpts from Matthew 6 and soak your heart in faith!

“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.  … “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:25-34, The Message)

____________

My Life Is In Your Hands
(The Brooklyn Tabernacle choir sings the Kirk Franklin song so well!)

You don’t have to worry
And don’t you be afraid
Joy comes in the morning
Troubles they don’t last always

For there’s a friend named Jesus
Who will wipe your tears away
And if your heart is broken
Just lift your hands and say

(Oh) I know that I can make it
I know that I can stand
No matter what may come my way
My life is in Your hands

With Jesus I can take it
With Him I know I can stand
No matter what may come my way
My life is in Your hands

So when your tests and trials
They seem to get you down
And all your friends and loved ones
Are nowhere to be found

Remember there’s a friend named Jesus
Who will wipe your tears away
And if your heart is broken
Just lift your hands and say
My life is in Your hands (3X)

Kirk Franklin © 1996 Lilly Mack Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

Lord, help me!

Gerard Baker writes in the Wall Street Journal about the perspectives that keep Americans yelling at each other across deep divides. “In our hyperpartisan, post-truth, fit-any-fact-to-your-narrative world, everything is a Rorschach test. Trump partisans can behold an election result they don’t like and see nothing but fraud, conspiracy and theft. Democrats can look at two sets of riotous mobs and see treason and insurrection in one and peaceful protest and urgent cries for justice in the other.”   The constant scream that is our public discourse these days heightens my anxiety and, I confess, drags me into the anger too often.  

Christ, my King, calls me to peace, invites me to live without fear. But, too often, I don’t!  In my prayer before falling asleep last night I asked Him to help me, to teach me how to live centered in the serenity that is part of my birthright as a child of God. Yes, I know, some of you might be saying, “Jerry, just turn off the news.”  Sometimes that is the best choice. A constant diet of MSNBC, CNN, or FOXNEWS will leave the soul in an awful state. However, real peace is not found in ignoring the world around us. That’s called ‘escapism.’ Sooner or later, we have to deal with reality.

The Holy Spirit can change me so that I can live as a godly man in the middle of the ‘war’ bearing witness to the Light of Life, the Prince of Peace, the Living Word, the Way, the Truth. I know this. Why don’t I do better?

The first thing I must do, repeatedly, is remind myself of who I am and what is my true identity. The Word tells me that I am ‘in Christ.’ “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14, NIV)  God loves me, invites me to trust Him, and makes me His own.  My politics, the government that issues my passport, the amount of my financial resources, the color of my skin … none of these things are my primary identity.  I am defined by being ‘in Christ!’

When we know this, confirming it with faith, there is a promise that God makes: “Those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:30-35, NIV) Strife, politics, COVID19, and that ‘other’ party (whatever your convictions) are not greater than God’s love for me.

I have started to go to sleep with the words of the Shepherd’s Psalm on my lips, speaking those ancient words of hope aloud, a confession of my faith.  

From the start, there is hope.  “The Lord is MY Shepherd.”  He knows ME (you, too) and cares for ME providing me (and YOU) with ‘green pastures and still waters,’ a way of saying a place to live with fullness and serenity. Those words are not just pretty poetry. They are truth for life.

What is the greatest fear of most people? Death!  But, the Words says that those who let the Shepherd lead can be at peace even when walking through ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’  Ponder that! Where no one can travel with us, He is there. 

These days there is one more phrase that captivates me.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” (Psalm 23:5, NIV) This truth, I pray, will keep me from descending into the pits of anger and strife. It is such a curious image that David is inspired to create for us. Let me paraphrase it: “You invite me to sit down to dinner in the middle of the battle.”  

Dinnertime, for our family, was the high point of the day. When we gathered to our table, to share a meal, there was much more than just eating going on. There we shared our lives, renewed our bonds to one another, laughed, cried, talked about our day, and got up with a full heart as well as a full belly. Talk to my children who are now in mid-life and they will reminisce about those ‘dinner table talks.’

Our Father invites us to pull up a chair and commune with Him despite the noise and fury of life’s battle. Struggling with temptation? Feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the future? Lost your peace, angry, ready to let loose on those you around you?  Having difficulty holding onto faith?  He says, “Let’s talk about it.”   

The word from the Word is an invitation. I am confessing this word, asking for deeper faith that is anchored in my true Hope. How about you? 

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:16, NLT)  “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. This is the new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of his death for us. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him.” (Hebrews 10:19-22, NLT)  Amen!

______________

Way Maker

(Let this song move you to worship and praise for God’s preparations)

You are here moving in our midst
I worship You I worship You
You are here working in this place
I worship You I worship You
Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper,
Light in the darkness, my God that is who You are

You are here touching ev’ry heart
I worship You I worship You
You are here healing ev’ry heart
I worship You I worship You

You are here turning lives around
I worship You I worship You
You are here mending ev’ry heart
I worship You yeah I worship You Lord
That is who You are

That is who You are
That is who You are
That is who You are

Even when I don’t see it You’re working
Even when I don’t feel it You’re working
You never stop You never stop working
You never stop You never stop working

Osinachi Kalu Okoro Egbu © 2016 Integrity Music Europe (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music [DC Cook]))

CCLI License # 810055

World’s greatest …

We tend to be impressed by those things and places that can claim to be the ‘world’s greatest.’  There’s a book for that, the Guinness Book of World Records. In 1951, Hugh Beaver, managing director of the Guinness Breweries, went hunting in Ireland.  He missed a shot which launched an argument about the ‘fastest’ game bird. In a pub later that evening he realized that no authoritative source existed and the idea for the book was born. 

Wikipedia says “Beaver knew that there must have been numerous other questions debated nightly in pubs throughout Ireland and abroad, but there was no book in the world with which to settle arguments about records. He realized then that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove successful.” Since The Guinness Book of Records was first published in August 1954, a 100 million copies have been sold!  Such is our love of all things amazing.

Many of us tend to think that the best Christians must be people of stellar abilities, who do great things, gaining the admiration of many. In our ordinary lives, we might be tempted to think our faith is inconsequential, our influence for His Kingdom non-existent. Jesus says otherwise. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”  (Matthew 13:31-33, NLT)

Our faith, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is like a seed that just grows! If you take a little seed, a package of potential life and place in the earth, providing it with moisture and heat, it will germinate sending up a shoot that grows, and grows, and grows.  Ever tripped over a sidewalk’s slab of concrete that is displaced by the roots of a tall maple tree?  That mighty force began with a little seed that grew! Ever looked over a garden filled with produce that will feed many? Those plants started from little seeds.  

Jesus occasionally did big, impressive miracles to attract attention of the crowds;  but the greater work of the Kingdom was the seed of Truth that He planted in the hearts and minds of people.  That truth still accomplishes a quietly persistent influence around the world in individual lives. When we respond to Christ’s invitation with faith and begin to live in the Spirit, that Truth will change us:  sinners into saints. Christians who live their faith can and do transform entire cultures. The influence of the Kingdom of God will make the world a new and different place. 

A few of us may grow into world-class evangelists or have the opportunity to invent a medicine that saves millions. One of us might write a book that becomes a best-selling source of information for thousands. Most of us will live a life of quiet influence, loving God, loving others, living our faith consistently for Christ, largely in obscurity.  That does not mean we are without value to Him.

On this Monday morning, I want to encourage you to renewed faith in God’s desire to use you. Ask Him to help you to be faithful where you are. Mom are you feeling fairly useless as a Christian because so much of your time is devoted to wiping little noses and cleaning up after toddlers? For this time, your place of service is right in front of you.  Perhaps you feel stuck in a job that is dull. That place is your place of influence. It may be that you are limited by sickness or mostly at home because of age. Your faith is still alive, your prayers still a force with which the world must reckon!

Trust God to work through you with the persistent power potential that is in the seed of His Truth. 

Receive it with thanksgiving.
Water it with prayer and reflection. 
Let the Spirit change YOU, inside out;
and then He can change YOUR world through you.

Godly character will surely grow!   He may choose to do big, impressive miracles through you, even in you. However, most of the time His work will done quietly, over time, like the growth of a seed into a fruitful tree.  Don’t be discouraged by the slow pace of change.  Don’t let charlatans seduce you with promises of spiritual transformation resulting from quick and easy techniques.  Instead, be steady. You never know just how your faith is working in your family, in your circle of friends, in the community where you live.

Here’s a word from the Word, full of promise. I pray it will stir new confidence in you, helping you to wait on His will steadily.

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers.

But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants;
day and night they think about his law.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail.
Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.

But this is not true of the wicked.
They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
Sinners will have no place among the godly.

For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,
but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.”
(Psalm 1, NLT)

___________________

Take My Life And Let It Be
( a prayer in song for this Monday morning! )

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated Lord to Thee
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love

Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee

Take my voice and let me sing
Always only for my King


Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee

Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated Lord to Thee

Take my heart and let it be
Dedicated Lord to Thee

Take my love my Lord I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be
Ever only for my King

Frances Ridley Havergal | Henri Abraham Cesar Malan
© Words: Public Domain