Month: May 2020

Sunday Service – Now Available

Sorry we couldn’t meet up today, but I hope you will be inspired by Bob’s message and the songs we were going to hear in this week’s service video. It’s all here for your spiritual enhancement, so please click below and have a blessed home-service and a wonderful week.

Philippians 1:18-20

Prayer-

Dear God, deliver me from secondary priorities. Help me to see clearly as I read your Word. May my heart be open to learn. May I then have the courage to act consistent with what I’ve learned. Amen.

Scripture-

          Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

Some thoughts-

          Paul puts an unusual spin on things here, if we catch it. He says that he knows that “through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” We assume that deliverance always means release from prison, complete healing, whatever good thing we want in this life. Don’t we pray that way most of the time? And at first it sounds like that is what Paul is saying- “Through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit…” equals my deliverance. But then he continues, to talk about not being ashamed, and Christ being exalted in his body.

          For Paul, deliverance is glorifying God, “whether by life OR by death.” Deliverance is having sufficient courage. We want healing. We want liberation from incarceration. Paul wants to have courage to exalt Jesus.

Today, what kind of deliverance do YOU want? Deliverance from alcohol, drugs, some other habit or addiction? Deliverance from a bad marriage, bad job, bad life choice? No consequence for bad behavior?

How might those issues resolve themselves if our deliverance looked like making sure we exalted Christ with our bodies, whether by life or by death? What if, indeed.

Prayer-

Today, Heavenly Father, may my life glorify and exalt you and your son Jesus. May other things find their appropriate place once I make you most important, love you most of all, and serve you with my whole heart.

On Bravery

(This post was written by our dear sister Ginger Hernandez.)

This past New Years I was thinking about what kind of resolution I wanted to make. I was holding my month-and-a-half-old baby and I just wanted to be better for Grace. There are so many things I wanted to be, but what they boiled down to were to be brave. I may make this into a series of articles on the topic of bravery, but for this one, the focus will be on Matthew 10. I encourage reading through the chapter.

At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus sends out the 12 disciples and gives them power over evil spirits and to heal every disease (v.1). He tells them that they are to go “saying, ‘the kingdom of God is at hand.’ “ and that they are going to heal people who are sick and also cast out demons (vv. 6-8). They were going to be doing all these great things in the name of God and it all sounds good, but then Jesus follows it up with some scary stuff:

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake to bear witness to the Gentiles” (vv. 16-18).

Then in verse 21, Jesus continues by saying families will turn on each other because of the ministry that he is sending his disciples and that the twelve “…will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (v. 22). Being Jesus’ disciple has heavy consequences.

I often find myself wanting to do brave things, like help homeless people, talk to my neighbors about Jesus, make artwork to glorify God, tell people about how my relationship with God has changed my life. But I’m afraid of not being taken seriously, of doing it wrong and coming off as stupid or of people avoiding me because of it or people becoming outright angry at me. This cowardliness brings me shame. Is it possible that I want the glory of doing a good thing more than I want to glorify God?

This fear gets in the way of me living out God’s purpose, not just for me but for other people around me as well. If people are not shown the glory of God, afterall, how can they ever know it? But Jesus continues in v. 22 : “But the one who endures to the end will be saved,” and then in vv. 28-33:

“…Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both the soul and the body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And one does not fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven, but he who denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Fear of the rejection and consequences from people by living for Jesus are only temporary. We must trust that God loves us as his children and keeps his promises. It is distrust in that, it is submitting to the fear, instead of to the Father, that separates us from God and puts us in reach of Satan.

I set out this year to become a braver person. I want to be a better Christian because it’s not just my soul anymore. As I type these words, I see that it always has been more than just my soul; it’s everyone around me as well. I have made small strides in becoming more outspoken about my faith. I have started sharing things on social media. I wrote this article. My dad is preparing for a podcast on YouTube, and asked me to help him with the script and to make the logo. I was asked to work with the older kids to make a special painting for Easter. That got put on hold, but there are going to be other Easters and I won’t let Satan win this time. I’m learning to be brave and to want God to be seen in the world more than I want the world to see me and more than my fear of being exposed. I still have so much to do, so please pray with me that I can do it.

Philippians 1:18-19

Prayer– Heavenly Father, you haven’t given me everything I’ve asked you for. What’s up with that? Don’t you love me? What do you mean today’s Scripture is just for me, today? Help me read, learn, and grow up.

Scripture- Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

Thoughts for the day– Paul says, in effect, “I’ve already been rejoicing, filled with joy- (1:4, 1:18), but now I continue what for me IS continuous.” Oh yes, that SO describes me (Bob)… right? And you, too? Later (2:14), Paul will tell them to do everything without complaining or arguing. Interesting contrast, isn’t it, between celebrating and being appreciative for what God is already doing in His world, written from prison, and complaining (ie. Dissatisfied with what God is doing in the world), written from the outside. Later (4:12) Paul will disclose- “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Contentment and joy are expressions of a heart that is willing to let God be God, confident that the painful stuff serves a useful purpose every bit as much as the fun stuff. Paul knows that although the painful stuff is, well, painful, we need it if we are to mature and grow.

So I am confronted with that meddling moment of “reality check”- Am I better described as joyful (“Joy-full”) or complaining or arguing? Are my plans thwarted by what God is allowing, or am I excited about what God is doing in the world, and looking for where I can join the dance? (More about this tomorrow!)

Prayer– LORD Jesus, thank you for saving me where I am, loving me so much, and then promising to transform me into what I could be, should be, if I am willing to let you mold and shape me, using the tools YOU choose, instead of the ones I prefer. Please help me to be joyful, “whatever the circumstances”… oh, and content, too, even during this period of quarantine! You began the good work in me; I am excited to watch (and participate in) you “carry (ing) it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (1:6) Contented joy- what a concept, in the name of Jesus my Savior.

Philippians 1:12-18

PrayerFather, help me to focus on You right now, and how and why to share You with others. Your love is great, and the need is real.

Scripture- 12 Now I want you to know, brothers (and sisters), that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Thoughts to share– “What are YOU in for?” always seems to be the opening item of interest when someone is incarcerated. “Well, I didn’t do it,” whatever it was. Nobody who was every arrested admitted they did it, except for Jesus and his followers. “Yes, it is as you say…” (I am the Messiah, Matt. 26:64). Peter says in Acts 4:9-10, “  If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” Yup, we did it. Here Paul says that “it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” (1:13) What are you in for? Teaching about Jesus. Guilty as charged. I haven’t murdered, stolen, lied, broken the law in any way, but I HAVE taught folks about Jesus. That’s my crime.

Not only was that Paul’s crime, but it was clear to “the whole palace guard and to everyone else,” That THAT was Paul’s crime, the only reason that he was locked up. Not pick-pocketing; not leading insurrections, like so many Jewish nationalists; not even peaceful civil disobedience. None of the usual offences. His crime was teaching people about Jesus. Today, what’s MY crime? Would it be “clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else” that it is for teaching about Christ that I should be locked up? Would people even know I taught about Jesus? What am I known for? What are you known for?

“The important thing is that in every way…Christ is preached.” Today, in my life, IS that the important thing? I need to get my taxes done, and file for Medicare, and work on the sermon… And those ARE important things, plural. But what is THE important thing? Through all those things, and a whole lot more, through my actions AND my words, is Christ preached?

This morning, Nancy and I walked our dogs with 3 different women from our neighborhood. It’s kind of this social distancing social time that we have- for Nancy, every morning, for me…not so much…too early… I listened to Nancy proclaim Christ through her conversations- about dogs, about church, about the kids. She weaves it all through her conversations because that is just who she is. She preaches Christ to both sets of next-door neighbors, and I’m sure she will preach Christ to the folks putting in our fence in the backyard next week. As she has opportunity, Jesus gets introduced to the people in Nancy’s world. Many already know Him, and that’s always a neat thing. But you just never know, so she shares, in a way that is natural and a part of her, because it is.

Prayer– Heavenly Father, help me (us) to be so close to Jesus, that when people look at us and listen to us, they see and hear Jesus. If not, help us to grow into that relationship.