Thursday, May 11, 2017

Live in Harmony with One Another



Most often when we hear the word harmony we think of the musical term which is defined as, “The combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect." When there is harmony it sounds good.

The opposite of harmony is dissonance. Dissonance can be defined as a, “...tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.” When there is dissonance the sound is not good.

When there is harmony in the church it is good and great things can be accomplished because we are on the same page, but when there is dissonance the church is greatly hindered. One of the primary ways the devil attacks the church is attempting to disrupt the harmony that is there. In Luke 11:17 Jesus said, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls."  
In Acts 2 we see a model of how the church lived in harmony with one another. 

 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.  
Acts 2:44-47

I am sure they had disagreements and disputes, but they were still of one mind. This does not mean they were not individuals who at times had their own opinions and ways of doing things. It means they understood the kingdom was bigger and greater than any single individual.

If the church of today can learn to be of one mind, learn to live in harmony, it will make an impact upon the world we cannot begin to imagine.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Encourage One Another

"Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."
Hebrews 10:24-25

"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing." 
1 Thessalonians 5:11

When the Bible calls us to encourage one another, what exactly does this mean? The New Testament word for encourage is such a beautiful picture by itself. The Greek word the Bible uses means, "to come alongside of, to stand with.” You encourage someone when you come alongside them and help carry the load; you help them keep going.

The year was 1992, and Derek Redmond was set to run in the semifinals of the 400 meter race at that year's Olympics. As the race began Derek took an early lead, and it looked as if he might win the race. At a heartbreaking 175 meters from the finish line, Derek grabbed his right leg. He had just pulled a hamstring and he immediately fell to the ground in pain.

He got up after a few seconds and was determined to finish the race. As he slowly hobbled down the track, a man suddenly ran from in the stands to his side. It was his dad.

"You don't have to do this," his dad said. "Yes I do!" replied Derek. "Then we'll finish together," said his dad. He put his arm around his son, and the two of them made their way down the track.

This is what it means to encourage!


Friday, April 28, 2017

Love One Another


video 

What is it that defines us as Christians? We could be defined by our mission- to make disciples. We could be defined by our worship. But the one thing that should define us more than anything else, that can really set us apart is love. 

The call to love one another is repeated thirteen times in Scripture. It is given by three different authors in six different books. It is the one principle on which all the other one another principles depend.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
 John 13:34-35


We tend to see love as a purely emotional response. We fall into love. We fall out of it. We can't determine whom we will love, or why. It just happens. Jesus' view of love, however, is different. It is not primarily a feeling but a choice. It's a decision to treat someone in a gracious and generous manner. The love Jesus commands is not how I feel about you but how I treat you. It's based on what I can do for you, not what you can do for me.

It’s a new kind of love. 

Jesus doesn't just give us this new command to love one another, but He attaches it to the highest standard, the greatest measure imaginable.

 “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 


Some things to think about:

1. Why do you think Jesus puts such a high priority on how Christians treat each other?

2. What does it mean to love one another as Jesus loves us? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Representing Our Home Land Well

Why is everybody so mad at Ryan Lochte? He is not the first to lie about a crime, nor will he be the last.

I believe it is because Ryan Lochte is a citizen of the United States in a foreign country. What's more, as an Olympian, he represents the United States in an official capacity. 


But before we get too upset, let's remember another thing. As Christians we are in the same boat. 

Philippians 3:20 says,  "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

As Christians, every time we sin, we bring shame upon our eternal home. 

2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are "ambassadors for Christ" 

and

Ephesians 5:1 tells us that we are to be "imitators of God"  


Now let's contrast Ryan Lochte with pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who is running towards an attempt at the pole vault in the qualifying round, until he hears the national anthem. Kendricks immediately stops what he's doing to stand at attention. This man, recognizing his citizenship and the responsibilities associated with it, acted accordingly, and brought honor to his country.

In case you missed it you can click here to watch the video. 

I think we can all agree that we do not always represent our eternal home very well. We are all in need of grace.

But let's be more like Paul who said in Philippians 3:12-14, "Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Surviving The Storm

Maybe you feel like "Chippie the Parakeet" in Max Lucado's book, "Eye of the Storm". The story goes like this. Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched on his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. 

The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when sssopp! Chippie got sucked in. 

The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie, still alive, but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. 
Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do. She reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him. 

My guess is, most of us can relate to Chippie. There are times when life treats us more harshly than we expect. It’s possible to get battered, bruised and blown away by rough times and difficult circumstances. 

In Mark 6 we read about one such time for the disciples.

Mark 6:45-50 - Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid." 


Two words grab my attention right off.

The first word is immediately. Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat. There was a sense of urgency in Jesus’ actions here.

The second word is made. Jesus made the disciples get into the boat.

The word Mark uses here for “made” is a strong word in the Greek. It means to constrain someone by force. In other words, this was not a suggestion. Jesus commanded the disciples to get into the boat and take off ahead of him to Bethsaida.

Then later is these verses we read that Jesus came to them walking on the water and that He intended to pass by them. 

This same phrase is used in a couple places in the Old Testament when referring to a time when God "passed by" Moses and when He "passed by" Elijah. In both of those times, God was revealing Himself to these two men.

The same thing is happening here in Mark 6. But remember Jesus didn’t pass by to rescue the disciples in the boat. Jesus passed by for an entirely different reason altogether. He wanted them to get a glimpse of His greatness, to remember who He is and the great journey He called them to. 

These men were obeying God, but they were exhausted. They were tired. They were struggling against waves for hours, unable to make headway

Do you ever feel like that? I do. 


But remember it is in times like this that God reveals Himself to you. 


Jesus knew what He was doing when He sent them off to Bethsaida. He wasn’t caught off guard. He allowed them to experience the storm, because there was something He wanted them to know. Something they would need to know. 

There is nothing happening to you or me that Jesus isn’t aware of. The very fact that He is allowing it to take place, should give us a sense of security.

What storm are you smack dab in the middle of today. Maybe you are obeying Jesus and striving to know and do His will, but the storms keep coming.

Listen, that’s OK. Because the storms you are facing today, are only allowed by God’s sovereign will. Keep your hands on the oar. Keep pulling against the wind and the waves. Don’t give up. Don’t turn around. You’re right where you’re supposed to be.



Friday, January 2, 2015

One Word For The New Year

Well here we are, it is now 2015. 

For many the start of a new year brings excitement, looking forward to new things, the opportunity to start over in certain areas of your life, or improve on things from last year.

We often make resolutions only to find that by the end of January we are no long keeping those resolutions.

I have decided not to make resolutions this year. It's not that I don't think I need improvements in certain areas of my life, I most certainly do. But of all the things that I could change about my life, the only thing that will bring true joy and satisfaction is a closer walk with the Lord.

Maybe you are like a lot of people who look at the new year and say, "This year I am going to finally read my Bible through in one year." or "This year I am going to do better with my quite time with the Lord." Those are great goals, but this year my goal is to focus on one word.

That's right one word!

There are all kinds of things that fill my life and fight for my attention, but the one thing I desire is to be content.

So this year I will be focusing on the word contentment. My verse for this year is Psalms 27:4, "One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple."

I want to learn to be content in the Lord, to chase after Him and not the "stuff" of life. I want to know Him in a deeper way than I ever have before.

So I challenge you to consider focusing on one word this year, and then search the Scriptures to see what they have to say.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lessons Learned From The Ducks

This past week my family and I went camping. We had a great time swimming in the pool, going down the water slide, playing mini-golf and other games, cooking smores, and just enjoying the outdoors. We played from sun-up to sun-down and then some.

With all the activities going on, the thing that fascinated my girls was watching the ducks.

You see, our tent site was right next to a small lake and in this lake was a mother duck with her 14 ducklings. We watched them swim all over that little lake and a few times they even found their way up by are tent. I have to admit, it was fun to watch as they would go from place to place looking for something to eat. Some of the little ducks even dove down under the water to eat.

One thing that stood out  about those little ducks was how they followed their mother everywhere. My middle daughter even commented how when the ducklings were starting to wander the mother would "quack" and the ducklings would come immediately.

You see that mother duck new that the safest place for the ducklings to be was by her side, and if they would follow her she would teach them all they would need to know as they grew.

As I sit here and think about that, the obvious thing that comes to mind is "O, how I wish my children would do that when I called for them or gave them instructions."

Ephesians 6:1 says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."

But then I am reminded how I am a child of God and how I need to learn to be more like those ducklings and respond immediately to God's instructions.

John 10:27 says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me"

Luke 11:28 says, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

John 14:15 says, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments"

Let's all learn the lesson from the ducks and respond to the Lord and His instructions for us. The safest place to be is in the presence of God. He will teach us all we need to know to live a godly life.

Psalms 32:8 says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you."