There are issues about people being open minded or close minded; willing to listen to other positions, or refusing to hear any other. Some Christians are accused of being closed minded fundamentalists in their condemnation of others, and there certainly are these, unfortunately. But the question is not how staunchly one holds to a position, but how he seeks to share that position. For Christians, the divinity of Christ, and salvation by faith in Him are central. These truths cannot be given up, and are worth dying for. But how we share them is of prime importance. They are first shared by a life that is lived in sacrificial service. It is only the love of Christ through us that will draw others to Him. It is being open to others, and allowing them to see that we care that will show them there is something better in Jesus. Christianity is a faith worth dying for, but more importantly it is a faith worth living to the fullest.
What is on your schedule for today? Maybe a series of routine tasks for work or home. Maybe more serious items that have caused worry and fear. Either way they are things we must face and deal with as best we can. But in the grace of our Lord God we know that we face nothing alone. That really is the point of yesterday’s message emphasizing that we are loved. God is with us. In the praise of our God Psalm 68 declares “ Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation.
God is to us a God of deliverances; And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.”(vss.19-20) As any father knows they are never really separated from their children. What concerns the children concerns the father. God is our Father, and has more care for us than any earthly father. Our burdens are on His heart, and He is able to help. Whatever this day holds, whether routine or difficult, know that you are love and that the Lord is with you. Trust Him.
We are impressed with powerful things – a great earth mover, 400 horsepower under the hood, a football team’s front four, military might, and so on. Our 4 year old grandson loves to pretend he is one of the current superhero characters. We certainly believe that our God is all powerful. He can do anything He chooses, any time He chooses. But He always has a habit of turning our concepts of reality up side down. We think in terms of force and might. God doesn’t. The greatest power of God is displayed in His love, and in forgiveness, His care for all people. He has shown it to us by the bloody body of His Son hanging on a cross. Self giving love and forgiveness have the power to change hearts, heal long festering wounds, and mend relationships. People need to see that kind of power displayed in the Church. Love and forgiveness can change us and those around us for all eternity. No earthly power can do that.
What is powerful? Nations will talk about their military might. Others may speak of heavy equipment that moves earth or lifts massive weights. We might think of tornadoes, hurricanes, and flood waters. All of these certainly are powerful. However, yesterday I experienced again the most power force on earth or in heaven. The power of love. Yesterday was the final service I conducted at my congregation, followed by a wonderful luncheon. The church was full of dear members, family, and friends. Emotion was certainly there, but the power was the power of love, of God’s love, that enfolded and bound each of us together as one. All other powers are simply forces that work on the outside of a person for good or ill. Love changes hearts and shapes lives at the deepest part of ones being. Jesus had changed all of us who were gathered, as He has changed countless lives through two thousand years since He walked this land. People search for love in many places, but too often find only poor counterfeits or pain. Our God is love, and He is continually extending Himself to us. The shed blood on Calvary’s cross is the most powerful, life-giving, loving act there is. And it was given and shed for you. Come.
On Jan 10, 2019 1:13 PM, "IRVIN STAPF" <istapf> wrote:
My most sincere thanks to all of you for your love and prayers. It is now 4:45AM. I am in my room and have slept for the past 7 hours. I am not in any discomfort except that my mouth is dry. I’m sorry to make this such a personal message. I don’t like being at the center of attention, but there is a real witness to the Lord’s goodness here. I love the Lord’s sense of humor! On the wall facing my bed is a white board with the names of the nurses attending me, and the plan for the day. When I awoke a little while ago the very first name I saw was that of the Charge Nurse – JOY! God is so good. Not all circumstances or outcomes are good, but that doesn’t change the goodness of our gracious Lord. "Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I will say rejoice." My love, and above all God’s love to each of you dear readers. Stay blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
My most sincere thanks to all of you for your love and prayers. It is now 4:45AM. I am in my room and have slept for the past 7 hours. I am not in any discomfort except that my mouth is dry. I’m sorry to make this such a personal message. I don’t like being at the center of attention, but there is a real witness to the Lord’s goodness here. I love the Lord’s sense of humor! On the wall facing my bed is a white board with the names of the nurses attending me, and the plan for the day. When I awoke a little while ago the very first name I saw was that of the Charge Nurse – JOY! God is so good. Not all circumstances or outcomes are good, but that doesn’t change the goodness of our gracious Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I will say rejoice.” My love, and above all God’s love to each of you dear readers. Stay blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
A Scottish pastor by the name of George Matheson experienced a time of extreme mental distress. It was in this time that the words of this hymn were brought to his mind.
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
That is what I was saying yesterday about the depth of love God has for each of us. It is not a feeling we can manufacture. It is not something we can earn or in any way deserve. It is the very nature of God to whom we can humbly come. It is a love that changes us drawing us deeper into all the Lord intends for our good. It is a love that has been demonstrated in the most extreme way on a Roman cross.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
Know that that love is there for you today.
Paul writing to the Roman church says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,… (Romans 8:16-17) We certainly like that statement of assurance that in Christ Jesus we are children of God. But the three dots following “Co-heirs with Christ” mean that Paul’s statement doesn’t end there. He follows that by saying “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” That part we don’t like very much. Our suffering adds nothing to our salvation. That is already complete in Christ, but it does recognize that we are in a sinful world and have a responsibility of helping to share the burdens this world places on others. Christ’s command was to love one another as He has loved us. Loving as He loved is painful at times. We are not in this life just to get everything we can and have the easiest life possible. As Christians we are called to walk beside those who are hurting, supporting them as best God give us the grace to do.
Hurricane Florence is battering the eastern coast of the U.S. There were necessary preparations and evacuations in the Carolinas. There will be a great cost and effort to rebuild after the storm passes. Tragically, some lives may even be lost. Whether natural disasters or trials cause by the sinfulness of man, we are faced with the truth that we live in a fallen world. Yet it is a world into which God has come with His redeeming love. It’s hard to see that love in the midst of the storm, but it is there. It is seen in the lives of people who give aid. Ultimately, it will be seen in the fulfilled promise of God making all things new. At one of the most critical and frightening times in the lives of His disciples Jesus said to them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”(John 14:27) We may lose property. We may even lose physical life. But we cannot lose the love of God who will make all things new.
Why do we work? A rather simple and obvious question. We work to provide the things we need to live. After all, Paul said that the one unwilling to work should not eat.(I Thessalonians 3:10) So we need to work to earn money for the necessities of life. But I think there is more to it than that. I know some jobs are drudgery and one just put in the hours for the pay check. At times that is necessary. But it is hoped that one can find pleasure and satisfaction in what they do. Let’s think beyond the pay check to the service one is doing for the good of another. Extend this to our relationship with our Lord. Do we work for Him, doing good works, acts of kindness, and seeking to live a moral life, only so that we can stay of God’s good side and be saved. Or do we live our life with Him because of what He is, and the depth of love He has given us is so great that we want to share it. Apart from any money, gain, or reward there is joy in being able to provide something good, and see the change because of it in another’s life. We love because He first loved us.(I John 4:4) And maybe we can see our own daily work through the love of Christ as seeking to provide something good for another.