Transformed and Renewed

I have lots of favorite Bible verses.  And I even have some favorite Bible chapters.  Romans chapter 12 is one of those chapters.  The chapter begins with an exhortation to believers to dedicate ourselves to God and allow Him to transform our lives and renew our thoughts, and our behaviors.  Throughout the chapter we are reminded that a saving relationship with Christ should impact all of our other relationships.   Grace and goodness, cheerfulness and charity should characterize all of our interactions with others – not just those we serve and not just those we love, but even those with whom we disagree, even those we may consider enemies.  That’s a tall order.  And it will never happen unless you give yourself to Christ and allow Him to transform you and renew your mind.

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Who’s Walking Who?

I saw somebody walking the dog last Saturday morning and the dog was tugging on the leash pulling them down the road.  At first, I couldn’t tell if they were walking the dog or if the dog was walking them.  That dog was straining and pulling on that leash like he was trying to pull a busload of people.  Every so often, the dog’s master would calmly tug on the leash a few times and command him to sit.  I think the master was trying to get the dog to be still, regain his focus and remember that the Master was in charge of the walk.  The master is the one to set the pace, choose the direction and lead the walk.  After a brief rest, the two would begin to walk again.  For a short while it would go well, but then the dog would become distracted by a bird, a cat or an Amazon truck.  The dog would start straining, pulling and tugging on the leash again until his patient Master could get him to sit, be still and regain his focus and remember that the Master was in charge of the walk.  This happened several times before they went the length of the block.

As I watched this unfold, I reflected on the patience the Lord has shown with me on my spiritual walk.  Too often, I get distracted, lose focus and start to tug and pull on the leash.  Instead of staying close to the Master’s side and letting Him guide me, I strain to set the pace, the direction and the duration of the walk.  More often than I care to admit, my patient Master has to remind me to be still, regain my focus and remember that He is in charge of the walk.  And I have found that when I remember those things, when I walk with Him instead of in front of Him, the walk is much more pleasant.

Posted in a good day, Christianity, Church, faith, God will lead you, growing in faith, Psalm 46:10 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Nice Reminder

I try to practice playing the guitar almost every day.  I even have an inexpensive one I keep at work so that I can squeeze in some practice time during lunch.  Several years ago, my wife Marta left me a note inside the case that says, “I love you.”  She even put a smiley face on it.  I love seeing that note every time I open that guitar case.  That note was written so I would always have a good and sweet reminder of the love she has for me.  When I saw that note the other day, I was also reminded of a Bible verse in John’s gospel.  In John 20:31, the Apostle John writes:

These things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing that you may have life in His name.  John 20:31

I love that verse.  It reminds me that God’s word was written so that we would know Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, our Savior.  It reminds me of the amazing grace, the mercy and compassion of our Lord.  Every time I open my Bible, I am reminded of God’s love for us.

 

Posted in Being Blessed, Christianity, God Loves Me, God loves you, God's Love, John 20:31 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Comforts and Confronts Us

Each week I get to lead a Bible study with some young children.  Generally, we take turns reading some scriptures, reading a reflection on those scriptures and then sharing our thoughts on what we have read.  The theme of the lesson the other day was “Jesus Comforts Us.”  We looked at several passages of scripture which described instances of the Lord intervening and comforting various individuals during times of sadness, stress and fear.  The phrase “Jesus comforts us” was repeated multiple times in the reflection to help reinforce that concept.  As one of the youngsters was reading the reflection out loud, he kept reading it wrong.  Instead of saying, “Jesus comforts us” he kept saying, “Jesus confronts us.”  He read, “When we are scared, Jesus confronts us.  When we are sad, Jesus confronts us.  When we are hurt, Jesus confronts us.”  And while confrontation was not the intent of the reflection, I think that kid was on to something.

Jesus does confront us.  No, not in a hostile way, but in a healthy way.  When the disciples were frightened by a terrible storm that they thought would capsize their boat, they frantically woke up Jesus and He rebuked the storm and calmed the wind and the waves.  Then He turned His attention to His disciples and asked them in Luke 8:25, “Where is your faith?”  Later, in a similar situation, Peter who had been invited to walk on the water with Jesus, took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the storm-tossed waves.  Peter became scared and started to sink.  Peter cried out to the Lord, “Help me!”  Jesus reached out His hand and helped Peter.  Then in Matthew 14:31 Jesus asked Peter, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I am so glad that youngster read the reflection the way he did.  When we are scared, sad or hurt, we can trust the Lord to reach out His hand, help us and comfort us.  We can also expect the Lord to confront us.  He confronts us with the truth that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He confronts us with the truth that He is trustworthy.  He confronts us with the truth that He always cares about us.  He confronts us so that we may grow in our faith and learn to look to Him sooner and lean on Him longer.  He confronts us so that we learn to trust Him even more.

Posted in can't go on, Christianity, Don't give up, Draw close to God, Encouragement, Faith during hard times, Matthew 14:31, Trusting the Lord | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christian Meditation

Someone asked me the other day about meditation and what that might look like for a Christian.  I know that for some people, the concept of meditation brings up images of Eastern mysticism or perhaps chanting over and over while sitting cross-legged on the floor, trying to “empty oneself” and obtain a peaceful state of mind.  Because of those images, many people do not envision meditation as being something a Christian should engage in.  But those images do not accurately reflect the concept of mediation spoken of in the Bible.  The Bible makes several positive references to meditation which give us a picture of what it should be.   Here are just a couple:

Psalm 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 77:12  I will ponder Your work God and meditate on your mighty deeds.

The meditation spoken of in God’s word is an invitation for Christians not to empty our minds in order to achieve inner peace but rather to fill our minds and our hearts with the things of God so that we can experience His peace.  It is an invitation to contemplate God’s words and reflect on the His desires for our lives.  It is an invitation to “be still and know” that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

My prayer for you is that you would set aside some time this week to meditate on the words of the Lord and fill your heart and your mind with the things of God.  I am confident that time spent in this endeavor will be a time of blessing.

 

Posted in Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, faith, God Speaks Through His Word, God's Peace, Psalm 19:14, Psalm 77:12 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Recharged

I had planned on mowing the yard the other evening but when I went to get the mower out of the garage, I noticed that the battery was not charged.  I have an electric mower and I had forgotten to plug in the battery charger after the last time I mowed.  It takes a couple of hours to get re-charged, so, I plugged it in and did some other chores instead.  The situation reminded me of the importance of recharging our spiritual batteries regularly.  In Romans 15:13 Paul prays for the church to be charged up.  Paul writes:

Roman 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I like that reminder from God’s word.  For us to be who we have been called to be, for us to live like we have been called to live, we have to be charged up with the hope, the joy, the peace and the power of the Lord.  Are you charged up today?  Or is your spiritual battery running low?  If it’s running low, get plugged in and spend some time in God’s word, spend some time in prayer, and sing some songs of praise.  I know that if you do, the Lord will revive and recharge you.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Don't give up, Draw close to God, faith, God's Strength, religion, Romans 15:13 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Build Upon the Rock

In chapel this week, we looked at a passage from Matthew.  In Matthew 7:24 – 27, Jesus tells a story about two kinds of people.  He speaks of one person who built their house on the sand and another who build his house upon a solid rock.  When a storm came, the house built on the sand could not withstand the wind and the waves.  It was destroyed.  The other house, the one built on the rock, was able to withstand the storm.  When the storm was over that house was still standing.

In our lives, we will face many storms and challenges.  There will be times of trouble and seasons of struggle when it seems like the winds and the waves are relentless.  Storms will come.  Christ promises that if will build our homes, our lives upon His word, then we will be able to endure these times of trouble and seasons of struggle.  Like the person who built his home on a solid foundation, when the storm is over, we will still be standing.

My prayer for you is that this week would be a good week.  I pray that all things will go smoothly and each day would be worry free.  But in the event that storms come, I pray that you would continue to stand firmly on God’s word, knowing that He is with you and that He will bring you through the storm.

Posted in A refuge, a stronghold, Build Upon the Rock, Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, Encouragement, faith, Faith during hard times | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feeding of the Five Thousand

Next week in our chapel services, I will be sharing from Mark chapter 6.  This passage records for us how Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 by multiplying five loaves and two fish.  Jesus had been teaching and preaching all day to a large crowd.  When supper time rolled around the disciples asked the Lord to send the crow away into the nearby towns so that the crowd could get something to eat.  How surprised they must have been when Christ told His disciples that they should feed the crowd.  The disciples replied to His command, “We don’t have hardly anything to give them and we certainly can’t afford to buy enough sandwiches for a crowd this big!”  Christ urged His followers to see what resources they did have and to bring those resources to Him.  When the disciples brought forward five loaves and two fish, Christ took these meager resources, blessed them and miraculously used them to feed everyone – with 12 baskets of leftovers remaining after everyone had eaten!

I love this passage of scripture and the lessons it provides.  I love how it demonstrates to us the care and compassion of our Lord as well as His power and His provision  to meet our needs.   Just as He did with those first disciples, Christ also instructs us to be involved in meeting the needs of others.  He invites us to do hard things, impossible things – things we cannot ever do on our own.  But if we give ourselves to Him, if we place our meager resources into His hands, He will bless all that we bring to Him and miraculously use it bless others.

Posted in Christianity, Church, doing the right thing, faith, Help from God, Mark 6: 35 - 42 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is Able

I was helping with a chapel service the other day at the hospital where I work and one of the songs we sang was “God is able.”  It was a beautiful song and a great reminder of the faith and trust that we can have in the Lord.  The song reminded me of the closing verses of chapter 3 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  Paul writes:

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

In this chapter, Paul reminds the church of the amazing grace of God the Father who sent His Son to be our Savior.  Paul speaks about the calling God has placed on his life to share the gospel, a calling he cannot do in his own power.  But Paul knows that God is able.  God is able to equip us and empower us to do all that He asks us to do.  Paul then offers up a prayer for the church.  He prays that they would be strengthened by the Lord to walk and work in faith.  Paul prays they would begin to grasp and experience the depths of love, care and compassion the Lord has for them.  Paul prays that the church would know that God is able…able to work in them and able to work through them in a far greater capacity than they could ever imagine.  Our God is able.  To Him be the glory now and forever and ever.  Amen.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Encouragement, encouraging others, Ephesians 3:20, faith, God will help you, God's Strength | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pass It On

I was talking with someone a while back and they shared with me about a very difficult season they endured in the past.  This person testified the only way they survived that season was because the Lord brought them through it.  And while they acknowledged that their faith grew during that season, they said there was an even better result.  That difficult season taught them to have more empathy and show more grace to others who are in a difficult season.  As we spoke, I was reminded of Paul’s words to the church in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4,

2 Cor 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

I love that verse and I love the promise of God’s faithfulness.  Even in dark and difficult times, we can trust the Lord to walk with us, strengthen us and comfort us.  We can trust that He will bring us through those times.  And we can trust that the Lord will use those times to help us grow in our faith and prepare us to comfort others with the same comfort we have received from Him.  We truly serve a loving and gracious God.

Posted in 2 Corinthians 1:3, Christianity, Don't give up, encouraging others, faith, God will help you, God's comfort | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment