Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. ~Romans 12:9-12 ESV~
This is how Christianity should work. This is how we should be able to recognize one another as servants of Christ. I'm not saying you don't do this, but I read this and can only think to myself, "Am I doing this as much as I can?" We aught to be able to recognize Christians by the love we show to others, in how we turn away from that which is evil and pour our time and energy instead to that which is good. As the new year begins, I find myself flooded with ways to spend my time, some of which are great opportunities to love others and expand God's kingdom while others are more selfish. My question to you today is the same question I have for myself:
How will you show God's love to your brother today? How will you contribute to the needs of those around you for God's glory?
Some of you may have noticed that I have not been posting for quite some time. Part of this has been occupational, and some of this has been pure busyness.
I have been the associate pastor at a local church in Kelowna BC for the last 5 years and that took up a considerable amount of my time, but now... This last year has been an adventure.
At the ripe age of 43, God led me on a new path. I have moved on to a new chapter as the director of an Out of School Program in West Kelowna. Sunridge OOSC to be exact. This shift into children's ministry has been a whirlwind of frantic learning and pure joy, and God has been teaching me so much about myself and His plans for me.
Now I have taken this role and begun reaching out to God's children. Hopefully, if time permits and sleep deprivation doesn't take me out, I will start sharing some of my successes and failures in child-care ministry. If you are in this field (You have my respect and awe) feel free to share your own insights as well.
God bless you all!
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)
God has appointed us. He has given us a direction and a purpose. We can choose to go off that course and do things our own way; He has given us the free will to do so. We can try to take control of our lives but doing this has a price. If we take the wheel from God’s hands we risk losing everything that God has planned for us; and not only that, but no matter what we manage to glean on our own it will be of no lasting value. What does a little black book full to bursting; a fat bank account, and/or a position of earthly power bring you in God’s Kingdom? Nothing. A man who lived in God’s will and dies without so much as a dollar to His name will have treasures in heaven waiting for him and a legacy of eternal value behind him.
How does it make you feel to know you have been chosen by God?
Knowing that God chose us for a lasting purpose; why do you believe people choose to walk their own path instead of God’s?
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. (Psalms 77:1-2)
Whenever I read these verses I remember some of the hardest points of my life. Times when I was certain I was either going to die, or at the least wish I was dead. I cried out into the darkness not even sure if anyone was there to hear me, but He was. He heard me and wept for me. I look back now and see His presence was the one thing that kept me from falling apart, but because I would not accept Him, I continued to suffer. Even though His child was a sinner and denied Him, He came and loved His child. As we discover that we have no control over our lives, we can rest in knowing He is there and is in control. Now when I feel the weight of the world pressing down upon me I don’t have to bear that weight alone. I can call out to my heavenly Father who will stand with me and my soul knows comfort.
In the above verse, Asaph was in such need that he held out his hand before the Lord throughout the night. When have you felt a need like this?
Why do you think we don’t always see a response when we call out to God?
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:1-2)
We have a beautiful grape vine along the back of my house. As spring time rolled around we had a family friend come and trim down the vine because if you don’t it will grow wild and produce little fruit. It will choke itself off from being as much as it can be. Much the same when we try to take charge of our lives, we ‘grow wild’. We go off on tangents and do works that bear little if any spiritual fruit because it is not directed by God. God can and will trim our spiritual vines and bring us back into order so that we can begin to bear abundant spiritual fruit as He has always intended. We only have to let Him.
How have your efforts ‘grown wild’ in the past?
Is there any area of your life that you think could benefit from pruning? Why?
Are there times in your life you feel bear no fruit? What do you think you can do to change those times?
Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. (I Corinthians 8:2-3)
I am a man so I of course have an opinion on, and solution for any problem you have. Most women would agree that God has created men so that we are problem solvers. Women listen and comfort, (generally) and men jump up trying to save the day (typically). As we begin to realize that we are not in control of our lives, we also begin to see that we are not in control of anyone else’s life either. Our opinions do not clarify an issue unless we are offering it up from within God’s love and for His glory. We cannot solve someone else’s problems, we can only ask for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, and move in the life of our friend or loved one.
Is there someone in your life right now who you feel needs God’s guidance?
How do you feel praying for the person might affect their situation?
How does knowing that God loves you and wants to help you change your view of prayer?
The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
When I pulled out the lights for my Christmas tree this year, the first thought that went through my mind was, “This the very definition of beyond hope.”. Still, I began the long process of untying the knots that seemed to have formed all by themselves over the last year. I separated the strands one by one, repairing and replacing as I went, until I was finally rewarded with lights for my tree that worked and look even better than I thought they would. Much like my Christmas lights, our lives are never really beyond hope, no matter what we have done. Nothing and no one are beyond God’s redeeming grace.
Has there ever been a time when you have felt ‘beyond hope’? When?
What advice would you give to a loved one facing an apparently hopeless situation?
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20
God has gifted us with free will. Every day we have the choice to choose life (living in God’s will) or death (sin). This choice does not just affect us. When we choose to ‘live’ our friends, spouse, and children see our dedication to living a Christ-like life. They see how God moves in us and changes us to become His witness. Our dedication and faith becomes something that can inspire our children and shape their spiritual lives as they grow up. On the other hand, when we choose to sin they see that as well, and it too can change and shape their lives but rarely for the better. No matter how independent you may think you are, every action in your life impacts those around you. This impact often stretches beyond those we know to those whom we don't know, like ripples reflected in a pond.
What does it mean to choose life over death to you?
How do you feel this impacts those around you?
I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
Walking With God
Director of Out of School Care at Sunridge Community Church in West Kelowna BC, Canada