Change

Philippians 4:4-9 (NASB) ‘Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ‘ 

For most people, change is a frightening thing.  In many instances, for a great deal of people, change means a feeling of loss of control.  Routine is comforting for most.  I wake up, this is what my morning, afternoon and night will be like.  I will likely do this and see that.  Change comes in so many forms.  It can be subtle, cataclysmic or anything in between.  It can be a change in thinking, doing, work, home, relationships.  It can come in the form of a loss, a gain, an illness, an achievement or a setback.  It maybe something we were working towards, or on and it can be something we were trying to avoid.  Change is inevitable, unsettling and rewarding.  What’s the point?  It’s coming, daily in one form our the other.  Some of it will fall into our scope of control, some will not.  Some will require a choice, decision, action or inaction, some will not.  It will all illicit a response and/or reaction.  

Regardless of the scope, effect, circumstance, the horror or elation, we must expect and accept that it is coming.  We also need to know it is not to be feared.  We, as God tells us, are a consummate work in progress.  Everything that we see, do, hear and experience is shaping, refining and changing us in one form or another.  What doesn’t change, ever, even in the slightest, is God and His assurances.  

Worry never adds to a situation, but peace does, hope does, faith does.  Pursuing Jesus Christ and following the path He has laid before each and every one of us is not always an easy proposition.  But, that should always be the focus.  Even in the roughest of circumstances, change is not to be feared, but embraced as but another step we must take that leads us closer to the refined self that Jesus intends us to be.  

When faced with change, be it a career move, a new home, marriage, divorce, whatever, our focus needs to rest firstly and wholly of God, His wants, desires and guidance in our life.  The why will not always be immediately evident, but through trust and faithful obedience to His leadership, the big picture will begin to reveal itself, and the need for the change and refinement will begin to unfold.  

So, before you allow yourself to get bound up, worried and anxious over a change taking place or even the prospect of a change, remember, God never changes, ‘He works all things to good for those who believe and follow His commandments’, trust in the Lord and embrace whatever He has in store.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Combo

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?   Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.   If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?   In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  James 2:14-17

If someone were to just look at you, could they tell you are a Christian?  Likely not, unless they heard you pray or saw you walk into a church, then they might make a connection.  Even then, how do they know for sure?  When someone spends more time with you, would it be easier to tell, or would they be more confused.  If someone were to review all of my last 24 hours, they may get mixed signals, as I did some things that I would gladly share and other things I did, said, or even thought that I am not so proud of.  I don’t typically do things which would warrant my arrest, but not everything is above reproach either.  So, if it was up to my works alone to evidence my faith, I wouldn’t make the cut.  So, what does it take?

Have you ever known people of another faith or even atheists who are good people?  They are friendly and at times go out of their way to help others.  It may even elicit the question, ‘why do you so nice’ or ‘what is your motivation’?  I’m sure if you looked closely at their life, like you, they would fall short of doing everything perfectly as well.  If someone is a Muslim, Chritian, Jewish, or of most any other faith, they have a set of standards or rules by which they strive to abide.  Even ask an atheist and I’m sure you can agree on some things that are right and wrong, by which they live.  But just as faith without works is dead, works without faith is dead as well.  You need both. 

Our deeds are evidence of our faith.  We need both, or it is empty.  If we say we have faith and don’t follow through with love for others, our faith is false.  If we just do good things and think that will qualify us for heaven without a trust in Christ, we are fooling ourselves.  My faith compels me to good works, and is evidence of my faith, even though my works do not justify me.  My hope is in Christ, not in what I can do for others, but in what He has done for us all.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:8-9

Yours in Christ,

Clark

Something New

Today I want to try something new…  Instead of reading my 500 word devotional, answer the closing question.

John 13:34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

In your marriage, family, place of work… Today, how will you PROVE to these people that you are a disciple of Jesus in the way that you love?

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon
thevibrant.church 

When Pigs Fly: God’s Protection

For the past few weeks I’ve been writing about how God can, and does, do the impossible in our world (hence the series title). Today I want us to wrestle with a difficult topic: protection. I believe that God protects us in numerous ways. My family was in a roll-over accident years ago, and looking at the damage later it is a miracle we all survived. I firmly believe that was a miracle of protection. During the unrest here in Nicaragua I have twice missed being in a dangerous situation by just a couple of minutes. Like most of you I could go on and on with instances where I believe God has protected me. Yet, I can also list many occasions where it seems God did not offer protection. I think of a youth group student killed in a tractor accident, a loving husband and father killed on a snowmobile, and the over three hundred killed here in Nicaragua over the past few months. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there were moments during those tragedies where I wondered where God’s protection was. With that in mind, how can we have faith that God will protect us? How do we handle the seeming reality that he does not always appear to protect His people? 

There is one simple verse that does an amazing job addressing these seemingly super complex questions: The Lord rescues the Godly; He is their fortress in times of trouble. Psalm 37:39

First, the Psalmist tells us that God does indeed protect us. He will miraculously intervene to assist us in times of great struggle, offering us protection, wisdom, healing, etc. While some may argue that miracles ceased when the Bible was finished I’ve seen way to many examples of God’s miraculous protection and interference to believe that. I truly believe that God continues to do the miraculous on the part of His people, including you and me. Our role is to be praying for His action, trusting His ways, and worshiping Him for all he does. But (yes, there is seemingly always a but), this verse does not say that God will protect us from everything. Because of human sin a plethora of problems have come into our world, including suffering and death. That’s the price of sin. Yet, look at what this scripture DOES say. He (God) is their fortress in times of trouble. Terrible things will happen to us and others because of the sin of this world, but that does not mean God has abandoned us. God is right there in the midst of those moments crying with us, comforting us, directing us, and carrying us. We need to open our hearts and minds to God in the moments we don’t feel protected, letting his comfort and love overwhelm us. Most importantly, we need to always remember that Jesus has already suffered and died so that we can be protected forever. Because the truth is that, in the end, God’s grace offers us eternal protection in a perfect Heaven. 

Let It Rain!

Isaiah 45:8 New International Version (NIV)

“You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
    let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
    let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
    I, the Lord, have created it.

Have you ever asked that question in your heart? Call to the Holy Spirit, just let it rain! As I have thought about and looked more into what God’s Word says about the Holy Spirit and how He rains down on us, it brings a sense of cleansing. Save me from this world. Purify my heart.

The Prophet Hosea put it this way in chapter 6:3. ‘Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rain, like the spring rains that water the earth’.

As our Lord Jesus Christ was raised form the grave, so will he revive the hearts and hopes of all that trust him. Even in our simplest forms of hope, we find in God’s Word, he continues to shine the light and give us comfort in our darkest moments.

Maybe today, you are struggling. I have a friend who is struggling with shingles on his body. I have a friends who struggle with alcohol and drugs. I have friend who have lost their spouse. If you have struggles or troubles, I pray the Holy Spirit rains down on your souls.

May he refresh your spirit, cleanse your being, and purify your hearts that we would glorify the King. Jesus we praise you for the continued work in our hearts. Thank you Jesus. Thank you for the rain.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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