Sure enough….our weather service is calling for RAIN this coming Sunday! Enough already?!
But….look at this week unfolding with sunshine, blooms, and grass to cut (?). And, looking back who hasn’t appreciated some of the Winter beauty and the gift of rain for crops, lakes, and streams. Fishing and boating anyone? Hiking and walking and playing anyone?
This Sunday’s worship reminds us that “the earth is the Lords, and the fullness thereof….” Psalm 24:1. We have been given a bountiful earth with forests and lakes, mountains and wilderness, land for planting and harvest. These gifts do provide for humanity, and God’s people, in response, commit to be good stewards of the gifts.
In worship we praise the Creator, Sustainer, and ultimately Redeemer of all that is. We will hear the scriptures and other voices commending to us to remember and be glad, to conserve and pass along to future generations.
So, our agricultural and rural heritage is to be celebrated this Sunday and our task to be good stewards is ever before us. Join together in praise and wonder!
Respect and obey the LORD! This is the first step to wisdom and good. – Psalm 111:10
There was a judge named, Edward Thompson who held a firm belief that God could change lives more powerfully than any judicial system. He liked to tell the story of 54 year-old Mary, who appeared before him with 53 previous convictions for drunk and disorderly conduct. She had been jailed six times. But this time the circumstances were different. For one thing, she was in love with an older gentlemen. For another, her son was on his way back from World War II, and she was eagerly awaiting his arrival.
Judge Thompson decided to put Mary on probation with a few conditions. He insisted that she go to church regularly and pray for God to change her. He said, “Try going to church—loving God—and see if it doesn’t help you find a new self-respect and happiness.”
Would Mary really be changed, or would she appear again in front of his bench, disheveled and disoriented? Judge Thompson rather anxiously checked with Mary’s probation officer week by week. Yes, she was attending church services. And she was getting involved in the church’s social life.
When Judge Thompson returned from an out-of-town assignment, he was informed, “Mary was back.” His heart sank.
A court officer told him, “She came to see you–to thank you and tell you good-bye. She’s getting married to that elderly gentlemen, and her probation officer has given her permission to move to California. She’s a changed woman.”
When we are forced to confront our shortcomings and to find out why we fail, we usually come to one conclusion—we have not lived God’s way. Whether our lives are out of control as Mary’s, or we are unable to keep our commitments to ourselves and others, the reason is usually that we are not loving God and we are not putting Him first in our lives. Sins and shortcomings occur more frequently when we are living for ourselves and are not loving God as we should.
We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness. – Francis Chan
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” – Psalm 31:14
Do you recall an advertisement that captured your attention?
No matter which medium . . . television, radio, print, or the web, advertisements are created to arrest our attention. Recently, I was caught off guard with a newspaper ad. It pictured a gray-haired senior citizen in a wet suit. The woman was holding up her surf board along the edge of the beach. The ad began, “No matter where life takes you, your health care coverage goes along.”
The ad was designed to have you think about your future. No one knows what crisis tomorrow may bring. The life of faith involves living each day trusting God to guide and direct your future. That doesn’t mean that you are naïve and ignore things like health care coverage. But for the bigger picture of life, you can trust God. In the unexpected events of life, you can trust God. The Bible describes faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
You may not know where your life is taking you. But you can be sure that tomorrow, God has something prepared for you that you can’t see or imagine. That’s why we need to learn to trust God each day, no matter what the day holds.
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. – Corrie ten Boom
When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stout-hearted. – Psalm 138:3
I think we all discover about five seconds outside the womb that this life isn’t easy. And it seems that the older we get the tougher it becomes. Some people have problems or are attracted to difficulties like fleas to a dog. Others make it through life with relatively little difficulty.
But most likely, you’ll face some tough times in life, and it’s not important how your challenges stack up to the challenges of others. Sometimes you might wonder if you are going to be able to make it through, and you will if you hold onto God. He’s promised to see you through.
Are you weighed down? Do you feel overcome with grief or alone in your struggle?
You can choose to take steps to walk through your challenges and come through them a stronger person.
Remember, believing in God and in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. But it does mean you have resources, people, and God’s Spirit who will see you through your problems. What could be better?
Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records. – William A. Ward
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
Does it seem as if everyone wants something from you or expects you to do something? Pressure has become a regular part of our lives today. And these will be times when you’re forced to choose between surrendering to the pressure of others and doing the will of God.
Scripture remembers Saul as a man who didn’t choose well. Israel was at war. In the midst of battle it was customary to have a priest offer sacrifices. Samuel had promised Saul that he would come at an appointed time to do this. Saul waited for a while but began to feel pressured because his troops were leaving him. He knew that it was against God’s law for him to offer the sacrifices because he was not a priest. But Saul decided he couldn’t take the pressure any longer. He offered the sacrifices himself.
Just as he finished, Samuel arrived. “How foolish! he said. You have disobeyed the command of the Lord your God. Had you obeyed, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your dynasty must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14)
If Saul had waited just one more hour, he would have kept his kingdom.
Surrendering to God means that you resist surrendering to those who pressure you to disobey His commands. When you surrender to ungodly pressure, you pay the consequences. When you surrender to God, you benefit, and your family benefits for generations to come.
You’re born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there’s a loophole. – Billy Graham
Worship services on Sunday are not usually a full hour of laughter! But it might be a long hour if humor was totally absent! The Bible is not noted for jokes or material for standup comedy but it DOES have humor. We should rejoice and be glad for that! Much of the Bible IS about “trials and tribulations” and it does contain numerous accounts of suffering and death, but there seems to be a strong tilt toward joy and gladness as it progresses from Genesis to Revelation.
Reading the texts for April 15th (no tax humor though!), one can see the subtle humor that jumps out at us. In the startling appearance of the resurrected Jesus to his disciples, the words fear, terror, troubled, doubts, and ghost describe the feelings of the disciples. The Lord lightens the mood by dryly saying, “Do you have anything to eat here?” I imagine that may have cracked up some and helped them shift to “joy and wonder (v.41)”. And the passage in Acts, has been the source of many a joke about long winded sermons and a captive audience in the pew….or on a window ledge!
Indeed the Sundays after Easter are meant for us to reflect on joy and wonder in spite of what troubles we have had or are going through at the moment. So, a joke or two is not inappropriate. In some churches, Bright (Merry) Sunday is observed the Sunday after Easter with very intentional fun and humor present. Some practice harmless pranks while sense of festivities often abound. We may not come close to an out and out “party” but we may have more jokes from the congregation than we are accustom to!
“Did you hear the one about the minister, priest, and rabbi who walked into a bar?”
Join the Resurrection Party this Sunday then cast your vote for the source of all Final Laughter where all tears are finally wiped away~~~+
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7
There are times when we’re caught off guard by life. We are suddenly faced with problems that can wipe out our joy in an instant. Our hearts are disquieted and our minds begin to race. When we are grappling with unsettling problems that come our way and cause us to worry, it’s time to run to God in prayer.
From his prison cell, Paul wrote this message: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:6-7).
The psalmist wrote, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation” (Psalm 100:4-5).
God’s gates are always open to us. He’s waiting for us, whenever we’re upset and in need of a friend. We’ll still feel the painful emotions. We don’t just hand them over to God and expect them to disappear. But we can experience God’s peace through prayer. Prayer is a useful tool to help us work through our problems. He will give us his peace, reminding us that he’s there with us. For this, we can be thankful.
A life bathed in prayer is the best antidote for worry.
And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – 1 Peter 5:10
Do you ever think that your level of success in life is minimized by the problems and setbacks you experience along the way? Well, it’s just not true.
Our problems and setbacks don’t determine the shape and direction of our lives. What problems and setbacks do, however, is reveal character. They show us how we respond to fear, disappointments, and failure. They reveal what level of resilience we possess; whether or not we’re content to play the role of a victim; and whether we’re willing to take a risk again after initial failure. In other words, they diagnose our shortcomings and call us to positive change.
Problems and setbacks are the crucible of character formation, and they give us perspective as we pause and evaluate what’s truly important in life. So don’t be discouraged when troubles come your way, instead hang on to your faith, God’s word and ask yourself, “what can I learn from this”. Trust that the God who created you and in whom you place your faith and trust will carry you through your setback or trial.
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved. – Helen Keller
May each of you see setbacks as stepping stones to deeper character.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.- Ephesians 4:32
There’s a story about a grandmother, celebrating her golden wedding anniversary, who told the secret of her long and happy marriage. She said, “On my wedding day, I decided to make a list of ten of my husband’s faults which, for the sake of marriage, I would overlook.”
A guest asked the woman what some of the faults she’d chosen to overlook were. The grandmother replied, “To tell you the truth, my dear, I never did get around to writing the list down. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I’d say to myself, luckily for him that’s one of the ten!”
At some point, you’ll need to forgive virtually every person you know. Forgiveness is absolutely essential for the health and growth of any relationship. Jesus paid a price for our forgiveness, and He was clear in His teaching that we are to forgive others; that’s the price we pay to receive His forgiveness.
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. – C.S. Lewis
We get together for about anything! Sports, birthdays, anniversaries, politics, yard sales, and just about any parade. Turn on a yard light at night or set out a table in daytime and you get a crowd! We are gatherers.
After Jesus’ died there was to have been a prescribed time of family mourning. Together but immeasurably sad that time was definitely cut short. Cut to the Resurrection gatherings! Disciples here in a room, at a meal, traveling on the roads, fishing at the lakeshore, you name it…..Jesus shows up! Unexpectedly, for the most part. Together again!
These moments certainly reflect our Old Testament reading: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.”
Instead of a time of grief and mourning when the disciples and Jesus’ kin met together it is instead a time of amazement, joy, and often a meal! It’s hard to cry when you are with friends and everybody is eating!
We will gather at The Lords Table this Sunday April 8. There is a certain solemnity and seriousness when we receive the bread and the cup… and rightly so. It reminds us of both Sin and the cost of dealing with Sin. But, back of that is great joy in the salvation work of God! Keep that in mind when we gather this Sunday. Good Friday had to be, but Resurrection Sundays have a way of reminding us that such Fridays of Death must give way to a Big Get Together of the Family Of God on Sunday! And an Eternal Sunday at that!
Confess your sins (I John 1:9) and then just sit down with friends to eat well and have a great time!
Invite a neighbor! See you Sunday!