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The Path To Joy

In Your presence is fullness of Joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore!— Psalm 16:11

Throughout Scripture, we see how God used men and women in the corridors of power to influence leaders. Daniel was taken along with other Israelites into the captivity of Babylon, but he had great influence on King Nebuchadnezzar.

We know that Joseph had great influence on the Pharaoh. And Esther, because of her influence with King Ahasuerus, was able to save her entire nation.

As believers we should be asking, “Lord, where do you want me to be?” He may put you in a corridor of power. Or, He might have you laboring in relative obscurity. Wherever you are, you need to use your influence for His glory. Ask yourself, “Am I going to enjoy life in my own way, or am I going to employ my life serving God and others?” Serving the Lord is the most joyful thing you can do.

The psalmist David wrote, “In [His] presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). Those of us who serve the Lord have discovered a secret. Jesus said it very clearly: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NKJV).

Another way to translate blessed is “happy.” If you want to be a happy person, then be a giving person. If you want to be an unhappy person, then be a selfish person. If you want to be happy, then be generous. If you want to be miserable, then be stingy.

Be generous with everything God gives you. Be generous with your time. Be generous with your money. Be generous with whatever is at your disposal.

Are you going to enjoy your life or employ your life? If you employ your life for the glory of God, then you will enjoy your life as never before.

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

Storm Preparation

For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. —Matthew 5:45

Have you ever been out and about when an unexpected storm hit? When I was a kid living in Hawaii, storms would come out of nowhere. Then as suddenly as the storm began, it would stop and the sun would come out again.

Some storms are big, even scary. We remember Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Katrina, and more recently, Hurricane Michael. Storms can wreak havoc in our lives.

There are other kinds of storms we deal with in life, like a difficult or broken relationship, a financial crisis, legal problems, health problems, or conflicts at work. Storms will come into our lives, and once we accept that basic truth, it makes life a bit easier.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are going through a crisis, and those who are going to go through a crisis. If you’re between storms, enjoy it, because one will come your way soon enough.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke of two men who built houses. One house was built on a faulty foundation of sand, while the other was built on a good foundation of stone. Jesus said of the house with the good foundation, “And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:25 NKJV).

Notice Jesus said, “And the rain descended”—not if, but and. The rain will come. The Bible says that God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45 NKJV).

We don’t control our lives, as hard as we may try. But we can control what we’ll do and how we’ll respond when the storms come.

Chaplin Rob

What To Drink at a Wedding and Afterwards

Isaiah 62:1-5, I Corinthians 12:1-13 and John 2:1-11

Isaiah 62 and John 2 highlight the celebrations of marriage, of weddings, of the joy of committed relationships. I Corinthians 12 celebrates the gifts given to the Bridegroom the Church for the mutual benefit of all. And in verse 13, after the gifts are celebrated we are reminded we all “drink of one spirit.”

Yes, what do we drink at weddings and birthdays, celebrations of success, of graduation, of anniversaries and births, of grand moments along life’s way?! Behind the food and drink and party is the life giving drink of the Spirit….even if we are slow to name it, recognize it, believe it.

Jesus attends a wedding, keeps in the background as one of many guests, but helps out at just the right moment! Does that sound familiar to you? And the Church, the Body of Christ, is it not THERE with its many gifts to help you along the way to the final Heavenly Wedding Feast?!

Our texts tell of the Great Expectation of God’s Work, the Jesus Work, and the Church Work. Strange isn’t it that at its best, Christian life in community doesn’t feel like “work,” but like a Wedding Party with plenty of Spirit to drink!

At its best……..

Pastor Barry

Confidence in the Captain

“So take courage! For I believe God.”—Acts 27:25

These are not the words of a person in denial. Nor are they the words of someone who’s out of touch with reality. They were spoken by the apostle Paul . . . on a ship . . . in the worst part of a storm . . . without any tangible hope.

That is faith. We exercise it when things are unraveling around us and we say, “God is in control. I know He will get me through this, and I know that He’s faithful.” Nonbelievers don’t get that at all. They don’t understand the faith that a child of God can have under difficult circumstances.

Paul was confident because he knew that God was the Master of his circumstances and the Captain of that ship. He knew that God was in control.

In Luke’s Gospel, we read about a time when Jesus told Simon Peter to launch out into the deep for a catch of fish. They already had been fishing for hours and caught nothing. But Peter said, “Master, we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again” (Luke 5:5 NLT).

Then the Bible says, “And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!” (verse 6 NLT).

Here is the question: Will you let Jesus be the Captain of your boat? Maybe it’s smooth sailing right now and things are good. Even so, there might be a storm in your future—and it might be a strong one. You might as well get ready for it. And you can take heart in knowing that you will not be alone. You belong to the Lord, and He will see you through every storm.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Perseverance | Staying the Course

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

If you’re a Christian, God has already transformed your heart. But He also wants you to enter life in him like an athlete enters com¬petition. That’s why the Bible, more than once, likens the Christian life to a race. Our faith in Christ motivates us to run it, and His power provides the strength to finish despite the many times we all stumble along the way. This illustration of a race refers to races where the runner would strip off his tunic and robe so he could run without any hindrance. If someone tried to compete in his robes, he would get tangled up and wouldn’t have a chance at winning. God wants you to finish the race of life well.

Set aside the distractions and the sins that entangle you. Pace yourself. Exert yourself. And remember, many have run and finished before you. They’re that “huge crowd of witnesses” Hebrews 12:1 speaks about, and they’re cheering you on!

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Blessings

Chaplain Rob

Water and Fire, Spirit and Flesh

Isaiah 43:1-7, Acts 8:9-25 and Luke 3:15-22

This time of the year the preaching and worship jump quickly from the manger to the adult Jesus! The scriptures tell us very little about the childhood and adolescence of our Lord. The emphasis is on his Ministry, Death, and Resurrection and rightly so! His childhood and youth were, what shall we say, pretty normal for a boy in the first century Palestine!

Luke 3 and Acts 8 record the drama surrounding the whole notion of Baptism for Jesus and for His followers. In worship, as we read and listen this Sunday about Baptism, we will be encouraged to “remember and think about our own Baptism.” That and the Lords Supper are the two primary Sacraments we observe as Protestants and United Methodists. Most all Christians observe these two significant “moments” in some form or fashion.

The two scripture passages in our readings today also emphasize how baptisms often led to conflicts! Not surprisingly Herod did not take kindly to all the stir John the Baptizer was creating and in Acts, the Apostles had such power at work in them that a Magician Simon wanted some of that power for his own selfish gain!

This Sunday, we will have a meaningful and personal look at one of the central practices of our life together in the Church! Be prepared….stay alert…..be grateful for the work of the Lord in your life today!

Blessings~~~ †

Pastor Barry

Storm Weary

The devotional below is from my pastor friend Greg Dawson. He wrote this devotional this morning and I wanted to share it with you because it is powerful. My friend Greg is a pastor in west Tennessee who lost a child at a very young age. His story and trust in God is so powerful I wanted to share it with you.

And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.—Matthew 14:26

“Lifeguards know there is danger in saving someone who is drowning, because people panic. More than one lifeguard has lost his or her life from being drowned by the person they were trying to save. It’s one of the reasons lifeguards use flotation devices. They’re for drowning people to hold on to.

I think sometimes the Lord waits until we’ve exhausted our resources before He comes through. As the disciples battled a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus came to them at the last moment, but when the time was just right, walking on the sea.

Perhaps Jesus walked to them on the water to show His disciples that the very things they feared—the wind and the waves—were only a staircase for Him to reach them.

The disciples, however, didn’t know it was Jesus, and they cried out in terror. Why didn’t they recognize Him? I believe it’s because they weren’t looking for Him. God is there, but often we don’t see Him because we aren’t looking for Him. And we never will know Jesus as deeply as we can until He comes to us in the midst of a storm in our lives.

Someone once asked me what the most spiritual moment of my life was, the moment when I sensed God’s presence more tangibly than any other time. That moment was right after my son Christopher died. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but that is when God manifested His presence to me in such a tangible way. My wife and my son Jonathan have told me it was the same for them.

God came to us in a way that was unique, carrying us through. He gave us what we needed when we needed it. And He will do the same for you.”  – Pastor Greg Dawson

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

Roots and Wings

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16

We all need two basic things in life. The first is stability to be grounded and secure individuals. Only then can you be relationally healthy. The second is the vision and encouragement to discern and develop your unique gifts and aptitudes. Then you can recognize, pursue, and fulfill your calling. In simple terms, you need roots, and you need wings.

Today I want to focus on the latter—the wings. We all want to be discerning so that we can develop God’s design for our lives. But be prepared . . . it takes time and energy. It takes time to connect with God; to read and study His word, to pray, to talk to God and to listen to God, and connect with other people.

As you connect with God and connect with others, you will see God’s will for your life. It’s when you actively pursue life and pursue God . . . that you’ll see God’s will revealed. Don’t wait for it, move ahead and see it happen.

No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley. – Seneca the Younger

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

Take Responsibility

Much is required from those to whom much is given. – Luke 12:48b

Sometimes taking responsibility for our lives means completing unfinished business. Some of us may have left a trail of broken laws and relationships–things that need addressing before moving on. Others may be burdened by debts that inhibit spiritual pursuits. Before moving forward spiritually, we’ll need to take responsibility for wrongs done in the past.

A new life in Christ doesn’t excuse past obligations or erase the ongoing consequences of past sins. When the apostle Paul was in prison he led a runaway slave named Onesimus to Christ. But then Paul sent him back to his master–even though Onesimus faced a possible death penalty for his offense! Paul sent a letter back with the fugitive saying that if Onesimus had caused any harm or stolen anything that Paul would pay for it. Paul recognized that even though Onesimus was now a Christian, and forgiven of his sins, he needed to address the wrongs he’s committed in the past.

Likewise, before you can move ahead, you must face the unfinished business of your past. This may include facing up to some cowardly behavior, crooked schemes, or quick-fix solutions to difficult problems that just didn’t work. While you can be certain that God will meet you where you are, He calls you to take responsibility for whatever sins may have brought you to whatever circumstances you’re presently in. Once you accept ownership of your past, God will help you move ahead. But He’ll do it His way, not yours.

Nobody ever did, or ever will escape the consequences of his choices. – Alfred A. Montapert

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Wolves in the Dark

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

When Lord Mountbatten, a British naval commander, was five years old, he disliked sleeping in the dark. He confided in his father that his concern wasn’t the dark itself, but rather the wolves inhabiting the darkness. His father tried to assure him that there weren’t wolves in their house, but his boy responded, ‘I daresay there aren’t. But I think there are.’

Aren’t we good at conjuring up beasts? Even though our brains know there aren’t wolves in the attic or monsters under the bed, we still lie awake with our fingers and toes tucked beneath the blankets.

Friend, God doesn’t intend for you to live a life of fear. Like a protective father, He is there to comfort and assure us that we are not alone. Chase the wolves from your darkness. God will help you. It might be as simple as a prayer, or it might entail the help of a pastor or a professional counselor. Take a step toward chasing your wolves away today.

Every morning I spend fifteen minutes filling my mind full of God; and so there’s no room left for worry thoughts. – Howard Chandler Christy

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob