Sunday, September 23, 2018

Forerunners of the Great Commission

1The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing. a
3I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12)

Thoughts: God's commission to Abraham was to go and that as he was going, God would bless all nations through him.  God's concern was not just for Abraham or for his immediate family or tribe- but for all nations.  All peoples of the earth will be blessed through Abraham's faith and acting on his faith by going.  The people of God are always called- and always called to leave their comfort zones to be a blessing to all people.  We are the light of the world and we cannot hide that light under a bushel.  Abraham was blessed to be a blessing.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to go and be a blessing wherever I go this week.  

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Great commission

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28)

Thoughts: This was the last command by Jesus and one of the most important.  The message of Jesus- the Good News- is not just for one people but for all people.  Every human being- no matter what tribe or language, needs grace, forgiveness, love, and hope. 
     Some things to note here- we do not go in our own authority, but in his authority.
     We are called not to go and make converts but to make learners- disciples. 
      Baptism is the sign of discipleship.  But this baptism is in the name of God- father, son, and spirit- not just any name.  It is not a singular name, but a three fold name.
      Part of being a disciple is to be taught the commands of God. 
      When we do these things- baptize and make disciples- then not only will His power be with us, but his presence will be with us wherever we go.  God is not a God of one people, or one country but of all the earth.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to fulfill your commands. Give me a heart for others to know you.  

Friday, September 21, 2018

Share with the Lord's people Who are In Need

9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12)

Thoughts: This passage in Romans 12 has a lot of commands (imperatives) blurted out.  It speaks of being loving instead of hating; giving credit to others instead of yourself; being excited instead of apathetic about God; But it ends in facing the tough times with God and then sharing with those who are in need- especially our brothers and sisters in the faith.  We are to care for all people.  But we are a family with those who believe.  When we see a believer in need, we are asked to share with them.  To practice hospitality means to welcome and accept others.  It means go out of your way to make others feel loved.  
     The floods and disasters we face in life are opportunities to care.  Instead of shutting ourselves up we are called to open ourselves out to others.  

Prayer: Lord, give me the strength and energy to do your work- to help believers who are in need.    

Thursday, September 20, 2018

God helps us to be generous

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.” a
10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9)

Thoughts:  God is the ultimate gift giver.  Here Paul reminds us that God blesses the generous.  He blesses us who give that might have the root for more gifts (the seed).  God  His generosity results in his praise to God.  

Prayer: Lord, enrich us so that we may be generous.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

One church helping another

26For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. (Romans 15:26)

Thoughts: Macedonia was 600 miles from Jerusalem but the people there shared with the saints in Jerusalem because they were going through a famine. They had compassion on a people far away that they probably would never meet and who probably would never thank them.  This is an example to all of us. 
    We are called to help people who are in need- whether we know them or not; whether we get something back or even a thanks or not.  

Prayer: Lord, give me eyes to see those hurting far away that I might be a blessing to them in your name.  

Picture of loading a bus up for a Food pantry in Cheraw, SC- hit by hurricane Florence. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Giving thanks after the storm

1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.2Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3those he gathered from the lands,from east and west, from north and south.a

28Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the seab were hushed.
30They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders. (Psalm 107) 

Thoughts: There is always a tendency that, when God spares us, to feel guilty. It is an interesting phenomenon, but common.  In war, the person who saw many of his comrades in arms killed has a bit of guilt that he survives.  I think of the classic movie, "Saving Private Ryan."  The movie starts at the graves of his fellow soldiers in France.  The survivor, Private Ryan, was rescued though several died in order to save him.  In tears he cries, "I hope I earned this.  I have lived a good life."  The Psalmist invites us away from the guilt of survival into thanksgiving.  In fact, he invites us to come to the assembly (to worship) and give thanks.  Giving thanks builds up our faith in God, and helps us to focus in healthy ways.  Part of giving thanks in the Bible is to bring thank offerings.  This is an additional offering from the tithe.  At our church we are grateful for only minor damage like power outages (about a fourth of our congregation lost power some time), or a tree or two down.  Yet we are close enough to the damage (much like the flood of 2015), where we can make a difference to those who are hurting.  So we are collecting materials to be taken down toward the coast (water, food, diapers, hygiene products- toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, combs) for those still in shelters or who have been flooded out.  Let us give thanks to the Lord, and let us seek to help others with compassion.  Our God has helped us perhaps so we can help others.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for watching over us.  Thank you for sparing us.  Thank you that you calm the storm to a whisper.  

[I had internet outages and was unable to post some of my devotions over the weekend- this is a new start].  

Saturday, September 15, 2018

God sends Rain

     13So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. (Deuteronomy 11)

Thoughts:  In a land that has rainy seasons and little rain in the hot summer, it is important to get that rain at the proper time- planting and harvest.  Farmers know that they are not in control.  Many of us do not want to be dependent on so much beyond our control.  Yet so much of our lives- the economy, our health, the love of others is not totally or even mostly controllable. 
    With all our computer technology that is able to put in hundreds of thousands of variables, our predictions conflict and are limited (whether we are talking about the weather or football models).  So the spaghetti models about Hurricane Florence varied wildly. 
    In this passage God is saying, in the Bible that He is in control.  He sends rain and blessing.  More than that, that He is able to bless people who love and serve Him.  Not many believe that today.  But it is a key element of faith.   Hebrews says, "If anyone wants to come to Him they must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him."  

Prayer: Lord, I seek your blessing your protection.  I seek to give you thanks when you do bless me, and I want to have eyes to see your hand at work.