Archive for August, 2016

Life Without Risk

Playing it safe rarely wins the prize.  But it’s easier to play it safe.  Risk is . . . well, its risky.  We like comfort and security and once we find it, we don’t want to risk it.

But God did not create us to live lives of comfort.  We can have security in our relationship with God, but our worldly security is not really a concern for God.  Paul said, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  In other words, when our priority is pleasing God and living our lives to fulfill his desire for us, then there really isn’t a risk.

God wants to do immeasurably more than you can imagine in and through you today.  Will you let him?

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I have challenged our deacon body in their daily reading to read through 1 and 2 Peter over the next month. Today’s reading is 1 Peter 1:13-25. As I read this passage this morning, even though I have read it in the past, something spoke to me more clearly than ever before.

The author of this little letter reminded us of the value we hold in God’s eyes.

So often, we buy into the lie that we are not worth much. Some have heard from parents or others, “You will never amount to anything.” Hateful people have called us “losers.” At certain times in our lives, circumstances have left us feeling like no one cares.

Allow this passage from 1 Peter to speak truth into your life today :

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

You are worth more than all the gold and silver in the world. You are worth the very breath and blood of the son of God. The Father paid your ransom with the life of his one and only son!

Stop buying into the lie that your life doesn’t count. You are worth everything to God – not because of anything you have done but because he loves you.

And that is all that really matters!

Live into that love today.

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I wonder if Peter really expected Jesus to call him out of the boat?

In Matthew 14 we read a story of Jesus walking on the water.  His disciples were in a boat and while it was still dark, Jesus went out to meet them – walking on top of the water.  I tend to picture the scene by thinking Jesus would have been content to keep on walking, but the disciples saw him and got scared.  Since it was still dark – and of course since there was a man standing on top of the water – they assumed he was a ghost.

Walking On WaterBut Peter finally recognized Jesus.  Still a little unsure of himself he said, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come out on the water.”  That makes sense.  Peter is trying to make sure that he is right – that this really is Jesus.  But I am not sure he expected Jesus to say, “Come.”

Have you ever done that?  Have you ever asked God to clarify his calling?  “God, if this is what you want me to do, show me a sign.”  Has that statement, or something similar, ever been part of your prayer?

Peter wanted proof that Jesus was really standing there before him but I am not sure he expected Jesus to say, “come on in, the water is fine.”

Here’s the thing.  Jesus really is with us – walking with us.  And Jesus really does call us to do things that may seem impossible to us.  But just like Peter, as long as we trust him fully and keep our eyes on him only, he will do amazing things through us.

How is Jesus calling you today?

Answer that call and step out.

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I started a new sermon series this past Sunday that will continue for two more weeks.  The series title is Living Out Loud.  I pray that this series will inspire each of us to really live out our faith.  This confidence that we have – or profess to have – in Jesus as our eternal savior should make a difference in the way we live our lives.

People should be able to see that we are serious about following Jesus in the decisions we make and the way we relate to others.  This past Sunday the sermon title was Faith Unleashed.  The faith we profess is not for our benefit – not for our own security.  This faith is given to us so that we can share it with others.  Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us that our salvation is a free gift of God’s grace; it is nothing we deserve or earn.  But itleading also says that we were created for good works in the same passage.  This faith we have should be turned loose on the world.

As I have been preparing for this coming Sunday, I have been focusing on Jesus’ calling of some of his disciples recorded in John 1:43-46.  In this passage, we find Jesus saying, “Follow me.”  Then we see Phillip going to Nathanael in excitement and telling him that the one Moses talked about has come.  Nathanael was a little skeptical.  But in three short words Phillip persuaded him – “Come and see.”  

Our striving for faith lived out begins with following Jesus and should have one primary focus – to illustrate him to others.  These three words should become a part of our everyday vocabulary – COME AND SEE.

Show others Jesus today!

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Loved By God

My reading this morning was out of Isaiah 43.  In this poetic discourse from the prophet, he reminded Israel – and us – that we are important to God.  He spoke God’s words, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Isaiah reminds us that God knows us personally – he calls us by name.  And he cares about us.  He not only knows our needs, he actually cares about them.  Isaiah goes on to say, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;  when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Heart and CrossGod promises to be with us through all that life hurls our way – why?  Isaiah records the words of God saying, “Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”

Let these words sink in for a moment.

Whatever Monday has brought your way – remember – God has promised to see you through it.  If you are wondering why God would be with you or how God could possibly care for a person like you, remember – God offers his redemption and salvation to each of us because we are precious to him – he loves you.

Live as one loved by God today!

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Sunday GatheringGod is with us each and every day.  Jesus’ promise is dependable – he will never leave us nor forsake us.  But so often, we live our lives unaware.  We pass through our days marking time but oblivious to God’s presence and interaction in our lives.

But every once in a while, we get a glimpse.  In a moment of clarity, we come face to face with the creator and we find ourselves overwhelmed with God’s grace and grandeur.

For me, this past Sunday morning was that way (and I was not alone in that experience).  Every Sunday is special.  The gathering of God’s people to worship and just enjoy being together is always a blessing.  But Sunday was different for many.  God’s spirit was moving in the hearts of our family and it was obvious.

As I headed to lunch, I prayed, thanking God for reaching into my life and for moving in the hearts of so many.  As I prayed and reflected on the morning, I asked – “Why can’t church be like that every week?”  I have continued to reflect on that question.  What I keep coming back to is sensitivity.  We don’t manipulate God, so it is not anything we can do to duplicate the experience.

But if we truly believe that Jesus never leaves us.  And if we accept the reality that where two or three are gathered together to honor God, God is in their midst, then we must acknowledge that God is always present when we gather.  If that is the case, then the issue is not God’s presence but rather our awareness.  We need to remember today that God is always present and at work, we just need to wake up and be more sensitive to what he is doing.

I pray that God’s presence will be just as visible this coming Sunday in our church.

But why wait until Sunday?

God, wake us to your presence and love this day – in this moment!

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Sunday was an amazing day in the life of our church.  We started the day with worship – thinking about the privilege of prayer.  We also celebrated with four different families as decisions were made to plug into what God is doing here in our midst and become members of our church.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 9.33.33 AMThen we gathered out on the island in the afternoon to celebrate baptism.  We celebrated with 16 people who had made commitments to follow Jesus and were baptized in the surf on that evening.  It was a glorious time of testimony.  Many of our church family gathered to celebrate and of course, the regular beach goers were there too.

As I have reflected on the day, I have been reminded of the importance of sharing our faith openly.  Our world has become more hostile toward those who live their faith openly, but if our faith is real, it should show in the way we live.  That is hard to do when we try and go it alone.

But when we do it in community – together as family – we can lean on one another as we live out loud.

Seek only God’s approval, lean on other believers and live out loud today!

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