Scriptures: John 11:14-25, John 11:38-44
There are times in our lives when we must face the present. Often we can find ourselves reliving the past, longing for what has come and gone or we spend all our energy focusing on the future and what is to come. But, we our living in the present, and we must be present in it!
We no longer have the luxury of remember the "good old days" or saying "one of these days I will take care of that," the time is now! The glory days are easy to live in because they are past and time has a funny way of making them seem better than they were! (Some of those situations you look back and laugh on now, were not so funny while you were living them!) It's also to easy to dream about the future, because it has not happened yet and we can make whatever we want it to be, but right now we are living in the present. We are living in February 28th, 2013.
Martha from the above verses in John is a good example of a person living in the past and future, instead of the present. Her brother has died and when Jesus arrives she is quick to tell him: "if only you were here." She only saw that Jesus' power could have worked in the past, if He had come quicker Lazarus would not have died. But Jesus is not limited to our thinking, and responds saying: "your brother will rise again." Martha again not realizing Jesus' present power says: "I know that will happen in the resurrection." Again Martha is playing time travel and looking toward the future for Jesus' power to take action. While Jesus was focused on her present pain, trial and circumstance, Martha was struggling and not sensing all the power that stood right befor her. Yet Jesus still performed the miracle and rose her brother from the dead, proving once again that His power is not limited to human expectations of time and space.
We can find ourselves embracing the same thinking as Martha. We believe that miracles happened in the Bible, in the past. We are looking for Jesus to return and take us home for our future in Heaven, but we forget to live the present! Jesus can perform miracles in our present situations, He is not a God of the just the past and future, He is God right now! Are you willing to reach out to God right now to take care of your present life? Let the past stay were it belongs behind you and let God lead you into a future brighter than you can imagine in your head, but start now, there's no better time to let Jesus in.
Scriptures: Nehemiah 8:10 & Psalm 35:27
Many times we sing songs but do not understand the concept these songs are presenting. The song "Amazing Grace," was written by a man in the crossroads of his life who realized his current behavior was wrong and he desperately need the grace of God. It's more than just a hymn, it had a specific meaning and purpose.
What about the song: "Trading my Sorrows?" The verse says: "I'm trading my sorrows, I'm trading my shame, I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord."
The song talks about taking our pain, shame, sorrow and grief offering them to God! So how do we do that, how do we trade in our sorrows? First we must put things in the garbage can of forgetfulness. Think make to a year ago today, go it? Ok, now write down exactly everything you threw away in the trash can. Got you, you can't do it! Once we throw things away they are gone, we forget about them. Garbage peforms it's duty and then it discarded. Sorrow, pain, guilt and grief have place in our lives, they perform a duty, but once that duty is done throw them away in garbage of forgetfulness.
The second way we can trade in our sorrows is to ask God's to give you His smile. Finding God's joy is a decision we make, the Bible clearly tells us: "we have not because we ask not!" This is not a lesson in the power of positive thinking, this is learning to seek the most positive force that exists: the joy of the Lord! God gives joy that helps us fulfill our life's primary activity, the reason we were created: to worship Him. Praise is our way of sending a smile towards heaven and God responds by putting His joy on our hearts.
If you are feeling weak, bogged down with sorrows: it's time to lean more on God. The more we lean on Him the stronger we discover He is! It's time to let Him have your sorrow, pain and guilt and let Him transform them into joy and peace!
Scriptures: Luke 6:31, Romans 12:9-16
Today we will study three aspects of what Jesus calls His church to be: a considerate church, a different church and an understanding church.
First we will look at what it means to be a considerate church: we are called to serve God as considerate Christians. What does considerate mean? Merriam-Webster defines it this way: marked or given to careful consideration, thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others." We are to consider how our actions affect others and the church. A considerate Christian has a vision of the greater good: they have a panoramic view of what is going on around them. They take into account how their actions effect others and do their best to help those around them succeed.
Second, the church is called to be a different church. One writer wrote: "there is virtually no difference between the average church member and person who is not a Christian. God meant for the Christian to be different, to live a different kind of life and to be on a different moral level from those who are not Christians." The church of Jesus Christ is in the world but not of the world. We must be motivated by a different force than what motivates the world: love for God and love for our neighbor. We must make sure our lives show our loyalties, our compassion, our faith, our emotions and our acts of love.
Finally the church of Jesus Christ is an understanding church: discouraged people need encouragement. They need to find a place of refuge. The only thing that overcomes guilt is God's grace. Our own hurts can be building blocks to levels of understanding which helps us to comprehend the grace of God. An understanding church is a place of mercy, truth and grace.
Are you considerate, different and understanding? Does the world know that you are a living example of the church of Jesus Christ?