Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Who is Missing?

In Hebrews 10 the encouragement comes to gather together for worship and study. It says, “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together.” It goes on to tell us we need one another for encouragement as we look forward to Christ’s second coming! It is a privilege to worship together each Sabbath morning as a church family, to be surrounded by others who expectantly wait for Christ’s return.

There are members of our church family who don’t currently attend. These missing members are needed. I invite you to make our missing members a focus of your prayer time. Our desire is for each member of our church family is to be with us and share their experience with God so we may all be encouraged. It takes us together as a church family to accomplish the mission God has given to us. 

And as you make this a matter of prayer, is there something tangible you can do? Do you know someone who used to attend our church, but who hasn’t walked through the doors for a while? Pray over this, and when a name comes to mind start thing of how you can give a personal invitation for them to return. How about a phone call to let them know about outdoor church this Sabbath at Chickahominy State Park? Or could you send a card of invitation? Perhaps you could deliver a special baked treat to them with a simple word letting them know they are missed.

We are healthiest as a church family when all of our members are a part of actively connecting. We need one another for encouragement, for shared testimonies and reminds of God’s goodness in the past. And we need one another to pray when times are hard.

It was God’s wisdom that issued this invitation in Hebrews 10 to remember to gather together, we need one another! What can you do this week to invite our missing members to take the first step toward being actively involved attending members?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Counting Blessings

These words issue a challenge: “O that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” These words from Psalm 107 invite us to give God thanks for His many blessings to us. Will you accept this challenge and spend today looking for ways to praise God? Will you open your eyes to see God's blessings?

Go through today counting your blessings. Dare to make a list to remind you. Perhaps a note on your cell phone, or a small notebook. But record the reasons you can give thanks to the Lord.

Will you join us in praising the Lord, will you praise the Lord today for his sustaining presence in your life?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Four Stories in Harmony

Ever noticed that there are four versions of how Jesus healed the leper? Or that the triumphal entry shows up in more than one gospel? You may think of other stories that are told by various authors. Try it for yourself, use the feeding of the five thousand as an example. You will need Matthew 14:5-21, Luke 6:35-44, Mark 9:12-17, and John 6:3-14. You can either open four Bibles or print out a sheet with each of these scriptures on it. (The easiest way to accomplish this is to copy and paste in your favorite version from to a word processor.)

Now lay these stories out side by side and you will start to notice differences, slight variances in the telling of the story. You aren’t the first to notice this or start asking questions.

Let me introduce you to a tool that can support your study of the Word and bring a deeper relationship with the Savior described. It is called a Harmony of the Gospels. These books align the gospel accounts chronologically to make the comparison of accounts easier for you as a Bible student. So instead of going through the process of opening four different Bibles side by side, or flipping back and forth between book marks, you are able to open to one page. The creator of the Harmony of the Gospels did the work for you.

This tool will help you to see the variances. To notice that in the feeding of the five thousand they may agree on the number of people fed, but only John mentions the little boy who provided the lunch.

As one author describes this chorus, “The harmony of the Gospels is the agreement of the four biblical Gospels. The four New Testament Gospels are like the singers in a four-part choir. They each have their distinct parts to sing, yet the parts combine to make a beautiful composition. Each of the four Gospels gives testimony of Jesus from a slightly different perspective, but they all tell the same story.”

Rather than undermining our belief in the Bible and its authority, these variances should encourage us in its authenticity. Each story is told by a different person, and they bring their personality to the telling. This effect is the same as if you and your best friend sat down to relate to me how the Christmas program rehearsal went on Sunday. While different details appear in the gospel accounts, the main point is shared across the gospels. They all agree on the major details and point towards Jesus as Savior and Son of God. They are a beautiful testimony of God’s revelation to man and invitation to a personal relationship with Him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

To Be Content

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

The power for contentment doesn’t come from others or even from things; it comes from Christ who empowers us. The apostle Paul describes his ability to be content, and it came from his dependence on God’s grace. So in times of need or in times of plenty he depended on God. As a result he could be content in either way, and everywhere in between.

This ability came from his committed life. It is the same for us, a committed life to Christ: it is that simple. And at the same time, it is that complicated.

All that needs to be done is accomplished by Christ-given strength. The Lord is responsible for the success of the Christian. In Christ there is strength to fulfill duty, power to resist temptation, vigor to endure affliction, patience to suffer without complaint. In Him there is grace for daily growth, courage for multiplied battles, energy for devoted service and the power to be content.

All of this comes from contentment and trusting God’s grace. This is what it is to be content: True contentment comes from living life understanding that everything pales in comparison to knowing Christ.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why can't I be content?

Contentment is illusive. Especially difficult, is finding contentment in a society that thrives on our discontent. Amid the challenge of living in this ultra modern world… How are we to be content?

Harvard Medical School psychologist Steven Burglas wrote a book called, The Success Syndrome. He found individuals, who in his word, "suffer" from success.

Citing the case of a stock manager convicted of stealing the funds entrusted to him. Asked by his wife why he needed the money he took, no answer came. The only explanation he offered was discontent. When he reached an income of $100,000, he hungered for $200,000, and when he made $1 million, he hungered for $3 million.

Asked to prescribe a cure for the success syndrome, Burglas said, "What's missing in these people is a deep commitment or religious activity that goes far beyond just writing a check to a charity."

This echo’s Christ’s prescription. What is missing is a sense of contentment that comes from a life committed to Jesus Christ. With a life committed to Christ we can find an abundant life, no matter what surrounds us. This is Jesus’ desire for us.

He says, in John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”