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Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Fruit of the Spirit - Peace


Galatians 5:22-23
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Introduction
Over the past few weeks, we've been studying the "Fruit of the Spirit" the Apostle Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23.  Every person who puts their faith in Jesus Christ receives the Holy Spirit and Spirit begins to grow these Christian virtues within us.  I challenge you to memorize them and do everything you can to cultivate a spiritual garden in your heart that encourage the growth of these beautiful attributes.

What is Peace?
When I first started out in the ministry, I began as a youth minister.  Every summer, my church at the time (Lithia Springs UMC) would host youth groups from all over the state of Georgia for a community outreach event called "River of Life."  From Wednesday to Sunday, we would tackle 10-15 service projects such as painting or repairing houses, building wheelchair ramps, and re-roofing projects.  Each night, the 300 participants would gather at my church for a worship service.  I was in charge of coordinating the entire outreach and leading the worship services each night.  It was a great, spirit-filled event and I cherish those memories.  However, it was also tremendously stressful for a 26-year-old leading this way for the first time.  I remember running around in the sanctuary before the first evening worship service trying to coordinate all the many moving parts of the service--the ushers, the technical aspects, the band, the speaker, etc.  And as I was doing all these things while the congregation of 300 hyped up teenagers waited impatiently, many of  my volunteers were asking me questions or making remarks about this or that.  The frustration and anxiety in my heart must have been apparent on my face because my friend, Tim Foreman, pull me to one side and said, "Chris, I can tell you're overwhelmed.  Can I pray for you?"  "Yes!  Of course!  I need it."  Tim prayed this: "Father, just as Jesus calmed the stormy Sea of Galilee in the Bible, please calm Chris right now.  Peace, be still."  That's all he prayed and immediately a sense of peace fell on me.  The congregation and all the pressing turmoil of the evening was still there, but I was at peace in a way that is hard to describe.  It made all the difference for that worship service and remainder of River of Life.  It continues to make a difference as I allow the Holy Spirit to give me peace in the midst of the various storms of life.

Today we examine peace.  What is it?  The term “peace” is popular in our world.  Everyone seems to want peace—from hippies in the 60s to Ronald Reagan in the 80s to Generals in the army to brutal dictators of cruel regimes.  If everyone thinks so much of peace, why then does peace always seem so out of reach in our broken world?  The very same people who clamor for peace viciously fight each other and destroy peace all in the name of peace.  Obviously, we often misunderstand peace and many leaders misuse or abuse the concept of peace or they merely pay lip service to the virtue in order to gain influence over the masses of people they lead.

The fruit of peace the Holy Spirit wants to grow in you is the peace of God or the peace of Christ.  It is what the Hebrews in the Old Testament called Shalom.  Shalom is:
  • Wholeness and health - Shalom is not just the absence of sickness; it carries the connotation that we are whole and healthy in the way God originally created us to be.
  • Living In Harmony - Shalom means that people live in complete harmony with each other and with God because there is nothing to disrupt or frustrate or break a right and perfect relationship between them.  
  • Christian peace leads to relief from anxiety.  We find complete peace when we surrender (stop fighting against the will of God) and live in the very center of God’s will.  When we can truly pray and mean "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", we find true shalom/peace
Most kids love to go swimming--especially during the hot summer months.  However, there is often that initial fear the first time a child considers going into the water.  If they've never done it before, they might be scared.  Even if their mom or dad is in the pool inviting them and encouraging them, "It's OK!  Your safe.  I'll take care of you.  Come on in.  You're gonna love it!"  When the child finally gets up the nerve to go in the water and they see that their parents do indeed keep them safe, they begin to splash around and have all sorts of fun.  And probably, they won't want to leave when their parents finally say it's time to go.  Well, Jesus said, the Kingdom of God belongs to those who have faith like a child.  (Mark 10:15)  Christian peace is like a child that completely trusts their father will keep them safe in the pool.

Jesus Talked about Peace
Jesus talked a lot about peace in the New Testament.  Sometimes his statements are misunderstood or seem conflicting.  For instance, Jesus said in Matthew 5:9 – “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”  People who follow Christ work for peace.  That is, we work to win everyone back into a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ which leads to shalom.  Jesus saves us, forgives us, heals us, restores us to a right relationship with God.  Then Jesus commands us to “Go and make disciples of all the world…” (Matthew 28:19) and thus, Jesus bring peace to the whole world.
However, Jesus also said in Matthew 10:34, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”  That doesn't sound like the happy, kind, peaceful Jesus many people imagine.  What does Jesus mean with this aggressive talk of swords?  Well, as long as you are outside of God’s will, no peace is possible.  Often the world offers a counterfeit peace that is not really shalom.  The peace the world usually seeks is just to maintain the status quo (the way things are).  Unfortunately, the status quo--though it is inside our comfort zone--also perpetuates a lot of suffering, evil, and injustice.  Things have to change in order for God to set our crooked world straight.  And Jesus confronts our comfortable status quo and makes us choose between the world's way and God's way.  Thus, Jesus creates a lot of conflict--both in our hearts and in our world--as he works to bring true peace.
Being outside the will of God causes unrest in our soul and in our world.  When we experience this unrest, it is a sign we have wandered outside the will of God.  And then we always have the choice—we can manufacture a false peace by our own human methods or we can surrender to God, seek His divine will, and move back into the center of His plan.

My “Lucky” Tomatoes 
I'm not a very good gardener, but sometimes you just get lucky.   Several months ago, I threw some rotten tomatoes out into my yard and, lo and behold, a tomato plant sprung up!  I did nothing to cultivate this plant--I didn't till the soil, fertilize it, weed it, water it, or anything.  It just grew up all on its own!  Now, I am picking nice cherry tomatoes for my salads just because I got lucky.  That's not the best way to grow a garden, is it?  It's much better and you will have a lot more success if you tend your garden every day on purpose.
Well, the fruit of the Spirit is a lot like a garden.  You can’t do anything to make peace grow in your heart.  Only God, through the Holy Spirit, can make peace grow.  And sometimes you just get lucky and find peace.  However, as with any garden, it's much better to do some things to create a place in your heart that encourages peace to grow.
The first thing I recommend is to pull up some weeds that tend to grow and choke peace.  Pull up worry by the roots.  Some people are natural born worriers.  They worry about everything.  Even if you're not prone to worry, there are times and situations that can make anybody worry.  Worry is like spinning your wheels in a car—it makes a lot of noise and smoke, but it doesn’t get you anywhere and it ruins your tires.  That's why Jesus said, "Do not worry." (Matthew 6)
Another weed you should pull up from your life is being too busy and having too many responsibilities.  Now, some of this you have no control over.  (Being a parents with young kids is an extremely busy season in life.  You just have to buckle down and pray a lot and ask for a lot of help!)  But here's the thing, most people have a lot more control over how busy they are than they think.  It's just that few people are intentional about what they choose to do with their time.  You have to set proper priorities--specifically deciding to what you will commit your time, energy, and money.  If you don't choose how you spend your time, your time or other people will choose for you.  That's why most of us are overbooked most of the time.  So, learn to say “no” to what the world wants you to do and “yes” to what God wants you to do.  The more you grow spiritually, the more you will be able to tell the difference.  Pray the famous Serenity Prayer often (serenity is another term for peace).  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Philippians 4:6-7 gives us more clues about how to cultivate peace in our garden.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This passage teaches us how to water our peace garden:
Focus on God.  Philippians 4:4 actually says “Rejoice in the Lord always.”  You don’t have to be happy about the problems in your life.  However, you can rejoice that the Lord is in control.  Aren’t you glad that—despite your troubles—God’s got your back?  Be glad about that and trust God to take care of you.  You don’t have to worry.  Rest in His love and sovereignty.
Serve Others.  When you turn outward toward others, it keeps you from turning inward to focus on your problems and falling into despair.  When we serve, we find a joy and inner peace that can only come from serving others and obeying God’s command to “love our neighbors…”
Pray.  Perhaps, worry hits us most deeply when we are alone with our thoughts.  What do you do when the lights are out and everyone’s asleep, but you?  This can be a time when our thoughts go round and round on the unmerry-go-round of worry until our peace is all worn out.  Instead, take your worrisome thoughts to God in prayer.  Release them there.  And don’t pray like the pagans do (Matthew 6:7-8), repeating your worries over and over again in prayer.  That’s just worrying out loud to God.  You can do that if you really need to.  God can handle it.  But it's so much better is to tell God what you’re worried about and then just let it go.  Leave it with God knowing He can handle it; He will handle it.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5)  Now, go to sleep.
And there is one more thing you can do:
Philippians 4:8-9
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

What you choose to think about has a tremendous effect on your spiritual peace.  I’m not talking about sticking your head in the sand and ignoring problems or to just “think positively”.  When you're thoughts are fixed on your problems, they seem so big.  They are big.  However, when you fix your thoughts on God--the one who created the whole universe--your problems pale in comparison.  Therefore, fix your thoughts on:
  • The truth, honor, and righteousness of God and His purity 
  • The loveliness of God and His creation and what is admirable 
  • Think of all that is excellent and praise God.
This will create an environment where peace can flourish in your heart.

So, in order to help the Holy Spirit grow more peace in your life, I invite you to spend some time meditating on God’s goodness.  
·       How has God taken care of you in the past?
·       Do you believe He is powerful enough to handle your current problems?
·       Do you believe He loves you enough to take care of you?
·       Do you believe He knows what to do?  (Then what are you worrying about?)
·       Now rest in His love…

Monday, December 11, 2017

Real Peace


Introduction
            Advent--the four weeks leading up to Christmas--are a season of waiting as we prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth.  However, Jesus said he would come again to bring a New Heaven and  a New Earth.  Advent is also to prepare so we will be ready when Jesus comes.  No one knows the day or our of Christ's return for the world; it could be in the next moment or in a thousand years.  However, everyone can be sure Christ will come for them individually in their life time--for no one escapes death and when we die we will each see Jesus face to face.  Will you be ready?  Can you be at peace with your inevitable personal encounter with the second coming of the Son of God?  now is the time to prepare so you can have real peace.

Luke 2:(8-12,) 13-14
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
   and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

A Fear Evoking Sight
          Verse 14 is the key verse I want you to consider.  The angels sang, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
            It is no wonder the angel started his message by saying, “Don’t be afraid!”  It would be quite frightening to see an angel appear in the middle of the night.  The shepherds were prepared to protect their sheep from wild animals and thieves, but what do you do with an angelic being?  And then it was not just one angel, it was a whole army from heaven!
            Peace?  Really? And army is designed for fighting and killing and war.  They come bearing weapons.  And this army is a host of angels!  That is not the kind of thing that makes me think of peace!  So the angel assured them toey came to bring peace and there was no need to be afraid.
            How freeing and exciting it can be when we witness something of amazing power and majesty and also know we have nothing to fear.  I think that may have been how Jesus felt.  Remember the time a terribly fierce storm arose while he and the disciples were out on a boat?  The disciples are afraid for their life, but Jesus is asleep.  You see, he had nothing to fear from the storm.  His only concern was the cross he would be nailed to one day.  So he could enjoy the storm--marveling in the power and wonder of it or let the wind and wave and thunder sing him to peaceful sleep. 
            Are you afraid of the thunder?  What if you were absolutely certain the storm would not harm you?  Could you then just watch and enjoy the thrill and beauty of it all?  What about life?  What about the eventual end that awaits us all? 

Real Peace
           Real peace is knowing Jesus is Lord of all and submitting to Him.  Surrender to him is the source of true peace.  When the armies of heaven come, the only ones who need to fear are those who fight against them or who are enemies of God.  But Jesus forgives everyone who truly surrenders and accepts him as Lord.  Those, he saves. 
            Surrender means trusting in God’s way, not ours.  And we have to accept that God’s way is not our way.  Things will have to change.  We have to find peace with the changes God brings as He rights all the wrongs in our world and our lives.

            You can have real peace because of what Christ has already done for you.  The Bad News is we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard (Romans 3:23).  No one can be good enough to earn God's love or favor.  And unfortunately, the consequences of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).  So, anyone who tries to win God over by the things they do is bound to fail miserably.  Not only will you fail miserably to bring peace and order and fulfillment to your life, you will also live in fear of as an rebellious enemy of God.  That is the Bad News, but the angels came to bring Good News and here it is!
            The Good News is God sent Jesus to be born as a human being, to live as one of us (but without sin), and to die to cover the consequences of our sin.  So we don’t have to be guilty or ashamed or afraid.  God, through Jesus Christ, has already done everything that needs to be done.  As Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
            Now, that doesn’t mean we do nothing.  First of all, we have to surrender.  The war is over.  God has won.  He offers forgiveness and reconciliation to all who surrender.  Second, Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like a master who went away on a trip.  He put the servants in charge until his return.  Now the servants must decide if they are going to do the Master's will or if they will just goof off until the Master returns.  What will the Master find His servant's doing when He returns?
            Over the next few weeks, many of you will receive guests in home for the holidays.  Many of you are preparing for your guest even now--cleaning, vacuuming, mopping, washing, putting things away.  But what if you're guest showed up a few days early?  Would you be ready?  Or would you be ashamed your guests would find your home in disarray with things still out on the counter your didn't want them to see?  It would be better if we all just kept our homes clean all the time so we would have nothing to be ashamed of if a guest came unexpectedly.
            Jesus said no one knows the day or the hour when he will return (he doesn't even know himself, only God knows).  Therefore, we should always strive to always have you life in order, to be doing the things Christ asks his followers to do.  That way we will have nothing to fear and we can have real peace.  So live your life in such a way that people always know you love them and nothing is ever left undone or unsaid that need to be done and said. 


Let There Be Peace on Earth             Real Peace starts with you and spreads to those around you.  It starts with the choice you make today, right now.  It continues with the choices you make as you start each new day as you choose to follow Jesus’ plan instead of your own until Jesus’ plan is your plan.  It spreads as you share the Good News and love of Jesus with everyone around you.  Before you know it, peace spread further and further as more and more surrender to the true Lord of Heaven and Earth.
            United Methodists have a wonderful Hymn in our hymnal written by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson.  Here is an excerpt about the song from https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-let-there-be-peace-on-earth.

Jill Jackson shared the story of how the song was written:  “When I attempted suicide [in 1944] and I didn’t succeed, I knew for the first time unconditional love—which God is. You are totally loved, totally accepted, just the way you are. In that moment I was not allowed to die, and something happened to me, which is very difficult to explain. I had an eternal moment of truth, in which I knew I was loved, and I knew I was here for a purpose.”  This realization was followed by years of exploring her spiritual nature and her relationship with God.
In 1955, Jill wrote the lyrics for “Let There Be Peace on Earth” while her husband wrote the melody. The song was introduced at a retreat for a group of young people.  Sy Miller wrote about the effect of the song: “One summer evening in 1955, a group of 180 teenagers of all races and religions, meeting at a workshop high in the California mountains locked arms, formed a circle and sang a song of peace. They felt that singing the song, with its simple basic sentiment—‘Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me’—helped to create a climate for world peace and understanding.
“When they came down from the mountain, these inspired young people brought the song with them and started sharing it. And, as though on wings, ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth’ began an amazing journey around the globe. It traveled first, of course, with the young campers back to their homes and schools, churches and clubs.”
Miller noted that the song was then shared in all 50 states at school graduations, PTA meetings, holiday gatherings, celebrations of Brotherhood Week, Veterans Day, Human Rights Day and United Nations Day. Kiwanis clubs sang it, as well as 4-H clubs, United Auto Workers, the American Legion, etc.  The song was taped, copied, printed in songbooks and passed by word of mouth. Eventually it spread overseas, sung by Maoris in New Zealand and Zulus in Africa.  The song has been recorded by a host of vocal artists including Tennessee Ernie Ford, Pat Boone, Johnny Mathis, and Harry Connick Jr.
It received the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for “Outstanding achievement in helping to bring about a better understanding of the American Way of Life.” The National Conference of Christians and Jews has also honored the composers with the Brotherhood Award.  In 2009 Random House published “Let There Be Peace on Earth” as a children’s book.

            All this from a song written and sung at a retreat for a bunch of kids.  It’s amazing how Real Peace can spread when you and I make a choice to let the peace of Jesus live inside our hearts and share it with everyone we meet.  Will you make that choice today?  Pray about it as you listen to these words of the song:

Let There Be Peace on Earth
(#431, The United Methodist Hymnal)
Let There Be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be!
With God our creator, children all are we.
Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.
With every breath I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sound Different

Introduction
            I will never forget the first time I said "I love you" to Kelly.  She was only 16 and I was 18.  We'd only been dating for a short time.  I walked her to her door after on of our date and said good night and then it just came out, "I love you."  I said ti as much out of habit as anything (that's the what we said when we told each other good night in my childhood family).  There was an awkward pause... and Kelly did not reciprocate.
            Back in the car on the drive home, I was kicking myself.  Why did I say that?  It wasn't appropriate because we hadn't been dating long enough and I didn't really mean it; it just slipped out.  When I got to my house, the phone rang and it was Kelly.  She said, "I think I should explain why I didn't say I love you back.  Those are very important words to me and I don't use them lightly.  I think you should really know that you love someone before you tell them "I love you.""
            Now that sounded different--so much more mature and honest than most 16-year-old girls I knew at the time.  And it impressed me that Kelly had a deeper understanding of love and was willing to stand up for what she believed in and to call me and explain.
            Well, we are supposed to sound different than the world.  You see, long ago, God chose you to be holy different--to think different, to act different, to look different, and to sound different.  How You Sound--what you say--is serious business.  Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences."  Proverbs 15:4 says, "Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."  And Proverbs 12:18 says, "Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing."  And listen to what Jesus said about the power of what holy people say. 

Mark 11:22-25
22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. 24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

In the Passage, Jesus Implies 3 Ways Holy People Will Sound Different.
            First, holy people have faith to speak and move mountains. Holy people use their words to change lives and change the world. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. looked around and found a world full of racial discrimination and segregation. It seemed like an impossible mountain to move, but King knew it was not right and he was a Christian leader, a holy man. So King began to speak and what he said sounded different from everyone else. He urged non-violent protest. He spoke about how segregation and racial bigotry was hurtful not just black people, but also to white people and oppressors. King preached that we all need healing--even those who are mistreating others.
            Holy people don't just sound different when they speak out on momentous social justice issues.  Mountains are moved in small ways every day.  David Crawford is the music minister of our church.  Not only is he talented, but he also has a Christ-like attitude that blesses so many people in so many ways.  David started attending my church decades ago when Tom Dickson invited him to come.  Tom's invitation was just a small thing, but it has made a world of difference for everyone David blesses at my church is linked to Tom's invitation.
            Holy people pray.  Philippians 4:6 says, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done."  When others get made, get sad, get worried, get discouraged, holy people pray.  Negative emotions produce more negative emotions.  Worry and stress produce more worry and stress.  Everyone gets to talking and dwelling on their worries and stress and all the negative emotions just get worse and more intense.  But holy people sound different.  Holy people pray and God gives them peace.  And peace gives birth to more peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers…”
            Holy People forgive.  When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he looked down at the soldier gambling for his clothes and said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)  Holy people sound different because they forgive.
            On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof gunned down 9 Christians in a church in Charleston, SC.  The relatives of the slain had a chance to speak directly to the gunman at his first court appearance. One by one, those who chose to speak did not turn to anger. Somehow—by the grace and power of God—they were able to speak life even in the presence of the man who brought death to their loved ones.  [i]Nadine Collier, the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, said at the hearing, her voice breaking with emotion. “I forgive you,” she told him. “You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you.”
            Forgiveness sounds different. It brings healing—first of all to you. Bitterness will poison you from the inside out. Holding a grudge will tear you apart and damage all your other relationships.   Forgiveness helps you heal and move on to the brighter future God want to give you.


Are You Ready to Sound Different?
            Thankfully, most of us will never experience the tragedy of our loved ones being gunned down in a church prayer meeting.  But there are still some practical things that everyone can do to sound different than the world.  First of all, get in the Word f God.  Your conversations are not scripted.  They are spontaneous.  It's not practically to measure every word you're going to say and how you say it.  Most of what you say just comes from your heart.  Jesus said, "What you say flows from what is in your heart." (Luke 6:45).  So fill your heart with God's Word.  Dig into the Bible so that you are more and more like Christ in your heart.  Then everything you say will flow from your Christ-like heart and you will sound different and holy.
            Second, refuse to use abusive or vulgar language.  Don't try to tear people down in order to make yourself feel better or right.  There is already too much of that going on in our world.  Holy people should sound different.  Refrain from cutting remarks or trolling on Facebook.  Refuse to gossip or talk about people behind their backs.  Instead of texting or emailing, call or visit and talk to people directly. 
            Third, encourage people with love and grace.  Be kind.  Be positive.  The world has enough negativity and darkness.  Sound different.  Speak light, not darkness.  Speak life, not death.
            Fourth, use your words to invite people to church.  People need to be in the church.  We need Jesus and we need each other.  The Church is the place Jesus chose for his holy people to gather.  Let us gather as many here as we can. 
            Some will say, "But I've already asked everyone I know."  Jesus told a parable about that--the parable of the great banquet.  A master sent his servants to invite people to a great banquet.  One by one, all the guests made excuses why they couldn't come.  So the master sent his servants out saying, "Go out into the highways and byways and compel everyone you can so that my banquet may be full.”  It may be that the people you are asking just don't feel they need to be in church.  But there are many others out there who realize they're in desperate need.  So go.  Invite them!  They may be different from you, but different is OK.  Jesus loves different.  In fact, God chose us all to be different and holy.  So build some relationships with different people.  Invite them to lunch.  Get to know them.  And invite them to church.
            Are you Ready to Sound Different?  Good!  Because God wants you to be holy different--to think different, to act different, to look different, to sound different, to be different.  You are His holy people, a royal priesthood set apart for His special purposes to go into all the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ to build His Kingdom.  Amen.


[i] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/06/17/forgiving-dylann-roof-is-taking-a-heavy-toll-on-those-left-behind-but-theyre-not-giving-up/?utm_term=.411ff81dd2f0

Monday, July 17, 2017

Proverbs Day 17

Read Proverbs 17
Life has enough trouble in it without you going to look for more. Spend your time cultivating peace--especially in your own home. Deal with conflict when you have to, but be quick to forgive and overlook an offence when you can. Nobody likes a trouble maker and you're gonna need all the friends you can get. Spend your time building up your relationships so you will have their support when real trouble comes.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 17:1, 9, 14, 17
1 It’s better to eat stale crumbs in a peaceful home than a feast in a house where everyone argues.

9 A person who lets go of an offence wants love, but a person who keeps bringing it up drives away their closest friend.

14 Starting an argument is like digging a hole in a dam; once the water’s out, you can’t put it back in. So quit before you mess everything up.

17 A friend always loves you, and brothers were born to help in times of trouble.


A wise person builds loyal friendships through patience, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Be there for others when they need you and they will be there for you when you need them.

Prayer
"Father, help me build strong friendships through patience, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Steer me clear of unnecessary quarrels about stuff that really doesn't matter in the long run. Help me be a wise friend to others. Amen."