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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Devotionals / Walking in the Light Welcome Guest

          Random thoughts from someone trying to walk in His light

    Mon, Jul 31st - 11:01PM



    Hey,

    The church in Corinth couldn’t even do a pot-luck right. They would bring their tuna casserole with potato chips on top, or their special orange Jell-O salad, and they wouldn’t put it over on the counter for everyone to try. Instead they would take it over to their own little table and they would eat it all by themselves. Some poor family might come with maybe just some rolls, but no one would share. They would be stuck with just rolls at the love feast.

    And people were arguing over who their leader was. Some said their pastor was Paul, but others would say no, theirs was Apolos. And they were arguing over who had the best gifts. Singers thought they were more important than teachers. Prayers thought they were more important than preachers.

    They were a messed-up church. So Paul tried to teach them about love. He wrote chapter 13 to teach them what love was supposed to look like. All of the things we’ve studied this summer were news to them. "You mean we’re supposed to be kind to each other?" "We shouldn’t gossip?" "Don’t keep track of what people do to you?" Of course, everything he said has extra application. It is they way God loves us. It is the way we should love God. And it is the way we should try to love everyone. But Chapter 13 was first meant to tell the people in the church how to treat each other.

    When you look at commentaries, they seem to all jump to a lesson about trusting God. We need to trust God in all areas of our lives. There are three main facts in Christianity. God is real. God is alive. And God loves us. If you accept these three things then our only job is to place our trust in Him. He loves us and has only good in mind for us and He is able to make sure that only His will happens to us. Our job knowing that is to accept whatever He gives us. That is true, and it is a good and very important message, but the first application is that we should trust each other.

    I started my research by looking up the definitions. Its only a six word passage to preach from so the real meaning of the words was going to be a big deal. I hear other peoples’ sermons being built around the great original meaning of the key word so I was hoping that trust turned out to really mean "the cable that holds the bridge" or something deep like that. Unfortunately, I found that trust seems to pretty much mean "trust". You could stretch it to "believe" if that helped. But it didn’t. I checked all the other versions. Did you know that there are about 50 other versions? They seem to all think that trust means trust and hope means hope. The best that I came up with in a variation was "Love never loses hope"

    So putting that much together, we in the church are supposed to always trust each other. And always have hope in each other. Even if it goes bad, we should never lose hope in each other.

    This is where you might want to put in a disclaimer. We should trust each other except when it comes to money. Or we should trust each other unless they have made mistakes. Or we should trust each other sometimes. But really, I don’t think Paul meant to include a disclaimer. Or else he wouldn’t have used the word always. Twice. He could have said, "Love trusts" or even "Love usually trusts." But he said, "Love always trusts." And then "Love always hopes" which is almost the same thing. I think he knew that we would supply disclaimers. He didn’t want us to stop thinking entirely, but he did want us to try our very best to trust each other if at all possible. He wanted us to have hope for each other.

    The opposite of trust is doubt. I thought, the most famous doubter of all time is Thomas. You know. Doubting Thomas. I decided to look and see if we could learn anything from Doubting Thomas. I found that if he had just kept quiet at the end he could have been a hero. He could have been known as Brave Thomas.

      ( Part 2 is a few posts below.)



    Comment (3)

    Sat, Jul 29th - 1:00AM



    Hey,

    Romans 15

     1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." 4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

     5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

     7Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

    This passage fits great as a conclusion to my sermon, I'll explain how later. But can anyone help me with verse 3, especially the last half? My understanding is that we need to represent God well so He isn't made to look bad by our looking bad. But I don't find anything that agrees with me. Like most comentaries, mine seem to avoid the harder parts. Any ideas?



    Comment (4)

    Fri, Jul 28th - 9:43AM



    Audience of One

    Big Daddy Weave

     come on my knees
    To lay down before you
    Bringing all that I am
    Longing only to know you
    Seeking your face
    And not only your hand
    I find you embracing me
    Just as I am

    And I lift these songs
    To you and you alone
    As I sing to you
    In my praises make your home

    To my audience of one
    You are Father, and you are Son
    As your spirit flows free,
    Let it find within me
    A heart that beats to praise you.
    And now just to know you more
    Has become my great reward
    To see your kingdom come
    And your will be done
    I only desire to be yours,
    Lord

    So what could I bring
    To honor your majesty
    What song could I sing
    That would move the heart of royalty
    And all that I have
    Is the life that you've given me
    So Lord let me live for you
    My song with humility

    And Lord as the love song
    Of my life is played
    I have one desire
    To bring glory to your name

    To my audience of one
    You are Father, and you are Son
    As your spirit flows free,
    Let it find within me
    A heart that beats to praise you.
    And now just to know you more
    Has become my great reward
    To see your kingdom come
    And your will be done
    I only desire to be yours,
    Lord

    And we lift these songs
    To you and you alone
    As we sing to you
    In our praises make your home

    To my audience of one
    You are Father, and you are Son
    As your spirit flows free,
    Let it find within me
    A heart that beats to praise you.
    And now just to know you more
    Has become my great reward
    To see your kingdom come
    And your will be done
    I only desire to be yours,
    Lord



    Comment (1)

    Mon, Jul 24th - 11:26PM

    TRUST





    Comment (5)

    Fri, Jul 21st - 9:12PM



    Hey,

    I thought that it could be interesting to kind of journal the progress of this sermon as I go. Not that it is a Big Deal. Many of you have preached before. Some of you preach weekly. But if you see me making a mistake, you can tell me before the disaster. And maybe the amateur thought process will be interesting.
    The sermon (Aug. 13) is based on "Love always trusts, Love always hopes". We are doing a series through 1Corinthians 13 and this is the next phrase. I started out with two main thoughts. Trust and Hope Each Other (in other words give the benefit of the doubt) and Trust God. The two parts developed but never came together. They are connected, but are two different challenges. I talked to Pastor who said you should be able to summarize your sermon into one sentence, especially for beginners. It makes it easier to stay on track. We decided both were good topics but Trust God will be covered frequently, and Trust others is fairly unique. Our church could use this now anyway. Because of our change in leadership, people seem to be less confident, almost cynical sometimes.
    So I’m focusing on Trust and Hope for Each Other. That cut my ideas in half, so I am trying this out. This would be just one point in the sermon, in the middle.

    I looked at the words trust and hope in the Greek and found that they pretty much mean … trust and hope. I was hoping that they came from a root word that meant "the cord that holds the bridge up" or something but no such luck. Then I looked for opposites and realized that the opposite would be doubt.

    ( Part 2 starts here )

    The most famous doubter ever was probably Doubting Thomas. But he actually had a chance to be known as Brave Thomas for a while.

    John 11:7 Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea."
    8 "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?" 9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10 It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." …

    16 Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

    Imagine if the Missions committee announced that we were sending a team to Baghdad to witness door to door. Wouldn’t it be cool to be the one to say, "Let’s go, its OK if we all die there"? But what does this scene tell us about his character? He is brave and determined, in a Green Beret kind of way. We don’t necessarily need that kind of courage. Our courage should be based more on the confidence that God is with us no matter what happens. But he is brave.
    He’s also a pessimist. "We’re all going to die!" And that will come out again later.
    One other thing to notice is what Jesus said. He makes a very cryptic statement about walking in the dark. I think He means that if you only see things from this world’s point of view you will stumble. You have to see things with God’s eyes.
    If Thomas could have only kept quiet, he could have been a hero. Brave Thomas. Willing to die for Jesus. But instead, we get another scene.

                                                                   

    John 20:24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"
    But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
    26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

    So, he has followed Jesus. Heard him talk of dying and coming back (not that anyone understood what he meant ahead of time) Seen Him raise the dead. And then been told by his friends, the other disciples that he was alive. And yet he doubts. From the world’s view, he’s right. People don’t come back. He is certified dead and no fantasy is going to bring him back. Good things like that don’t really happen. All hope is lost. We’re all going to die.
    You have to give him credit though, when Jesus came through the doors,(and I do mean through the doors), and Thomas put his hands on Him, he knew the right thing to say. He didn’t just say "You’re alive," he said My Lord and My God!" Once it has been proven to him, he gets it right.
    Jesus adds an extra sentence there. He says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." He is making a very important point. Everything is going to be based on us being able to accept things that aren’t proven. Aren’t obvious to this world’s view. We are going to have to trust and hope for things that aren’t seen. With God and with each other …

     



    Comment (1)

    Wed, Jul 19th - 9:42AM



    Jesus Appears to Thomas
     24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"
          But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

     26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

     28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

     29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."



    Comment (2)

    Mon, Jul 17th - 8:40PM



    Hey,

    The labryinth went great! (See below)
    It set up pretty well in the sanctuary. One of the guys has to leave for work just after we get started so I asked him to come early. That way he would be able to go through and I would be able to time him, to see how long it took. He is pretty deep so it didn't surprise me when he took a long time, about half an hour. I thought maybe three or four would spend that long.
    C'Anne went next and she took a long time also. Not surprising. I asked her if it worked and she said yes. That eased my mind. She is a good critic. After that, it became obvious that they all were taking a long time. About 15 young adults went through and really, every one went deep into the questions. They looked intense. It was tricky to know when to start the next person. We wanted them to go as soon as possible because the wait as long, but we also wanted them not to feel rushed. It needed to be a solitary thing too.
    Because of the "coming and going" timing of the thing, I didn't get a lot of feedback. People were leaving as I was running things, so I didn't get to talk to them. But everything I heard was positive and I saw for myself a lot of soul-searching.

    There is another challenge ahead. Pastor Matt asked me if I would preach a sermon next month. We have a plan to get each of our elders to preach a time or two. It would stretch them and let the congregation get to know them better.
    Fffteen years ago I was hired as a part-time intern pastor. It may sound much more impressive than it was. I mainly lead studies and tried to organize some social things for a small group. But I also preached a few times. Never at our main church. And never before more than 30 people. I was always terribly nervous, sweated a lot, and finished very early. But then I had just come from being the quietest guy in the room. 
    Since then I have taught a lot. On a good day, I actually can get comfortable in front of small groups. I don't know how I will do in "big church" in front of 200, but I have high hopes.
    The topic is on Love always trusts, Love always hopes from 1Corinthians 13.

    No doubt I will be posting about it a few times.



    Comment (4)

    Sun, Jul 16th - 11:08AM



    Hey,

    OK, I finished the final drafts. I went ahead and updated this post.

    This Sunday for college group we are going to meet at the church for once and do a labyrinth. A labyrinth is an old tradition, somewhat like a maze but not a puzzle. It is a path designed for prayer and meditation. There are no tricks or dead ends. Modern ones sometimes have stations to stop at for prompts. They go through one at a time, slowly.

    1. STATIC
    This one will start with a table with a small tv on it, showing only static.
    Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.         Pick up the pen and start moving it on the paper in front of you.
    This world makes static. Static is the emotions and thoughts of life that get in the way of us connecting with God. Before you start your journey, get rid of the static that might be distracting you. What worries or emotions are in the back of your mind right now? List or draw something that represents them; you may have already started. 
            When you feel like your mind is clear, leave the paper behind. In the trash can.

    2. They will walk slowly through the pews to the next sation where a laptop will show slides of creatures God has created (platypus, lions, rhinos, walking sticks, eagles, mice, etc.)
    CREATURES
    Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
    Study this collection of animals God designed. From mice to lions. From the sublime to the ridiculous. What does this example of God’s work tell you about the Artist who did the creating?

    3. Next is a pile of Dove chocolates and some fragrant oranges.
    BLESSINGS
    Ezekiel 34: 26 I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.
    Taste one of the chocolates. Smell the oranges. Listen to the chimes.
    God made us with five senses. And he made many little things in our world that brings us pleasure. The smell of grass. Sunsets. The sound of crickets. What does the fact that God created so many things for our pleasure tell you about Him?

    4. Next is an almost finished jigsaw puzzle with ten pieces missing.
    PUZZLE
    Job 38:4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
    5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
    God’s creation is a puzzle. He has given us so many blessings. But He also created mosquitoes and leeches and skunks. We know He loves us, but we don’t always understand everything in this world.
    Write down a question or two about what puzzles you about this world.
    Feel free to put a few pieces in the jigsaw puzzle as you think
    .
    (the pieces won't go, they are actually from a different puzzle. The point being that sometimes we don't have all that we need to answer some of our questions.)

    5. A plate is next holding a layer of sand.
              CONFESSION
               Psalm 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
                                 and did not cover up my iniquity.
                                 I said, "I will confess
                                 my transgressions to the LORD "—
                                 and you forgave
                                 the guilt of my sin.
    It is an amazing system, designed from the foundation of the world. We can come to God any time. No matter how we have failed Him. And He forgives us. He doesn’t accept them. He doesn’t excuse them. He doesn’t put us on probation. He restores us to a condition as though it had never happened.
               Take this opportunity to confess your sins, writing them in the sand. Then wipe away all     evidence of them. God already has.

    6. There is a bowl full of water and several stones.
              RELEASE
    Psalm 31:14 But I trust in you, O LORD;
    I say, "You are my God."
    There are three basic truths.
             1.God is real.
             2.He loves you.
             3. He is God.
             If each of these is true, there can be no reason to worry about things.
    Select a stone. Let it represent something in your life that you have trouble trusting to God. Hold it very tightly. When you are ready, release it into the water. Watch it as it falls, so that if your worry returns you will be able to see the moment that you gave it to God. Repeat as needed for other worries.

     

    7. This one is different. I will be there and will speak as a represenative of church leadership in their lives. I will apologize from the wrongs churches and christians have done to them. I will not be acting as some kind of martyr but simply giving them a chance to put aside things that have happened in churches in their lives that are hindering their worship.  

     

     8. Finally, there will be bread and juice for communion. 
            COMMUNION
    John 14:23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
    You have a dinner date with Jesus. Spend some time with Him. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. Share the bread and new wine. It’s just you and Him. In His house. He paid a very high price for this opportunity.



    Comment (0)

    Wed, Jul 12th - 9:35AM



    Hey,

    We are an online church. Is that OK? What role should it play in my church life? I know that I get much better loving support here than I do from my physical church. Here's an article that says it well.

    Now, can online Christian fellowship be considered an alternative to the face-to-face fellowship churches provide? I would say yes and no.

    Online Christian fellowship certainly can supplement the face-to-face variety. I think the apostle Paul would have loved to participate in immediate and frequent communication with the scattered believers of his day. And I know many people who have Internet friends with whom they pray and share stories about how God is working in their lives. These ongoing relationships are great sources of joy and hope.

    On the other hand, so much of what defines biblical fellowship is participation. Early church members ate together, admonished each other when they observed inappropriate behavior, and learned to love each other in ways that can only occur with face time.

    It's much easier to love from a distance. I can be enormously patient with a person when I know I can click off from a conversation anytime I want. I can self-select what information I will and won't divulge, giving a false picture of who I am. Because online communication is fraught with potential for deceit or withholding, we need to be deeply aware it provides only a partial relationship.

    Recognizing the limitations of online relationships can allow you to enjoy them for what they are—a sometimes-wonderful supplement to life lived in community. And these limitations should remind us of what a great gift we have in our local churches—both the corporate gatherings and the smaller fellowship groups. I hope you participate fully in a church and rub shoulders with people who will love you and shape you to be more like Jesus.

    Nancy Ortberg is a church leadership consultant and popular speaker who lives in California with her husband, John, and their three children.

    Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian Woman magazine.

    I think that all I would add is that a physical church is also a place where you can serve. That service is hard to reproduce online.



    Comment (7)

    Sun, Jul 9th - 12:42AM



    Hey

    I saw the other day that the former head of Enron died before he could serve jail time. If you live in South Africa somewhere you might not know that he was one of America’s biggest crooks. Actually, even there they probably know more about it than I do; I am sadly under-informed about current events.

    This guy apparently lied and cheated hundreds of his employees out of their jobs and their futures and made himself very rich. The spokesman upon his death was his pastor, who didn’t mention his repentance or his plans to pay people back. Instead, he said the man had comforted himself with his family and his Faith. He had stolen millions of dollars and was hiding behind God.

    How does God deal with the way people like this effect people’s view of Him?

    On my drive to work there is an intersection with the sun. As you sit, waiting to join the main road, the sun beams through the side window. In July, it is bright and hot, and very hard to take that early in the morning. I have found that, if I stop in just the right place, there is a light pole that blocks the sun.

    It is amazing that a six inch pole can block out a huge ball of fire hundreds of miles in diameter, but it illustrates the universal principle. Something close to you has much more impact than something far away. And that is how we can undo news headlines.

    No matter how offended someone might be by hearing about a hypocrite, they will respond to kindness shown personally to them. If we go about showing God’s love, we can be the difference. If we can let it be known that we are Christians, that’s great. Maybe with a simple, "God bless you." But even if we don’t, God can use us.

    Someone’s blog (I’m sorry, I don’t remember who) mentioned that we might have a part in someone coming to the Lord and not even know it. Any courtesy, or even smile, could have made someone in a mood receptive to the gospel. Isn’t it great to think that just being nice might have eternal results? Maybe that’s why Jesus mentioned a cup of cold water.



    Comment (6)

    Thu, Jul 6th - 10:31PM



    Hey,

        I looked back and saw that I haven't whinned for a while so maybe just a little one?

       I have been discouraged lately. It seems like very little is happening.  
       In prayer today God seemed to rmind me why. I haven't been in His Word for a while. It would also explain why I haven't posted here lately either. There was a week of camp, a week of vacation, and a week of flu. I tried to read but I couldn't concentrate. I am left out of gas. Like I have been living on junk food. Not much worthwhile is in my head. 
       So, no offense, but why am I sitting here talking to you? At least until I have something worthwhile to share.    
       I'll be reading.



    Comment (8)

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    Name: Jon Johnson
    ChristiansUnite ID: parakleter
    Member Since: 2005-07-27
    Location: , California, United States
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