Fri, Mar 30th - 10:38PM
There are a lot of people struggling in our college group right now (including the leaders). I got the idea to have a "pick the world's best comfort song" night. I picked 8 of my favorites and printed out the lyrics. I put them into brackets (like the NCAA tournament) and we'll pick the winner. While we're doing that we can spend some time talking about comfort and how it works.
There's not really room here to print all 8 songs but here's the list .
Oceans From the Rain by 7th Day Slumber vs Be My Escape by Reliant K
Until My Heart Caves In byAudio Adrenaline vs Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns
Dare You to Move by Switchfoot vs Cry Out To Jesus by Third Day
Beauty From Pain by Superchick vs Will You Be There? by Skillet
and my winner
"Praise You In This Storm"
I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth
Tue, Mar 27th - 12:32PM
2:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 2:7 is many people's favorite verse. It is often chose as "their life verse" at baptisms. I suppose it is also easy to memorize. In context, it is Paul telling us that we were at odds with God. Everything about us was about sin. Everything about God is holy. When we became Christians we be came an entirely new person. The word creation means "something created", reminding us that this action was not a result of any of our efforts. We didn't make ourselves new through our own decision to change. We are new because God remade us. And the great thing about that is that it means we are no longer at odds with God. We have been reconciled.
And now that we have been reconciled, we have a "ministry of reconciliation". It kind of like (and completely not at all like) working between two rival gangs. Imagine that it was you job to try to make peace between two gangs. You would have to go to anyone you could and try to convince them. "Come on, they are not so bad. Wouldn't peace be great. This hatred is killing you."
Well, its entirely not like that because God isn't like a rival gang at all. In fact, he has already done the forgiving, and the giving, and the promise of eternal perfection. But it is still our job to go to people in that way and try to convince them. God has done all this and left it to us, with His support, to represent Him. Wherever we go, we are missionaries. We are either showing people how God works in our lives, or we are showing them that He doesn't seem to have done much of anything.
Sat, Mar 24th - 11:34PM
Isaiah 29: 16 You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,
"He did not make me"?
Can the pot say of the potter,
"He knows nothing"?
Isaiah 62: 8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Romans 9: 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?" 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
God is infinite. We are finite and clay is finite. God is everywhere. We and clay can only be in one place. God knows evrything. We and clay have limited knowledge. We are actually far closer to being clay than we are to being God. All of these passages say that God, being the infinite, all-knowing, Creator, has a right to do whatever He wants with us. Besides we couldn't possibly see or understand why He uses us the way He does. We don't know everything and we can't see the future. God designed us before we were born for a purpose. That purpose involved glorifying Him in some way; through success or failure, healing or pain, joy or sorrow. He gave us gifts and planned our lives to develop those gifts.
When my son was two (I think), he decided to investigate an electic outlet in our wall. In our crumbling house this was very dangerous, so I slapped his hand. He stopped, looked at me, and went back to investigating. This happened three more times before I took him to his room.
Do you suppose he saw the wisdom of me trying to teach him that outlets are bad to touch? How cruel do you think he thought I was in his infant mind for hindering his curiosity? Yet his mind at two years old was much closer to my mind than our minds are to God's mind. Imagine us getting mad at God for trials He put us through. Imagine us feeling slighted for Him using us as laborers instead of as star performers. Our only choice is to trust that God loves us and is in control and has a reason for the things that happen to us. Just like a lump of clay.
Thu, Mar 22nd - 8:06PM
2 Corinthians 5:
7We live by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
"Not by sight" doesn't mean that there isn't evidence of truth to be seen everywhere. It means that we don't have to see the reason for things that happen to us. "We are confident" that God is in charge and our lives are part of His plan.
Even as Christians, we will have to answer for how we lived. This will not be to determine whether we go to Heaven or Hell, that is already decided. This is to judge the "things" we did, wwhether they we "good or bad". Of God or of the world. We must set our sights on the eternal things.
Tue, Mar 20th - 9:44PM
Continuing from my previous post, and Mel's
1 Cornthians 4:1Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. ...
Why do we have this ministry? well for one thing, because we have the aroma of Jesus, we represent Him whether we mean to or not. If unbelievers know that you are a Christian (and I sure hope that you aren't undercover) then they are watching. Every good thing you do draws them closer to Jesus. Every bad thing that you do pushes them farther away. Don't wonder if you could be a missionary, you already are. Other recent passages tell us that we are equipped. We have spiritual gifts to share and we have be instructed to come alongside others with the comfort that we have been comforted with.
Paul is using this to help the people of Corinth focus. My father-in-law used to be a firefighter with the forest service. Once his crew was trapped by shifting winds. One of the young workers began to panic. Until Dave gave him a hose and staioned him under a truck. He told the kid to watch a certain area and make sure the fire didn't reach the truck from his side. With a specific job to do, the young man calmed down. As we face life's trials, we need to remember that we have a ministry, and the trials are part of it.
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. ...
We are like clay jars; simple, plain functional. We are not glorious to behold. This is so that people will see the special things in us and know that they come from God, and not from us. A perfect looking, perfectly skilled, perfect lived person would be expected to be able to do great things. But if I am even able to stand upright for a while, people will know that someone is helping me. And our God does not coddle us. He sends us trials, and goes through them with us. We face trials so that we can show His strength
13It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
If you really believe, you will tell others about God. If you saw a truck about to hit a group of people, you would warn them. In fact you could actually be prosecuted if you didn't. If you knew where there was free food you would tell starving people. Only a monster wouldn't.
Paul lists his "light and momentary troubles" here and elsewhere. He was beaten, stoned, sick, whipped, shipwrecked and imprisoned. That didn't compare to the fact that he knew that when he died his life would be perfect forever. I once started a college group by having them poke themselves once with a toothpick, lightly. Then we sang, had a lesson and ate some of Taryn's amazing cooking. Then I asked them how many were still troubled by that poke from two hours before. Were they still distracted, bothered or angry? In an eternity with Jesus, in perfection, will we really remember even the worst trials we faced in this tiny life?
We should start each day with a focus on our ministry. What does God want us to accomplish today?
Tue, Mar 20th - 9:52AM
We Smell Like Jesus
2 Corinthians 2
:14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
Sat, Mar 17th - 12:37AM
Barnabas' story is inspiring, but you have to chase around a little to find it. His name is scattered throughout Acts.
Acts 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. Acts 11: 22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth
Acts 11:30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
Our first three references show how special Barnabas was. He was one who sold all his goods and gave them to the apostles work. This means he put all his faith in God. This was very early in church history, before support was established, before it became a good business to get into. He is called an apostle in Acts, although without an explanation of exactly how he was made one. In verse 30 he is listed first, before Saul (Paul), generally meaning the writer considered him more important. Later in Acts, as Paul's role grows, Paul is listed first.
Acts 9:26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
Perhaps the most important thing Barnabas does is in chapter 9. He is the one God chooses to introduce Paul to the faith, and to ministry. Before this Paul was Saul, Christianity's biggest enemy. If Paul wasn't sincere, he could have arrested the leadership right there, when Barnabas introduced him. Trusting in what he received from the Holy Spirit, Barnabas took that chance.
Acts 14:12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. 14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15"Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.
At the height of his ministry with Paul they were called gods. The people of the city started to bring them offerings. . They considered Barnabas Zeus, the biggest god and Paul as his messenger. Paul and Barnabas raced to stop this, and to turn the worship to God.
15: 36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
Ultimately this was Barnabas' ministry. Desipite having honor and responsibility, even having been called a god, his ministry was as a helper. Instead of continuing his partnership with Paul, he came alongside John Mark, who had deserted them earlier. It would have been easy to abandon John Mark. This was the beginning of Christianity. Their lives were at risk often. Getting these churches started correctly was critical. But Barnabas couldn't resist someone who was hurting. He left the main thrust of the ministry, the revisiting of the churches they had started, and went in a lesser direction so he could minister with John Mark. John Mark was restored in the process. Both men went on to have long ministries. John Mark went on to serve with Peter. In fact, he was known best simply as Mark, and he wrote the second biography of Jesus, the gospel of Mark.
Mon, Mar 12th - 9:29PM
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows
The word comfort here is the same word used for Holy Spirit. Its paraclete and it means to come alongside. I called one of the kids up and said, "Joel is very sad today. What would you think I was doing if I came up to him like this?" I stood in front of him face to face. They answered scolding, giving advice, etc. I said, "OK, what if I did this?" I stood beside him, with an arm over him. They said listening, encouraging. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. He uses the trials that we go through to enable us to help others with similar trials. Would you listen to advice from someone who never seems to have anything go wrong?
When God calls us to comfort he means come alongside. That's good news because it means that you don't need the answers, or great wisdom, you just need to be there. If God gives you words to say that’s great, but the most important thing is just to come.
We comfort with the same comfort we received from God. That means all the hard things that we go through give us the ability to comfort someone else. God could have prevented any one of the bad things that happened to you. Even the things our own sins caused, God could have rescued us from. But He says in (Romans 8:28)
Paul opens this paragraph with the word praise. He is thanking God that he has had the experiences that help him comfort others ,and the comfort to deal with them. In chapter 11 he lists some of the those experiences ... I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. I have had a pretty good life. There are only a few things that I have been through where I really needed God's comfort. Paul is praising God that while I may be able to have similar experiences with a few suffering people, he has many many more people with whom he has experiences in common. What experiences have you gone through?
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