In Love

Holy and awesome God,
In love You created the world and all that exists.
In sadness You watched this world plunge into darkness through sin.
In compassion You sent the prophets to warn Your people.
In patience You waited.
In grace you sent Your one and only son to this world.
In mercy Jesus suffered and died for me.
In power Jesus rose from the grave for me.
In love You give me salvation through faith in Jesus.

Holy and awesome God,
I am humbled and blown away
when I reflect on this story.
I am grateful and thankful
when I reflect on what You did for me.

Oh God,
You are indeed holy and awesome.
May You receive all
worship,
honor,
glory,
and praise;
for in love You have given me hope;
in love You have given me peace.
Oh God,
I am so in love with You.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Loud Living

He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
Isaiah 42:2-3 (ESV)

There are too many “loud voices” and not enough, down to earth, humble servants who are willing to bring healing through sacrificial living. I listen to these “celebrity” pastors and wonder sometimes if all they do is stand in front of people talking and talking and then go home and hide until it is time to stand in front of people again and talk some more. Do they bring healing to the “bruised reed” and fan the faintly burning wick of faith and hope in people? Do they just hide behind their words?

Jesus never sought the spotlight. Jesus never put out a press release. Jesus never stood in the town square yelling and screaming in order to get people’s attention. People heard about his love and compassion and they came running. Jesus’ reputation for loving the sinner and outcast spoke volumes to people. It wasn’t his loud voice that brought people running it was his “loud” actions.

As a Church we need to “quiet down” sometimes and get our hands dirty. We need to be people of action not just talk. Loud voices will get people’s attention, but humble service, authentic love and genuine compassion will keep people close. And when people are close they see the love of God through Jesus Christ.

We don’t need to yell and scream to bring people in; we need to live lives of love and compassion that shouts hope and peace in the name of Jesus Christ.

People of God, let’s live loud.

The Pastor -|—

The Promise of Christmas

Holy Father,
You came bursting onto scene in holy Love
and You paved a way through the wilderness;
straight into Your holy courts
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Your power has defeated
Satan,
sin
and death
and Your love has redeemed your lost children.
May we cling to the promise of Christmas
as we bask in Your glory.
Through Jesus Christ we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Beneath

image

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I am humbled by your love.
It’s for sinners that you died;
through grace coming from above.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I’m convicted of my sin.
But sacrificed as the lamb;
My Savior was slain for me.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I am captured by your grace.
Undeserving as I am
but life’s given by your hand.

Beneath the cross of Jesus;
reflecting on Your mercy,
Your precious Son died for me
to heal me forever more.

The Pastor -|—

Loving God and Neighbors ~ A Prayer

The following prayer is in preparation to preach the Word of the Lord from Mark 12:28-34. This is the account of a Scribe asking Jesus what is the greatest Law; which loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength AND loving your neighbor as yourself.

So may God speak to Your heart this morning and send you out to serve Him through loving your neighbor out of your love for Him.

Holy Father,
we would not know love outside of You
for You are love.
We would not know how to truly love our neighbor outside of You
for You are love.

Many who do not know You, love others
but not in the way that brings You glory.
And so I ask that those here gathered,
who do not know You,
may come to know You in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And in knowing You,
love others with a love that only comes from You.

May You fill hearts,
so much so,
that we are driven to learn and live You holy Law;
obeying You and thus
showing love to our neighbor.
May our obedience bring You glory
and may our love of our neighbors point them to You.
I pray this through Christ Jesus our Lord,
who loved us all the way through the cross and through the grave,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

In preparation to worship ~ Agape Love

Loving God,
Your love is what gives life
breath,
meaning and
hope.
Your love came to this world in Jesus Christ.

Through faith in Jesus,
Your love saves sinners from eternal condemnation.
And Your love is what binds together Your Church in
mission and
ministry
in this world.

And so we gather as Your beloved children
to praise Your holy name
for Your awesome Agape love.
May love show forth in our worship
and
may love lead us to serve our neighbors.
Receive our praise and feed us with Your Word.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Hate Your Life (John 14:15 and 15:12-15)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” [John 14:15]

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” [John 15:12-14]

Yesterday was a John 14 kind of day (see “Love and Obedience” from March 24) but today is a John 15 kind of a day.

Yesterday I was struck by John 14:15 that talks about loving Jesus and keeping his commandments; that obedience is an act of love, not an act of duty or something to avoid punishment. We obey Jesus because we love Jesus and we want to please him; not in order to get something in return but because he has already given us something: Eternal life through faith in him.

Now today…

Jesus gives the commandment (which, if you love Jesus, you will be pleased to receive) to love one another as He has loved you. Then Jesus goes on to define the ultimate display of love. Are you ready for this?
Laying down your life for your friends.

Then Jesus goes on to say that you are his friend if you do what he commands. So therefore if you love Jesus you will not only freely and joyfully obey him but you will lay down your life for him. In essence, you will “hate your life in this world” (John 12:25)

WHAT?!?

John Piper, from his Solid Joys devotional, “How to Hate Your Life” says this:
It means, at least, that you don’t take much thought for your life in this world. In other words, it just doesn’t matter much what happens to your life in this world.

If men speak well of you, it doesn’t matter much.
If they hate you, it doesn’t matter much.
If you have a lot of things, I doesn’t matter much.
If you have little, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are persecuted or lied about, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are famous or unheard of, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are dead, these things just don’t matter much.

But it’s even more radical. There are some choices to be made here, not just passive experiences. Jesus goes on to say, “If anyone serves me, let him follow me.” Where to? He is moving into Gethsemane and toward the cross.

To love Jesus is to die to this world and cling to the eternal life you have in him. If you are truly clinging to the hope of the resurrection, then what happens in this life really matters very little; for this world can not take away that which God gives through Jesus Christ. But if you are “loving” this life; clinging to it, then you are not looking to Jesus and therefore not loving Jesus.

But if you want a more vivid picture, then imagine this:
Clinging to this life/world rather than Jesus (loving him) is like hanging over a fiery pit and clinging to nothing but a small thread. And you don’t need me to tell you what’s going to happen eventually.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Will you lay down your life for Jesus?
He already laid down his life for you.

Awesome, amazing and mighty God; You loved us first. You love us even though we are sinners. You love us even though we are disobedient. You love us even though we seek this life. Turn our hearts towards You that we may see Your love through the cross of Christ. In Jesus name, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Love and Obedience (John 14:15)

image

http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.15.ESV

It has been a John 14 kind of day as this chapter has been stuck (in a good way) in my brain and heart.

I was out visiting this morning; bringing communion to a couple members at a nursing home and assisted living facility out of town. During the course of the communion service I read from John 14 (since it has been on my mind today) and verse 15 struck me so I tried to make some mental notes on the fly. When I got home, I immediately created the above image through my YouVersion Bible app on my tablet and reflected on this some more. A few thoughts about this verses came to mind:

~ Obedience is a joy because of the one you are obeying.
~ Obedience is trusting the person you are obeying.
~ Obedience is not something to avoid consequences.
~ Obedience comes naturally because of the one whom you love.
~ Obedience out of love is not demanded but freely given.
~ Obedience out of duty is not love.
~ Obedience out of love is not about you but rather the one whom you love.

This is really a beautiful verse in the midst of a beautiful chapter. The love of Jesus should lead you to freely and joyfully obey all that God has commanded. For the one you truly love, you want to please, not because of fear of punishment for disobeying, but because you don’t want to hurt the one whom you love.

Just throwing this out there for you to ponder and reflect on.
Go…

The Pastor -|—

Valentine’s Day Everyday

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. [John 15:13]

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Now with that off my chest allow me to roll into my Valentine’s Day rant (if that is the right word)…

You see, I have a love/hate relationship with this day. It’s not because I am single (I’ve been happily married for over 10 1/2 years to an amazing woman/Valentine). The reason for my feelings about this day is this:

Why is there only one day out of the year where people are encouraged to go the extra mile for the one they love?

It seems to me that if you love a person, they would be your Valentine 365/366 days a year. It would seem to me that flowers and chocolates and candle light dinners would be the norm throughout the year. It would make sense to surprise that special someone with a random card on let’s say April 11 or June 4 or August 23, etc (just random days by the way). Why only on February 14?

And I can almost hear the comments out there:

He’s just a cheapskate or too lazy to do anything today.

I can understand that sentiment but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The fact remains, I love my wife; so much so that I would like to think that I would die for her. And therefore I want her to know that everyday of the year, not just one day where I go overboard with various signs and acts of love.

In much the same way (and more), Jesus’ love for you is an everyday, 24/7, 365/366 day a year thing. It’s not something that Jesus just shows on high holidays like Easter or Christmas. But rather Jesus goes out of his way to show this love in amazing ways throughout the year and throughout your days.

If love is such a wonderful thing (and it is) it deserves to be expressed all the time. And in case your wondering how my wife feels about this attitude, well, we’re in the same boat. She tells me, wait until after Valentine’s Day to get me flowers because they will be cheaper then. What husband doesn’t want to hear that 🙂

And I’m sure the chocolate candy industry or Hallmark or florists are not going to like a post like this post (at first) but I am not saying to boycott them today but rather use them throughout the year to express your love to your valentine everyday.

Go out of your way to show the love of Christ every single day. Go out of your way to proclaim the Good News of the resurrection and the hope of everlasting life. Go out of your way to show how much you love people. Jesus did.

So happy Valentine’s Day today, tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and the next day, etc, etc, etc…

May the love of God through Jesus Christ fill you will all hope and peace for the New Life to come. Have a wonderful and blessed day.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

New Year’s blessing

May the Lord bless and keep you as you leave 2014 and enter 2015.

May you leave 2014 with hope as you confess your shortcomings; remembering that the past is the past.

May you see 2015 as a fresh start; a reminder of the forgiveness you have through faith in Jesus.

May you see 2015 as a gift; reminding you of God’s amazing grace.

May you see 2015 with new eyes, reminding you of the New Life you have through Jesus.

May you know the strength that only comes from God.

May you know peace that only comes from the hope of the resurrection.

May you know the amazing love of God in this new year and may that love shine though your life as a witness to others.

All glory to God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Happy New Year and Amen.

The Pastor -|—