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Archive for October, 2012

God is slow and we must be slow. (1)

 

When we hurry, we miss much.

 

I wonder how many times, like the Priest and the Levite on the Road to Jericho, I have sped past God.

 

I always assume God is speeding ahead, thus I move full steam ahead.  

 

It is not until I find myself alone and bereft of His presence that  I realize I passed Him by a long way back.

 

God lives in the present.  He waits for me to draw near to Him.  

 

God waits for me in the present, not in the future.

 

When will I ever learn?

 

Be still and know that I am God ….” (2)

 

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  1. Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
  2. Psalm 46:10.
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Always keep a part of your heart reserved for God. (1)

 

I have known people with hard hearts or, as Ezekiel writes, hearts of stone.

 

People with hard hearts are generally unforgiving, self-centered, and cold.  They are not drawn towards others nor are others drawn to them.

 

A hard heart is the ugliest attribute a person can possess.  

 

Hard hearts do not make room for God.  They are devoid of love and are unmoved by the beauty and mystery of life.  

 

Hard hearts are never broken, but neither do they live.

 

Not only does God want us to have hearts that have a spot reserved for Him, but he promises to give us one:

“I will remove your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh.” (2)

 

A heart of flesh is a goldmine for love and life.  

 

A hard heart is nothing more than a gravel pit.

 

Your heart is your treasure chest. (3) 

 

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  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 290). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26.
  3. Matthew 6:21

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When did we see you hungry and feed you? (1)

It’s easy not to the see the hungry.

Most hungry people endure their hunger quietly behind closed doors.

Children sent to bed with stomachs growling dreaming that there will be food in the morning.

Mothers go to bed weeping knowing their little ones are suffering not just for food, but for the nutrition which fuels their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Fathers pace late into the night wrestling with their failure to provide for their family wondering why their efforts to find a job, even for a day, have again been unsuccessful.

Most hungry people are not on street corners with a tin cup, they remain invisible in our neighborhoods and communities, unwilling to beg or to bring attention to their struggle.

Are you willing to help these hungry children, moms, and dads. They hesitate to ask for help, just as Jesus suffered in silence, they too suffer quietly.

If you want to help, you can.

Today the Rockford Rescue Mission is hosting a telethon Hope to the Hungry. For $2.05 you can provide a meal, for $100 you can provide meals for a family for a week.

You can help?

Call 815-966-2842 before 8 PM (CST) today and make a gift to Hope to the Hungry. Or, you can go to www.rockfordrescuemission.org and give on-line.

You can call from anywhere in the world and make a gift.

Today you can make a difference.

Speak up and feed those who suffer in silence.

When did we see you hungry and feed you?
You when you fed one of the hungry, you fed me. (1)

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Matthew 25:37 and 40.

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“I will give you rest … you will find rest for your souls”

 

Jesus’ invitation to those who are weary from carrying heavy burdens and stress is one which many of us fail to grasp.

 

We long for the rest Jesus promises and of which many others speak, but it escapes us because we do not attend to the RSVP on the invitation.

 

The RSVP is: Take my yoke upon you.

 

Rest comes not to those who long for it in Jesus’ name, but to those who yoke themselves to Jesus, letting Him carry their burdens.  

 

If you are weary and stressed, stop running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off praying, “Jesus help me, I am tired.”

 

Instead of running around Jesus, frantically reaching out to Him, stop and link yourself to Him.  Then, and only then, will you find rest for your souls.

 

Come to me, all who weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (1)

 

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(1) Matthew 11:28–29

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Daily Bread for Oct 14

John 3:22–36

Decreasing and Increasing

 

3:22-36

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).

 

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”

 

27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.

 

28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.

 

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.

 

34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

 

 

Famous Preachers and Churches

Cottage industry of fame and profits

 

John the Baptist

Had become famous and well-known

 

Both Jesus and JtB baptizing

==> Jews and JtB’s Disciples

Saw it as a competition,

JtB saw it as a reality …

JtB was still pointing to Him.

JtB’s ministry is yet complete.

 

The presence of both JtB and Jesus baptizing was causing confusion.

 

More people were following Jesus.

Jesus was gaining market share.

Were they not seeking to make John envious?

==> Question Am I good enough?

==>  Question Who should I follow?

It’s amazing how we are attracted

to the crowd.

to the popular

 

How easily do we do this in religious matters?

 

JtB is indicating simply he is doing what God called him to do

which is to point the way to Jesus.

As recorded in Luke 1:16–17

He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

 

JtB knew that when we are faithful to God’s call,

God will make sure the work bears fruit,

Isaiah 55:10, My word will accomplish that for which it is sent …

 

In the midst of this confusion and questioning

JtB’s does two things

1. He compares himself to Jesus

2.  He talks about his joy that people are following Jesus, not him

 

The Comparisons

He is the Christ

I am a witness sent as a forerunner

 

Jesus is from above/heaven (born from above)

I am from the earth

 

We both bear witness to what we have seen and heard

Jesus has seen heaven

I have seen earth

 

Jesus seals you to God

I point you to Jesus

 

Jesus speaks words of God

I simply “” them (implied)

 

Jesus gives the fullness of the Holy Spirit

I at best am filled with the Holy Spirit (implied)

 

Jesus is The Son, God loves

I am, at best, a son of God (implied)

 

Jesus is the Estate

I am simply an heir (implied)

 

Jesus brings eternal life

I only receive it (implied)

 

If you disobey Jesus you lose life and gain God’s wrath

If you disobey me … What does it matter (implied)

 

Thus receive His testimony

Reject me, but not Him

Thus, set your heart on Him, not me

What a wonderful understanding of his ministry!!!

 

 

Then JtB indicates his joy

that people are now following Jesus, rather than him.

 

Imagery of the bride and bridegroom is lifted up

2nd time in John’s Gospel

He clarifies that the believer/church is to be the Bride of Christ.

Our covenant relationship with Jesus

 

There is joy for being in covenant with Jesus

because the covenant ==> eternal life

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life

 

JtB’s desire is that people are joined to Jesus

==> JtB to say:

Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.

 

Not 1st time Jtb experienced joy

Elizabeth’s baby jumped with joy in the womb when visited by Mary

 

Joy is a theme in Jesus’ ministry

Birth of Jesus – good news of great joy

Parable of the Sower

Finding the Great Treasurer

Reward for being a good and faithful servant

Joy of the lost being found

 

Jtb had what Jesus wanted him to have … JOY

John 15:11

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, 

and that your joy may be completely full.

 

John and Jesus were given their roles by heaven

and John was entirely content with his.

 

The best man for Jesus found his greatest joy

knowing that the groom and his bride

were being united with great rejoicing.

==> watching Dan and Judy last Sunday

 

This Gospel repeatedly associates ‘joy

with the verb ‘to fulfil’, ‘to complete’

John the Baptist is satisfied

knowing that his God-given ministry has been successful.

 

 

==> JtB to say

He must increase, but I must decrease.”

 

JtB knows it is not about him

==> he understands he is not the focus or the light

==> he recognizes the need to get our of the way and limelight

==> Question

How often when doing important ministry, 

do we want the light to shine on us?

 

This ties back to John 3:21

But whoever does what is true comes to the light, 

so that it may be clearly seen 

that his works have been carried out in God.”

 

All ministry is about Jesus and should point to Jesus

All of your/our ministry should complement to ministry of others

 

Churches do not have competitive ministries

Larger congregations like Kish

will always have ministries that overlap

We should always see them as complementary

… Our worship change

… Our 3 children ministry programs

 

Churches are NOT in competition with each other

God does not call us to beat out or to best the ministries of

Heartland, Red Brick, Evangelical Covenant, etc ….

 

How are we known at Kish?

How do people know us?

The only acceptable answer is:

They are about Jesus ….

His Word, Work, Grace, Mercy, Love, and Salvation

 

When you do ministry

You are essential to God’s work,

but you are not the focus of His ministry

 

If I died today … 

You’d have a great funeral and funeral lunch, 

perhaps a few tears … 

Yet, the Word will be preached next Sunday

THIS IS WHAT’S IMPORTANT!!

 

Always deflect praise given to you for your ministry service to Jesus

==> my ambivalence with Recognition Events in the church

Fine line between a genuine Thank You and dangerous pedestal building

 

JtB statement that he must decrease

And Jesus must increase

==> a great perspective for all who do ministry

 

I am on a personal mission in my own ministry 

to NOT have a pastor-centered ministry

==> 2 critical implications

Don’t come for Pastor Rus

Don’t leave because of Pastor Rus

 

I am simply an over-promoted sheep …

This is not meant to diminish my ministry

nor what God has called me to do as your Pastor

nor the office of pastor

nor the authority given to this office

but rather to keep myself in proper perspective.

 

I have to deal with my ego

 

Calvin said

It is a great and lofty distinction, 

that men are appointed over the Church, 

to represent the person of the Son of God.

 

We must be mindful of our rank

And not appropriate to ourselves

what belongs exclusively to the bridegroom, Jesus

 

To “decrease” is to be less and less occupied with ourselves.

And occupied with Christ

 

Why is this critical?

Jesus saves,

not us

Not Pastor Rus

Not Kish

 

We cannot offer to Jesus a greater insult 

than to exalt ourselves, 

our Pastors, 

our churches, 

our ministries

Over Jesus

And believing the Gospel;

 

Problems at church

Where the Session which is infatuated

with the previous/foundering Pastor

More than they are with Jesus

==> death to the church and her ministry

 

JtB is NOT depreciating his ministry

or the work given to him by God

He understands it’s worth, value, and critical importance

He simply understands that his importance pales in comparison to Jesus

And pales in comparison to any ministry which gets others to Jesus

 

The goal of all ministry is …

To get people into a loving and saving relationship with Jesus

 

If you love your Pastor/Church more than Jesus

You are in trouble

If you stay away from worship

because you do not like

your Pastor, Church, songs, etc.

You are in bigger trouble than you think

 

JtB warns of this danger in verse 36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; 

whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, 

but the wrath of God remains on him.

 

This verse is a fitting climax to the entire chapter.

By laying out the only two alternatives,

genuine faith and defiant disobedience,

 

Receive Jesus and receive life

Reject Jesus and the wrath of God remains on you

 

With this being the only two alternatives

It is critical that ministry be focused on Jesus

 

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Ignorance is always bold and presumptuous. (1)

 

When I fear I am wrong, I argue with greater effort and intensity.

 

When I am confidant I am right, I listen with gentleness.

 

If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool rages. (2)

 

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  1. John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentary on the Gospel According to John (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), John 3:25.
  2. Proverbs 29:9.

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Loneliness

I have found that the best cure for loneliness is to be alone with God.

When you are still in God’s presence, peace will fill your inmost soul!

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

 

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