church, inspiration, Jesus, spiritual

The Presence

The only life worth living is a life in Jesus’ presence. But for the disciples in John 14, that was about to change. Jesus was telling them he was going to leave them. What?? They had left everything to follow him. He is leaving? Yes, but his presence would come and be with them always.

We Christians are told that this presence will always be with us. God is with us. Surrounding us. Living in us. But sometimes we feel spiritual isolation. We feel God is far off. Abandoned. Alone.

Jesus taught his disciples in John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.”

Jesus could return to them because he is one with the Father and one with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, or Advocate, Counselor, Comforter, or Helper, as scripture calls him, is available to those who will receive him.

How do we receive this presence?

Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, obey the commandments I have given you. I will ask the Father to send you another helper, the Spirit of truth, who will remain constantly with you.”

What are the commands he has given? What is obedience?

  1. Believe – “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)
  2. Love – Love God and Love Others as Yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)
If we live in the way of Jesus, we will live in the power and presence of Jesus.
What a great and power Word for each of us. Believe and Love and live in the Power of Jesus. 
Have a blessed Monday!
These words are from John Ketchersid’s sermon July 6, 2014 at the Plymouth Park Church of Christ.

church, spiritual

10 Characteristics of Fellowship…The Best Proclamation of Jesus There Is

In the book of Acts, the church is started and fellowship is a big part of  who the church is and what it does. In the sermon this past Sunday, the preacher shared 10 characteristics of fellowship in the form of an acrostic.

Family Atmosphere – The church is not a business and the decisions it makes are based on the spiritual health of the people, not on making money. In a family, the people are important and come first. In a business, it is all about increasing profits…no matter the cost.

Exciting Environment – The people in Acts were filled with awe of God and what He was doing in the world around them. The were aware that everything happening around them and in them was what God was doing, and it was exciting to them.

Learning Community – All of us have something to learn and it takes humility to recognize that fact. The church in Acts devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings, wanting to learn and grow in the knowledge of Christ. If we are learning, we are growing. Once we stop learning, we cease to grow.

Likeable people – The church in Acts enjoyed the favor of all the people. Not just church people, but all people. When we live like Christ and let our light shine for all to see, people will glorify God.

Overflowing joy – The new church spent much time worshiping and serving with glad hearts. It is in serving the Lord that we find fulfillment, contentment, and joy.

Worshiping the Lord – The people in Acts were focused. They were focused on the Lord and centered their lives around Him. Their decisions and plans were based on the Lord and His ways.

Sharing stuff – No one was in need in the early church. There was a “nothing is mine” mentality. They shared their stuff with people in need. It was not about ownership, but about stewardship.

Happening place – Miracles abounded in the early church. Some say that God doesn’t work that way anymore, but if we have eyes to see, we will find God’s miracles all around us. God is still at work in this world. You just have to open your eyes, look around, and see God at work.

Increasing number of those being saved – The church is not an exclusive club, but a welcoming family. It reaches across all barriers and welcomes all.

Prayer – The church is devoted to prayer. Church people are a praying people. It draws them close to God and close to each other.

Fellowship is not just something the church does. It is a proclamation of the gospel. It tells of who we are in Jesus. When the church loves one another, the world will know they belong to Jesus. The church and it’s fellowship is the best proclamation of Jesus there is.

How are you proclaiming Jesus to the world around you? Are you trying to do it all on your own? Or are you part of a church that loves one another and shows the world what love it?

*Based on the sermon from John Ketchersid, June 15, 2014.

church, spiritual

Rainy Day Worship

Photo by worradmu
freedigitalphotos.net

I must confess. I did not want to go to church yesterday. It was cool in my bedroom and I was warm under the covers. Rain beat a gentle rhythm against the roof while thunder rumbled it’s own tune. It was the perfect morning for sleeping in.

But the day was the Lord’s day, not mine. And I’m so glad I trudged out of bed and got myself to church. I love going to church and experiencing God there. I don’t always “feel” Him close like I do at other times, but I always enjoy being with Christ followers who join with me in sitting at the foot of the cross, learning more about the LORD I seek to be like.

Of course, God always impresses truths on my heart through various times in the service. During the communion message I was struck by the thought of Jesus washing his disciples feet…the very ones who would desert him…the very ones who would deny him. Oh, the love of the Jesus runs deep.

During the sermon, John talked about life’s pathways being complex and multifaceted. Pilate had a decision to make regarding Jesus. Set him free and incur the wrath of the Jews? Or hand him over and go against his conscience, knowing Jesus to be innocent. The Jews had a decision as well. Release Barabbas or Jesus? Barabbas was a criminal. Jesus was…well Jesus was encroaching on their territory…ultimately, their pride.  So what do they do? They want to crucify Jesus. The claimed that they had no king but Caesar. What??? They would lay claim to a king that they detested? A king that was unclean? Decisions are not always easy. But there is something to be learned through these scenarios.

We need to learn to humble ourselves and set aside our view of how things should be. Sometimes instead of turning right or left at the fork in the road, we need to turn around and repent. We mustn’t put our trust in ourselves, our knowledge or experience, or church traditions, or political agendas. We must put our trust in the LORD.

Life is all about Him. Loving Him. Loving people. Living a life in relationship with Him. Living a life in relationship with others. It’s about using our gifts and talents to bless others, seeking to please Him in all we do. Sigh….now that is good living.

I’m really glad I didn’t sleep in today.

church, spiritual

What Our Actions Say

Photo by stockimages
freedigitalphotos.net

Have you thought about the power of your actions and the things you do? Do you ever think about what your actions say? Our actions reflect on who we are and the values that we hold. They speak to the world around us either a story of hope or a tale of woe.

As followers of Christ, we have been called to a higher standard of living. The standard is not a burden, but it can be confusing. Many of us would like a list of rules to follow, but the Bible, our guide to the Christian life, is not a rule book. Scripture is God’s way of telling us who we are, whose we are, and therefore how to live.

While the Old Testament listed out rules to follow, the gospel does not. The gospel is too big to be contained in a set of rules. The gospel that Jesus brought…his life lived…is the insight into the life we are to live.

Philipians 1:27-2:4 gives us a glimpse into this calling for a Kingdom life.

Unity: A life worthy of this calling is tied to Jesus’s church. We are told to “come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love.” Be as one. The collective body of believers is a power force in God’s kingdom. It can withstand the attacks of the evil one. It can move mountains. It can change the world. But it can only do it if it is united; united in love.

Opposition: Followers of Christ stand firm in the face of opposition. “Don’t be paralyzed in any way by what your opponents are doing. Your steadfast faith in the the face of opposition is a sign that they are doomed and that you have been graced with God’s salvation.”  We will face opposition as believers and we are to stand firm, holding to our faith in the One who is worth any and all kinds of suffering. There can be joy in the face of suffering and we must find it to show the world where our heart lies.

Being a follower of Christ is not a solitary effort. It is about being a part of a community, living life together, sharing the hope we have and the joy Christ offers. Am I looking to the needs of others or am I selfishly looking after myself? In this busy world, it is easy to huddle up in our own bubble, but we must make an effort to branch out and truly live the Kingdom life. A life where our actions speaks loud and clear who we are and Whose we are.

What are your actions saying?

**This message was given by Candace Nicolds are our church yesterday. Thank you Candance!

church, prophet, spiritual

The Lord Is Raising Up A New Generation

Photo by markuso
freedigitalphotos.net

The prophet Elijah despaired of seeing God’s people turn back to Him. He believed he was the last prophet and all hope ended with him.

But God is bigger than Elijah’s doomsday view.

God brought forth Elisha to receive a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Now the language here is inheritance language, as a double portion signified what was given to the heir of the family. Elisha is proclaimed heir to Elijah’s legacy of prophesying… a different kind of prophet.

Where Elijah was a loner, Elisha was a people person. Where Elijah was depressive, Elisha was more upbeat.

God was raising up a new prophet for a new day. 

And He will again and again, for each generation.

We may think Christianity is coming to an end. We may think things cannot get worse for the church. But though things grow dim, God’s Spirit is still working in His creation. He will continue to raise up souls to further His kingdom here on this earth.

Look around you at those younger than you. Who do you see with God’s fingerprints all over them?

Who will become His voice for this new generation? 

Let’s bless this new generation. Let’s encourage and love the ones coming of age, giving them room to grow and serve in His church and His kingdom. Nurturing the future is being Christ in this world, giving hope for the growth of God’s kingdom now and generations to come.

Who can you bless today? 

**Adapted from John Ketchersid’s sermon July 7, 2013.**

church, God, Jesus, spiritual

What’s So Important About Church?

Photo by Deb Spoons
freedigitalphotos.net

Why go to church? I can have a relationship with Jesus all on my own. I feel God more out in nature than I do within four walls of a sanctuary. It will be more important to go when I have my own kids. I don’t get anything out of going to church. Church just doesn’t speak to me.

I’ve heard these statements and have really pondered the question: What’s so important about church?

Well, John’s sermon yesterday gave me an answer that I feel makes sense. Yesterday was Pentecost, the Sunday we remember when the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jesus’ followers awaiting the promised gift. John spoke of three things we receive when we accept Jesus and are given the Holy Spirit: Peace, Joy, and Mission. It was when he spoke about our mission in this world that I truly began to understand the importance of church.

The original word for Holy Spirit is BREATH. God breathed on the disciples and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, just as God breathed on Adam and gave him life. This breath of the Holy Spirit is special, because it gives us purpose and can give us passion.

Psalm 150, the last psalm listed, speaks of the purpose and mission of those who have the breath of God.

Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals. let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
    Hallelujah.

It is a mission of the church…the universal church, the church world-wide…to praise the Lord. We praise the Lord with our lives because He has given us breath…not only physical life, but life life in His Spirit.
The church is a group of believers who gather together to worship God. To praise Him. To love Him. To honor Him. If our mission as Spirit-filled believers is to praise the Lord, then  we need to join together as believers worldwide to praise God and lift up His name. There is great power in the collective worship of God.

But I don’t get anything out of church! Church is not for your pleasure. Church is a place to collectively worship the one true God. It is a place to further the mission of God. Worship requires you to consciously think through the words of the songs sung, the prayers said, the scripture read, and the sermon preached. It requires you to come prepared to give…not receive. Don’t get me wrong, you will receive great things when you truly worship God as He deserves. But receiving something is not the purpose of coming to church.

I’ll go to church when I start my family. If the parents are not sold on the mission of God before they have kids, then their kids won’t capture that mission of God. Parents need to have their own relationship with God and be sold out for Him before they can train their children to love Him. It is not the church’s job to train up a child in God’s love…it is the parent’s job. The church can – and does – teach, but it just reinforces what is taught at home.

I feel God more out in nature than I do within the walls of a church. Yes, there is something about being out in nature that draws us to God. It is because we are truly recognizing and seeing God’s work around us. It is because we are focused on His creation and recognizing the gift that it is. But we can do the same thing at church. So often we go to church, wondering if we will get anything out of the service. We go through the motions. But we aren’t actively participating. We aren’t truly meaning the words of the songs we sing. We aren’t truly agreeing to the words spoken in prayer. We aren’t truly paying attention to God’s words spoken through the sermon. There is power in the collective worship of God’s people. We can experience His powerful presence when we truly worship in spirit and truth.

Church is not only a place to worship God. It is a place to be encouraged by other Spirit-filled believers. There are times when I am struggling with something in my life and someone in church will come up and ask about me…and sometimes even KNOW what I am struggling about. That is the Spirit loving on me and encouraging me…through a fellow believer. I wouldn’t get that encouragement…either from the church member or from God…had I not been in attendance. Church is not just an institution…it is a family.

Church attendance is not a requirement. We don’t need another thing on our “guilt list”, for sure. But church attendance is an outgrowth of our heart. We spend time and energy on what is important to us. We make time for what we love the most. What is most important in your life? (Disclaimer here: There are times when we just cannot make it to church. In today’s economic times, sometimes we have to work on Sundays. There is no shame in that. What I am saying here is that worshiping God is more important that shopping, catching up on sleep, and watching TV.)

This is certainly not a complete list of reasons for the importance of church. What would you add to my list?

church, Kissing scences, personal

Violets, Stitches, and Almost Kisses

It’s been awhile since I posted, mainly because I just haven’t felt like posting. Things are weird. Things are busy. Life is just moving too fast for me right now. So here’s a few random things going on with me.

I am growing Violets and they are amazing! I am not even doing anything to them! My friend, Becky, gave me a pot especially designed for violets. It is a pot that sits in a bowl of water so that moisture can travel through the bottom of the pot to keep the violets moist. I think that is working wonders. Also, I keep them in the window sill of my kitchen, and I keep the florescent light on day and night…they light florescent light. That’s what I’m doing and I’m getting spectacular results, don’t you think?

So my son cut his hand with some scissors last week. Yeah, we needed to go get stitches, but to save $1000 dollars, we decided to butterfly them up and make sure we kept it clean. So far, so good. It is taking longer to close up, but it’s doing well.

We had a special time of prayer at church Sunday with lots of candles. I snapped a picture with my phone and was excited to see something special show up! Do you see anything? Look to the left…the light from the window and some light from the top is making a cross!!!! Nice, huh? (That’s my husband preaching.)

Today I’m posting at The Writer’s Alley about Almost Kisses. I’ve got lots of movie/TV clips of some good ones. Stop by and share your favorite “almost kiss”. Here is my favorite. (click on the link below the picture)