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Another Side of Sunday: “Peace”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Pastor Bonnie reminded us Sunday, peace is only one part of the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is one fruit with nine different characteristics. We do not get to pick and choose from its attributes. It is one holy fruit.

Just as a peach is fuzzy, round, juicy, orange, sweet, fragrant, tender to the touch, edible, and tasty. The peach is all those things wrapped up in one. You cannot separate its elements from itself. So the fruit of the Spirit is identified in the same way, by all nine of its attributes in one.

She showed us the word for peace in American Sign Language. Watch the YouTube video to see what she demonstrated.

She saw in the sign a connection to coming to God in prayer, turning our anxieties over to Him, and letting them go…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Yet I see something else too…

Watch the video again.

The hands start palms together, but crossed. As they rotate around they briefly come into the traditional symbol for prayer. They continue to rotate to a horizontal position, then spread apart and out from one another.

What I see is what happens in our relationship with Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

We start at crossed purposes with God. It is only Jesus who makes the way for us to be at peace with the Father where we can come to Him in prayer. [Palms together but crossed, then rotate to the position of prayer, hands pointing together up to God.]

Once Jesus brings us into peace with God the Father, we then can turn and reach out to the world, offering His peace to others. [Palms rotating to a horizontal position, then stretching out away from ourselves.]

Jesus as the Prince of Peace is the ONLY source of peace: spiritual, relational, physical, emotional.

He alone rules over peace. Who has it and who doesn’t.

Do you know peace in your world? your heart? your mind? your spirit?

Maybe it’s time to let the Prince of Peace rule in your life.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:12-17 ESV

[Feature Image Photo by Tamara Menzi on Unsplash]

Another Side of Sunday

Our Pastor began a series this week on the fruit of the Spirit. He spoke about love.

The very foundation of our faith is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37).

I sat in the early morning light and read,

Know that the Lord is God!

Psalm 100:3

I am reminded, to know Him is to love Him. Love cannot be manufactured or created by man.

It is He Who made us, not we ourselves.

Psalm 100:3

God’s love made us. God’s love sustains us. Any other love is not love at all.

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Psalm 100:3

His love binds us together, calls us into the fold, leads us to green pastures.

For the Lord is good. His mercy and loving kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.

Psalm 100:5

As the end of the week draws to a close, and you enter the rhythm of the weekend, may His love flow over you. May you know He is God, He created you, and you are His. Amen.

Another Side of Sunday

“You are the light of the world. …”

Matthew 5:14 ESV

Jesus tells His disciples: You are the light of the world.

There is a spiritual reality wrapped up in His words which should have you shaking in your boots. We alone. Those who follow Jesus. Are the only light in a very dark world.

Have you ever considered the responsibility? of being the only light available? in a very dark place?

The only one with truth? The only one who knows the way?

The youth presenting the children’s message on Sunday used the analogy of having a flashlight in a dark room. The storyteller asked: What do you do in a dark room when you have a flashlight?

A child responded: Turn it on.

Storyteller: What if you have a friend with you? Do you share the light?

Child: Yes. But not with a stranger.

I laughed. But also thought: How like the church. Many of us have the Light, know the Light, but aren’t willing or are too afraid to share it with strangers. We’ve learned the world’s lesson of stranger-danger far too well.

Or maybe we just haven’t grasped the truth: We are THE light of the world.

The youth who delivered the message told us we need to plug into Jesus to access the Light so we can share it with others.

The most important thing we need to do when it comes to shining His light is to get out of His way. A bit like dying to self, we need to stop determining what we think we should do and plug into His Spirit instead. Accessing Him through His Word and prayer and willingly follow His guidance. His way. When it comes to being and sharing His light.

It just doesn’t work when we try to shine for Him. We are the light of the world only when we make room for His Spirit to shine through us. And be ready to share the Light with complete strangers walking alongside us in this dark world.

You are the light of the world.

Consider what that means this week. Are you plugged into Him? filled with His Spirit? willing to get out of His way? ready to obey?

It is a great responsibility to be the only light in a very dark world.

Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. …”

Isaiah 42:5-7 ESV

[Feature Image Photo by Thomas Evans on Unsplash]

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Another Side of Sunday: The Path

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Luke 22:19

Remember… to think of again; to cause to keep in your mind.

Remember your baptism…

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Remember those who journey with you…

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Remember your confirmation, the day you said yes to Jesus…

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Remember Jesus, broken and poured out for you…

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This is my body broken for you. This is my blood poured out for you. 

Remember, think again, keep it in your mind and be…

Re-membered…

Put back together, made whole, complete, lacking in nothing, all cleaned up.

Remember to be re-membered.

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Another Side of Sunday: The Path

And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:10-11 ESV

I see the disciples dumbfounded by what they saw. Eyes big as saucers… mouths opened wide… heads cocked up like turkeys in the rain… (Yes… I know that’s not true, but it paints a great picture.)

Angels come to snap them out of their stupor, reminding them: What are you doing?! He’s coming back.

The reminder of His return should’ve brought to mind all His parables featuring a master going on a long journey entrusting his property to his servants while he was away.

“…It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. …”

Mark 13:34 ESV

Not only were the servants challenged to be productive with the master’s property, but to guard it while he was away.

In each parable, the master returned…

“…Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them….”

Matthew 25:19 ESV

He returned to judge their work and pay them accordingly. He expected a return on what he invested in his servants; the charge he gave them to work and guard what he had left in their hands while he was away.

In essence, the angels reminded the disciples: The Lord is going on a journey, it’s time for you to get to work. There’s not a moment to waste looking up at heaven. Your work is here on earth.

The same is true for us. We have work to do. What He’s invested in us — the apostle’s teachings, prayer, instruction in the Word, spiritual gifts, faith, grace — He expects us to use for His glory and the building of His Kingdom.

Do you find yourself looking up? gazing at how His prophecies will play out? or what heaven looks like? or whether angels have wings?

It’s time to take a look around. Consider what’s been entrusted to you and get to work. Walking in step with the Holy Spirit and obeying all He calls you to do.

Because we don’t know… when He will return…

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.

1Thessalonians 5:1-6 ESV

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Another Side Of Sunday: The Path

We invite you to enjoy a post from Jeremiah’s Menu as you continue your path from the empty tomb.

Today… I was a picture of His hands at work…

She told me Friday… I need you to come to Praise & Prayer and knit… she said I would be the demonstration…

Through the entire service…? I asked…

Yes…

Well… OK… if it helps people to connect with Him… Amen…

So this morning… I sat at the front of the small gathering… on a single stool… ball of yarn on the floor… knitting… Read more

 

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Another Side of Sunday: The Path

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Luke 5:1-5

The guest preacher Sunday spoke to our church, preparing us to make take the next steps in the Vibrant Church Initiative process.  Let’s take some time this week to reflect on his insights and consider our call to be fishers of men.

On one occasion… an ordinary day, a day like any other, not a holiday or a special event, no potluck luncheon or revival meeting. It was a day like the one before where Peter was fishing and cleaning his nets. Just an ordinary day, but when Jesus shows up He makes the ordinary extraordinary. What does an ordinary Sunday at church look like for you? Do you recognize Jesus in your ordinary?

Getting into one of the boats… When you step into a canoe or boat things move. Sometimes it’s hard to keep your balance in the midst of the rocking and swaying. The preacher said, “When Jesus gets into your boat, it will be rocked.” The reality is we like stability, and tend to resist change. It’s risky. We might just topple right over into deep waters. Change is inevitable. It signifies growth. Are you growing when it comes to being a part of the church? Is God calling you to do something that leaves you shaking? Are you resistant to change? Why?

Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. Life seems easier when you’re fishing from the bank. No danger of falling into deep cold water. It’s safe and secure, but the fishing is limited. I told my fifth and sixth graders recently, “Never go fishing without your life jacket. It saves you.” Jesus calls us to put out into the deep, but we never go alone. He is our Life Jacket, our salvation.

Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” In other words, we’ve been fishing and caught nothing. The fish aren’t biting today. Our words and thoughts often echo Peter’s. “We’ve always done it this way. This is our way. We’ve got it mastered. Why do it different?” Is there something in the church you really like, want to do the same way every single time? Is that something working to make disciples, bringing others to Christ?

But at your word I will let down the nets. My friend and I have this saying when we’re feeling called out of our ordinary. When our boats are rolling side to side, and we’re off balance. When we hear God whisper: Go deeper, push harder, do it My way. After we’ve shared our struggle, admitted our fear and hesitancy, we often say, “There is no other way.” In other words, I may be trembling on the inside, but I’ll move forward, take the next step, attempt to do what God is calling me to do. Because His way is always better and good and right.

Consider our church as a whole, the call it has to go and make disciples. How is God calling us to deeper waters? What part is God calling you to do? Will you answer like Peter? Will you say, “Because You say so, I will?”

Jesus, we invite You to come. Get into our boat. Lead us to deep waters. It is our hearts’ desire to serve You, to live out the commission You gave to Your disciples. Forgive us when we hold onto our comfortable things, when we refuse to love our neighbor. When we allow fear to overcome our call. Teach us how to be a church that cries out, “Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord!”

Another Side of Sunday: The Path

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly.

John 19:1-3
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The Roman soldiers’ mocking of Jesus as “King of the Jews” shows their unwillingness to recognize Him as the Son of God and the Lord of all creation – the Lord of their lives. Why were they unwilling to let Jesus be their Lord? Why, at times, are we all?

For the Romans, who were the powers-that-be of their day, their worth came from political power, wealth, and social standing. To humble themselves before a heavenly King (as opposed to kneeling to a worldly emperor) would be to admit they lacked something; that they weren’t in control. After all, what was the Roman Empire all about if not control? For the unbelieving soldiers, then, it may come as little surprise they mocked Jesus, denying his Lordship and attempting, in vain, to satisfy themselves with all the money and power they could get.

The tendency to deny or downplay the authority and Kingship of Christ is, sadly, not a condition limited to the unbeliever. Many times in our lives (even when we are longtime Christians) we make decisions which help us feel “in control.” We often go after things we want: money, popularity, pleasure, even when we know that to be a follower of Christ means to live in “joyful obedience” to Him.

Thankfully, we know the gift of the cross is forgiveness for our sins and the times we fall short in our walk with our King. Praise God, His isn’t a worldly empire easily overthrown by the next world power. Rather, our King rules over an eternal kingdom where, through His suffering, death, and resurrection, we have a home. May we always strive to follow the King!

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, help me to see the difference between this world and Your world. The temptations are great, and often I seek happiness in places that I know will not make me happy. Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live this life and life to come in joyful obedience. Amen.

Worship Through Music

 

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Another Side of Sunday: The Path

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

Luke 24:13-16

Two friends left Jerusalem on their way to Emmaus talking about Jesus and His death. They were confused, and sad. They too, had heard the tomb was empty. Still, an empty tomb didn’t really explain anything. I can almost hear the questions in their mind maybe even some of the discussion they had along the road.

I thought this was it. The Messiah had come, but now He’s dead. Did I misunderstand His teaching? Was I manipulated to believe in a lie? And now an empty tomb, the women talking of angels. What in the world is going on? Who would take His body and why? Or is possible He told the truth? Could He be alive?

There are years the path leading to Easter somehow stops and I don’t want to go any further. I’m like Mary holding tight to the legs of the risen Jesus and I don’t want to let go. Life will be fine if I stay right here. But Jesus didn’t allow His followers to take up residence at the empty tomb.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:10

Today is the fourth day after Easter. Ninety-six hours have ticked away each of us follows a path away from the tomb. Consider the path you’ve walked since Sunday.  Which direction have you taken? What questions flood your mind? Who is walking with you?

Lord, as we walk away from the tomb and our Easter celebrations, help us consider where we are going. What direction you are calling us to. It is so easy to have a celebration and walk away unchanged. Not this year Jesus. We want to be changed, renewed, different. May your Resurrection have its full work in us. Amen.

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Another Side of Sunday: The Path

The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of.” Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed…. Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barrabas… [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified.

Mark 15:1-5, 15

“Very early in the morning they made a decision.” The decision would condemn an innocent man. The decision  would bring shame to the Jewish people. A decision that was prophesied. A decision which resulted in promises being fulfilled and lives changed forever.

We make many choices and decisions throughout the day. How will the choices you make today affect others? Will you make them flippantly or with careful consideration. Will you allow God to work through you to show love and kindness and extend Grace that has been given to you?

I pray that during this week of the Lenten Season you think of your choices as having a ripple effect. Will the ripples that spread into your home, community, and world be positive?

Remember, you may be the only “Jesus” a person sees in a day. Don’t sell him out.

Father, you have taught us, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Those are easy words to say, but so often difficult to live by. Help me to recognize those times that I judge, whether it be consciously or not. Remind me that if I walk in your ways, O Lord, my path will remain clear and my heart open. Amen.

Music for your reflection: