A. S. K. – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceA. S. K. – Introduction

We often turn to God in prayer, expecting a certain outcome. And, when that outcome isn’t forthcoming, we get discouraged. We may even feel like God isn’t listening, or can’t be bothered to answer. The truth is…God always listens, God always hears, and God always answers. We just have to remember to A. S. K.

“Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if everything depends on you.”
~Augustine of Hippo

Potential Scripture

  • Isaiah 65:24
  • Luke 11:9-13

Join Us

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth and Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

 

Valentines From God – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceValentines From God – Introduction

This week, people in many nations celebrated Valentine’s Day. This week we trace the history behind Valentine’s Day, and we see that Scripture provides us with Valentines From God.

Spiritual Quote

“Riches take wings, comforts vanish, hope withers away, but love stays with us. Love is God.”
~Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur

Thoughts

Valentine’s Day has become yet another “Hallmark Holiday” – a commercialized version of a truly Christian celebration. For weeks leading up to February 14th we are overwhelmed with advertisements and store displays that tout, “Show her (him) how much you care…” – enticing us to buy that “perfect gift” to demonstrate our love. Cards with messages of love are exchanged. Even in grade school, children exchange “Valentine’s Cards.” And, for those of us who don’t happen to have that “someone special” in our lives, we’re left feeling alone, somewhat “broken,” and, in some cases, that no one loves us. No one sends us Valentine’s Day cards, no one buys us the nice jewelry or sends us flowers. In fact, there is so much commercialization around Valentine’s Day that the feelings of being alone, or single, are compounded.

Being single, I had many of those same feelings this last week. The time around Valentine’s Day is always bittersweet for me. I remember the love I shared with my first “husband,” Ron, who passed away just a few years after we exchanged vows on February 15th.  I remember my step-father, who passed away on February 15th, and my mother who passed away just six days later. And, being single, and with my children and grandchildren in other states, I was feeling a bit “alone.” Then, sitting at home in the quiet, I realized I am never truly alone. I could literally “feel” Jesus’ arms around me, and I could “hear” God saying, “I love you, I am with you, and you’re not alone.” And that’s when I realized I don’t need cards and flowers to know that I am loved – I have Valentine’s From God.

So how did Valentine’s Day get started, anyway?

About 250 years after Jesus’ birth, there was a priest in Rome named Valentine. The Emperor of Rome was Claudius – whom some referred to as Claudius the Cruel. Many people, including St. Valentine, didn’t like the Emperor very much. During his reign, Claudius saw a decline in men joining his army – they didn’t want to leave their girlfriends or wives. So, Emperor Claudius came up with a plan to – he would outlaw marriage. If men weren’t married, he thought, the men would be more willing to join his army. Of course, young people saw the law as ludicrous and cruel. So did St. Valentine.

Despite the law, St. Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret – whispering the words while listening for the footsteps of soldiers on the outside. Of course, one night, the footsteps came. The couple to be married escaped, but St. Valentine was arrested, jailed, and sentenced to death.

Taking his cue from St. Paul, St. Valentine tried to remain cheerful while imprisoned. He was allowed visitors, and many young people visited him. They threw flowers and notes up to his cell window. They were letting him know that they, too, believed in love.

One of his visitors was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit St. Valentine in his cell. She visited quite often, and she believed he did the right thing in defying the Emperor and continuing to perform marriage ceremonies.

Finally the day of his execution arrived – February 14, 269 AD. Before leaving his cell, he left a note for his visitor thanking her for her friendship. He signed it, “Love from your Valentine.”

Over time, Valentine’s courage and his willingness to die for what was right resulted in his being named a saint. And, that’s where the tradition of passing notes of love, or Valentines, was born.

Valentines From God

Valentine’s Day isn’t supposed to be about buying expensive presents or dozens of roses. It’s about celebrating love. Things leave us – but love stays with us…always. And, for those who are single, we too can celebrate. We can remember and celebrate the love that we’ve had in our lives. And, we can take comfort that, regardless of all else, we are loved. God loves us and Jesus loves us. How do we know? The Bible tells us so. Scripture is full of Valentines From God:

Psalm 36:8 – “O Lord, how precious is your love…”

Psalm 19:20 – “The Lord came to my support. He set me free in the open, and rescued me, because He loves me.”

Psalm 86:15 – “But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Romans 8:35, 37-39 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Closing Thoughts

For those of us who have a deep relationship with God, and with His Son, Jesus, we are never alone, and we are always loved. How do we know? Because of the greatest Valentine From God that Scripture gives us…God Is Love! (1 John 4:8)

Scripture

  • Psalm 36:8
  • Psalm 19:20
  • Psalm 86:15
  • Romans 8:35, 37-39
  • 1 John 4:8

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Valentines From God – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceValentines From God – Introduction

This week, people in many nations celebrated Valentine’s Day. This week we trace the history behind Valentine’s Day, and we see that Scripture provides us with Valentines From God.

Planned Scripture

  • Psalm 36:8
  • Psalm 19:20
  • Psalm 86:15
  • Romans 8:35, 37-39
  • 1 John 4:8

Join Us

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

His Will is Simple – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceHis Will is Simple – Introduction

For people of faith there’s an age old question – What is the Will of God? Today, I’d like to talk a bit about God’s Will. And, by looking at just a few Scriptures, we’ll see that His Will is Simple!

Thoughts

Life today can be so much more complicated, more fast-paced, more…well…just more…than it was for people of ancient times. In our world today things seem to be spinning out of control. Crime is on the rise. The economy has tanked. Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant. Every day, more and more people are just one paycheck away from homelessness. And people keep finding newer and more heinous ways to control, manipulate, hurt, and kill others.

Through it all, we muddle through; asking the same question people have asked for thousands of years…What is God’s Will?

Sickness, war, hunger, poverty, corporate greed, natural disasters, crime, and violence are not God’s Will. Illnesses happen…it’s part of being human. War is born of human fears, a lust for power, and control. Poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, hunger, homelessness, etc. are the result of our own poor choices, or the choices made by others that directly impact our lives. Natural disasters are just that – a part of nature. God isn’t sitting around in heaven thinking, “I’m bored…I think I’ll flood the Mississippi River today.”

So, if these things aren’t God’s Will, what is? We tend to search and search and search for some hidden meaning to it all. We constantly ask ourselves, “Is this God’s Will?” We, for whatever reason, seem to make it all much more complicated that it really is. Scripture provides us with the answer. And guess what…His Will is Simple!

Treasure Hunt

The first thing to remember is that Scripture is not a novel. One complete thought or concept may not be covered in one chapter or a few paragraphs. Like a progressive treasure hunt, sometimes we find separate pieces scattered throughout the various passages that, when pieced together, result in a grand prize.

So, I’d like to take you on a treasure hunt through Scripture to see if we can determine God’s Will.

Our search begins with Matthew 22:37: “Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”” Here, Jesus is telling us that the love of God must be so deep, so integral a part of us, that it becomes the very core of our being – all that we think, feel, and do – our heart, soul, and mind. With this Scripture we know that we are to put God first. But, what does it mean to “love the Lord (our) God?”

Our treasure hunt takes us next to the answer in 1 John 5:3 (a): “For this is the love of God, what we keep His commandments…” Here we learn that keeping our Lord’s commandments is the way we demonstrate our love of God. Cool, we’re off to a good start.

The next question, then, is, “What are we commanded to do?” Our journey takes us to John 15:12 for the answer: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Now, that sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Love one another…period. In fact, turning back to 1 John 5:3 (b) we read, “And His commandments are not burdensome.”

But, what does following Jesus’ commandments have to do with God’s Will?

Returning to our treasure hunt, our search reveals two Scriptures that we need to string together in order to gain a complete understanding. Colossians 2:9 tells us, “For in Him (Jesus) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” In other words, the fullness of God has been made manifest in bodily form in Jesus. In John 10:30, Jesus confirms this when He says, “I and the Father are one.”

Our search has now revealed that Jesus and God are one. This would mean that whatever we do for Jesus we do for God. And, when we follow Jesus’ commandments, we are following God’s commandments.

The next stop in our treasure hunt takes us to Matthew 25:35 & 36: “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

Now, if we stopped here you might ask, “What does this have to do with loving one another and loving God? The next gem we find in our hunt ties it together for us. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus tells us, “…Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” When we feed those who are hungry, we are feeding Jesus and, through Him,, we’re feeding God. Giving drink to those who are thirsty is giving drink to Jesus and to God. When we clothe those in need, we’re clothing Jesus and God. Visiting the sick and those in prison is the same as visiting and ministering to Jesus and to God Himself.

So far, our treasure hunt through Scripture has revealed that His Will is Simple. We are to love God, and we love God by keeping Jesus commandment to love one another. We love one another and, by extension, Jesus and God, by our actions – clothing the needy, giving food to the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and visiting the sick and those in prison. It all boils down to kindness and generosity. Yep – it’s pretty simple. But, is there a catch? yes…and here’s where it can get a little tricky. And, here’s where some of us are going to say, “Ah, man…really?”

Notice that Jesus tells us that whatever we do to others, even the “least of these,” we do to Him, and to God. Think about the full implications. It makes us feel good, and we know we’re doing good, when we help those in need…when we’re kind and generous. But, what about those times when we’re not so kind, and not so generous?

When we swear or curse at someone – who are we swearing at or cursing? Jesus, and God!

How about that driver that cut you off; you know, the one you made that obscene hand gesture to? Guess what – you just flipped off Jesus and God!

How about that guy you referred to as an “a-hole”? Yep, you guessed it – you just called Jesus and God an a-hole.

That doesn’t sound much like loving others, or loving God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, does it? And, I know we don’t always think much about swearing or using vulgar language, or flipping someone off. We know it’s not very nice; in fact, it’s pretty rude. But guess what…there’s one last little gem to be found on our treasure hunt. 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us, “(love) does not behave rudely…(love) thinks no evil.”

We need to keep this in mind. Everything we do or say to others, good or bad, we do and say to Jesus and to God. The next time you’re tempted to call someone an unkind or vulgar name, or you want to flip someone off – stop and think…Do you want to call Jesus that name; do you want to flip off God?

Closing Thoughts

If we want to follow the Will of God, we must remember our treasure hunt. If we want to change the world in which we live, we must begin by changing ourselves. If we want to drive out darkness, we must live in the light of Christ. If we want to do away with hate and evil, we must lives of love. And that love must permeate every single aspect of our lives – our hearts, our souls, and our minds.

We don’t need to make it more complicated than it is. Our treasure hunt through Scripture has revealed God’s Will is Simple! Love must be at the core of every thought, word, and deed. When it is, we will love others as Jesus’ loves us, and we will love God with all our hearts, our souls, and our minds.

I’d like to close with a short story. Different versions have been around for years, but the basics are the same in every version.

An old cobbler had a dream that the Lord would come to visit and be his guest. Rising with the morning sun, he began preparing for the Lord’s visit – decorating his shop, putting out flowers, setting the table with linens and candles, and laying out a feast of milk, honey, and bread. And he waited.

While he was waiting, a beggar came down the street. He was barefoot, walking through the pouring rain. The cobbler called the man in and gave him a pair of shoes.

A little later, an old woman came by, stooped over from the weight of a heavy burden. The cobbler took the load off her back and shared some food with her.

Just before the sun was about to set, a little child came into his shop, lost and crying. The cobbler gave her a glass of milk, comforted her, and then took her to find her mother.

Throughout the day, the cobbler waited for his Divine visitor…be He never came. He was, to say the least, very disappointed. Then, in the silence, the cobbler heard a small, still voice saying,

“Lift up your heart for I have kept my word.

Three times I came to your friendly door;

Three times my shadow was on your floor.

I was the beggar with the bruised feet;

I was the woman you gave food to eat;

I was the child on the homeless street.”

Scripture

  • Matthew 22:37
  • 1 John 5:3 (a)
  • John 15:12
  • 1 John 5:3 (b)
  • Colossians 2:9
  • John 10:30
  • Matthew 25:35 & 36
  • Matthew 25:40
  • 1 Corinthians 13:5

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

 

His Will is Simple – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceHis Will is Simple – Introduction

For people of faith there’s an age old question – What is the Will of God? This week I’d like to talk a bit about God’s Will. And, by looking at just a few Scriptures, we’ll see that His Will is Simple!

Spiritual Quote

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Planned Scripture

  • Matthew 22:37
  • 1 John 5:3 (a)
  • John 15:12
  • 1 John 5:3 (b)
  • Colossians 2:9
  • John 10:30
  • Matthew 25:35 & 36
  • Matthew 25:40
  • 1 Corinthians 13:5

Join Us

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

 

Moments of Judgement – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceMoments of Judgement – Introduction

We all find ourselves experiencing moments of judgement. Instead of judging others, use those moments to explore and find opportunities to share the message of God’s love.

Spiritual Quote

“You know you have inner peace when you lose interest in judging others and begin loving them.”
~Carole Johnson

Thoughts

Instead of a fully prepared message, today I’d simply like to talk about an experience I had this week. The experience, I’ve come to realize, has been a wonderful opportunity to turn Moments of Judgement into opportunities to experience and share God’s love.

As you know, over the last six weeks or so, we’ve had the opportunity to reach out to our community and open our doors to the homeless – providing warmth, shelter, food and drink; and even supplies such as jackets, sweaters, socks, scarves, gloves, and blankets. Our regular hours for this outreach are Wednesday through Sunday, from noon to 5:00 PM.

This last Monday, when the church was closed, a lady came in while a class was in session, interrupted the class, and proceeded to help herself to food – filling a shopping bag.

I wasn’t here – I was at the Point in Time Homeless Count. The events were relayed to me by the class instructor.

I admit that I, too, am human – and fall prey to feelings of judgement. My first thoughts were: she was greedy and selfish…

  • she thought only of herself
  • she was oblivious to the fact that we weren’t open and that she had interrupted a class
  • she gave no thought to leaving food for others

I knew who the lady was because she stopped by our table at the Homeless Count and mentioned she had stopped by the church on her way to the count. At the time, of course, I had no idea what had transpired.

Yesterday, the same lady came back into the church during Warming Center hours…this time with a friend. They greeted me, and went straight to the food table. This time, however, they were very careful about how much they took…but…

After they left, I was cleaning up and took a few bags of trash to the dumpster. On my way across the parking lot I noticed a trail of littered trash down the side entrance to our parking lot – wrappers from the food they had taken.

All sorts of thoughts began running through my head…

  • rude
  • thoughtless
  • this is how they repay our kindness – littering our parking lot
  • no respect for our neighbors

After dumping the trash, I came back into my office and started going through my desk. I had already decided on a topic for today, but was searching for inspiration. That’s when I came across Carole’s quote. And a new message came clearly into my mind. So, the message I had been working on will have to wait for another day.

In reading Carole’s quote I realized we all fall prey to judgement…and it can happen without warning. So, I went into “prayer mode,” began reflecting on my feelings, and asked for guidance from the Holy Spirit. And, in that quiet reflection, the Holy Spirit gave me two insights…

  • I came to understand I don’t know this lady, or her friend. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with them, or to get to know them. I have no idea what their stories are. And, until I do, I need to release my judgements and simply extend God’s love to them both.
  • If and when we have the opportunity to talk, I can gently and calmly discuss the events, and hopefully use them as teaching moments in order to spread the Gospel.

Closing Thoughts

After my time of prayer and reflection, I was able to let go of my judgements. I began to fill my heart and mind with loving thoughts. And, true to Carole’s quote, I was, indeed, at peace.

And so it is, when those moments of judgement invade, take time in prayer and reflection, ask God for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit and look for opportunities to express love. When you do, you, too, will experience inner peace.

Scripture

None

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Moments of Judgement – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceMoments of Judgement – Introduction

We all find ourselves experiencing moments of judgement. Instead of judging others, use those moments to explore and find opportunities to share the message of God’s love.

Spiritual Quote

You know you have inner peace when you lose interest in judging others and begin loving them.
~Carole Johnson

Planned Scripture

None

Join Us

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!