devotionals, spiritual, Uncategorized

Standing Firm in Flexibility

flexible.publicdomainpictures.pixabayThe only thing that qualifies us as children of God is faith in Christ Jesus. If we believe in Him, we are a child of God.

This is the precursor to Philippians 4:1-3:

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long form, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women sine they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

These two women, Euodia and Syntyche, disagreed about something and it was causing trouble in the church. Paul was pleading with them to stand firm…to stand firm on what though?

We need a firm foundation for our relationships in the church, and even outside the church.

We need to focus on the grace and love of Jesus as the basis of unity, which is necessary in the church. We need to stand firm in unity that puts others before ourselves.

So how do we do that? What steps do we take to find unity?

Be flexible.

Being inflexible can cause problems:

  • physically – our muscles atrophy and our joints become stiff
  • emotionally – bitterness and alone

If you cannot change, then you will find yourself all alone, bitter, and ineffective.

The Holy Spirit is our guide here. Jesus told Nicodemus the Holy Spirit blows wherever it pleases. Nicodemus thought he knew the law and what God was about, but he was wrong and needed to be able to change his thinking. He needed to be flexible.

Jesus was reprimanded for letting his disciples eat on the Sabbath and he had to remind the Jewish leaders that King David and his men ate consecrated bread from the priest. It’s okay to be flexible.

Peter was given a vision that it was okay to eat unclean meat. He had to be shown that flexibility was needed in order to save more souls. (The Gentiles would be included in God’s plan of salvation.)

In these examples, they had to question their religious foundation.

Is it a law or not a law? Or is the Spirit of God moving, urging us to be flexible? What is God doing and how is He at work in other’s lives?

Stand firm and be flexible. Is that an oxymoron? Actually, these aren’t necessarily opposite.

Stand firm in the way of Jesus – in grace, mercy, and love. Be flexible!

Don’t let anything pull you away from that wonderful grace and that fabulous love. If you pull away from grace and love in order to stand on law, being rigid and condemning, then you are wrong. Love always wins.

This unity that comes from being flexible must be guarded, and that comes from a commitment to embrace grace and love toward each other.

How will you commit to being flexible with those you disagree with? How will you show love and grace to those around you? 

***Based on John Ketchersid’s sermon June 3, 2018
***Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures at Pixabay

 

Sherrinda Signature

devotionals, spiritual, Uncategorized

Holy Spirit: Peace, Purpose & Power

dove-2516641_640_cocoparisienne at pixabayJesus provides his disciples with peace, purpose, and power with just one thing: the Holy Spirit. That Spirit, the very breath of God, is full of promise to each believer.

After his resurrection, Jesus gathered his disciples close and said,

Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20: 21-23

PEACE: Are you floundering in the mire of doubt? Are you in the midst of trouble or trials, whether it be healthwise, financial, or relational? Are you stuck in the rut of doing the same thing with no joy? The world gives peace only when everything is going right – the economy is good, there is no threat of war, all is right with the world. But that is not the peace Jesus brings. His peace is the kind of peace that transcends understanding (Phillipians 4:7). It guards your heart and mind against the evil one and fills you with a supernatural sense of well-being and trust in the One who has you in the palm of His hands.

Seek more of His Spirit and claim His peace.

PURPOSE: We all know John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus had a purpose and after the resurrection, he tells his disciples he is giving them the very same charge. He loves the world enough to save it. We have the purpose of loving others and sharing God’s love with them.

Seek more of His Spirit and love others as God did.

POWER: So often we feel limited by our own inadequacies.  We aren’t smart enough. We are too shy. We can’t talk to others easily. But Jesus gives power to those who believe in Him. He said to his disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Open your hearts to receive what He is giving so freely. There is great power in His Spirit. An interesting thing is that He slips in a note about forgiving others. “If you forgive anyone’s sin, their sin is forgiven.” Forgiveness is a power play that brings grace and mercy to those in need. So many cannot forgive themselves and as believers, we are called to bring peace and love to the world. If God’s people are not out in the world offering grace and mercy, who will?

Seek more of His Spirit and walk in this world with the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit, full of power to accomplish God’s mission.

Some days it is easier to walk in the Spirit than others. How are you claiming His peace, purpose, and power in your daily walk?

 

***This post is a summary of John Ketchersid’s sermon on Sunday, April 8, 2018.

***Photo by cocoparisienne at Pixabay.com

devotionals, spiritual

Hallelujah: A Call to Praise

The last psalm in the Bible, Psalm 150, ends with one word.

Hallelujah

This word means ‘God be praised’. It is a call to praise.

Through this psalm we can learn much about the praise of God.

PRAISE IS BEYOND US

Praise the Lord. (Hallelujah)<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-16396A" data-link="(A)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>
Praise God in his sanctuary;

    praise him in his mighty heavens.


Praise him for his acts of power;

    praise him for his surpassing greatness. (vs. 1-2)

Praise is other worldly. The psalm talks of God’s sanctuary and His might heavens. There is praise there. It speaks of His surpassing greatness and His might acts of power. He is supreme.

He is a God who can do more than we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-22) He is beyond our scope of understanding, scope of knowledge, and scope of imagination.

He’s a mysterious God, this otherworldly God of ours. He is deserving of our hallelujahs.

Activity: Look for the thing that is awesome to you. A sunrise, a flower, a mountain. Let it draw you into His presence.

PRAISE IS CREATIVE

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<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-16399I" data-link="(I)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals. (vs. 3-6)

Just as the vast array of instruments listed here to praise the Lord, so is the body of Christ in its variety of gifts. We are all unique and bring a different facet of creativity to the body, His church.

God accepts each and every one’s differences. He desires and loves your unique abilities. He delights in the special way you serve and glorify Him.

God delights in your unique hallelujahs.

Activity: Look for the creative ability God has given you to glorify Him. Can you sing? Draw? Count change? Organize? Encourage? Give a hug?

PRAISE IS SPIRIT-FILLED

Let everything<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-16401L" data-link="(L)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord. (vs 6)

The praise we lift to the Lord is spirit-filled because it is our breath that speaks of His glory and sings of His love.

You see, the word used for breath is Spirit. His Spirit. The two are interchangeable. When God breathed into Adam, it was with His very own Spirit. That very Spirit is the One inside of us.

We commit every breath to praising God and breathe Him out into the world.

The world needs your hallelujahs.

Activity: Breathe. Inhale, knowing we breathe in God. Exhale, knowing we share God with the world by who we are and what we do.

Hallelujah!

How are you praising the Lord today?


***Taken from John Ketchersid’s sermon July 9, 2017***

Bible journaling, devotionals, spiritual

Strength for the Journey

I spent a lot more time in my Bible today. Some days, well, you just need more. I am going through Psalms in my daily readings and was in Psalm 84. Verse 5 really resonated with me as I feel like I’ve been going through my days relying on my own strength. Ugh…that gets so tiring!

Blessed are those who make You their strength, for they treasure every step of the journey.   From the Voice 

When we rely on our own strength, our own path, our own abilities, we grow weary. It’s hard to do it all alone. The thing is, we aren’t created to do it all alone. God gave Adam a helper, Eve. He Himself walked with them each day. We were not meant to live in isolation.

We have godly people all around us who can carry the weight for us. They can pray you through, encourage you to lean not on your own understand, and love on you to bring you peace.

We have God and His strength to lean on. When we can remove the burden of isolation. We can push off the load of having to be strong in our own right. We can enjoy the journey and treasure every step of it!

Are you leaning on God’s strength or taking it all on yourself?

Bible journaling, devotionals, spiritual

Is God Jealous?

We talk a lot about God’s love and his faithfulness. We talk about his goodness and compassion. But we don’t often bring up the fact that He gets jealous. Even angry.

We don’t like to talk about that kind of God, because then we would have to look into why He would ever be that way. What would make the God of love so angry?

In my reading of Psalm 78, I was asking God to speak, to show me the verse that He wanted me to dwell on. That is how I find scripture to journal and meditate on. But Psalm 78 is not an encouraging Psalm. There isn’t much in it that speaks of love, compassion, and encouragement.

After reading over it a few times, I kept coming back to verse 58.

“They angered him with their high places; 
they aroused his jealousy with their idols.”

They aroused his jealousy with their idols. We don’t have physical idols today – no stone monuments we pray to. But an idol can be anything we prioritize over God. The Oxford Dictionary says it like this:  “a person or thing that is greatly loved, admired, or revered.”

Sleep can be an idol when you keep hitting the snooze button instead of spending time with Him.

Sports can be an idol when you choose to stay home and watch a game over going to church to worship Him.

Work can be an idol when you give it priority over your relationship with God.

Anything can become an idol when it takes precedence over your love for God.

So while God is a God of love and compassion, He is also a jealous God. One not to ignore. He wants us to love Him above all else. He wants your heart, your love, and your time.

I’ve been guilty of making God jealous. Time and time again. It’s just a matter of getting my priorities back into focus….and focus on Him.

How are you doing with your priorities? Does He come first in your life?

devotionals, spiritual

Burying Your Talents In The Sand?

Photo by tpsdave @ Pixabay.com

All my life I have struggled with sharing my work, whether it be lettering, writing, art, you name it. I would worry that it might be considered prideful or that I was vain for putting myself out there. But the parable of the talents keeps coming to mind and I’ve been pondering it in relation to the gifts God has given me and how I am to use them.

In Matthew 25:14-30, a landowner entrusts his property to 3 caretakers while he takes a trip. To one he gave 5 talents (a measure of money, and quite large), to one he gave 2 talents, and to the last, he gave 1 talent….each according to their ability. When the owner comes back, he questions the caretakers about how they tended to the property with his money. The one with 5 talents bartered and sold, turning the 5 talents into 10. The one with the 2 talents went to the market and turned his 2 talents into 4. The one with 1 talent was afraid and buried his talent so that he could give the landowner the money intact.

The landowner was pleased with the first 2 caretakers and gave them more responsibility. The owner was not pleased with the last caretaker who was afraid. He should have at least put it in the bank to earn interest. The caretaker was thrown out and left to fend for himself.

It sounds rather harsh, doesn’t it? Some parables are rather difficult to understand, but really, this parable is about using the gifts that the Lord gives His people to serve Him.

I am not an extrovert and so evangelism is not my strong suit. But I can share God’s word through my art (Bible journaling) and through my writing.

I don’t like to lead, but I am a good worker and love to help behind the scenes. I’m not a great solo singer, but I can harmonize and use my voice on the praise team. I don’t have a big fancy house, but I can open up my living room for Bible studies.

Here’s the thing…we all have something we can do for the Lord. It could be the Lord gives you a gift later in life. What if He nudged you to step out and do something you are not comfortable doing? What if He is pushing you to learn something that will enable you to touch others with His love?

Try something new. You never know…you may be good at it! It may be something new for you to bless others. Be brave. Step out of the boat. If it’s not your thing, that is just fine. But who knows, it may be the thing that will reach a lost soul for the Kingdom of God.

So whatever you do, whether in word or in action, do it as if you were doing it for the Lord. You plant the seed and He will make it grow.

Are you using your gifts for the Lord? Or have you developed a gift later in life? I would love to hear!


devotionals, spiritual

Who Needs Headlights In The Dark?

Photo by omeWillem at Pixabay
The other day John was preparing for his sermon and he ran across an interview of a writer named E.L. Doctorow. The interviewer asked him, “Do you have any idea how a project is going to end?” Doctorow said, “The easiest way to explain it is that it’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

John asked me if I knew how my story was going to end when I start one. At first, Who I said yes, because you have to have that happy ending, so you know in the end the hero and heroine will fall in love and live happily ever after. But after thinking about it, I said no, because while you may plot your story and have a certain path for your characters to follow, sometimes they get a mind of their own and want to do things not on the path you designed.

I thought Doctorow’s quote was interesting because in a way life is a lot like that. As believers in Jesus, we know the ending. The ending is just the beginning. We will get to continue on throughout eternity, being with our Lord, doing His work with other believers.

But while we know the ending, we certainly don’t know the path we will take. Some of us older ones thought we had our lives in order…all planned out, but then something happens that knocks you off your feet. And then, when you get up, you see that your path has taken a turn. It could be a nice easy path, or it could be one with muddy ruts and big stones to trip over.

But as followers of Christ, we have His light to illuminate our footsteps. No, we don’t get to see the whole road laid out before us, but we can trust Him to be with us every step of the way.

Psalm 119:105 says that His word is a lamp for your feet and a light for your path.

In John 8:12, Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

We have all the light we need in order to take every step of the journey. But sometimes the light may seem dim and you might feel like you are stumbling over rocks and debris in the road. Maybe you need to clean your headlights or maybe your flashlight’s batteries need to be recharged.

When you find the darkness closing in, that’s the time to refocus and reconnect to the power source that gives Light to the world. Open up the Word and read about the love story of God and us. Sit still and spend time praying to the One who loves you enough bring you out of the darkness and into the light.

I think Doctorow not only had it right about writing, but about life itself when he said, it’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

It’s about living in the light and trusting that light to get you around the next bend in the road.