Sunday, January 27, 2013

Help Is There If You Ask--Really Ask

The Lord Wept
The Lord Wept (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God is my helper!
    The Lord is the provider for my life.

Psalm 54:4

GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

        I can't ever remember a time in my life when I have been in desperate need of any of the necessities of life.   I've had short spans of being hungry, but food has always been nearby and I've never had to go hungry.  I've been cold, but I've also always had the necessary clothing to keep me warm.  There have been many times in my life when I may have felt deprivation, but my needs have always been rather quickly filled.

         We live in a society of abundance and there are many caring, generous people among us.  There is not much excuse to go very long without anything that we must have.  Someone is there if we look and ask.  And that is the key to receiving what we need:  You must ask and let your needs be known.  

          Desperation can be a blinding and deceitful force.  We look in areas of the world where there is great need.  Places stricken with drought and disease.  Nations torn by war.  People sick, suffering, and dying.  We might wonder where God is in those situations.   It's a dilemma that many struggle with.  I don't have the exact answers, but I have thoughts on the matter.

           Generationally speaking, the quality of life of any group is a matter of consequences.  Uncontrollable circumstances such as climate and natural disaster can certainly play a part in how a people fares, but there  are also matters of attitudes, beliefs, and understanding that must be taken into account when considering circumstance.  When things around us change then we must change accordingly.   We can't always count on ourselves and we shouldn't be dependent on the government to sustain us.

             Work is necessary for survival.   Faith can be hard work in the face of adversity.  When things get tough we need to learn to ask for help and have faith that the help we seek will come to us.   

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13
New International Version (NIV)

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Do You Really Need Church?

A Different Church Building
A Different Church Building (Photo credit: justshootingmemories)
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

Psalm 122:1

New King James Version (NKJV)

         Are you a traditional church goer?  Or perhaps you go to church at non-traditional times like Saturday night for instance or celebrate the Lord in a place other than an actual church.  Then again, you might find church meetings boring or ritualistic and prefer a learning environment like a Bible class or the informality of a Bible study group.

          And then there may be those of you who eschew any semblance of organized religion.  Some see it as phony or a gathering of hypocrites.   Who really needs a bunch of holier-than-thou types looking down their noses waiting for others to fall?  Is that the way you see church?

          Many of us have had bad church experiences and would prefer to just sleep in on Sunday mornings or do something more fun than going to church.  Others may find themselves too busy for church and would prefer to get other things done.  Church often seems to be the same old things week after week.  If we really feel the need for church we can watch it on television without becoming involved with others or even leaving the house.

           Have you considered that maybe you are the biggest part of the problem?   Church is after all the body of believers who meet together in worship, prayer, and study.   Are you waiting for someone else to spark your inner flame?   Isn't God enough?

           If you are one of the many who have stopped going to church for any of the reasons mentioned here or for whatever reasons you may come up with, you may want to give church another look.   Church is what the members make it.   Church is for you, your children, your family, your friends--for everyone who wants to honor God.

           Church is your privilege.  Be thankful that you have the opportunity to attend a church that you choose.  One day you may not have that choice.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

New International Version (NIV)

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Perfect Freedom

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...
Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have gained perfect freedom
    by following your teachings,

Psalm 119:45

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

          The Bible--especially the first books of the Old Testament--are filled with laws, rules, and guidelines to follow.   As we read through these, it seems that God has set out a pretty confining existence for us.  There seems to be plenty that we can't do and a lot of obligations that can make life a big hassle.  Of course Christians know that Jesus came to change the system set out for the Israelites.  We have been told by Christ that He did not come to get rid of the law, yet there are a lot of those old rules we no longer are required to heed.

          Though Jesus came to free us from the law in one sense, we might want to consider the merit of some of these old laws.  There must have been a reason for God to have laid these rules out for His children and as we study them we can often understand the logic.  There are health benefits to many of the dietary laws.  There are positive psychological and societal benefits to some of those rules pertaining to our behavior.  There is a purpose to everything mentioned in the Bible.

           We may have been set free in one sense by the atonement of sins provided by Christ, but perhaps there is a more perfect freedom to be found when we consider the teachings of old.

 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

1 Corinthians 10:23

New International Version (NIV)

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Sunday, January 6, 2013