Weekly Devotions

“Seven Reasons to Sing”

“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other.  None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.  Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house.  Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense.  And sing, sing your hearts out to God!  Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”    ~ Colossians 3:15-17, Message

I’ve been there, and you likely have, also. You’ve never heard the song the Worship Team is singing.  Or, you’ve heard it but don’t like it.  The temptation is to silently mimic the words or not to sing at all.  Here’s why I believe we need to sing anyway:

  • It’s right to sing God’s praises. Even if it’s not our favorite song, it’s right to join the people of God in singing God’s praises (Psalm 96). He delights in the singing of His people.
  • Not singing sends the wrong message. Here’s what it could look like . . . anger . . . burden . . . distraction . . . worse yet, it can come across as arrogance.  And, if you’re not singing just because you don’t like the song, that really does border on arrogance.
  • Some songs you don’t like are quite biblical. Most of us choose songs we like on the basis of the style and the melody, not on the words.  Sometimes the songs we don’t like are straight out of the Bible—so not singing them takes on more significance.
  • We can learn a song best by singing it. I now love some songs I didn’t like when I first heard them, and I’m glad I at least tried to sing them.  The same can happen for you.
  • We model worship for others as we sing. All of us model something by the way we worship. Some show the joy of encountering God.  Others make worshiping God look boring and disconnected.  Singing helps others to worship Him well.
  • Singing with the rest of the congregation promotes and reflects unity. Churches already struggle enough with internal conflict; it’s natural, we are human.  Sometimes, in fact, members who don’t sing are intentionally sending a signal of disapproval and division.  Sing and show a unified body of Christ.

 


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“Unmitigated Genius”

He will teach you all thingsJohn 14:26

 

What’s the Holy Spirit like? Well, we know He’s a genius, but not the kind we’re used to. His genius is “not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age” (1 Corinthians 2:6). His genius is beyond human discovery. He “searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). He’s an unmitigated genius. A perfect genius.

We also know, He’s here for us. He was sent by God the Father, at the request of our King, Jesus Christ, to bring truth “out into the open” and “make everything plain”—all to “bring out His best in us” (1 Corinthians 2:6-10John 14:25-27 MSG). He was sent to take you and me “by the hand” and guide us “into all the truth there is” (John 16:12-15 MSG). Think about that . . . “all the truth there is” . . . suffused into our lives. Well, that’s His mission.

So, the only question is, what do we do? The answer is, not that much, actually. We just give Him a chance by doing the simple things Jesus taught: meditate, pray, study, fast, serve, confess, repent, worship, celebrate. He does everything else. Of course, the more we do, the better—but even one of those, even imperfectly done, allows the Spirit to introduce some of His genius into our lives. When we fail to do even a little, though, it doesn’t: “The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 MSG).

 

Okay, so what do we do? 

Do something, right now. Even something small. Let’s all do something—and allow the Spirit to inject a bit of His genius into our lives, this day. He’s waiting. He’s right there, right inside your very being, right now . . . excited . . . waiting.

                                                                       ~Pastor Greg

 

 


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TONGUE PIERCED

Negativity is like a weed that robs us of the vitality available in thankfulness, in right thinking, and in saying only that which builds up. Negativity never serves to edify, produce life, or lead to anything positive.  It can serve only the purpose of destruction. Let’s spend time today looking at what the Bible says about negativity, learning how we can stop its destruction, and ask the Holy Spirit to be our Helper in ridding it from our lives.

 

Scripture speaks very harshly of the power of an unbridled tongue. 

James 3:2-6 says:  “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.  If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also:  though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.  The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”

 

The tongue is the rudder that leads to a life of “unrighteousness” or a life lived in honor and obedience to God.   Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”  Speaking negatively produces the fruit of unrighteousness while speaking words of thankfulness and grace produces life.  Proverbs 26:20 says, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” We’ve all experienced the harmful effects of slander. If we will choose to cut out negativity, we can put out the destructive fire slander causes.

 

Finally, Proverbs 15:4 says, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

 

Have you experienced the power of negativity in your own life?  How does speaking negatively about a person affect your feelings toward them?  How does speaking negatively of a situation affect your perspective for the day?  Now think about the opposite.  What does it do for your emotions and perspectives to speak positively? How do you feel when you express thankfulness about your life instead of negativity? As we learned in Proverbs 15:4, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.”  When you speak gently of others you will find life produced not only in yourself but in them as well.

 

When you co-labor with God’s heart in sharing his message of love, grace, and peace, the result is a wellspring of life.

 

~ Pastor Greg


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NEGATIVITY X FOUR …

“Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you.  There will be a time of Reckoning.  Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation.  Words can also be your damnation.” (Matthew 12:3-37, Message)

I have met individuals throughout my five decades of life experience.  Some are positive.  Some are negative.  Some just live to complain while others live to compliment.

Essentially, there are four types of complainers that I have run into:

First are the whiners.  You can get up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord!” but whiners choose instead to say, “Good Lord, it’s morning!”  They live out of an “oh me” experience.  Life is a drudgery.  They remind me of the character Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh.  He was portrayed as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, anhedonic personality.  The bible tells us that it is God’s will for us to have a spirit of Thanksgiving. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) 

Second are the martyrs.  Their favorite expression is, “Nobody appreciates me!” They’re pros at throwing pity parties.  They pout and complain when they don’t get their way.  They have forgotten God’s appreciation and love.  They have sought out the acceptance of others and have fallen short.  Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)

Third are the cynics. Their attitude is, “Why bother? It isn’t going to make any difference.” They poison everything.  These individuals live out of a failure mentality.  Nothing has ever worked.  They don’t try to get back up … they just quit.  They’ve quit on life.  Jeremiah said, “If a man falls down, he gets up again.  If he goes the wrong way, he turns around and comes back.” (Jeremiah 8:4)

Fourth and finally are the perfectionists.  Nothing is ever good enough for these complainers.  Their favorite phrase is, “Is that the best you can do?”  The truth is no one can be perfect.  Only Christ our Savior is perfect.  I live for excellence.  I do my best to be holy as God is holy.  That’s what’s asked of me. 

To me, the opening verse from Matthew 12:3-37 above from the message translation is one of the scariest verses in the Bible.  In the New International Version it states “Everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” (NIV)

That ought to send shivers up your spine.  How many times have you complained, whined, or argued about something when you shouldn’t have?                                                                ~Pastor Greg

 


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Fight For God’s Promises

There is a battle being waged constantly for your mind. This battle isn’t about flesh and blood, but instead about experiencing the very promises of God.  You see, your mind is the place where emotions, perspectives, and decisions all collide—where lies and truth wage war.  It’s where you can choose to experience God and see the world as He does, or choose a different path and struggle in life to attain any sense of His promises at all.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”  Paul makes it clear that there is a very real spiritual battle happening in which taking your thoughts captive is a chief weapon.  So let’s look at the weapon of renewing your mind and how to effectively use it to experience all that God has in store for you.

In God we have an incredible ally in the war for our minds.  We’ve been given the Holy Spirit to help us think like God.  We’ve been given the word of God to meditate on so that we can share in God’s wisdom.  But we must engage in this process of transformation to experience all God has in store.  Ephesians 4:21-24 says, “Assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”  God has given you an opportunity for new life “created after the very likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”  But in order to experience that new life, you must “be renewed in the spirit of your [mind].”  Real action is required to experience God’s promise of a “new self.”  You have to see yourself as God sees you.  Your perspective must shift and be aligned with God’s perspective.

You see, renewing your mind positions you to fully experience God’s promises.  For example, Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  In the renewing of your mind, you are able to discern the will of God.  It’s a real and practical step to receiving the knowledge of what God would have you do. Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”   

 


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Easter Encouragement

”Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 (NLT)

Easter is the greatest historical event of all time.  It is the confirmation of God’s redemptive plan, accepting the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for our sins.  Passion week has become the focal point of history.  Why?  Why is it so special?  Why would over 2 billion people celebrate the resurrection around the world this weekend?

 

Because it proved Who Jesus was.  Jesus made some really outrageous claims when He was here on earth.  He said things like, “I’m God.  If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen God.  I’ve come to the earth in human form so you can get to know what God is like.”  Things like, “I’m the only way to heaven.  I’m the way, the truth, and the light.”  Then He said, “I’m going to prove that what I said was true by letting them crucify Me on the cross and I’ll die for your sin and three days later I’m going to raise Myself back to life.”  That’s exactly what He did on Easter. He came back to life and He walked around the streets of Jerusalem.

 

What difference does it make for you, for me?   What are the implications for us in the year 2018? 

 

The Bible says there are some wonderful benefits that come to us as a result of the resurrection.  There are many, but I would like to mention two:

 

  • The understanding that God has a purpose and a plan for my life.

God has never created anything that would that He didn’t have a purpose for.  The fact that you are alive and reading this bulletin article, means that God has a purpose for creating you.  God’s Word says, “God made us to do good works, which He planned in advance for us to live our lives doing” Ephesians 2:10 (NCV).

 

  • Another result is to know God has power for your life.

The scriptures tells us, “I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power” Phil 4:13 (LB).  “God will strengthen you with His own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come” Col. 1:11 (NCV.

 

The problem:  “Some people have missed the most important thing in life – they don’t know God” 1 Tim. 6:21 (LB).  What should you do if you haven’t responded to God’s blessing?   You should “Give yourselves completely to God … to be used for His good purposes” Rom. 6:13.

 

I encourage you today to give your life completely over to God and let the true celebrations of Easter begin with your new beginning.

 

~ Pastor Greg
 
 

 
 

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