Prepare

I Peter 1:13-16

“Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; and set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.” I Peter 1: 13-16

I have a friend who competes in triathlons. I have watched her prepare for these challenging, grueling competitions.  She is disciplined.  She eats a very healthy diet.  She has coaches.  She has purchased special clothing and equipment for these events. She practices.  She does all that she can to be physically prepared to compete…

But it seems to me that the real work began months earlier, as she prepared her mind for action.  The physical preparation only occurs once her mind has decided it will be so.

And isn’t that true for us as well?  Each day and every season brings its own set of challenges and obstacles, heartaches and joys, opportunities and disappointments.  When I have prepared my mind for action – I find that I am able to discipline myself.  Understanding that my heart’s desires will not be fulfilled by the things of the world, I am able to set all my hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring me when he is revealed.

What sweet promise lies in those words…Christ will reveal himself.  And in those moments of revelation – we will understand ourselves to be blessed… blessed by his ever-present grace!

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

The Outcome of Faith

I Peter 1:6-9

We live in a “results driven”, “outcome oriented” culture.  So much concentrates on the question, “Where does it all end up?”.

Today’s scripture invites us to keep focused on the “outcome of your faith”(vs.9). The words in these verses which describe that outcome are: “praise and glory and honor”(vs. 7), “indescribable and glorious joy”(vs. 8), and “the salvation of your souls” (vs. 9).

Peter acknowledges it’s tough to keep that focus in the immediacy of life’s difficulties and struggles (the “trials”, vs. 6).  He knows what it’s like to be “tested by fire”(vs. 7)!   He’s experienced what it means to loose sight of the Lord (vs.8) in the hardships of the moment .

In those moments his call is for our faith to find strength in our future.  When we remember how our story ultimately ends we find hope for our “present chapter”, whatever it may be. Orient on our final outcome in Christ’s love and let Jesus lead you through whatever valley you are crossing or mountain you are climbing to the destination he has for you and us all.

Prayer: Lord, in the trials of today help me through my faith to focus on my ultimate future with you.  Help me to find the strength and hope that vision brings. so that I might always praise you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen

Have a great week!

Paul

 

 

What a God We Have!

1Peter 1:3-5

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope”  1 Peter 1:3

Who among us has not experienced disappointment, pain, failure, loneliness, hopelessness, wandering in a spiritual wilderness?  Everyone has, and, unfortunately, many people still haven’t heard the Good News that God has provided a remedy to that kind of desolation!   When I read the scripture for this week, I was struck by the realization that these words capture, in very brief form, the essence of what God has done for everyone in the world, for all time.

I would like to share with you a modern paraphrase of some of the beautiful words of hope found in these verses.

 

What a God we have!

And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus!

Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!

God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.

The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

 

John

 

 

If Anyone Among You Wanders…

James 5:19-20

“My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”  James 5:19-20

Well I don’t know about you, but I will be the first to admit that I sometimes wander…wander away from what I have learned and now know to be true.  Maybe it’s human nature.  Maybe I become lazy or lackadaisical.  Perhaps I am distracted by the voices all around me whispering in my ear that power, money, beauty and success are the stuff of a great life!  Whatever the cause, sadly, I find that I sometimes suffer from wanderlust.  When I stop listening for and responding to the promptings of God’s spirit in my life, the wandering begins!

And James reminds us – not only that all of us are prone to wander, but that our gracious and loving God has placed us in community with brothers and sisters in our family of faith. These “faith siblings” may provide the very nudge I need to turn back towards the God I love.  In worship, fellowship, and genuine community I am reminded that my one true identity is in Christ.

Prayer: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” Robert Robinson

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

Take It to the Lord

James 5:13-15

“… and the Lord will raise them up.”

James’ advice is straightforward.  If you’re hurting, pray.  If you’re happy, praise.  If you’re sick, seek the ministry of others.  If you’ve sinned, confess and open yourself to  forgiveness.

In the “ups” and “downs” and “ifs” of life, take it all to the Lord.  And the Lord will “raise” you up!  The resurrecting power of Jesus Christ we celebrate on Easter day is available and active every day.

James invites us to trust that truth.  Let the Love and Life of Jesus lift you, even as you actively invite his grace into your life through prayer and praise.  Take It all to the Lord!

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for your resurrecting power and Your invitation to incorporate that grace into my life through prayer and praise.  Strengthen me by your Holy Spirit to walk in faith and offer my hopes, and hurts, and happiness to You today, knowing that You would shine Your light and love into all.  In Jesus’ name I pray.

Have a great week!

Paul

Remember, and Take Heart!

James 5:7-12

“Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.” James 5:7

There is a lot in this life that is not right, not fair, not just.  Jesus had a lot to say about how we are to live, how we are to treat others, and many acts of true love and concern through history have definitely made an impact for good in this world.  There is still much to be done though, and, sadly, there will always be, on this earth.

So how do we live in the meantime?  Using the example of Job, James says with patience and endurance in the midst of whatever comes to us, speaking and living the truth for here and now, with the hope of God’s greater Kingdom to come.

Take heart – God was compassionate and merciful to Job, and God will be to us as well.  Remember that, live into it, until that faith becomes reality!

 

John

“The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord!”

James 5:1-6

“4 Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”

There are times when I wish I could send my assigned verse back and get a new one.  Scripture can make us feel that way.  Sometimes we would rather skip over the hard scriptures or the ones that make us squirm.  James 5 is one of those scriptures for me.  It speaks harshly on the wealthy.  I’m not sure about you but I like money.  It’s one thing I wish I had more of.  But not all wealth is acquired equally.  You have to read this scripture, with an open mind, all the way to verse 4 before you understand that Jame is talking about wealth that is built on the backs of the least of us.  James is calling out all the money that is make at the expense of those of us with no voice in society.  Well, it’s a good thing we don’t have these problems anymore… HA!  We find this all over our society, not just in the illegal resident, but also they young, female, under-educated, over-educated, and the too experienced.  I think James is calling us to action but we often miss the first step.  Starting with the way you build your own wealth.  Make sure it is not at the expense of the least and the lost. Including and not limited to, the fairness in which we conduct business, and being educated about the products we purchase.

How much more successful could we be if we started curing injustice by staring with ourselves?

Blessings

Bert K. Johnson

 

You Do Not Even Know…

James 4:13-17

“Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’” James 4:14-15

These two little verses remind us of what we should know all too well, if we have lived longer than twenty minutes… Life is uncertain and unpredictable.

In the blink of an eye everything can change.  You meet the love of your life.  The doctor says, “It is cancer.”  Your new child or grandchild is placed in your arms. You embark on a new career which ends up exceeding your wildest dreams.  Someone you love is involved in a horrible accident.  On a chance encounter you meet the person who will become your life-long, dearest friend.  The phone rings in the middle of the night…

Life is uncertain and unpredictable. And while on some level we all know this – we often live our lives as if we are completely and totally in charge of our futures. We seem to believe that if we act accordingly – all of our plans will come to fruition.

But don’t be fooled.  In the midst of seemingly ordinary, uneventful but carefully planned days, extraordinary, life-altering moments happen.

And so what is our take away here?  Cherish each day.  Live in the moment.   Live fully engaged, making every day count.  Always remember and never forget that in the end – what really matters – will be relationships.  The times I spend in loving, caring, authentic relationship with God and others will last long after the “mist” of my life is gone.

For surely, I do “not even know what tomorrow will bring…”

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

Draw Near!

James 4:7-10

“Draw near to God and God will draw near to you… Humble yourself before the Lord and God will lift you  up.”

These are some of the most comforting words in Scripture.  They assure us that when we deeply need, seek out, and cry aloud for God, God is ever so ready to be found, to hear and to draw near to us.

They remind us that in the difficult moments of life, we are not alone.  When we feel our need for God, it is God who has put that instinct in our hearts.   When we humbly reach out for God in ways of trust, God faithfully responds in ways that lift us up.

Be confident today in the compassion of our Savior.  When you need help and hope, draw near to God and God will draw near to you. Humble yourself and God will lift you up!

Prayer:  Lord, you let us know that our lives are not of our own making and our problems are not of our own solving.  You invite us to turn and to trust, to draw near and to humbly ask.  You are here to lift, to lighten, and to lead. Thank you for being our Savior, even as we draw near to you today!  In Jesus’ name.

Have a great and blessed week!

Paul

Stop The Insanity!

James 4:1-6

“Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?”  James 4:1

James says that within us there is a war going on, that our desires for pleasure and material gain cause disputes, conflicts, even murder.  Throughout history and to the present day, political conquests, intrigue, dominations of one group by another and brutalities have occurred over and over.   In our “supersized” and 24-7 culture, we are all in the midst of opportunities too numerous to count for fulfilling whatever desire we might have, whenever we have it.

On the other hand, God – by the gift of his Holy Spirit, offers satisfaction and peace through “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.”   How can we find that gift of abundant life in the midst of this insanity?

Over and over in the pages of the Bible, the idea of humility, of being humble, of being poor in spirit, is stated as being the prerequisite to finding the Kingdom of God, the presence of God’s spirit in us.  In short, when we are able to begin to see ourselves as we really are, our negatives and positives, that’s the point at which God can really begin to live in us.  May we all experience the joy of God’s transforming presence in our lives!

 

John