Sunday, February 25, 2018

February 25, 2018

"He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well: he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and they were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand men were present. "Mark 8:6-9

 This passage made me think of three things:

God is an amazing provider. He was able to feed four thousand men with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. He is the answer to the "not enough mentality", and to the scarcity mindset. For a long time, I thought that the answer was money, having more, saving more. Jesus is the answer to everything. When he said on the cross: "It is finished" I believed that included financial fears, bill payments, our basic and advanced needs. Jesus addressed all that, and it's finished indeed. The choice is ours. We can choose to chase the illusion of money and become depleted eventually, or we can turn to Jesus and allow him to feed us abundantly and "do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" Ephesians 3:20. It doesn't mean that we quit everything and fall into inaction, but it's rather an invitation to realize that the true and only provider is Jesus. He is the only bridge between scarcity and abundance. Everything else is just a temporary, sometimes very expensive fix.

Jesus showed great compassion for the people. "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way". Mark 8 1-3 "Selfishness is an epidemic within our society. No one thinks about others anymore. Our lives are too complex and move too fast to care about other- when was the last time you really thought about the well-being of someone else." Jesus is the abundant provider and as his followers, we are invited to be the same way. There are a multitude of simple ways, we can be there for somebody else. Something that I came across recently, is learning to listen. Learning to listen means learning to really focus on what the other person is saying, not interrupting or talking over them, or trying to come up with an answer while they are talking. 

Gratitude. Jesus thanked the Father for the bread and for the small fish. Being thankful for the small things that we have, could be the gate, the entry point to the world of miracles and abundance that God has in store for us. "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:4

Saturday, February 24, 2018

February 24: Of God’s Commands and Human Traditions



Leviticus 15:1-16:28

Mark 7:1-23

Psalm 40:11-17

Proverbs 10:13-14


Mark 7:8. "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions."


Mark 7:20-23: He went on: "What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come - sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person."


It's frightening to think how this is so much more true today, how these have become our human traditions.  Think about what society permits, even encourages on a daily basis: abortion, marital infidelity, the abandonment of families and children.  To find lewdness one only has to turn the tv on to any number of reality TV shows,.  You want folly?  We think children who've experienced something traumatic are competent to dictate policy about the traumatic event.  You want arrogance?  Some of the kids think they are competent to do just that.  


After the recent tragedy in Florida, many have decried how messed up society seems today.  Is it any wonder?  We have let go of the commands of God.  Even worse - we've rejected the idea of God.  We've not only thrown away the operating manual, we've refused the help of the manufacturer.  


Like most of you reading this, I look back at the tragedy in Florida and think "I want answers.  I want solutions."  Thankfully we know "thoughts and prayers" are not useless.  We know, as the psalmist did, that we can cry out to God when "troubles without number surround me"; when our "sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see" resolution.  Thankfully we can say to God "You are my help and my deliverer; You are my God, do not delay".


It's been 10 days since the events in Broward County.  Father, we need Your help to be able to take hold of Your commands once more.  You are our God.  Hear our prayer - do not delay.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Feb 23

Psalm 40  

Shame and guilt cripple so many people today.  I have had conversations with many teens in which they talk about "cutting" themselves to help deal with the pain. The gospel presents us with a different view of cutting. We don't have to cut ourselves to find relief from shame. Jesus was "cut" on our behalf. It is his "cutting" on the cross that changed everything.

In Psalm 40 David speaks about a radical identity change. One minute he is in the slimy pit; the next moment his feet are placed on a rock. One moment he is moaning in despair; the next moment he is singing a song. How does one have such a radical transformation?

The good news is the "cuts" of Jesus on the cross make us different people. Before Christ I was a different person. This person was my old nature, my old self. But that person died. He was killed when I trusted in the "cuts" of Jesus. And now my life is hidden with Christ. I am in Christ. And He is in me. I am a new creation. This doesn't mean that I will never stumble or fall back into my old habits. But I will call them what they are, old habits, and I will confess them. I will thank God for his forgiveness. I will make amends and then I will move on. Not because I am taking sin lightly, but because I am taking who God says I am seriously.

God says that I am holy, pure, unstained, and without blemish. It's not because of anything I have done, but because of the "cuts" of Jesus on the cross.

When I trust in his "cuts," he wipes the slate clean. All guilt, all shame, and all sins are removed from my account and God views me as blameless.  Therefore, shame has no place in my life because I am a new creation.

All the ugly parts of my story, the parts I want to pretend never happened, have been redeemed and they have become the moments in my life when God's grace is most on display.

In the end, my mistakes do not define me. My past does not define me. Jesus is the one who defines my identity and I am his beloved child in whom he is well pleased.

 



--
"Multiplying leaders to change the world"

Thursday, February 22

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2018

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
You have made my days a mere handbreath;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath." (Psalm 39:4,5)


The Scriptures consistently remind us of the shortness of our lives and the imperative to deploy our time for God and others. In Psalm 90:12, we read this prayer: "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." As with many things, we learn best when we realize the scarcity of something, coming to appreciate it and becoming better stewards of it.

James echoes this concept of our lives being "but a breath," a "vapor," and a "mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." In James 4:13-17, the author discusses how we often boast about our future plans as if we were in control of them. He argues for living with this ethic: "Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" (James 4:15)

While we are cognizant of our short lifespan, we also understand from God's Word that, after receiving Christ, we receive eternal life and become part of God's family. As a result, we become participants in eternity, even with our short earthly life.

We may then wonder how our lives here may affect eternity. As Pastor Scott has explained, there are few things that last for eternity: God Himself, His Word, and human souls. By pouring our lives out for God, His Word, and others, we may become co-laborers with God in bringing about the glorious future hope that He promises in Christ to all who believe. We may introduce others to Christ, strengthen them in their understanding of His Word, serve them in love, pray for them, help them reach their full potential, encourage them in times of trial, and point out areas that may require submitting to God. That love for others reaps eternal benefit.


Lord God, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Strengthen us through Your Word so that we will not see our worldly struggles as greater than the hope of eternity. Give us opportunities to honor You and to pour into the lives of others. Fill our lives with joy as we live with an eternal perspective. In Jesus's Name, amen.


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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

February 21

 I have to say, I really do enjoy reading the Old Testament.  While it might be hard to read through and understand sometimes, all of the rules and the regulations that God intended for the people of Israel to keep were meant to separate them from the rest of the world and keep them holy unto Him. It was impossible to live up to that standard of God's excellence but it didn't make the people of Israel less holy in God's eyes. We read in Leviticus today that in order to worship people needed to be prepared. The part that gets missed through the lesson is that the preparation to worship and stand holy before God happens in our hearts, not through dietary laws or rituals.  Just as the people of Israel were set apart, so are we as believers and followers of Jesus. God called the people of Israel out of Egypt to set them apart as a unique nation dedicating their lives to Him alone. Have we not dedicated our lives to that same God?  Isn't that what was the cross for? Isn't it true that the veil which has been torn spiritually separates those who believe from the evil of this world?  Because of the cross haven't we been washed by grace which now makes us holy before God?  Much like the Israelites, our faults do not make us less holy in His eyes.  In our reading in Mark today, the woman who was bleeding knew that by Jewish law if she touched Jesus it would cause Him to become unclean by their cultural standards.  But what does that show us about Jesus? Doesn't that show His divinity surpasses laws of humanity?  His love, mercy and grace go far beyond the law.  This nameless woman had a shameful problem that under the law would have ostracized her from society,  but instead she was healed by the love of our Father that flowed through Jesus. There is nothing we have ever done that is so shameful we can't bring it before God that would cut off His love to flow through Himself and spiritually cleanse us. I pray we never allow our fears or distorted worldviews to keep us from approaching God and receiving His grace.

Randi

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Todays Reading in Song

As we start off today's reading we see Moses telling Aaron to offer sacrifices. Many of us know that once Christ came, was crucified, and resurrected that this did away with the sacrificial system, since Christ was the final sacrifice for us all. Let's keep it simple today with and understanding of two forms of sacrifice. The first was the "burnt offering" The Hebrew word for "burnt offering" actually means to "ascend," literally to "up in smoke." The smoke which came from the sacrifice ascended up to God. It was "a soothing aroma to the LORD" Lev 1:9. A  burnt offering was the complete destruction of the animal (except for the skin or hide) in an effort to renew the relationship between a Holy God and sinful mankind. With the development of God's law, God gave the Israelites specific instructions as to the types of burnt offerings and what they symbolized.

Leviticus chapter 1 and 8 describe what the traditional burnt offering was. It was when the Israelites brought a bull, sheep, or goat, a male without a defect, killed it at the entrance to the tabernacle (church). The blood of the animal was drained, the priest sprinkled the blood around the altar, then the animal was skinned and cut it into different pieces, all intestines and legs were washed, and the priest burned the pieces on the altar all night. The priest got the skin as a fee for his help. Turtledoves or pigeons could also be sacrificed, although they weren't skinned.People could give a burnt offering at any time. It was a sacrifice of atonement for the acknowledgement of our sin nature and for a renewed relationship with God. God also had set times for the priests to give burnt offerings for the benefit of the Nation as a whole, although the animals required for each sacrifice varied.

Leviticus chapter 4 explains the "Sin offering" which was given in sacrifice when a person sinned unintentionally by breaking one of the Lord's commandments later realizing their guilt (Lev 4:27). The sin offerings were part of the ceremonies on the day of atonement when the high priest made two sin offerings: a bull for himself and a young male goat on behalf of the congregation. Different for some of the other offerings, the sin offering was never eaten. The live animal was brought to the altar and the sinner was required to lay his hand on the head of the animal (Lev 4:29). The animal was killed, at which point the priest would take some of the blood and put it on the horns of the altar. In some cases, some of the blood was also sprinkled inside the tabernacle (church). The rest of the blood was poured at the base of the altar. The fat, kidney, and large lobe of the liver of the sin offering was removed and burned on the altar. But all the rest of the carcass was taken "outside to a place ceremonially clean and the carcass was burned "in a wood fire on the ash heap". "In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven". 

We see the unfolding of God's plan of salvation through His son Jesus Christ within the rituals of the sacrificial system. 

As a musician of sorts, I love to see Gods word revealed through songs. In the song "come to the altar" we see this section of scripture revealed in the lyrics. 

Lyrics
Are you hurting and broken within?
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling
O come to the altar
The Father's arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ
Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there's no reason to wait
Jesus is calling

Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling
As we transition into todays new Testament reading. Mark chapter 4 and 5 remind us we serve a mighty God, and that we are not suppose to sit idly back as other people do the Lords work of proclaiming the gospel, and discipling others. We must have an active faith. Yes we ALL have different personality types, but do not tell me for a second that you in your personality can not be effective for Jesus, if you think that then you have bought into the lie that satan and you, yes YOU have believed. God has given EVERYONE gifts talents and personalities to reach people in your own sphere of influence. How mighty is our Lord and savior? Again I turn to music. The song "It is well" Bethel music's lyrics proclaims That even the wind and waves know who Jesus is, as did the man in the tombs knew immediately with no introduction needed exactly who Jesus is "the son of the most high God" is!  

lyrics 
Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred

Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea


So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

The waves and wind still know His name
The waves and wind still know His name

So what are you going to do differently today? The same old thing, or will you get up and get moving? Ask God to reveal to you and to you me how we can serve the Son of the most high God Jesus Christ? You can just do nothing, but then nothing will happen and nothing you will see. The choice is yours.

Chuck Goulart
203-943-0961

 "Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." –Francis Chan


Todays Reading in Song

As we start off today's reading we see Moses telling Aaron to offer sacrifices. Many of us know that once Christ came, was crucified, and resurrected that this did away with the sacrificial system, since Christ was the final sacrifice for us all. Let's keep it simple today with and understanding of two forms of sacrifice. The first was the "burnt offering" The Hebrew word for "burnt offering" actually means to "ascend," literally to "up in smoke." The smoke which came from the sacrifice ascended up to God. It was "a soothing aroma to the LORD" Lev 1:9. A  burnt offering was the complete destruction of the animal (except for the skin or hide) in an effort to renew the relationship between a Holy God and sinful mankind. With the development of God's law, God gave the Israelites specific instructions as to the types of burnt offerings and what they symbolized.

Leviticus chapter 1 and 8 describe what the traditional burnt offering was. It was when the Israelites brought a bull, sheep, or goat, a male without a defect, killed it at the entrance to the tabernacle (church). The blood of the animal was drained, the priest sprinkled the blood around the altar, then the animal was skinned and cut it into different pieces, all intestines and legs were washed, and the priest burned the pieces on the altar all night. The priest got the skin as a fee for his help. Turtledoves or pigeons could also be sacrificed, although they weren't skinned.People could give a burnt offering at any time. It was a sacrifice of atonement for the acknowledgement of our sin nature and for a renewed relationship with God. God also had set times for the priests to give burnt offerings for the benefit of the Nation as a whole, although the animals required for each sacrifice varied.

Leviticus chapter 4 explains the "Sin offering" which was given in sacrifice when a person sinned unintentionally by breaking one of the Lord's commandments later realizing their guilt (Lev 4:27). The sin offerings were part of the ceremonies on the day of atonement when the high priest made two sin offerings: a bull for himself and a young male goat on behalf of the congregation. Different for some of the other offerings, the sin offering was never eaten. The live animal was brought to the altar and the sinner was required to lay his hand on the head of the animal (Lev 4:29). The animal was killed, at which point the priest would take some of the blood and put it on the horns of the altar. In some cases, some of the blood was also sprinkled inside the tabernacle (church). The rest of the blood was poured at the base of the altar. The fat, kidney, and large lobe of the liver of the sin offering was removed and burned on the altar. But all the rest of the carcass was taken "outside to a place ceremonially clean and the carcass was burned "in a wood fire on the ash heap". "In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven". 

We see the unfolding of God's plan of salvation through His son Jesus Christ within the rituals of the sacrificial system. 

As a musician of sorts, I love to see Gods word revealed through songs. In the song "come to the altar" we see this section of scripture revealed in the lyrics. 

Lyrics
Are you hurting and broken within?
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling
O come to the altar
The Father's arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ
Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there's no reason to wait
Jesus is calling

Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling
As we transition into todays new Testament reading. Mark chapter 4 and 5 remind us we serve a mighty God, and that we are not suppose to sit idly back as other people do the Lords work of proclaiming the gospel, and discipling others. We must have an active faith. Yes we ALL have different personality types, but do not tell me for a second that you in your personality can not be effective for Jesus, if you think that then you have bought into the lie that satan and you, yes YOU have believed. God has given EVERYONE gifts talents and personalities to reach people in your own sphere of influence. How mighty is our Lord and savior? Again I turn to music. The song "It is well" Bethel music's lyrics proclaims That even the wind and waves know who Jesus is, as did the man in the tombs knew immediately with no introduction needed exactly who Jesus is "the son of the most high God" is!  

lyrics 
Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred

Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea


So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

The waves and wind still know His name
The waves and wind still know His name

So what are you going to do differently today? The same old thing, or will you get up and get moving? Ask God to reveal to you and to you me how we can serve the Son of the most high God Jesus Christ? You can just do nothing, but then nothing will happen and nothing you will see. The choice is yours.

Chuck Goulart
203-943-0961

 "Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." –Francis Chan