My Strength Comes From the Lord

Probably one of the most popular verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Many people take this verse to mean that with Christ on my side there is nothing that can stop me from doing anything. However, God doesn’t give all of us the abilities to be great athletes. God doesn’t give all of us the top IQ’s that only Einstein would be envious of. God doesn’t give all of us the talents to perform with the greatest musicians on the greatest stages in the world. Most of us are just average Joe’s that can do great things every once in a while.

In order to get the true context of this verse, we must look at it in the context that Paul wrote it. Back up and begin reading at verse 10.

10) I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11) I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12) I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13) I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Paul was writing this letter from a prison in Rome. He reminded the church at Philippi that he knew what it was like to be in need and he knew what it was like to have plenty. He encouraged the church by saying no matter what I go through I can handle it because my strength comes from the Lord.

These words are encouraging to us. No matter what we face in this world, our strength comes from the Lord. It is Jesus that keeps us going when we hear bad news from the Doctor. It is Jesus that keeps us going when we are laid off from our job. And it is also Jesus that gives us the strength to rejoice when good things are happening in our life. There is no other place that we need to look for strength besides Jesus.

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Miracle of the String: She Took Action

In the story of the woman with the flow of blood found in Mark 5:25-34. Not only did this woman hear about Jesus coming her way, not only did she decide in her heart to step out in faith, but this woman put her faith into action.

In any event that you attend there are two types of people: you have participants and you have spectators. The participants are the ones that get involved in the action. They are the performers on stage. The players on the field in a sporting event and so on. The spectators are the people that sit back and watch the action unfold.

This woman decided in her heart that that day she was going to be a participant. She knew that if she could just touch the string of Jesus’ cloak then she could be healed.

So, with all her might she pressed through the crowd and with one last motion she stretched out and grab a string and instantly the flow stopped. Power flowed out of Jesus and into the woman and she received her healing that day.

The amazing thing about the miracle that day was Jesus did not touch her, she touched Him and her life was changed forever that day. This shows that when we reach out in faith Jesus is there waiting to give us our miracle.

Today if you are needing a miracle, reach out to the one that can give you your miracle.

Miracle of the String: She Spoke the Words of Faith

In Mark 5:25-34, we read a story about a woman that dealt with an issue of blood for twelve years. This woman was desperate and needed a miracle. The first step of faith that she took was “She heard of Jesus”. But her steps of faith didn’t stop there. The next step that she took was “She Spoke the Words of Faith.”

I don’t mean that she spoke these words out loud, but she spoke these words within herself. Verse 28 says, “For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.'”

She had heard about Jesus. She knew of the healing power that flowed from Him and she knew within herself that if she could press through the crowd and just touch the string on His garment then she would be healed.

Words are powerful. There is power in the words that we speak.

Proverbs 18:21(NIV) says, “The tongue has the power of life and death…” We have the power, through our words, to speak life and death into our situation. We have the power to speak to our faith.

There are times that we belittle ourselves. We talk down to ourselves and say things like, “God doesn’t care about me.” Or “God won’t heal me.” The truth is God loves us and all He wants is the best for His children.

Part of putting our faith into action is speaking life into ourselves and speaking to ourselves in faith. You need to change the words that you say to things like, “I can be healed.” And “I can receive a miracle.”

The words we speak does matter. We need to speak life into us.

God’s Search and Rescue Plan Involves You

search and rescue

When children go missing, parents go looking. And that’s what God has done. There’s not a square foot on earth that doesn’t have his footprints. He began searching for them the moment Adam and Eve made a choice and lost their way. He sent the nation of Israel looking. He sent his Son to “seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Today he sends his church. In Acts 1:8 we find his search and rescue plan: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus sent the disciples into the middle of Jerusalem and told them to wait. While they were waiting a crowd gathered for Pentecost. Some estimate Jerusalem swelled to over one million people during this time. The Holy Spirit came on them, Peter preached, and the church swelled from 120 to over three thousand.

It didn’t stop there. They devoted themselves to “the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). That first church in Jerusalem grounded its people in the Word, in deep community, to sharing meals and sharing Christ, and to prayer. They had to. The task at hand was too big for them to accomplish on their own. They needed each other. Mostly they needed God.

That hasn’t changed, has it? We still have the same commission to be witnesses for Jesus in our Jerusalems and in our world. We are still called to the Word, to love each other, to share life, and to prayer. And we are still searching for those who have lost their way.

We are still searching because the Father still has children who are missing. So go to your Jerusalem and wait. God will bring you power as you serve him there. Let’s not leave a square foot without our footprints.

Finding the Door to an Eternity of Sundays

doors

In the spring of 2010 archaeologists unearthed a 3,500-year-old door to the afterlife from the tomb of a high-ranking Egyptian official near Karnak temple in Luxor.[1] This door was meant to take the official from death to the afterworld.

Jack found another door to the afterlife. He taught English literature at Oxford and spent many evenings walking the gardens of Magdalene College. And it was one evening while walking with his friend John that Jack discovered his way.

His door seems to have found a way into his writings as a wardrobe through which his characters could enter Narnia, a kind of medieval version of Paradise. Jack, or C.S. Lewis as we know him today, went on to become one of the great apologists for the Christian faith in the 20th century. He wrote of death in this way: “If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a ‘wandering to find home,’ why should we not look forward to the arrival?[2]

How would you write about that time you take your last breath and the moment right after?  Will you look forward to it? Or will it be a terrifying moment for you? And would you want to be able to face your death unafraid?

Jesus enables us to do that, you know. He moves us from a Friday and Saturday of death and disillusionment to a Sunday of victory. Your way into that victory is through a door. Jesus Christ.

Jesus said of himself, “I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). And all of the Easter stories tell this.

In another garden, another Magdalene—Mary—was looking for Jesus’ dead body to anoint, but it was missing from the tomb (John 20). Two angels speak to her but she is so upset she misses them. She keeps talking about her “Lord” and that he had been taken away. It took Jesus coming to her and calling her by name before she recognized what had happened.

You’ll have your Fridays and Saturdays. Days that are dark and days that are lost. In those days when you can’t find the door out, do as Mary did. Keep calling Jesus “Lord.”  Keep calling and keep looking for him.

Because if you keep calling him Lord, he’ll call you by name. And when he does, you will turn and find the door to an eternity of Sundays.

[1] Door to afterlife from ancient Egyptian tomb found http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100329/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt_antiquities

[2] http://en.proverbia.net/citasautor.asp?autor=14386

The Greatest Question of All Time

A BBC magazine answered the “101 greatest questions of all time.”[1] What did they include? Well, questions like “What is OK short for?” Answer? “OK comes from ‘oll korrect’, a deliberately misspelled writing of ‘all correct.’ It was popularized in Boston newspapers around the 1840s when it was fashionable to go around spelling things incorrectly for humorous effect.”

The #1 “greatest question” was “Where is the safest place to stand outside in a thunderstorm?” And, in case you must know the answer, it is “A car or other enclosed metal structure is the safest place to be in a thunderstorm.”

Jesus asked a question that should have been first on the list. He and the disciples were in Caesarea Philippi. Call it the shopping mall of religion. It was located in a region known as Paneon, or the home of the Greek god Pan. Once it had been a center of Baal worship. A temple was located there dedicated to the godhead of Caesar. And other temples of Syrian gods dotted the landscape.

Plenty of gods to choose from in Caesarea Philippi. So Jesus asks his disciples this question: “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29). Oh, at first he asked them what others were saying about him. The answers came back in rapid fire: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

But Jesus was more concerned with their answer to his question, so he asked, “Who do you say I am?” They all looked at this homeless carpenter and thought about that question. We don’t know how long they thought before Peter replied, “You are the Christ.”

[1] “Greatest 101 questions of all time: 1-20” found at  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/

4696372/Greatest-101-questions-of-all-time-1-20.html

When Jesus Comes Knocking

The knock came at the door of the inn. It was late. We can imagine the innkeeper had been burning both ends of the candle. The census crowd had packed Bethlehem and he had finally locked the doors for the night.

Until the knock. He shuffled his feet through the dark and made his way to the door. Opening it with the slightest of cracks he peered out to see a young couple. Looking more closely he saw a young woman who was about to give birth to a child.

Rooms were full. It was late. And they didn’t look very special. He had to decide whether he would find room for them or not.

And you will too. John’s rendition of the birth of Christ comes in a few short words: “The Word  [logos] became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Greek hearers understood the word “logos” as the representation of God. The essence of God was found in his Word.

Hebrew readers perked up to John’s message too. John writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” He book ends the first sentence of his book with the phrase “in the beginning.”  They knew it as the words that began the first book of the Torah, or Genesis.

John writes about beginnings. John writes about God’s very representation dwelling among us. And he writes to tell us that we have the same decision to make as the innkeeper. Will we find a place for Jesus in our lives or will we send him away?

Some send him away because he looks too plain. Nothing special about him. Don’t make that mistake. He comes to common places like your home and common places like your heart.

Some send him away because life is crowded. Many demands and many deadlines. And you’re not sure if you have room for him. But he only comes to give you what he has already done. He desires to give you forgiveness.

And some send him away because they think it’s too late. They’ve already done too much that can’t be forgiven. They’ve already gone too far away.

But it’s never too late. Not with the one who comes and makes his dwelling among us. You need only to open the door.

Join us Sunday as we continue The Story at 10:30 am.