Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Loveless Church

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”
Revelation 2:2-4


A few years ago there was a British comedy called Keeping Up Appearances. The main character, Hyacinth, wanted so badly to be part of high society, that she would regularly get herself and her husband, Richard, into an embarrassing situation by pretending it was so. She looked good on the outside, but when you examined deeper, trouble brewed within.

The book of Revelation is one of the most popular and neglected books of the Bible. It is scary because many who read it don’t understand the symbols and imagery. To make it simple, there are two things to remember when reading Revelation:

* The focus is on the vision of Jesus. He is the front and center of what this book is all about. He is victorious and so shall we be.
* It fits partly into the genre of “apocalypse.” This genre almost always deals with judgment and end-times themes.

In chapter two, Jesus is instructing the Apostle John to write letters to seven churches. Each one was dealing with issues that required repentance or encouragement. The first one addressed was the church of Ephesus.

From the outside, this was a strong church. They were keeping up appearances. They had been doing the right things and fighting the battles for so long.  It’s possible that some of the older members were getting tired. Perhaps some of the younger members didn’t feel like they could devote the time required to maintain the various ministries. Maybe they didn’t feel qualified. Their devotion to Christ was waning and they were crumbling from the inside out.

This can happen to some of the most faithful and devoted churches, if the focus becomes the ministries of the church rather than the love of Christ. It can also happen just as easily to an individual Christian.

The church of Ephesus was called upon to refocus on Christ. To return to their first love. The works of ministry are a result of loving Jesus, not the other way around. We are called to do the same. Love develops devotion. Devotion develops sharing. Sharing develops ministering to others.

We Christians need to return to our first love. When we do, keeping up appearances no longer brings trouble and trials, but joy and peace in Christ.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for reminding us that to focus on You allows everything else to fall into place.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Biblical Friendship

“ And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.
 And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” 1 Samuel 23:15-16

Many wise and intelligent scholars, doctors, and scientists have studied the subject of relationships for years. A chemical in the brain is said to trigger the level of response and the type of love for those who share a bond. The interesting thing about this is that it’s not unique to humans. Animals feel love too. They can have relationships with other animals and with humans. Our Lord has instilled that emotion in all creatures.

Friendship is probably the best word to describe how the seed of love grows to become a relationship. As it grows, it will branch out into different paths. Some friendships last for a season during a time of transition, such as school or a job. Others will last a lifetime through many seasons of good times and hard times. We need all levels of relationships in our lives, but the truest reflection of God’s love is biblical friendship.

The story of the bond between Jonathan and David is an excellent example of such friendship. Love, stronger than a blood kinship, knit these two men together. They shared a love for God and recognized the role each of them would play in the Lord’s plan for the Israelites.

Biblical friendship isn’t limited to the Old and New Testaments, however. Here are three defining characteristics of a biblical friend:

Be present. Provide an arm to lean on, an ear to listen, and a heart to care. Just as Jonathan was there to support David, present in his time of trouble, we can give that presence too.

Pray every day for your friend. Talk to God on your friend’s behalf. God already knows the needs, but this keeps you aware of it, too. The more you share the burden, the lighter the load will become.

Protect through reassurance. Encourage your friend with the knowledge that all is possible with our Lord. Many times, the stress of life will cause one to retreat into a world of isolation.

Jonathan was there to help David through one of the darkest times of his young life. He was present. He prayed and protected his friend. The love of God reflected in his actions. We can follow this biblical friend’s example in our own lives.
       
Dear Lord,
Thank you for the biblical friends in my life. Help me to follow the example of Jonathan and David.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Friday, June 8, 2018

"Unexpected"


Enjoy this new anthology from the Prosateurs! Inside its covers, you'll find short stories, recipes, humor, articles, memoirs, and more!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Wednesday, June 6, 2018