Friday, February 13, 2015

God's Faithfulness and the Extension of Grace

This was a really good devotion this morning by William Smith from the devotional, Heart of the Matter. I pray that God will use it in your life to encourage and strengthen your faith:

Have you made mistakes so big that the promises of God can’t hold for you any longer? If you think so, focus on God’s response to his people’s multiple failures. He gives Isaac, the child of promise, to Abraham despite Abraham’s faithlessness. He remains faithful to Isaac, giving him offspring to continue the promise. God never abandons Jacob. He sends Joseph to Egypt ahead of his murderous brothers to provide for them during a famine that would have killed them all and ended the promise. God never gives up on the first families he chose. He remains faithful despite their faithlessness. The Old Testament doesn’t tell stories of perfect people who are blessed for their goodness. They’re just as much a mess as most of us. God exposes all of the sordid things his people do to give you hope. He is not only the author of their faith but the finisher as well. He overwrites their failings—and overwrites yours as well. The golden thread running through Scripture does not belong to any faith-filled, loyal human. It belongs to our fiercely faithful God, who towers benevolently above the mess of his people’s lives. See beyond the flawed people in the foreground to a gracious God behind them, a God who continues to reconcile and redeem, creating a family for himself, a family of faith.

I was particularly struck by the part that says, "the Old Testament doesn't tell stories of perfect people who are blessed for their goodness. They're just as much a mess as most of us." That was very comforting to me.

I am very much grateful for the mercy and grace of God. As we grow in our understanding of the grace that has been extended to us, we are able to extend that same grace to others. Who needs an "extension of grace" in your life today?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Jonah, the Great Commission, and You

This past Sunday at our church, Beulah Baptist, we finished our series through the book of Jonah. The story of Jonah began with a rebellious & runaway prophet who heard the call of God to go to the "nations", represented by the city of Nineveh, but refused. Then we saw a relentless God pursue Jonah through a series of circumstances to draw Jonah back to himself; God was working on Jonah so he could work through Jonah. As God worked on Jonah, we saw a repentant prophet as he spent time with the Lord in the belly of a big fish. As Jonah preaches in obedience to God's call, God's mercy is demonstrated in the repentance of the people of Nineveh and the relenting of God to bring disaster on them. However, Jonah doesn't like that, so we see a pouting prophet in Jonah 4:1-11. God continues to work on Jonah's attitude through a few object lessons so Jonah can see his own limited view of God's mercy and justice and his own ethnic idolatry (as one commentator called it).

So, what were our "takeaways" from that series that connect Jonah with the Great Commission and us?

Here are four of the big ones:

  1. God is working in this world to redeem for himself a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation through the advancement of the Great Commission.
  2. God is more interested in the advancement of the Great Commission than in our personal comforts in this world.
  3. God works on us in order to work through us for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
  4. God will not tolerate sinful attitudes among his people toward people of other races or ethnic groups.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Blogscoop on February 2, 2015

When You Know You Have a Church Problem

10 Distractions Regarding Worship Music

Seven Trends in the Offertory in Churches - Interesting article

How Martin Luther King, Jr. Overcame White 'Christian' Supremacy - excellent article from the author I mentioned in the sermon yesterday

When You Don't Have Time to Pray - Dude, I know how he feels. Very encouraging.

How to Fall Out of Love - Interesting article and not what you think

Ordinary Kids Read as Infrequently as Ordinary Adults - As someone who loves to read (I didn't used to years ago), this was an interesting article.

Will Heaven Have Oceans? - May have a little issue with the definition of "heaven" given that Revelation 21 and 22 are referring to the "eternal kingdom", but it is, nonetheless, a good article.

The Benefits of Church Membership