September 18, 2019, 2:00 PM

Why is prayer so hard?

I have to confess.  My mind tends to wander.  And it frequently happens when I pray.  Just when I am seeking to be alone with the Lord and to talk with Him, I suddenly remember: there is a car to get serviced, a doctor's appointment to reschedule, visits and errands to do . . . oh, and we need milk and a loaf of bread!  Am I alone here?  Does anyone else experience this?

I am thankful for a few words from a friend who also had this happen.  What did he do?  He kept a notepad within reach.  So while he was reading God's Word and spending time on his knees, if he remembered that there was a phone call to make or an errand to run, he'd write it down. Why? So that he could remind himself of things that needed to be done . . . later. Then he could refocus on being present with the Lord without allowing his to-do items to distract him. I've seized upon this gold nugget and keep paper and pen nearby for this same reason.

Distractions are one thing. But what if you don't know how to start the conversation and your mind goes blank?  Yeah, I know this.  Again, I learn from others who have gone before me.  I've had several advise: Pray God's Word!  Now that might sound strange, but there is something about praying God's Word back to the Lord, the Author.  The Psalms are a terrific for this.  Psalms were written by those who knew God and were either rejoicing in who God is or were lamenting/complaining about difficulties they had encountered.  By praying Psalms, I found that my circumstances are not strange or foreign to God. Others have dealt with similar emotions of joy, grief and frustration. And here is why the complaining/lament Psalms are so great: typically the Psalmist ends his prayer with praise and adoration for the Lord. And that is what prayer does for us . . . prayer changes our heart and attitude from morbid self-venting to exalting the God who reigns, knows all things and is actively at work in our lives. 

Just some thoughts to help as you seek to talk with God. Jesus wants us to keep at pray and not give up. See Luke 18:1-8.






September 16, 2019, 6:13 PM

You are a clay pot with a valuable treasure!

Our culture values self-sufficiency and self-reliance. “I’ve got this!” “No, I’m okay; I don’t need any help.”  Much of this is a projection of pride that doesn’t want to admit: “You know, I’m really not doing that well. I need folks; on my own I’m a mess.” That’s why the gospel is offensive. The Bible says we are not okay. God created us to know, love and enjoy Him forever, but we’ve missed the mark. We’ve all rebelled against God by disobeying His commands. So we think that we can fix our problem and make things right, but God rejects all of our efforts — even our attempts to be religious. At His judgment seat, we all stand condemned. But God showed us love and mercy by sending His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty our rebellion deserves. For those who believe Jesus is God’s Son and that He died to take away our sin and guilt - God receives those who believe, cancels out their sin and adopts them into His eternal family. 

So what does this have to do with clay pots?

According to 2 Corinthians 4:7, we have this treasure (salvation in Christ) in jars of clay. Jars of clay?  Aren’t those fragile?  Doesn’t clay come from the ground?  Isn’t that plain and ordinary?  Why can’t we be vessels of gold, silver, bronze or even titanium?  Wouldn’t that stand out more and impress folks?

No, God intends for us to be like jars of clay possessing our hope in Jesus to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. You see, by being fragile, ordinary containers, God gets the attention and the praise for what He does in our lives! By being ordinary and weak, we depend on God for everything. And He gets the credit!

Verses 8-9 says that we are hard pressed, crowded in, but we are not crushed. We are puzzled by what is happening to and around us, but we don’t give up. People scorn, reject and hurt us, but God never abandons us. We are even knocked down, but we are not knocked out.

Why? Why is the Christian life so hard?  Well, the Christian life is a crucified life where we identify with Jesus. Jesus says we are to deny ourselves and carry our cross to follow Him. In short: we die to ourselves and we endure hardship. Verses 10-12 says  that this shows off Jesus in our lives and - what’s more it makes our witness to others authentic and appealing. “So death is at work in us, but life in you.” 2 Corinthians 4:12

Believer: Rejoice that you are a clay pot containing the greatest treasure on earth: eternal life. Consider it a privilege to endure hardship and suffering so that others might come to Jesus through your testimony of how great a Savior He truly is. 

June 4, 2019, 6:00 PM

What is the gospel?

We often hear the word 'gospel' used to declare that something is true. "It's the gospel truth." Or that someone's opinioin, something is true. "Jim says it's gospel."

The word gospel is the Greek word evangelion, which simply means: good news. The four gospel books at the beginning of the New Testament can also be refered to as "The Good News according to Matthew", "The Good News according to Mark", "The Good News according to Luke", and "The Good News according to John."

The gospel means good news. Yet, if we say there is good news, then what is the bad news? Good news makes sense if it is a solution to a problem, right?

The Bible tells us that God created everything: heaven, earth, plants, fish, birds, reptiles, animals and us. God has existed for all eternity. He never had a beginning. And God has no end. He is eternal, all powerful, ever present and all knowing. God is unlike us and His creation; He is spirit. God is holy, loving, gracious and kind. God alone is worthy of our highest allegiance, our greatest praise and devotion. We were created to know God and to love and enjoy Him forever. Read Psalm 96; this is one reference among many describing the greatness and majesty of God. 

So we are told in the Bible that we were made to know, love and enjoy God for all eternity. And there lies the bad news. We can't. Why can't we? Because we inherited the sinful DNA of our first parents: Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command. They questioned God's goodness. And they rebelled against Him. We call this "sin." And their rebellion/sin had consequences for them and for us. Their treason brought death into the world. It also severed man's ability to know and love God. We live in defiance of God. We prefer God's gifts and blessings over knowing and loving the Giver Himself. As a result of man's rebellion, physical and spiritual death came. We are under the curse of sin; judgment and wrath await us when we die. This is the bad news, which is similar to a doctor declaring that we have a terminal illness without a hope of recovery if the illness is not effectively treated. Romans 1:18-32; Romans 3:9-20,23; Romans 6:23. 

God understood the consequences of man's rebellion against His kingly rule. In His great love and mercy, God provided a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to Himself. There was a price to be paid for man's treason. In order for the curse to be removed, someone would have to take the curse. Someone perfect. Someone who lived in complete love and obedience to God; Jesus lived the perfect life - He was sinless. That was God's Son: Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, came and willingly gave His life to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus came took the curse of sin so that we could receive God's pardon and be made right with God. Three days later God raised Jesus from the dead declaring that Jesus had successfully accomplished His mission of providing salvation to any who would believe and receive what Jesus has done for them. Romans 5:6-11; John 3:14-21. This is the good news!  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell Jesus' story and why Jesus is the good news we need. The letters of the New Testament, especially Paul's letters, provide more explanation of what Jesus' work of salvation means and how Jesus' followers should live based on this good news.

Is this good news for you?  It's only good news if you believe it. A pardon and offer of new life is only good if you receive it as yours. Romans 10:9-13. Have you called upon the name of Jesus? Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord? Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins? Have you declared with your mouth that Jesus died for your sins and that God raised Jesus from the dead?

If you have trusted in Christ Jesus for salvation - for reconciling you to God - we'd love to know your story of meeting Jesus. We would be happy to help you grow in your new faith in Christ. Let us know. 

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