Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us." So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
I must confess that during the last recession I prayed many times for God to deliver our family from the stress and great financial difficulty as our business income dropped in half. While it is certainly not wrong to pray in that way, we sometimes need to be reminded that God wants so much more for our lives than just a financial solution during times of trouble. God did show us how to proceed financially and our business was saved. But in the same way that God gave the lame man more than he thought to ask, God gave Pam and me so much more than just financial delivery. As we earnestly prayed and worked together day and night, God deepened and strengthened our marriage relationship more than we had ever dreamed. We learned that the loss of income was nothing compared to the gain of God’s hand on our marriage. Those were some dark days, but God showed us His immense grace and protection. I would not trade that experience for all the gold in the world.
Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and it truly was. However, God gives us “beauty for ashes…the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”. Praise be to God.
In His name,
A few weeks back we took a trip to the Grand Canyon with Russ Miller of Creation Evolution Science Ministries. It was a trip that I encourage everyone who is able, to make the next time it's offered. He was able to point out things which evolutionary science just plainly ignores because they give validity to creation. But Russ wouldn't have been able to show all this up close and personal with the Grand Canyon had God not arrived on scene that day. Not that He wasn't already there, but you get my point.
As we drew closer to the Desert View Watchtower park; sleet, fog, snow and clouds collapsed in on our bus. The temperature dropped to near freezing and it appeared we were going to be denied the blessing of gazing upon the incredible grandeur of the Grand Canyon and perceiving the enormous power of our God. As we disembarked the bus, the parking lot was as if it were in the clouds. Visibility was no more than a couple hundred yards and as we approached the canyon rim, it was as if the canyon had been intentionally filled to the rim to hide God's glory from our eyes.
The questions swirled through our heads, "What were we to do now? Shall we leave? Should we wait?" But knowing God is almighty, we dared to trust that He had something spectacular of us. We made our way over to the canyon viewing area ... THEN GOD!
Yup, THEN GOD! Russ began talking about the evidence which we couldn't see clearly. But as he spoke, the fog began to thin and the clouds began to separate. It was a gradual unveiling of His majesty. The snow and sleek stopped and Russ was able to point out and share the evidence and glories of the great flood and of our Creator. And not just to our group, but others as they gathered around to hear of the greatness of God.
I got the feeling the Lord was showing Himself trustworthy to our seeking Him. He cleared the whole canyon, even down to the river below. It echoed of the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 14. I received just a small morsel of the shear sense of awe which Moses and the Israelites must have felt as they stood and watched the trillions of gallons of water move aside through the night, giving them clear view of their path to salvation from the Egyptians, clear understanding of God's love for them and clear knowledge of the power of God.
Romans 1:20 reads, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
His glory is displayed through His creation and it was on full display that day! It was a great trip filled with God moments for me, this being just one. I'll share more in the days to come. He is faithful and revealing Himself to each of us. I pray you will look for Him throughout your day.
Jeremiah 29:13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
In His service,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34–35 ESV
I never thought about it much when I read those verses before, but I passingly thought Jesus was commanding us to love fellow believers. In my heart, I believe the Holy Spirit was speaking a different perspective, the truth. Truth is, we are to love all people (not just fellow believers), so that all will know we are His disciples.
This just makes sense in every area of life because God has loved all of us, even the unlovable. I love how the Gospel Transformation Bible notes puts it:
"The greatness of Jesus’ love for us is now the motivation for our loving others. If we love Jesus truly and deeply, we will love what and whom he loves—the unlovely, the oppressed, those very different from us, and those whose actions have damaged us."
Take for example our local church body: how will the people who are interested in learning about Christianity, who visit our church for the first time, know that we love and follow Jesus? It’s not by loving fellow believers only. For this is one of the reasons new people don’t come back to church. They see the people of the church huddled up and enjoying one another, and rather than desiring to know Christ, they feel like outsiders, unimportant, and ignored. But if we obey Jesus and love all people, the new person will not only see how we enjoy our fellow believers, but will feel accepted, important, and noticed. Why? Because the people of the church will go out of their way to say hi, to introduce themselves, to begin a relationship…basically, the church, you and me, will display love, just like Christ has loved the stranger, just like Christ has loved us.
Obeying this commandment is awkward, risky, and out of our comfort zone. It’s difficult and takes intentionality. But what good and worthy thing doesn't?
Are you ready to obey the commandment of Jesus, our loving Savior?
I woke up to a regular day only to find it turned a bit upside down within 1 hour. Jack was hurting from a football injury last night and so he missed school today. Hannah was feeling a bit sick, she’s home as well. Michele had to go to work, and Lia had to get to school. Sound familiar?
And then it came to me, “Today is the national day of prayer.” God allows our lives to be turned upside down often to bring us down to our knees in calling out to Him. Oh, it’s not just to fix the problems we see today, but to cry out for mercy and change for tomorrow.
And as I pray today for our nation, our church, my life, I’m finding my heart grow in thanksgiving to God for always being in control and blessing us in spite of us. He is so good, so gracious, so giving! On my knees ain’t so bad after all.
“Thanks Lord, for Upside down living! It keeps me relying on you. And I know that one day you will turn everything right side up.”
2 Chr. 7:14 “If My people, who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
- Pastor Jesse
God is never weary and does not faint. God has made us so like him. He delights in the successes of his children. He never gets tired of waiting to see what great things we will do for his kingdom. We do the same with our children, family and friends. We delight in their success.
Cheers in Christ,
Calvary North Elder
Words of encouragement from the leadership at Calvary North.