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February 2006
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April 2006

Reverse Skydiving

I finished up 1 Thessalonians today and I have to say that I smiled at this verse because I once again thought of Paul as the proud "papa" of his little Thessalonian children.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. (1 The 2:11-12)

Now there is a whole study unto itself in those verses.  You know, work, family and ministry responsibilities just get in the way of great bible study!!  :)  I need to get moving here so I can get to the office. 

While I'd like to discuss more on shepherding, I just have to write about the rapture of the church.  I'm not going to debate here the pre/post/a/? tribulation concepts now, even though I do have a view.  Suffice it to say that if we are alive at Christ's return we might just be in for a ride wilder than we've ever seen.  Let's dig in.

Reverse skydiving.  What a concept!  Do you think that is what it would feel like to be one of the living raptured church members?  Apparently in Paul's letter, he is addressing questions about the second coming of Christ.  I pity Paul here in trying to address something as complicated and potentially scary in a letter.  I wonder what I would be thinking as a new believer upon hearing what Paul had to say in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with him in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Do you get mental images of what will happen?  I wonder how quickly the living will be taken up? Will it be a blink of an eye? or the 120 mph backwards skydive?  (note: I really don't know the speed of a falling sky diver - it seems I've heard something like it before).  Paul is saying that the day is coming when we will be reunited with our loved ones again.  Our Christian brothers and sisters will see Jesus first at this time, whenever it may be, and we who are living will follow shortly behind. 

All coolness aside about this moment, knowing that it will happen someday according to the scriptures but not knowing when it will happen, should bring us a sense of urgency to tell the people in our lives about Jesus.  What if today was the day?  Think about how much more difficult it will be for people to come to know Jesus if all of the people who really knew Him were gone? 

Just some thoughts to think about.  I better stop before I get into the pre/post/a thoughts, which are for another time and place.


Gospel Power

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. (1 Thes 1:5)

Don't you wish you could write a letter like the apostle Paul writes a letter? I love the introductions he makes as he always thanks the addressee and lets them know that they are in his prayers.  Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians is no different.  As I type this, I am imagining how proud Paul must have been of his new believers in Thessalonica.  The proud "papa"! :)

Paul thanked them for their well doing (v2-3) and reminded them that they were special to God.  To me, Paul is an outstanding model of how a leader should shepherd his flock - with loving care.  Can you imagine back in Paul's day what it would have been like to be a believer?  Christianity was new and crazy stuff!  There wasn't the internet or the Christian bookstore or Christian radio or TV to go to for answers.   I wonder if they felt lost when Paul left them to carry on his work? 

I'm thankful for leaders like Paul who take the time to really shepherd their flock.  Like the new believers carrying out the work of the church in biblical times, members of modern day churches also need the same encouragement.  We need the same reminders sometimes that:

1) We are chosen by God to complete His earthly work. (1 Th 1:4)
2) We are deeply appreciated by our pastors and leadership for all of the volunteer work that we do. (1 Th 1:3)
3) We are able to do what we've been called to do because the Holy Spirit is with us. (1 Th 1:5)
4) We really are noticed for the things that we do and the examples that we are.  (1 Th 1:7-9)
5) The work we are doing is worth it.  Someday we will again see Jesus.  (1 Th 1:10)

Lord, help me to remember to put into action the thoughts I have regarding shepherding my faithful volunteers.  Show me how to best remind them that they are equipped with the same power of the gospel and Holy Spirit that the Thessalonians possessed so many years ago.  Help me to put their needs, concerns and growth before a desire to just get something done as efficiently as possible. 


Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
by John Newton

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Thru many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun.

We've no less days to sing God's praise than when we'd first begun... I just love this song.  I don't know why I woke up singing it this morning.  Maybe it is because I sang it at my aunt's gravesite last week, maybe it is because I am just so amazed at God's grace for me. 

This is a song not just for those who have yet to find Jesus, but for those that have found Him and can't live without Him.  Once blinded by myself, I can now see, even though I do still need to clean my glasses - figuratively and literally - from time to time.   God's grace leads me "home" every day.  What about you?  He'll lead if you will follow.


God Is On the Throne

This morning I read the rest of Colossians, but my mind kept going to a bible study I attended last night.  Yes, I'm still talking about "The Patriarchs" Beth Moore study. We are almost to the end of the study and are currently discussing the life of Joseph in Genesis 45.  Do you remember the story?  Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and ended up a slave and an eventual ruler in Egypt.  20 years after his brothers sold him, they found themselves at Joseph's front door in Egypt because he was their only hope for survival through the famine.  If that isn't a picture of God's sovereignty, I don't know what is.

In the study guide for lesson 9, Beth Moore states the following:  "Joseph framed the entire picture in the sovereignty of God.  It was their only hope of healing". Let's take a look at what Joseph said in the "reveal" to his brothers that he was indeed Joseph:

Genesis 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you.  And they came near.  And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

When we can calm ourselves in the midst of our circumstances and realize that God is in control (Ro 8:28) no matter what is going on, then we can have true healing.  It takes some work to get there, I know.  Joseph is the ultimate example of a person with true forgiveness.

Another reason that I couldn't get God's sovereignty out of my mind is that I've been reading "I Saw the Light", a new book by Anne Graham Lotz.  In Chapter 3, she discusses the significance of knowing that God is still on the throne as she examines Isaiah 6:1.

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filling the temple. (Is 6:1)

No matter what, God is still on the throne.  The apostle John also saw Jesus on the throne as mentioned in Revelation 4.  I'm going to leave you with some questions/thoughts from Anne's book, Chapter 3, p. 83.  Remember always, that Jesus is on the throne and He isn't going anywhere.

Have your tears blinded you  to the vision of the power of Christ that He wants to give you this very moment? Are you like Mary Magdalene early on that Sunday morning following the crucifixion of Jesus? As she peered into the empty recesses of the tomb, Mary was heartbroken and grief-stricken as she concluded that, not only had Jesus been crucified and buried, but His grave had been robbed and His body stolen. Then "she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

Jesus was alive and present in Mary's life, yet she didn't know it!  She must have been blinded by her tears of grief and confusion and helplessness and hopeless despair! The most dramatic evidence of God's power that has ever been displayed in human history was standing by her, and she was blinded to Him!

Could it be that Jesus is waiting patiently in your life to give you evidence of His power that hoas not been diluted or depleted since that first Easter morning?  Are you so focused on whatever your situation is, which looks so radically different from what you had imagined, that you can't see Him? Have your tears blinded you to Him?  Are you so focused on your own pain or grief or confusion or helplessness or hopelessness that you are missing out on the greatest blessing you will ever receive?  Could it be, at this very moment in your life, that Jesus is right there with you?

When Isaiah looked up, perhaps through eyes that were also swimming with tears, he saw the Lord, not only seated on a throne, but "high" (6:1).


Power Prayer

Hello everyone,

This week has been strange.  I feel like I haven't posted in forever, yet I have.  I feel like it is Friday, but it isn't.  And I feel like I've worked hard all week, but I haven't done that either.  Hmm....maybe I'm in the twilight zone!  Today in my daily reading I've come across a prayer of the apostle Paul that I find myself praying often for the people in my church in general whether I know them or not, ladies in my women's ministry lead team, small groups & so on.   I guess I pray this for a lot of people.  Actually, I even pray it for those who stop by this site and so this is my prayer for my readers today.  So what is this prayer? Colossians 1:9-11.  Let's take a look.

Col 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding:

Because you have been such a blessing to me with your comments, your own blogs, and just the fact that I know you stop by because of the little sitemeter, I pray for you.  I know that even if you don't see it yourselves, you are bearing fruit in your lives because of your faith and what you are doing in service to God, no matter how small.  I pray that you will grow closer to God through bible study and prayer so that you may know His will for your life and so that you will be filled with God's presence.

Col 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Friends, I pray that everything you do pleases God and pray fruitfulness for your lives.  Most of all, I pray that you increase in your knowledge of God because from Him is the source of all life.  Besides, He wants us to know Him. (Jer 9:23)

Col 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Ah, my favorite part.  I pray for you strength to continue in this "race" you are running.  Strength to tackle the many projects and the many disappointments...strength that can only come from God's glorious power.  Soak that in for a minute.  We have access to God's glorious power.

Col 1:16-17 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

My final prayer for you today is this, that you will grow closer in understanding the God to whom you pray in all of His majesty.  I pray that you are awestruck with the sunshine, the rain, the snow (for  Tracy) or whatever He has put in your life today that makes you see Him, and that you remember that the God of all creation is smiling about you.  Have a blessed day!

Janna


Carnival Day

Just a reminder that it is Carnival Day! I know, it is new to me too, but remember that I submitted an entry yesterday.

There are 14 posts from various other women writers about the bible this week.  Check out Marla's blog for links to their posts.

Have a great day!