Friday, May 27, 2016

Connected Faith

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith



Joyous Faith

John 15:1-15  The Message

The Vine and the Branches

15 1-3 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.


For Reflection
How do you stay connected to Christ?  How do you maintain the love of the Father in your soul? 

We make ourselves connected to Christ, God and each other, through study,  fellowship, and prayer.  These three things are essential to making one's self at home in the Lord.

Pray
that you will study your faith, discuss it in the fellowship of others, and above all pray often.  Pray so that you might become one with the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sending Faith

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith



Joyous Faith

3 John 2-8  The Message

1-4 The Pastor, to my good friend Gaius: How truly I love you! We’re the best of friends, and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health—that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul! I was most happy when some friends arrived and brought the news that you persist in following the way of Truth. Nothing could make me happier than getting reports that my children continue diligently in the way of Truth!

Model the Good

5-8 Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They’ve made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.


For Reflection
One cannot hide one's faith, or for that matter, lack of faith.  One's faith is a fundamental guiding influence on what we do.  That principle will always be visible to the discerning person.  Make sure that the prime guiding principle of your life is found in the WAY.

Pray
That you will make every effort to develop a consistent principle of love, justice, forgiveness, and compassion.  Pray so that your relationship with God grows more and more intimate.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fruitful Faith

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith



Joyous Faith

Galatians 5:19-26  The Message

19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.


For Reflection
I had a running argument with a lawyer in one of my Sunday school classes many years ago.  It involved planning.  He, the lawyer, contended that unless one planned for all contingencies one was not in control of one's own fate.  I responded, each time, by saying. "I made a plan once.  God laughed!"

Sarcastic?  Yes, that was the fun in it.  However, one can never plan for all contingencies.  There are too many unknowns and unknowables to mess up the best plan.  I concede that if one must plan, one must plan loosely so that he or she is not so tied to a plan that he or she cannot alter direction as unanticipated events emerge.  Besides, over planning may indicate to heavy reliance on self and not enough reliance on God.

Perhaps we need to become less skilled in making plans and more skilled in exploiting circumstance.

Pray
that you will be willing to live the life of the Spirit.  Pray that you will have the patience to relax your own agendas and tune into God's agendas.  Pray that you will keep and eye on the objective and let the plan evolve in God's way.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Proclaimed Faith

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith



Joyous Faith

Psalm 19:1-5  The Message

A David Psalm

19 1-2 God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
    God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
    Professor Night lectures each evening.
3-4 Their words aren’t heard,
    their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
    unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.
4-5 God makes a huge dome
    for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun’s a new husband
    leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
    racing to the tape.


For Reflection
Look at your world.  Look and understand the power in the storm followed by the comfort of clear skies.  Look at the darkness of the night and realize that only through that darkness can we see the light of the guiding stars.  Observe the natural environment  It is a sign of God's enduring passion for God's creation.  It is a sign of God's enduring love for you.

Pray
prayers of thanksgiving and praise for the living God.  Pray that your life will become a sacrifice to God's holy plan for all humankind.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dancing Faith

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith


Joyous Faith

Jeremiah 31:11-14  The Message

10-14 “Hear this, nations! God’s Message!
    Broadcast this all over the world!
Tell them, ‘The One who scattered Israel
    will gather them together again.
From now on he’ll keep a careful eye on them,
    like a shepherd with his flock.’
I, God, will pay a stiff ransom price for Jacob;
    I’ll free him from the grip of the Babylonian bully.
The people will climb up Zion’s slopes shouting with joy,
    their faces beaming because of God’s bounty—
Grain and wine and oil,
    flocks of sheep, herds of cattle.
Their lives will be like a well-watered garden,
    never again left to dry up.
Young women will dance and be happy,
    young men and old men will join in.
I’ll convert their weeping into laughter,
    lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.
I’ll make sure that their priests get three square meals a day
    and that my people have more than enough.’” God’s Decree.


For Reflection
When was the last time you were overwhelmed with joy?  Was it a particular piece of art, music literature which initiated the feeling?  Or was it seeing that one whom you love had a wonderful blessing?  Or was it an unexpected pleasure in your own life?  Pure joy, ecstasy, is a spiritual gift  one that converts weeping into laughter and plodding into dance.  Living in Joy is how God means life to be.

Pray
that you find the joy in living a life that God intended you to live.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Certain Faith

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith



Childlike Faith

Luke 1:46-56The Message (MSG)

46-55 And Mary said,
I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
    he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back to her own home.


For Reflection
Mary was certain that when she spoke of God, she understood her relationship to God and what God is.  She praised God by remembering what God had done.

Pray
Praise God by remembering what god has done during your lifetime.  Confess before God and repent in response to God,s love.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Innocent Faith

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith



Childlike Faith

Matthew 18:1-5The Message (MSG)

Whoever Becomes Simple Again

18 At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”
2-5 For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.


For Reflection
Out three children were always batteling for rank.  What was the ranking seat in the rear of the car?  Not the window seat!  There were two of them.  It was the middle seat.  There was only one of them.

The disciples asked about how each ranked in Christ's favor.  But, Jesus did not respond regarding ranking.  He responded regarding their lack of understanding.  They were as immature as young children.  They needed to start at square one and start their faith journeys at the elemental stage.  Each who would begin the faith journey would rank equally high in God's eyes.  Faith is not a zero sum game where one wins because another loses.  Faith is a matter of study, prayer, and working toward a compassionate, forgiving and just existence in a right relationship with God.

How are your progressing?

Pray
that you will work for justice, compassion and a right relationship with God.