FROM THE DIRECTOR’S DESK ~ It has been said that one of the most effective ways to work through life’s challenges is to pray for someone else whom may have similar concerns. It takes the focus away from our own situation and elevates our focus to helping and praying for someone else’s. Romans 12:10 says that we are to “honor one another above ourselves” and Philippians 2:4 says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” These two verses support the previous thought of praying for others even as we continue to pray for ourselves.
The apostle Paul, during his own suffering of imprisonment, wrote a letter to the troubled church in Colossae. He shared with them in Colossians 1:3 that he was “praying always for you.” As he encouraged them with these words, in the verses 9-12, Paul prayed in a more specific direction. A direction that we can draw from as we pray for others ourselves. 1) He asked that God help them “know His will” (v.9). This comes by a more complete understanding of His Word. 2) He asked that they know “wisdom and spiritual understanding” (v.9). Wisdom to accumulate principles from Scripture and understanding to apply those principles in daily living. 3) Paul asked that they “walk worthy of the Lord” (v.10). A walk that is consistent in their identification with Him. 4) That they would be “fruitful in every good work” (v.10). A work of fruitful character, conduct, conversation, and giving of resources and talents. 5) He prayed that they would be “increasing in the knowledge of God” (v.10). This is revelation as to who God is and who He is in our lives. 6) That they would be “strengthened with all might according to His glorious power” (v.11). This is done by His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16). 7) that they would have “patience and longsuffering with joy” (v.11). Having the maturity to be joyful in times of peace and trouble. Paul has given us a great example as to how to pray. Since most Christ followers have the same basic needs as the Colossians, let this be a model for us to follow as we pray for others. ~ God’s blessings, protection, and favor to all.
FROM THE DIRECTOR’S DESK - Romans 12:1 says, “...present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”. What is a “living sacrifice”? This is not a common phrase in the 21st century Western society. It is however what is asked of us as Christ followers. To be a sacrifice means that we deny the desires of the sinful nature and surrender to God’s will. This is no easy task. It radically goes against our culture of self-promotion and individualism. It means laying down our own dreams, ambitions, gifts, and fears, and letting God know, “I am your servant. Do whatever you want with my life.”
Verse 2 gives us direction as to how we can become the living sacrifices that God desires. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” First, we are told that a living sacrifice is not conformed to this world and its values. We must reject anything in our culture or society that does not line up with the Word of God. Christ followers must have the courage to reject practices and ideas that are not right in the eyes of God.
Second, a living sacrifice is transformed inwardly by the renewing of the mind. We do this primarily by the power of God’s Word. We must read, study, memorize and meditate on Scripture. It is the only power that can transform our hearts from worldliness to true spirituality. Finally, a living sacrifice learns be able to discern the will of God. The thought is that as the Holy Spirit works in us, we will grow in our understanding of who God is. By gaining this understanding, we will develop the ability to determine what God’s will is for our lives. A living sacrifice is one of total and complete surrender. Surrender is being conformed to His likeness, transformed by His Word, and yielding to who He is and His direction. May this be a focused obsession for us all. ~ God’s blessings, protection, and favor to all.
FROM THE DIRECTOR’S DESK - My son was engaged in a vehicle accident a few years ago. At no fault of his own, his SUV was totaled. He then started the process to purchase another vehicle of like kind. After searching for a few weeks, he had to settle on a different kind of vehicle. He was unable to purchase an SUV, a vehicle of like kind, and bought a truck, a vehicle of a different kind.
The word “another” is the most important word in the above account. Another can mean “another of a like kind” or “another of a different kind.” Jesus promised His disciples in John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter to be with you forever.” Another in this verse means “another of a like kind.” The Comforter that Jesus is referring to is the Holy Spirit. As Jesus fellowshipped with His disciples in the Upper Room, He taught at length about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was sending a clear message to them that when the Father would send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit would be just like Him. The Holy Spirit would perfectly represent Jesus in every way and duplicate His life and ministry. He would mirror Jesus to such a degree, in fact, that whatever Jesus would say is exactly what He would say, and whatever Jesus would do is exactly what He would do. With Jesus soon to leave the disciples, this must have been very encouraging because it let them know that the Holy Spirit’s presence would make it seem as if Jesus was still there among them.
Jesus taught that if the Holy Spirit lives in us, it is the same as having Jesus here with us. It would be as if we had lived 2,000 years ago when Jesus walked the earth with His disciples. The Holy Spirit exactly mirrors Jesus’ own character, power, and actions that we find in the four gospels. This should inspire us to study the gospels to become more familiar with the character of the Holy Spirit. This will help us know that whatever Jesus did is exactly what the Holy Spirit will lead us to do in every situation of life as we lean on His guidance and direction from within. ~ God’s blessings, protection, and favor to all.
When God created everything, it was designed to function and flourish in a specific determined environment. The conditions were such that all that was created met certain specifications to see that they had the ability to grow and multiply. Thus, everything that was created was placed in a state to reach its full potential. Even man was placed in his perfect environment, the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve made a decision to disrupt this perfect setting that God had created for them. We all make decisions that affect our circumstances that can foster our success or hinder our progress.
Jesus also was challenged with life that caused Him to consider making changes in His environment. In Matthew 9:18-25 we read of the account of Jairus’s daughter. Jesus had to change the setting when He arrived at the man’s house before He could answer his request. He changed the environment by putting the noisy disorderly crowd out before He raised the little girl from the dead. Changes had to be made as the places that He sometimes found Himself did not meet the surroundings needed for Him to perform miracles or minister to those in need. He even had to change His environment to have intimate time with His Heavenly Father. He would often go to the mountains, the wilderness, or any solitary place to pray and seek guidance.
What does this say to us about controlling our environment? If Jesus had to do so, how much more should we? We all may need to change our circumstances periodically to fulfill the things that God wants us to do. This may mean we need to separate ourselves from certain individuals as Jesus did. We may need to occasionally close our computers and ignore social media. Practice restraint in checking our cell phones every time it rings or vibrates. We may need to spend more time in our quiet place as we seek guidance and direction from our Heavenly Father. We all can control our environment, if we choose, to see that we can be more available for His use and purpose. God’s blessings, protection, and favor to all.
According to the dictionary, a pledge is a solemn promise or undertaking. Today we are familiar with several different types of pledges. We pledge allegiance to the American flag, to the Christian flag, to the Bible, and a less known pledge, our state flag. The business world has incorporated new ones as well. Safety, respect, and equality pledges just to name a few. All of these are a deep sincere commitment to a statement or action that binds someone to its content and purpose. We find an opportunity in the Word to make a pledge to God as we surrender to Him. “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:15.
What truths from His death can we see that will solidify our commitment to this pledge of surrender? (1) His death was a sacrifice for once and for all; (2) His death was not for himself, but for you and me; (3) His death was to satisfy the penalty of and make amends for sin; (4) His death satisfied God’s righteous nature; (5) His death completed God’s redemptive work, and (6) His death was one of victory over death, hell, and the grave. The actions of Jesus death and resurrection on our behalf should compel us to take this pledge of surrender: “He died for me; I’ll live for Him.”
What can we do to live for Him? We must put our relationship with God first, live by faith, spend time in prayer, study and believe God’s Word, get involved in a local body of believers, give time in serving others, and share God’s love with those that we meet. This is not an exhaustive list of what we can do, but one that we all can continue to do or begin. Living for Christ is the way that we give Him praise and honor for what He has done for us. Today, let us all with confidence and commitment take this pledge of surrender: “He died for me; I’ll live for Him.” ~ God’s blessings, protection, and favor to all.