Wake Up Everybody!

Wake Up Everybody!

  And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 4:19-20

In the created order, there is no greater display of power than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No, not even the Atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would qualify as such a great display of power. Bombs destroy everything within their blast zone, but resurrection creates life to infinity. In the resurrected life, there will never be another need unmet for all eternity. Let that sink in for a moment.

St. Paul knew that if the Philippian church could grasp the truths of the power of the resurrection, then they would fulfill their place in the kingdom. They would be the light of the resurrected Christ shining in the darkness. They would be supremely content no matter what happened in this life, because they would have the same mind as that of Christ Jesus. Such a witness would not be denied in their world – nor will it in ours.

The gift of resurrection power is yours and mine, and for all who have been re-born into faith in Jesus Christ. We need only wake up to them. We must wake up each day giving glory to God our Father for whatever comes our way, for nothing takes Him by surprise. In all things He will bring His good to us if we face this life and all its trials with confidence in the greatest power available – resurrection!

There are two billion Christians in the world. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all lived with such confidence? In his 1975 hit song “Wake Up Everybody”, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes asked the world to wake up to the possibilities of a world where we work together for change. (Listen to the song here) While I don’t know if Harold saw Jesus Christ as that change, he definitely called us preachers to wake up and preach the truth. All it takes for this world to be better is for Christians like you and me to wake up and live in the power of the resurrection.

So wake up everybody, Christ is risen…and so are we!

Grace & Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Wonderful, Merciful Father, thank you for sharing the power of the resurrection with me. Help me to wake up to all that you want me to be, and all you want to do through me for your glory. Amen. Alleluia!

All You’ll Ever Need

All You’ll Ever Need

 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

Philippians 4:17-18

How you see the world is everything. Take America for instance. We can look at the divisions that seem deep within the people, and we can say that if the nation doesn’t change, the divisions may become irreconcilable. But that’s looking at the glass half full. We could also look at the deep divisions that exist and say what a tremendous opportunity exists to come together and be stronger than before.

It’s a scientific fact that pressure can make things stronger. Humans for example, are stronger if they work out than if they’re lazy. Muscles and bones weaken if they aren’t exposed to pressure. Of course too much pressure can break not only bones and muscles but lives as well. St. Paul shows us the key to understanding how to handle the pressures of life. To be able to be of meager means and feel full, is truly a gift.

The great Apostle was certainly of meager means. He left his plush life as one of society’s elite to give his life for the gospel. He didn’t keep his home in Tarsus and return from his missionary journeys for relaxing weekends. He found everything he needed to feel full and satisfied in the meager means of a Roman jail cell. And, with the offering he received from the Philippians he was over-joyed and considered that he was “abounding”.

While we don’t know what was in the offering they sent to him, it couldn’t have been much. They didn’t have a lot in the fledgling Christian church filled with many of societies outcasts, as was common of the churches of the first century. But whatever it was, it was a sweet smelling sacrifice to God. Paul knew what they sacrificed in order to send it.

The Philippians were living in the power of the resurrection to put Paul’s needs above their own. Paul was living in the power of the resurrection to be able to exist in such meager means and still feel he was abounding in all things. So what about you? Are you feeling full or empty? It really has nothing to do with what you have, that is as long as you’re not talking about having the power of the resurrection. When you have that power, you have all you’ll ever need. So remember, Christ is risen…and so are you!

Grace & Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

God of all grace and glory, thank you for reminding me that with your Holy Spirit, I have all I’ll ever need! Amen. Alleluia!

 

Image credit:http://www.truefruit.com/2012/06/21/technology-tools-or-toys/

Don’t Just Say It – Do It!

Don’t Just Say It – Do It!

Nevertheless, you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 

Philippians 4:14-15

Words can be full of feeling, but empty of meaning. Ever been told by someone they were thinking of you, but somehow you doubted it? Or even worse, have you ever told someone you’d pray for them, but didn’t? Of course you have; we all have. Sadly, it seems human nature to do so, but it’s not supposed to be the nature of those who live in the power of resurrection.

Of all people, Christians should follow through with our good intentions. There’s no doubt that many of the churches St. Paul had planted and visited, told him as he was leaving that they would pray for him and support his ministry. His missionary journey’s were often filled with danger and uncertainty. While we can only assume they did pray for him, apparently many of the them never followed through with the support. I’m sure they had the best of intentions. After all, so did we, right?

The Philippians were different. They shared in Paul’s distress by sending not just their prayers, but material support as well. They put their money where their mouth was. When we follow through to do what we say we will do, it makes a difference in the one we give to as well as ourselves. The one who gives is blessed to be a blessing. It may well have caused them some financial distress to send their gifts to Paul, but by doing so they became sharers not only in his distress, but in his victories as well.

One important step forward in doing, and not just saying is to go ahead and pray for someone right then, when you’re telling them you’ll be praying. Don’t just say it – do it!

And remember, Christ is risen…and so are you!

Grace & Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Gracious Father, help me to be a “doer” and not a just a “sayer. Help me to realize the power of the resurrection within me to make good on my intentions…to just do it! Amen. Alleluia!

Image credit: http://www.daveswordsofwisdom.com/2013/04/dont-just-say-it-do-it.html

Real Joy – Part 2

Real Joy – Part 2

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

Yesterday we asked the question of why we struggle with being content. While there is a plethora of possible answers, there is one answer that over-shadows all – we fail to realize the power of the resurrection in our lives. I’m sure St. Paul didn’t enjoy being in jail, or beaten, or shipwrecked, but he knew a secret that brought joy even in such dire circumstances.

Few of us are jailed, beaten or shipwrecked, but we can’t even find contentment when our biggest problems are thinking, “Why can’t I have what they have?” Or perhaps, “Why did this situation happen to me? I’m a good person!” What’s wrong with these scenarios is they fail to recognize the blessing God has given to be who we are, where we are, and with what we have. For most of history, most of humanity has lived poor and with great suffering. Compared to those, even the poor of today are rich, and in the Western modern world we hardly know what real suffering is all about.

However, into all our doubt and pity, the Word of God comes to us with the secret to being content. Paul said the secret is to know that Christ and the power of His resurrection is our strength in any and all situations. Only His power can deliver us from our selfish desires, and self-pity. The good news today is that that power is available to all who believe, to all who will reach out and call upon His name. We can do ALL things through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.

So, how do we live in this power every day? By living lives full of gratitude for the life we’ve been given – it could always be worse. When we are grateful for the life we have, and we call upon the name of Jesus when things get tough, then we live in the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy:

“…no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.”

Are you there yet? Have you found real joy in all circumstances? Many days I’m not either, but I want to be, and I bet you do too. So today, forgetting what’s behind us, and thankful for the breath we have and the life we live, let’s move forward calling on the name of the Lord, and remember, Christ is risen…and so are we!

Grace & Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Almighty God, forgive me for my times of doubt and selfishness. Help me to live in the power and name of Jesus Christ my savior, and the power of His resurrection. Amen. Alleluia!

Image credit: http://citychapeloc.com/real-joy/

 

Real Joy – Part 1

Real Joy – Part 1

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Philippians 4:10-11

Just what does contentment look like anyway? The idea of being content is central to the Christian faith, or at least it’s supposed to be according to scripture. We’re called to be content with who we are, where we are, and what we have. But how many of us really are content in any of those areas? Why is all this so important? Because when we find the secret of being content, then we find real joy.

St. Paul apparently was content with all his circumstances by the time of the writing of the Philippian letter, which is amazing considering he was writing from a jail cell having been wrongly accused. In today’s devotional we need to take a long look in the mirror and ask ourselves just how content we really are. Our culture, by all indicators, suggests very few of us are actually content. Consumerism is rampant! We seem to always want something newer, bigger, and better than what we have.

About now some of you are asking the question we all do from time to time; “What’s wrong with wanting something new and better”. Well, the real answer is nothing is ‘wrong’ with it, but when our desire to have something newer, bigger, and better impedes our joy and contentment in what we have and who we are, then something is wrong – we’re really not thankful for what we have. We could always have something less, and believe me many people do.

For today, perhaps it’s enough for us to contemplate our level of contentment, or lack thereof? Tomorrow we will discuss the secret of being St. Paul learned of how to be content, and how we can learn it as well. So, as you contemplate how thankful you are for who you are and what you have, remember Christ is risen…and so are you!

Grace & Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Father God, show me who I am to you, and reveal to me who it is you want me to be as your child. Convict me of any thanklessness I am showing in my life. Teach me how to be content in you. Amen. Alleluia!

Image Credit: http://citychapeloc.com/real-joy/

 

The Living Gospel

The Living Gospel

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.

Philippians 4:8

The Hallmark of the Christian faith is love. Some would argue with me and say it’s faith. But, faith proves nothing if we don’t have love. On the other hand, love proves our faith. St. James said in his epistle, Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (Jam. 1:27) Likewise, St. John, when speaking about love said, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 Jn. 3:18)

St. Paul rejoiced that the Philippians showed their love to him in tangible ways. Most likely, they sent a love offering of money and supplies to him. Their actions showed they not only believed in the gospel he shared with them, but they truly cared. We live in an individualistic world where not nearly enough attention is given to teaching and preaching acts of loving service to others. We spend far more time teaching the gospel as a faith to be believed, rather than a way of life to be lived out.

There is nothing more powerful than a ‘living gospel’, an act that shows someone the love of Jesus through a work of mercy or compassion. How are you doing at living out the gospel in your own life? If we’re not careful we can spend all our time working, worshipping, and raising our family, all done through faith in Jesus Christ, and without realizing it, we haven’t spent any time showing others around us how much we care…assuming of course we do care.

In his book Lifestyle Evangelism, Joe Aldridge said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. Think about it, if that’s true of our closest relations, it’s has to be true of the community around us. As Christians we must take the time to get involved in our communities. We must serve others in the name and love of Jesus Christ. When that happens we share a ‘living gospel’, not just great words.

Some people say they can’t do works of compassion in the community. They just don’t have the personality to get out there among the people, or they say they’re afraid to serve the underprivileged. The resurrection of Jesus Christ teaches us that we can do anything in His power. So, go ahead, give it a try. Openly show someone the gospel is alive; it’s what Christ did for you through someone. And remember, Christ is risen…and so are you!

Grace & Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Merciful Father, teach me to show love and mercy to others around me that I may be your hands your feet to a lost and broken world. Amen. Alleluia!

Image credit: http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/Americas/2009/June/Chefs-Add-Flavor-to-Soup-Kitchen-Fare.html

Authentic Discipleship

Authentic Discipleship

The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8

One of the most common problems in our society today is that young people have few if any real mentors to teach them how to live. Much of their learning is from the streets, so to speak or from television and movies. To be a mentor implies that you’ve spent enough time around someone to have influence on their behavior. But, in our society it seems positive role models are lacking.

To be an authentic disciple of Jesus, which is what we are called to, we must have positive role models as mentors. We must have sufficient time spent with a mentoring individual in order to learn from him or her. St. Paul knew the power of mentoring, and he was confident enough in his own walk with Christ to be an influencer on the many churches where he ministered. He invited them to follow his example and they would indeed find the peace of God.

What’s lacking in your life? Many people in churches today say they are drifting week to week and have no real peace in their lives. It seems what they believe hasn’t made a sufficient enough impact on them to find real peace. As such, our churches are filled with many lonely and hurting people who believe, but have no place to work out those beliefs in a constructive way, a way that brings lasting peace from their faith in Christ.

We must have more mentors. The Apostles like Paul, and their successors like Timothy and Titus, knew that the church would never survive unless it had the kind of leadership that lived out the way of Jesus. They knew the faith had to “caught” not “taught”.

As Christians, we must walk in the power we’ve been given, the power of the resurrection; it’s transforming power can make us into the mentoring leaders which are so desperately need. The call of our times is to rise to this challenge. What a privilege it is to be called to disciple someone in the faith, and that is exactly what Jesus called His followers to do. He didn’t call them to build big churches, but rather to build, “big disciples”. Our call is still the same. We must go and make disciples. We can do it if we remember, Christ is risen…and so are we!

Grace & Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Lord, help me to be an authentic disciple. Help me to learn from those you put in leadership over me, and lead me in turn to show others your way. Amen. Alleluia!


Image credit: https://nmsp6.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/why-im-not-a-fan-of-jesus-defining-the-relationship/