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Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Devotion’

BLOGWORDS – Sunday 20 August 2017 – FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – SERVANT OF ALL

FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – SERVANT OF ALL

 

Wait. We don’t like that word. It dredges up images of tick-tock, foot stamping, fingers drumming.

We cast our imaginations to fancy bubbles of dreams, and call upon God like a genie in a lamp.

 

And we wait. And none too patiently.

 

But waiting on the Lord is not the same as waiting for the Lord. When we go to a restaurant, the person who takes our order and brings our food is a… waiter or waitress. A server. Waitstaff. They are not sitting idly by waiting for us. They are waiting on us.

 

And so it is with God. We don’t wait for Him, as if His timing was somehow off. As though our timing of a thing was absolute and perfect.

 

We wait on Him. We do His bidding. And before you raise rankled eyebrows, His bidding is always always with our best at heart.

And that includes His time.

 

Jesus served. Our example, the One whom we call ourselves after: Christ-ians. He served. He waited on, if you will, the throngs of people around Him. Day in and day out, wherever He went. They followed Him. They were always there. And yet, He turned no one away.

There is no privilege so great as to serve another. No honor so glorious as to walk in His footsteps, to follow His example.

We don’t like it. It’s not human nature. Our ego, our id demands attention like a newborn baby. It screams,

But this is not Father’s design. He holds the Divine blueprint, the map of our lives. It’s our choice to stay the course, or detour. But He knows things we do not and sees things we cannot—and asks us to trust Him when we cannot see.

Is He a despot? A cruel tyrant? Harsh task master? Not at all.

He wants nothing more than relationship with us. But He is sovereign God, and there can be no other gods. We serve Him lest we exalt ourselves above Him. Lucifer did that and it did not go well for him. jus’ sayin’

 

Serving Abba God is His example for us. It begets His best for us.

How do we soar? We serve Him. We wait on Him. And He will lift us up.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU8MAQKSbEI

 

 

#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, Servant of All

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BLOGWORDS – Sunday 13 August 2017 – FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – A GOOD WORK (reblog)

FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – A GOOD WORK

 

Woke up to a lovely text from my friend this morning.

Before I was awake even.

 

What a powerful thing, to know that my friend is not only thinking of me but is praying for me even as I’m sleeping. And in this season, when things have been languishing so badly, I know Father will see me through to complete it.  All of it. Because He set me to it.

 

My writing? Yes, but not just. He began a work in me to make me who He designed and created me to be.

I am not an incomplete leftover or reject. I am a work in progress. And Father places his brush strokes with great care, He selects only the finest clay and spins the wheel just so, He chooses the word or phrase that conveys the essence simply and eloquently.

And with every brush stroke or spin or word, He is drawing me closer to Him, to His image.

And when stuff of the day threatened to overtake me, it did not because I know Holy Spirit is faithful to complete what He has begun. And the world isn’t my standard, He is. His character, His nature, His heart. And I am transformed, I am renewed.

 

I am His, and I rest in Him.

 

 

#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, A Good Work, Philippians 1:3, Ephesians 2:10, Genesis 1:27, Romans 12:2, Transformed, Renewed

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BLOGWORDS – Sunday 6 August 2017 – FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – REST IN ME

FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – REST IN ME

 

Some days are better than others. And I’ve had a few, shall we say, difficult ones. And right now I’m just utterly drained. There’s a quote I’ve seen / heard,

 

“When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.”

 

Today is Saturday (late) and I crashed today. Crawl under a rock and run away kind of crashed. So weary, so tired and tired of waiting. Hope deferred… and today it hit. Hard.

 

So I rest in Him. I know even though I neither see nor feel Him, He’s got me. Wrapped in His love, actually. I rest in Him because I know He’ll see—no, carry me through. He is faithful and He won’t let me down. He never has.

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, Rest in Me,

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BLOGWORDS – Sunday 30 July 2017 – FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – A PSALM

FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – A PSALM

 

Oh Lord my God

                You are my Master ~

                                The One to Whom I belong

                                                for Whom I live,

                                The One I serve.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my King ~

                                You rule over me justly

                                With perfect righteousness.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Saviour ~

                                You have saved my life

                                                from eternal doom

                                Daily You retrieve me

                                                from the snare of temptation

                                                from the tempter’s devices.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Comforter ~

                                You lift me from

                                                my sorrow, my despair,

                                And in their place, You fill me

                                                with hope, joy and peace.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Lover ~

                                You fill my need for love

                                                to overflowing:

                                You pour on me Love Divine.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Healer,

                My Holy Physician ~

                                You turn my sickness

                                                into health,

                                My wounds

                                                into wholeness.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Friend ~

                                We walk and talk

                                                as good friends should and do.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Resting Place ~

                                In You I find restoration

                                                of spirit, mind, heart and body;

                                In You I am refreshed.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Source ~

                                I abide in You,

                                                and You fill my heart’s desire;

                                 I dwell in You,

                                                and  find all my needs met.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Protector ~

                                You shield me from

                                                all  harm and danger;

                                You smooth my path.

                                                and send legions of angels

                                                                to guard me night and day.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Father ~

                                You teach me the way I should go,

                                                So as I grow old

                                                                I will not depart from it;

                                You discipline me with

                                                firm yet gentle hands;

                                You are eternally patient and merciful

                                                to me in all my erring ways.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Light ~

                                You shine in the darkest

                                                of nights;

                                You reveal your heart,

                                                and illumine the Truth.

 

Oh Lord my God,

                You are my Peace ~

                                Flowing like a river;

                                                You set me free ~

                                Abide in me.

 

Dear Lord my God,

                You are my Peace, my Joy, my Hope;

                                In You I have kindness, gentleness,

                                                patience and grace.

 

Dear Lord my God,

                You are my God.

                                You alone are worthy

                                                of glory and honour.

                                You alone are deserving

                                                of adoration and worship.

 

All praise to You ~

                Oh Lord my God,

 

 

                                ~ Amen

 

                                                © Robin E. Mason

                                                May 1986

 

 

#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, A Psalm

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BLOGWORDS – Sunday 23 July 2017 – FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – MERCIFUL and MIGHTY

FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – MERCIFUL and MIGHTY

 

I grew up singing this hymn, and as the word person that I am, each word speaks to me in a personal and powerful way.

 

We sang it last week in church, and the phrase “merciful and mighty” caught my attention. Because He is both.

 

Sometimes we get the image of an iron-fisted ruler, reigning from the sky. He is perfect and unyielding in His righteousness.

But Father is loving and merciful, and has given us access to Himself.

 

Not sure how long ago it was, fairly recently, but Father showed me that His words, from Genesis 1:1 all the way to Revelation 22:21, are His invitation and His direction for us to enter His glory. For us to fellowship with Him.

That is His heart’s desire—relationship. He’s not about the rules or sacrifice or great works. Those all have their place.  But Father’s heart, His reason for all of creation, is relationship.

‘cause when we’re in relationship, with God (or anyone) our desire is to make Him them happy, to please Him, to do what it takes to stay in relationship. Did I mention, He likes to have fun!!!

 

We come to Him through the veil of His mercy into relationship—and dwell with Him in His might.

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, Merciful and Mighty, Friendship, Relationship, Fellowship

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BLOGWORDS – Sunday 16 July 2017 – FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – JUST GET ME HOME

FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – JUST GET ME HOME

 

“Just get me home.” I mumbled—begged—in prayer numerous times.

I had been to a memorial service for a special friend. It was twenty miles from my house and the gas gauge was already hovering near empty. As I cruised down the interstate on the way home, I kept thinking, “If I run out now, I can call….” I was hard pressed to decide who I could ask to come rescue me. As I got closer, it turned into, “If I run out now, it’s only XX miles to walk…” And the closer I got, the easier the walk would be.

Then I pulled off of I-85 onto the exit toward my house, and He asked me, “Is that all you want? Just to get home?”

Ummm… “Well, in this moment, yeah. Kinda…”

That shook me. Shook the core of my faith. What was I asking for? Just enough to get by? Or truly Father’s best for me? Because His best is far more than “just get me home.”

His best for me?

 

Isn’t God’s best more—far more—than “just get me home?” More than “just” anything?

So, then, what of my asking? Is it not more humble to ask for “just” what I need? I don’t believe so. And not so I can be a blessing, only. (that’s ‘nother post for ‘nother time) God is God of the infinite. There is no end to Him—or to His source and supply. And if He is my source and supply… then my needs should never go unmet, nor my prayers unanswered. (that goes more to me not listening (or asking askew) but that’s another ‘nother post for ‘nother time)

The effective, fervent prayer…

 

Are my prayers fervent? Well, in my ignorance / lack of knowledge, I was begging and wailing—I think that counts as fervent. And as my faith has grown—in direct correlation to my knowledge of the Word—my prayers have become less begg-y and more confident, deeper felt, and much more fervent.

As to effective, that goes with knowledge. For all the good intention of, “If it be Thy will, Lord,” I cringe at that. His Word tells us His will. As I became more filled with His Word, my prayers began to line up with His will, and are therefore more effective—and powerful—and no more striving.

I no longer pray, “just.” I speak Father’s Word, which is His will, and I know He will honor my prayers. I’m bold in my prayers, and don’t shy away from “big” requests. Really, is anything too big for God?

 

Oh, and that afternoon? Ya, He used that to teach me a pointed lesson. I got home, breathing a sigh of relief as I pulled in by the house. Next day, though, when I went to run errands, it wouldn’t start. You guessed it, on empty. He gave me exactly what I asked for.

Lesson learned.

 

 

#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, Just Get Me Home, Ask and Ye Shall Receive, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Ephesians 3:20, James 5:16, Effective Fervent Prayer, Pray the Word

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BLOGWORDS – Sunday 9 July 2017 – FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – SHAME, CONDEMNATION, AND GRACE by JEFF GERKE

FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – SHAME, CONDEMNATION, AND GRACE by JEFF GERKE

used with permission

 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about shame, condemnation, grace, and the message of Christianity.

 

I’ve arrived at a place in my thinking where I’d love to have people weigh in.

 

I think I have hit upon, well, the greatest problem of mankind, and simultaneously the greatest problem of Christendom.

 

In a way, it’s something we’ve known all along and won’t be anything new. In another way, it may be sort of like the unified theory of everything. Anyway, here goes. (It’s a long message.)

 

I posit that the starting point of modern human existence, of the modern human experience on the earth, is the Fall (recorded in Genesis 3).

 

I argue that what happened in the Garden of Eden—when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, had their eyes opened, felt shame for the first time, and were cast out of the Garden both as consequence of their actions and as protection and mercy for them so they could one day be reconciled to God for eternity—has resulted in all of mankind feeling both separated from God and under a sentence of shame and worthlessness.

 

In a sense, we feel cast OUT of the presence of God and our shame causes us to feel kept OUT of peace and unity with God.

 

The image I’ve posted is my attempt at expressing what this OUT feels like.

 

 

I have heard that not everyone struggles with moments (or lifelong stretches) of self-loathing or worthlessness, but I think most people have at least glimpsed this soul-crushing appraisal of self as filth and human slime, unmeriting of existence.

 

This, I posit, is what the Fall has done to us. It has made us all feel OUT—both kept away from God and out of favor and union with Him.

 

I posit, then, that the greatest human problem is that mankind feels and knows that it is apart from God and steeped in shame and worthlessness, almost as if it has been evaluated, found wanting, and rejected.

 

If you will accept this as given, walk with me now down a path of logical ramifications.

 

There are two results of this belief in man’s ultimate unworthiness: 1) deep, abiding, existential shame in one’s own worthlessness, and 2) an equally deep desire to NOT be rejected anymore, to somehow escape this feeling.

 

We’re OUT but we long to be back IN, like the guy in the image.

 

I posit that nearly every aspect of human culture is a reaction to this Great Outcasting, this Ultimate Rejection. Shame and the quest to relieve or even permanently escape that feeling of shame is what powers nearly all human activity. Shame and the feeling of worth-based rejection is the engine of humanity. It can cause some good effects, but most of it is bad, hence the condition of our world.

 

War and peace, industry and sloth, marriage and divorce, achievement and resignation, competition and retreat, ambition and depression, dating and breaking up, loyalty and betrayal, helping others and helping self, citizenship and treachery, research and application, study and effort, theft and murder, invention and adaptation, bragging and deprecating—all of it is designed to hide, disguise, distract from, or compensate for these feelings of shameful worthlessness.

 

Feel bad about yourself? Hurt someone else and you’ll feel elevated. Feel shameful? Point out someone else’s fault and you’ll feel better. Feeling unworthy? Win an award or bring out your trophies, and you’ll feel better about yourself. Feeling like you don’t measure up? Post something that is sure to get lots of likes, and you’ll feel better. Someone getting the better of you? Tear them down, and you’ll feel higher. You see how it goes.

 

I posit that every religion (save one) and philosophy is designed to explain away, hide, disguise, distract from, or compensate for these feelings of shameful worthlessness. They all try to bring relief from the crushing self-loathing and existential out-ness.

 

Nearly everything that nearly everyone does is an effort to bring relief from this crushing self-loathing.

 

The greatest human need, then, is the relief from—indeed, if it were possible, the permanent and irrevocable REMOVAL of—this crushing self-loathing brought about by the Ultimate Rejection. Not just a cup of water but a spring of living water welling up from within forever.

 

I posit that Christianity is the sole way to permanently and irrevocably reverse and remove the Ultimate Rejection.

 

Christianity is the only answer to the experience of being evaluated and found wanting by the Ultimate Authority, because it is the experience of being evaluated and found ACCEPTABLE and WONDERFUL by the Ultimate Authority.

 

Christianity is the Ultimate Acceptance. In Christ, the crushing self-loathing of the Fall is defeated. And it is the only defeat of it that has been or ever will be made available to mankind.

 

Christians, therefore, are the only people on the planet who do not experience it, because of what God did. (SHOULD not experience it, anyway…)

 

This is the radical, incredible, unprecedented gift of Christianity: complete and utter escape from the shameful out-ness and loathing caused by the Fall.

 

Christianity is, in short, God’s gift to mankind. He was the one who shut the door and locked us out. He’s the only one who can open it again and let us back in. Jesus is the door.

 

And yet, somehow this gift has been lost. Muddied. Buried. Defanged. Until, in many quarters, it has lost its power almost completely.

 

I believe this is because we don’t fully teach that, in Christ, we are utterly and PERMANENTLY approved by God.

 

I believe that many (most?) spheres of Christendom teach that God’s approval in Christ, the cure for the shame of the Fall, is not permanent at all.

 

Oh, it is permanent on God’s side. But when Christians mess it up…

 

The permanent, irrevocable, utter love and acceptance of Christ is not taught utterly to every Christian and in every church, because it is not the experience of most Christians. This kind of freedom is, I believe, not even fathomable to many Christians. It is so utterly alien.

 

When Christians, who should know better, are not able (or willing) to grasp the full acceptance and approval of Christ, the feelings of shame and utter worthlessness creep back in.

 

When this happens, Christians go back to the old activities of trying to hide, disguise, distract from, compensate for, and otherwise find some sort of relief from these feelings of shameful worthlessness, only now they do it with Christian language and with the vocabulary of Scripture.

 

Feeling shame as a Christian? Go to another Bible study and you’ll feel more righteous. Feeling worthless despite your faith? Volunteer at another vacation Bible school or Sunday morning service position, and you’ll look good. Feeling that others are surpassing you in how holy you look? Drop some Scripture bombs on people to impress them with your Bible memory work, and you’ll not feel as low as those around you.

 

See how it’s just the same, but with stained glass language, and the performances are done not for the world but for those in the church? It’s the same shame-denial game!

 

Brothers, this should not be! We have the light of Christ, how can we again need to prove that we’re not worthless? If Christ’s sacrifice and grace aren’t enough to make us permanently IN, then nothing is.

 

We have it, but because, I believe, the permanent acceptance of God is not taught and reinforced in churches (because, face it, such freedom is UNNATURAL in this world), we can lose it.

 

The result is that large swathes of Christendom become just another flavor of the wider culture of shame and the quest for relief from the crushing self-loathing. All the things the world does to each other to gain relief, Christians do to each other, but while wearing little cross bracelets.

 

Consequently, the Body is sick and is not doing what it should or performing as it ought, and the radical scandal of Christianity is not displayed to the world, which needs it so desperately.

 

This is why we see Christians being holier-than-thou. This is why we see Christians standing on street corners (real or virtual ones) calling out sinners. This is why we get Christians “salvation-shaming” other Christians (well, a REAL Christian wouldn’t do such a thing…). It’s the same shame game.

 

I believe that the solution isn’t merely to oppose those who try to put other Christians down or who sit in superiority and judgment over the world. That may be part of it. But the true solution is to teach Christians the Ultimate Acceptance.

 

But when we start talking about true and total grace, it gets scary. When we start saying that Christians are pre-forgiven for everything they could ever do, we start to sweat. We start thinking, how are we going to hold people back from total sin if we tell them they’re already forgiven for it? How will we keep people from using grace as a license to sin?

 

I agree that that’s scary. I agree that many of us (probably all of us) will abuse that grace at times.

 

But when did it become our job to control the behavior of other Christians? When did limiting other believers’ sins come to rest on us? Last I checked, it was the Holy Spirit’s job to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, not ours.

 

If God wants to make Himself vulnerable to His children abusing His grace, that’s His right.

 

I know the many Scriptures that talk about church discipline and taking erring Christians aside for rebuke. But it is my contention—and here’s where I might step on some toes—that Christians ought to err on the side of allowing the servant of another master to stand or fall before that master rather than erring on the side of taking it upon ourselves to play Holy Spirit and use shame and guilt and condemnation and Scripture to try to control other people’s behavior.

 

Yes, if a Christian is hurting someone else, we have to intervene. And if Christians spewing condemnation are causing people to stumble and preventing people from getting to God, we have to speak up.

 

But I believe the chief problem of the church is that we are still using shame and condemnation to control one another—often by saying that salvation and grace are not permanent but can be taken away by sin or shameful behavior—because we do not believe that God’s gifts and God’s call are IRREVOCABLE (Romans 11:29).

 

Truly, I now believe that the doctrine that Christians can have their salvation revoked is the greatest error in all of Christendom.

 

When something you can do can undo the act of God, then 1) God is weaker than man and 2) your soul can NEVER be settled and you can NEVER relax into the permanent acceptance of God.

 

Only when you accept and allow yourself to believe that you are forever HIS can you know the peace that Jesus gives, the existential relaxation from fear, and the permanent freedom from shame.

 

Permanence of salvation in Christ is the reversal of the Fall.

 

Somehow, despite the resistance that will come, everyone needs to re-hear the radical message of Christianity, which is that, in Christ, we are utterly accepted. Permanently, even when we sin. Even when we sin willfully (is there any other kind of sin?). And even when we sin repeatedly.

 

The two central doctrines choking the Body of Christ are 1) the idea that a Christian can lose his salvation (indeed, that if the rapture comes and finds you with your hand in the sinful cookie jar, it’s hellfire for you) and 2) that shame and condemnation and legalism must be used on Christians in order to keep their behavior in line.

 

I know the Scriptures that seem to say that the Christian who sins (willfully, repeatedly, who continues in sin, who tramples grace, etc.) will not enter the Kingdom. I do not reject those Scriptures. But at this point, I am willing to say that any interpretation of them that leads a person to believe that salvation is revocable, and therefore the ultimate rejection is still in place for every Christian (for every Christian sins), has to be an incorrect interpretation.

 

The Fall brought about the shame of being weighed and cast OUT.

 

Christ is the IN AGAIN that reverses that aspect of the Fall and removes all shame, and thus all need to avoid or disguise shame.

 

Stand firm, brothers and sisters, and do not let anyone teach you that what God declared permanently acceptable can somehow, by our own sin or any other created thing, remove us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

Jeff is an award-winning book editor, multi-published novelist, professional artist, Writers Digest author, graphic designer, book typesetter, and internationally acclaimed fiction teacher.

http://jeffgerke.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, Shame Condemnation and Grace, Jeff Gerke, #IamNotAshamed

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