Mar 15 2013

Nature of Faith in Gratitude

In a recent Sunday sermon, we looked at Luke 17:11-19, where Jesus heals ten lepers and affirms the faith of the “foreigner” who returned after being healed to thank Jesus.

The main take-aways ought to have obvious and significant expressions in our daily lives and therefore deserve repeating:

1 … Jesus still shows mercy to those who ask. (What do you need to consistently bring before Him for mercy?)

2 … Genuine faith is evidenced in gratitude. (see below for expounding)

3 … Genuine faith becomes mission. (What impact on lostness, defined by Eph. 2:12, will you have?)

This idea of gratitude to God and Jesus for the work of life and salvation is important.  The Apostle Paul regularly instructs us to “be thankful”, to “overflow with thankfulness”, and “give thanks in all circumstances”.  In our culture today, gratitude and thankfulness usually find themselves directed toward temporal things.  We are thankful for our homes, jobs, cars . . . grateful for food and clothing and even for our “toys.”

One biblical scholar, though notices a different trend in Scripture:

A perusal of the Word provides a full list of large reasons to be grateful.

God is thanked for his deliverance (Ps 35:18), for loving us and being faithful (Ps 52:9; 107:8), for hearing our cry (Ps 118:21), for safe arrival after a long, arduous journey (Acts 28:15), for other believers and for the testimony of their faith (Rom 1:8), for the gift of salvation that enables one not to sin (Rom 6:17), for delivering us from our tendency to sin (Rom 7:25), for the spiritual gift of being able to address God (1 Cor 14:18), for resurrection hope (1Cor 15:57), for testimony, deliverance and victory in the midst of persecution (2 Cor 2:14), for the support of a colleague in ministry (2 Cor 8:16), for other believers (Phil 1:3; Col 1:3; 2 Tim 1:3; Philemon 4), for those who respond to God’s Word (1Thess 2:13), for being able to serve others for God (1 Tim 1:12), and for his attributes (Rev 4:9).  Those are just some of the options for thanksgiving.

Notice that this list includes not one item having to do with things, with possessions.  The occasions for gratitude all have to do with relationships or circumstances in relationship to others. (Bock)

 

 

In light of this, how’s your gratitude toward God, your relationship toward Him and toward others? How might your genuine faith better express itself in gratitude and thanksgiving?

I am convinced that if we consistently expressed the kind of gratitude described above, then the joy, peace and dependence on God that would flow out of our lives would certainly translate into effective mission.  People would see the God-radical nature of our Christ-exalting lives, and they would be drawn to Him.

Consider confessing and expressing some gratitude even now.

 

For the sake of the Name,

Jason

 


Aug 10 2012

Who are you listening to? Part 2

A few posts ago I wrote about the importance of listening to Jesus in order to receive the words/message that He may desire you to pass along.  Thus, in our marketing-saturated society, we’ve got to be careful who we’re listening to so that we don’t miss out on the best messages.  Well, thanks to a series of life circumstances over the past couple weeks, I’ve got version 2.0 of that message.

In all honesty, it’s been a tiring couple of weeks, physically and spiritually.  Sparing the details, there were travelings, sicknesses, losses, disappointments, unmet expectations, flat bicycle tires, and often a general feeling of being spiritually assailed by the evil one.  Enter into that picture a simple children’s praise CD that has put various Scripture verses to music.  (Caleb requests this one a lot.)

[ band strikes up ]

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Matthew 12:34″

And that’s the song.  Remarkably simple, with a fairly catchy tune (come take a ride in our swagger wagon . . . I’m telling you, Caleb will likely request it.)

Well here’s the rub.  I realized that in the midst of this difficult couple of weeks, my mouth wasn’t “clothing myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12) like I would want.  The lyrics/verse of the song provided the reason why.  I had definitely been short-changing my time in the Word in the midst of the craziness.  My heart was overflowing with more woes that it was with the Word.  So in response, I dove into Psalms to help find my bearings.

The Lord rewarded my obedience with Psalm 25 .  Go ahead, take a few minutes and read it.  Put yourself into the Psalmist’s shoes and pray this from your perspective instead of David’s.  Pay attention to your heart as you meditate on the picture of God described in the chapter.  Pray that God would keep His Truth in your heart . . . and watch how your responses throughout the day change.  ‘Cause ya know . . . “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”


Jun 1 2012

Asking for Prayer

Hey friends.

As I sit here surrendering the piles of responsibilities that seem to be staring me in the face, two thoughts emerge:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Cor 10:31)

and

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)

Here are some things about the next week for which I long for some prayer support.  Please pray that I’d do all to the glory of God, and that He would cause fruitful ministry.

  • Tonight (Friday) and tomorrow I’ll be leading some devo time and song-worship at a work weekend at a Christian camp near Belleville.
  • Sunday I’ll be preaching on the Transfiguration of Jesus.
  • Monday our second intern, Meg arrives!
  • Tuesday-Thursday my family heads on a brief vacation near Barrie to refuel and love on each other before a busy summer.
  • Next Friday we’ll have an important !group leader and Minlead meeting.
  • Next Saturday will be Men’s FIGHTclub and C!Station at the Farmers’ Market.
  • Next Sunday Zach preaches.

Thank you, faith family, for your love, prayers, and support.


May 25 2012

Pausing to Pray

The university that I attended (Berry College) is pretty old — founded in 1902.  Back then it wasn’t uncommon for colleges and universities to adopt a school hymn or psalm.  The school being uniquely situated on the largest campus in the world in the foothills of the Appalachians in northwest Georgia, the setting gives extra relevance to Berry’s Psalm:

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Lately, I have found myself leaning towards despair when trying to wade through the tasks and responsibilities in front of me.  I so deeply desire to be the right kind of worshipper, husband, father, pastor, friend, and disciple-maker that God wants me to be.  Yet sometimes the task just feels insurmountable, and failure seems inevitable.

In these moments, there’s a still, small voice that whispers from the corners of my soul: “Jason, this isn’t freedom.  Come to me.”

I’d like to say that I always listen . . . but I don’t.  Often I forge ahead on my own power, destined to run out of steam at some point.  Other times, though, I resist my flesh’s impulse to just “work harder” and I pause to pray.

The wonder in this is that pausing to reflect, meditate, and talk to my Lord in heaven doesn’t practically accomplish anything on my to-do list.  And yet, the “peace that passes understanding” (Phil. 4:7) begins to accompany my heart and mind as I turn over the tasks, the responsibilities, and the implications of whether I do a good job or not.  In those moments, I’m amazed that I can ever NOT make time to pray and turn over my heart, my task list, and my time over to Jesus.

What’s more is that consistently, days where I spend such time pausing to pray, I seem to get more accomplished . . . and with a much better attitude — to the worship and glory of God.

Will you write down the above Psalm somewhere that you’ll see it regularly, and will you make time to pause and pray?


Apr 27 2012

Two Prayer Requests

Hello all.

Two cool things going on to make you aware of and to ask you to pray for.

1)  C!C Office Move-In

In the next couple weeks we will officially move in to the new church office at Saint Paul University.  This is a pretty exciting step of maturity for us as an organization, and we’re excited about it.

Please pray that we’d make good use of the space.  Pray that the interns and volunteers that we have will be blessed by using the space.  Pray that our office will help enable the Gospel to go forth effectively through the relationships and events that the church maintains.

Also, consider emailing me (Pastor Jason) to schedule a time when you can stop in for a visit!

2) National Collegiate Summit

Soon Robin P. and I will be headed to a conference in Nashville, TN.  We’ll join hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ from all over North America who work with university students and churches.

Please pray that the time spent together would fuel the ministries of all persons involved for the glory of God and the growth of His Kingdom.  Pray specifically that God would challenge and inspire Robin and me to be able to lead in the Gospel being made known more on Ottawa campuses through the ministry of our church.  Pray that God would bring fire and focus to Robin’s personal calling and to mine as well.

Thanks in advance for your support on our behalf to the Father.

I look forward to reporting some from the road and when we get back!