Remembering

Written by: Tim Wood

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel. (2 Timothy 2:8 ESV)

 On memorial weekend we remember and honor our soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We remember with deep respect and gratitude. Christians understand the importance of remembering. Christians are “memorial people” because our faith depends on remembering. We remember the past with gracious gratitude.

God surrounds us with memorials. The Sabbath is a memorial to Israel’s freedom from slavery. Deuteronomy 5:15 says, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore, the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. Christ-followers gather together on Sunday remember our freedom from the slavery of sin that came through Jesus’ finished work.

We remember his sacrifice by receiving bread and wine as memorials to God’s amazing grace. Every baptism, every, each Christmas celebration is a memorial to Jesus our Lord.

Remembering God’s grace past, is necessary fuel to our faith and God’s future grace for us.  One of God’s most profound, mysterious and merciful gifts to us is memory. We remember what God has done and we are renewed.

As we commemorate Memorial Day, let us do so with profound gratitude for the extraordinary grace given to us when men and women laid their lives down for the sake of America’s survival.

As Christ-followers, let us make every day, as long as it is called today, a memorial day (Hebrews 3:13). Let us “be careful not to forget the LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:12). And every day, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead!” (1 Timothy 2:18).

 

 

God's Serenity in Your Life

Written by: Tim Wood

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

 Be still literally means to slacken, to let go or to relax. Think of it this way: to take your hands off and rest. We like to be hands on people and attempt to manage everything in our lives which is impossible. There are numerous things that happen in our lives that we have no control over. Psalm 46 talks about natural disasters - the earth trembling, mountains quaking, things we have no control over. The Psalm talks about civic disturbances – nations raging and kingdoms tottering. Again, we have no control. The key to knowing God is in control is to be still, to let go and know God is in control.

Millions of people have prayed the Serenity Prayer. Most people only pray the shortened version which is, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can: and the wisdom to know the difference.” Did you know that there are 8 more lines to this prayer? The rest of the Serenity prayer says, “Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.”

God’s serenity floods my life when I day by day, moment by moment, surrender to His control. Every day is an opportunity for you to be still and know that God is in control. Make the decision today to take your hands off so God can put His hands on. The first step to serenity is to let go and know God is in control.

 

 

 

Shema - Hearing God

Written by: Tim Wood

The Hebrew word to hear is shema. It’s one of the most important words in Judaism. According to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “God is not someone we see but someone we hear.” How true. Rabbi Sacks further describes Moses’ supreme revelation at Mt. Sinai. “Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard (shema) the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice” (Deuteronomy 4:12).  Shema appears in Deuteronomy 92 times, compared to 6 times in Leviticus.  Rabbi Sacks says, “We have a lot to hear from God.” I would agree.

He makes the point that hearing God is centered around five primary senses:

1) Focused attention – “Be silent, O Israel, and listen” (Deuteronomy 27:9).

2) To hear – “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid” (Genesis 3:10).

3) To understand, as in “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other” (Genesis 11:7).

4) To internalize, take to heart “And as for Ishmael I have heard you” (Genesis 17:20) meaning, “I have considered what you have said; I will bear it in mind.”
5) To respond in action, as in “Abraham did (vashema) what Sarah said” (Genesis 16:2).

In Deuteronomy 6:4, the Bible says, “Hear, O Israel…” (Shema Yisrael) it means listen, concentrate, stop what you’re doing and give God complete focus. Engage all your faculties, intellectual and emotional. Make God’s word and will; your word and will.

Rabbi Sacks sums up shema this way, “In Judaism faith is a form of listening: to the song creation sings to its Creator, and to the message history delivers to those who strive to understand it. That is what Moses says, time and again in Deuteronomy. Stop looking: listen. Stop speaking: listen. Create a silence in the soul. Still the clamor of instinct, desire, fear, anger. Strive to listen to the still, small voice beneath the noise. Then you will know that the universe is the work of the One beyond the furthest star yet closer to you than you are to yourself – and then you will love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, all your soul and all your might. In G-d’s unity you will find unity – within yourself and between yourself and the world – and you will no longer fear the unknown.”

Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day’s work. When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God’s good pleasure (Proverbs 8:34-35 The Message).

http://rabbisacks.org/covenant-conversation-5770-vaetchanan-the-meanings-of-shema/

 

Don't Worry - Meditate

Written by: Tim Wood

I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes. (Psalm 119:48 ESV)

 Someone said, “If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate.” Worry is allowing something negative to dominate your thinking. You think on it over and over. Meditation is taking a passage of Scripture and thinking about it over and over. The Psalmist not only loves and honors the Word of God, he meditates on it. There are wonderful benefits that occur when we meditate on God’s word.

Psalm 1:1-2 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” We are blessed when we meditate on God’s Word. God’s blessing is true and lasting happiness. Meditating on God’s Word is the way to deal with disappointments and stresses in life. During the day and night, we can think about God’s word over and over again.

This same Psalm says if we meditate on God’s Word we will be “like a tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3).  Meditating will bring spiritual strength and stability into my life. Worry depletes my strength and stability. Thinking about God’s Word will grow deep roots that tap into Living Water.

Joshua 1: 8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Meditating on God’s Word is the pathway to spiritual prosperity and success. God’s Word exposes my mind to Godly principles that bring success to my life.

We have a choice. We can let worry dominate our thoughts or God’s Word. Like the Psalmist, let’s love the Word of God, lift our hands toward the Word of God and meditate on the Word of God. When we do, we will experience God’s blessing, God’s strength and God’s success!

 

 

The Kingdom of God is Power

Written by: Tim Wood

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)

 God’s work is to be done by God’s people with God’s power. It’s not what is done for God that counts, but what is done by God that counts. God put His Holy Spirit in us so we could operate in His power. The church should not be known for its talent or its programs but for its power; supernatural power.

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit dwells within us. Jesus told us that when the Holy Spirit comes to us we would receive power (Acts 1:8).  This power from God enables us to do God’s will, to expand His kingdom and equips us to operate with His gifts. The Holy Spirit empowers us as we yield our will to God. The key to the Spirit-filled Christian life is to cultivate an attitude of emptiness so that God fills us with His power. Jesus said it this way, “If we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

What a verse to remember and practice – God’s kingdom does not consist in talk but in power.  Lots of churches are good at planning and strategizing and coming up with programs that require little power from God. It’s frightening to think that the church can carry on activities without the power of the Holy Spirit present. The kingdom of God does not consist of plans, pep talks or personnel but rather God’s power! A.C. Dixon wrote, “When we rely on an organization, we get what an organization can do. When we rely upon education, we get what education can do. When we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. But when we rely on the Holy Spirit, we get what God can do.”  We get His power and that is exactly what we need. AMEN!