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Peace in a Broken World

There is a lot going on in the world, to say the very least. It seems like there isn’t a day that goes by where is terrible news is not flashing across our television screens or mobile devices; another shooting, an attack on whole communities overseas, a seemingly ever reaching terrorist organization, a contentious political campaign…the list goes on. I am sure that many of us are already adding to the list as circumstances that may hit even closer to our hearts stamp our minds.

It is very easy for us to live in fear, for our minds to run rampant, to be a mess of anxiety, and to feel helpless. In light of these things I wanted to share some scriptures that remind us of the peace and power of God that tends to our hearts and minds.


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Worship for a Perfect God

Here is a beautiful and humbling picture of how our worship is received by God.
 
Psalm 96:4-9 reminds us of the greatness of God and the worship he requires:
“For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.”
 
Now, think of a child practicing the recorder, squeaking and squawking the notes to ‘Hot Cross Buns’ over and over again in an attempt to get it right. Or a child learning to play violin and the only noises they can produce for weeks on end sound like nails on a chalkboard. That is what our worship sounds like to God.
 
He, our majestic King and the Creator of all, is worthy of being presented only the most beautiful music, like that of a world renown orchestra or a talented singer who studied with the greatest vocal teachers alive. And yet, all we have to offer Him is the miserable, kind of annoying, plunking noise of a beginner that would never be allowed in a king’s court.
 
But don’t be completely distraught in our inadequacy or give up trying to worship because you feel you will never of it well enough. God does hear and accept our worship as worthy of Him- because of Jesus.
 
Imagine a child struggling to plunk out a tune on a piano in a hotel lobby. Then a stranger comes up to the piano, sits down on the other side of the bench, and starts playing alongside the child. The stranger plays beautiful chords and countermelodies that turn the child’s simple effort into an intricate and amazing song that starts to draw a crowd because everyone is amazed at the beauty of the music.
 
Jesus does to our worship what that stranger did for the child. Jesus stands with us before the Father and turns our feeble hearts’ cries of praise into a strong declaration of the majesty of our King.
 
“For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.””
– Romans 15:8-9
 
I am thankful for Jesus and His great sacrifice that I might be restored to relationship with the Almighty Father, be seen as righteous before Him and be able to offer worship that is worthy of His greatness.
 
-Liz

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Learning from Lazarus

In the book of John, chapter 11, Jesus does something wild! He raises his good friend Lazarus from the dead. It’s quite a spectacle and is the final straw for those wanting Jesus dead. The entire situation is spelled out in detail throughout the chapter and I believe reveals so much about God’s character and His relationship with us. Here are a few scriptures at the height of it all.

v. 40-44
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

There are four things that really grabbed my attention about God’s character and how He feels about us just from these few scriptures.

1. Jesus’ prayer allows us to see His ongoing and intimate relationship with the Father. This prayer seems to signify their oneness.

2. Jesus prays this prayer aloud so that the people standing there would believe that He has been sent as Savior; that He is the One they’ve been waiting for to restore all things. In this I see how much He cares for and about the hearts of His people.

3. I am amazed at the power of God to raise anyone from the dead! From this I am reminded that even though it may feel like it sometimes and as cliche as it may sound, there is truly nothing too big or too small for God to work in and through.

4. We don’t have to lay in our grave clothes! Jesus didn’t just raise a man from the dead, He said “unwrap him and let him go!”. In Jesus we have new life and are free from slavery to ourselves and the things of this world!

-Rushia


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Championship Reflections

There is a connection between sports and faith. I’m not just talking about players who profess to be believers, but also the connection between how fans of teams respond after their teams win or lose. During the past few weeks, I have been wondering why sporting events can be so important to me at times, and whether it is healthy to get so emotional about the results of these games.
Athletes and the sports they play have been held in great esteem for hundreds of years. Paul the Apostle used metaphors to compare the Christian faith and athletic training. God created the human body to do some amazing feats, and it is fun to watch other humans push the envelope on what is physically possible. I believe God gave me a passion for sports, and that is a good thing.

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Remember We Have Seen Jesus

I’ve recently been reading through the book of John and came upon chapter 9. In this chapter Jesus heals a blind beggar and stirs the pot with the religious leaders of the time. They disapprove of Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath (a holy day on which no work was to be done) and quiz the poor ex-blind beggar’s family of who they believe Jesus to be. When the man cannot deny that something miraculous and divine has just occurred in his life, the religious leaders kick him out of the synagogue (their place of worship). I’ll spare the sermon but wanted to give an idea of what is happening in the chapter and why the next part is so ground breaking to me. After the ex-blind beggar is thrown out of the synagogue, Jesus approaches him and the interaction goes like this:

“When Jesus heard what had happened he found the man and asked, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’.The man answered, ‘Who is he sir? I want to believe in him’. Jesus says, ‘You have seen him and he is speaking to you’. The man then says, ‘Yes, Lord I believe’ and worshipped Jesus”. (v. 35-38)


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