Grace

Shaping a Path

By Karen Polich

How would you describe your life right now?

God has called us to bear abundant fruit. As believers, it is not finished simply when we choose to follow Christ. Salvation through God’s grace is only the beginning. Growth through God’s path should follow.

Pastor Michael M. Cook began a new sermon series, Fragile Growth, from Colossians 1:3-14. What path are we on and is it God’s path for us? Listen to the podcast here.

Let’s look at our lives, praying for God to awaken us from any drifting. What areas are bearing fruit? Where can we grow? New growth is fragile and brings us to a vulnerable place, but as Paul reminds us, we can start with faith, love and hope. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, love for God’s people and hope, we can begin to bear fruit.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:3-6

Paul reminds us we should be ever growing in our walk with the Lord. Many understand the grace of God. It is seen in the image of the crucifixion. God sent Jesus Christ to save us by His grace. What is sometimes missed is the way of God. God’s path for our lives is what sets us up for real growth.

Why do we see believers whose actions contradict their salvation? It is simple. Understanding God’s grace is not the same as understanding God’s path. The space between is where fragile growth occurs. It is where we develop into the difference makers we are called to be.

Examine where you are today. What steps can be taken to bring about the abundant fruit that comes when we go the way of God?

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8

Scroll Warning – Listening to God’s Voice

By Karen Polich

Weighed down by the garbage in your life? If you find yourself on a path to an uncomfortable encounter with God, keep going. Don’t quit. What may seem like impending judgment can bring a meeting full of compassion. Fearful? Let fear work in your favor. You were created for more; more than struggles, more than sin! God created each of us for His glory, not to live a life void of His abundance.

Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon, Scroll Warnings, hit right at the heart of turning your life around when you feel like quitting. Listening to the podcast will take you into the story of Jeremiah and how God’s “judgement” is REDEMPTIVE. (Jeremiah 36) This is one you don’t want to miss as he weaves Jeremiah’s story into our lives. Listen HERE.

There is great danger in a calloused heart, where hard places grow from sin, hurt and exposure that de-sensitives. A hardened heart has stopped listening, hearing and caring. This describes King Jehoiakim.

In scripture we find King Jehoiakim not listening to the words on the scroll. His hardened heart leads him to burn the scrolls. While it is a tragedy for God’s people to not hear His voice, far worse is the defiance of a king, bringing down an entire nation.

Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. Hebrews 4:7(b)

Ignoring the truth will not make it go away. – Michael M. Cook

Others will pay the price for a hardened heart. Listen for God’s voice. Throw the garbage out and lean in to hear what He has to say. You may just find the compassion and grace you desperately need.

Something to Consider

Guest post by Luke Myers (Originally appeared on lukemyersblog.com.)

 

I find it worthwhile to consider and think it wise to stop and say:
I am one of 6 billion other “me’s” that live on this tiny speck of clay.
To consider the many other billions who’ve gone on to live before,
Who lived, loved, and dreamed like you and in death do so no more.

Consider the many infant souls, whose journeys have just begun,
Consider their wide variety of nation, culture, home, and tongue.
Consider that just this day alone on this speck of clay called Earth,
Will bring 150, 000 deaths and 360,000 births.

Now consider how a globe large enough to lodge some 6 billion lives,
Can in fact exist as a tiny dot, so minuscule in size.
Consider how our Earth will travel 1.6 million miles today,
Orbiting its energy source, some 93 million miles away.

Consider that this burning sun is 860,000 miles wide,
And somehow large enough to fit 1.3 million Earths inside.
Consider the Earth tilted on its axis at 23.5 degrees,
To yield its 4 seasons: snow, heat, wind, and changing leaves.

Consider we’ll spin at 1,040 miles per hour in flight,
To faultlessly bring about both the heat of day and the cool of night.
With one full revolution each day to hide the sun’s vibrant light,
And its promise to return again with warmth to kindly bring us sight.

Now consider if one thing went wrong or simply altered in its pace,
And the magnitude of consequences that we could not stand to face.
Consider the great, blazing sun at 27 million degrees,
And how quickly we would burn if nearer, if farther how we’d freeze.

Consider if our Earth changed course, trajectory, tilt, or speed,
And appreciate the scale of divine precision that we rely on and daily need.
It’s amazing to consider these marvels by the second taking place,
And still without full comprehension of the size of infinite space.

So consider now our greatest feat of measurement within our human might:
186,000 miles per second, the specific speed of light.
Consider that our greatest minds and inventions and our technological gain,
Will fall so short of such a stunning measure and its speed will not attain.

Consider now that at this speed, our little, tiny speck of clay,
93 million miles from the sun is but 8.3 minutes away.
Consider now our solar system, if its edges you wished to breach,
Would take that same light over 4 hours for it boundaries to reach.

Consider 25 trillion miles, the expanse to our nearest neighbor star.
Consider the 4 years and 2 months it would take for the light to tour this far.
Consider the 100 billion other stars that reside in our very galaxy alone.
Consider the 100,000 light years from its outer borders to our home.

And consider that just when we believe that we can comprehend no more,
There are 100 billion other galaxies that the light could go explore…


Now go back to our tiny Earth again, our dot, our speck of clay,
Where you’re one of 6 billion other souls that will live and breathe today.
With an outlook realigned and a perspective that’s fresh and new,
How could you ever actually think that this universe revolves around you?

Such error and neglect we embrace when we think there’s nothing higher,
Than for God to make us “happy” and give us all that we desire.
What reverence will go missing and what foolishness we’ve done,
When we assume our comfort and wish list as His priority number one.

But perspective can be revised and vision can become so clear,
When we finally take our eyes and energy off our depleted, worn-out mirror.
May we know that from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things.
And it’s only by His benevolence and power that this life to us He brings.

What wisdom is gained when this truth we believe, grasp, and know:
It’s His universe, His reality, His plan, and His show.
And it’s only by His endless grace that we, flawed and simple man,
Can somehow be an instrument, a speck, in His great and perfect plan.

“Oh Lord, I cannot know or choose what amazes me about You most,
That You’ve created worlds unknown or that You draw near to me so close.
How amazing that You create all the galaxies that paint the nighttime sky,
Yet smile when I sing to you and hear me when I cry.

A universe too immense for thought with no two stars the same,
And yet You know my every single need and You know me by my name.
One hundred billion galaxies and still I trust in what You’ve said:
You know the desires of my heart and numbered the hairs upon my head.

Oh Lord, I just cannot comprehend or ever fully understand,
How You could love me as You do and include me in Your great plan!
So when I consider the stars above, Your mighty power and majesty,
May I consider the wonderful, awesome truth that You consider me.”

Bio: Luke Myers is 29 years old and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He and his wife have a daughter who is nearly 1 year old. He works as a physical therapist and enjoys sports, music, and writing. He also loves to read and learn about our wonderful Lord Jesus! Read more at lukemyersblog.com.

 

One Big Mess

By: Karen Polich

“Rebuilding your broken world begins with the premise that individuals who have failed must present themselves before God in openness and acknowledge responsibility and accountability.” -Gordon MacDonald

Many of us have one big mess piling up in some area. It could be health, family, marriage, integrity, or relationships. Restore, Pastor Michael Cook’s new sermon series investigates the biblical steps of true restoration. Read Nehemiah 1: 1-9.

Did you notice Nehemiah doesn’t shout? He begins to pray. “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.”

He is inviting God into the mess. How often do we find ourselves in need of restoration and we haven’t yet asked God into the situation? Restoration from a biblical perspective cannot occur until we find ourselves in the place of brokenness and ask God to meet us there.

How do you begin restoring a life? Brokenness is often the launch pad. Invite God into the mess! Own the mess and the mess behind the mess!

Restorative grace is the act of God restoring usefulness, sanity and order in our lives. Often in a mess, God demonstrates His restorative grace and reminds us He has not completed our story. Did you hear that? God has not completed our story! Nehemiah was asking God what we should be asking Him today. “Heavenly Father, focus not on what we are, but on what we can become.”

Will you ask God to bring His restorative grace into your mess? Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

Intimacy in the Lord’s Supper

By: Karen Polich

Experiencing the Lord’s Supper always astounds me. Knowing that we have the opportunity to partake in the intimate worship of our Lord Jesus Christ through something that He did with His disciples deepens the moment. It is an honor that comes with responsibility. An extraordinary gift bestowed upon us because of God’s grace.

The Lord’s Supper brings me to a place where I can experience Christ in the past, the present and the future. It is time for reflection within my own heart. Have I given everything to God? My sins, fears and failures, hopes and desires? I can rejoice in His glory as we await His return.

My worship is deepened knowing that God might do something in me that only He can do.

There is beauty in the intimacy of communion with Him through the Lord’s Supper, remembering His broken body and the blood He shed.

What awaits my eager heart as I worship Him with sincerity?  Do I seek Him boldly? Do I hesitate? He who makes each day new seeks me. All that is required of me is that I bring myself to Him with a pure heart. Not a perfect heart, but a forgiven one.

His presence is unmistakable. Lavishly He reveals Himself. Jesus gave us the ultimate gift of salvation, reconciling us with God. We read the words of John the Baptist, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29. Jesus was without sin, but about to take on the world’s sin as He sat with His disciples celebrating the Passover meal. In those moments He was still teaching. Honoring Him through the Lord’s Supper, I too have the opportunity to put my trust in Him and learn, seeking Him with gratitude and a heart of worship. His love, forgiveness and grace are waiting to be received.

What about you? What intimate moments do you experience through the Lord’s Supper? We would love to hear from you in the comments section.

The Lord’s Supper is recorded in Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26 and Luke 22:7-20.