Life is like a rafting ride down a river - full of adventure and challenge. Some days the ride of life is sunny as we casually float down the river. Other days the ride of life can be overcast, rainy with massive rapids causing us to grip onto the raft with all we have. Some days are filled with both. Those are unique days. Most days are something in between these two extreme experiences. These days can also be seasons.
The gift Jesus provides is to offer to be the captain of our raft. If we accept, He will ride with us through the different adventurous river days.
What is the current river conditions in your life these days? Sunny, smooth, rainy, light rapids or heavy rapids?
What do you do when you are facing heavy rapids?
Psalm 100 is known as the "Psalm of Praise." It reminds us who God is. It reminds us who we are. It reminds us what God loves to do with us no matter the smooth waters or heavy rapids that we are facing. Read it. Let God speak to you through it.
Ps 100 "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."
There is so much beauty and power in who God is and what He wants to do in us. Look at the last few sentences...
"For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."
Through all generations, through all our lives as we have walked with Christ, we have historical experiences of God's goodness, of God's enduring love, of God's faithfulness. Take time to remember some of these past experiences. Share a few of them with your spouse, family and friends. Encourage each other with these historical experiences with Jesus.
As you face rapids of life, remember who God is, who you are and what He wants to do in your life.
As a church, we are facing a financial challenge right now. As we begin to communicate this with you, let's go to God in prayer, let's understand our financial challenge, let's see what we can do to save money and to be generous. Let's remember God is good. His love endures. He is faithful.
Seeking God together,
“That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph 3:19
How frustrating is it when your car dings saying you are on empty. Or your cell phone flashes 5%. Or you want milk on your cereal only to find someone put the gallon back in the fridge with just a few drops left.
I had the privilege to do a wedding of two close friends where the bride was from Montgomery, Alabama. They flew me down to do this special wedding. One night my host offered to treat me to dinner of my choice. I could only think of the famous southern BBQ. They knew and bragged about the best place in town. We lined up in a caravan of of a few cars with my driver leading the way and I was cranking the tunes, Sweet Home Alabama, salivating in anticipation.
When we arrived, the joint was packed. As we were about to be seated, they announced, “We apologize but we are all out of BBQ.” “What?!?!?!”
A famous BBQ joint empty of BBQ....
How many Christians are empty of Jesus?
How many of us are running on Jesus’ fumes instead of being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God?”
How often do you naturally escort Jesus to our pinky toe by saying I can do this on my own! Or you just forgot about Him.
How often do we get caught in the busy treadmill trap, not being refilled daily and throughout the day?
What does your life look like when you are empty of Jesus?
What does your life look like when you are full of Jesus?
Or do you not even know the difference?
Is your thinking about others different? Is your conversation about others different? How about the inner motivation when you are doing your responsibilities, is this different when you are empty or full of Jesus?
What does your life look like empty of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control?
How about when you are full of the Fruit of the Spirit?
Are the people in your life encouraged by the Fruit of the Spirit or discouraged by the lack of fruit?
What do you need to do to get refilled with Jesus?
Who do you need to hang out with to be refilled?
Where do you need to go to get refilled?
Then daily go, do and be with them.
As I write this, Clayton, the tattooed, half head shaven-half head long haired gentleman, next to me on the plane asked me why I have been so nice to him during this flight. I found out that he was “kind of Lutheran” as a kid. But he has been going to the “smoke lodges” of his Native American roots. He and his fiancé clearly noticed something. He commented how he noticed me helping others, encouraging others, looking out for the interest of others. Then he says to me, “I told my fiancé that we need to go and visit your church.”
As we daily ask our 2019 focus question, have you been developing a spiritual gauge that helps you evaluate if you are empty of Jesus, have a little of Jesus, or are up to full of Jesus?
Am I more like Jesus today than yesterday?
Hopefully, we never need to make a spiritual public announcement like the famous BBQ joint, “I’m all out of Jesus tonight.”
Seeking to be filled with Jesus every day and every moment together,
Jesus' disciples were amazed at how God answered Jesus' prayers. So much so that they asked Jesus how to pray. Even after training them how to pray, they always seemed to doubt that God would do anything through them like God did through Jesus. Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever feel like God answers other peoples' prayers and not yours?
As we are in this prayer series to start 2019 and as we are memorizing Eph 3:14-19, how is your prayer life? Do you find yourself praying more or less? Are you risking and asking for more or less? Are you letting God speak to you personally even if you do not like what you hear more or less? Has God amazed you with His answers to your prayers?
I have been praying for a handful of Atheist friends for many years. This past Sunday, one of them walked through our church doors and enjoyed our Sunday morning worship. We had a long conversation a few days later as he was still mulling over the sermon about forgiving others. Let's keep praying. Who knows what God will do...
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge." Eph 3:18-19a
"Being rooted" means "to strengthen with roots."
It is the idea that daily our roots would continue to grow and deepen in what matters most, experiencing the love of God.
"Established" means "to lay a foundation"
It paints the picture of one of the most important steps of building, laying a sure foundation.
When I worked as a carpenter through college, before we laid the foundation of a new home, we would have to clear the lot of trees, bushes, weeds and grass. We would pull out chainsaws and cut down massive trees. Then we would hire an excavation company to dig up the ground. Then we would create the foundation forms that would hold the cement that was poured in them. Without this solid foundation, the house would be at risk when hit with strong winds, severe storms and unpredictable tornadoes.
How much more do our lives need the sure foundation of Christ's love but also a growing, living, strengthening root of Christ's love?
"Would have power... to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge."
Why do we need to be empowered to experience this multi-dimensional love of Christ?
Think about human relationships for a moment, isn't it hard to grasp, understand and experience love sometimes? Don't we question whether another person really loves us or not?
How much more difficult is it to grasp, understand and experience love from the invisible Jesus Christ? How do we experience this with Jesus whom we cannot see, touch, or be hugged by Him?
This prayer to experience Jesus' love is about receiving power to experience His love.
Power to create and hold the foundation strong.
Power of The Builder to create this foundation in us.
Power to keep growing the roots in our hearts, minds and soul.
Power of The Son to daily grow these roots deeper.
It's the Power of God to continue to help us experience Jesus' multi-dimensional love. Think about the differences among one dimensional, two dimensional, three dimensional and four dimensional... 2D (TV screen) to 3D (real person) to 4D (including invisible spiritual reality).
"How wide" - this paints the picture of how wide is the door of Jesus' love. Who is welcome and loved by Jesus... EVERYBODY!
"How long" - this paints the picture of distance. Is there anyone too far gone, too far away from God for Jesus to love, NO!
"How high" - What does this mean?
"How deep" - What does this mean?
Please email me back your thoughts as we learn to pray these prayers together.
By the way, this verse was part of my vows to my wife 26 years ago.
Risking to pray for the impossible more and more,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.