Ask and you shall receive

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”MARK 11:24

Most of us never experience outrageous things because we never dream of outrageous things. We are scared to hope or pray outrageous things because it feels unrealistic. Here, Jesus dares you to believe, act, and pray beyond all sensible limits. He invites you to engage in a tremendous adventure beyond what reasonable people would think possible. Really, a mountain being thrown into the sea?

But the essential point is true: God’s power is limitless. Unfortunately, our faith tends to struggle to catch up. Whenever you notice your faith shrinking, when you find yourself lowering your expectations of what God can do around and through you, remember Jesus’ incredible invitation. Then boldly ask. Believe. Anticipate. And see what incredible, impossible, outrageous acts of God will follow

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:22-24).

The Bond of God’s Peace!

The Bond of God’s Peace!

Ephesians 4:1-6

The Summer Olympics are going on right now – different athletes from countries all over the world coming together. Each country’s team competes for medals, yes; but they also compete individually in accord with the Olympic motto: faster, higher, stronger.

The apostle Paul refers to sports several times in his letters to the churches. Not a new thing, at all! Many of the people of his day were great fans of different sports, too. We can compare the local church to a sports team – members have different abilities, different strengths. Each individual member provides their different God-given gifts in unique ways to make up the multi-faceted, multi-colored, multi-gifted congregations many of us know.

The letter to the Ephesian church is divided into two parts. Paul ended the first section with Ephesians 3, with a prayer for an outpouring of Christ’s love. Paul wished the Lord might grant strength and power to the Ephesian believers, prayed they might experience the full-ness of God, and closed with a spontaneous doxology to the immeasurable praise and glory of God.

Here at the beginning of the second section of his letter, Paul gets practical. He starts Chapter 4 with a description of the Christian walk – walking together, helping one another, and supporting one another. And, walking with our Lord Jesus Christ, as called believers.  

Paul says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” It doesn’t sound to me as if the church Paul had pastored for many months (he did, you know – Paul was the pastor for what probably was over a year) was in pure brother- and sisterhood, and harmony. No, Pastor Paul uses the imperative tense. That means he is using commands.

I don’t know if you know anyone this way, but when I hear about someone who barks orders, I sometimes pause, and take a step back to consider and evaluate. I want to know who is giving the orders, and why. But, when it’s the apostle Paul? Let’s take the example of a sports team, again. What if the sports teams you watch had minor, petty disagreements amongst themselves, on a regular basis? Even, all the time? There wouldn’t be much togetherness, or teamwork. Sometimes, disagreements do happen. On sports teams, between friends, in families, and in church congregations.  

Let’s remind ourselves of what Paul says: we are “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Put another way, we are to put in the effort to maintain our relationships with each other. That doesn’t refer to just one area, like our family, and I don’t need to care about anything or anyone else. No! We need to strive to mend hurt feelings and negative vibes in all our relationships. It is then that you and I are stronger in our life together – our lives in our families, with our friends, and in our congregations. [1]

Take this congregation. If we wanted to see a good trustee, someone who takes excellent care of the physical plant of this church, we look to Bob. For an excellent usher and caretaker for the morning services each Sunday, we would consider Al, for years and years. Now that Al has moved in with his son in Lake County, David has ably stepped up and is continuing the excellent usher duties. What about caring for hospitality in our congregation? I know we have not met together for coffee and fellowship after the morning services for over a year, but all our congregation thinks highly of Carol and Lois. And David, Bill and Pete? Assisting Bob with trustee business. What about Sunny? If there is anything creative to be done around the church, look to Sunny to head that up. Jieun heads up our music leadership for each Sunday service. I could go on and on. We have many facets of our congregational life together, ably represented.

Paul goes on to say that “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” In this shorter version of the gifts and graces God provides (expanded in other lists in other New Testament letters), Paul sets forth a number of different jobs, duties and gifts God freely gives to all God’s people.

Yes, God has gifted each of us with unique gifts and abilities – those are separate and individual. Except, we are all called to be Christ-followers – each one of us, individually, and all of us, collectively, in a body. We are all called to be worthy of this higher calling, this Godly adoption, to live as God would have us to live.  

I can just hear the objections now: “What, no disagreements, ever? What are we supposed to do, hold hands together and stand around singing ‘Kum-by-yah’ all the time?” Not in this imperfect world, no. Paul doesn’t expect us to always get along with one another, and he’d be the first to say so. God has also gifted us – that is, each one of us! – with the ability to repair and heal hurt, broken relationships, as we work through things about which we disagree

Shalom

SBS

Humbly Help


Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.”

Galatians 6:1

Brothers and sisters, if someone gets caught in sin, you who are spiritual should tell as many people as possible and kick them while they’re down.

Have you ever read that verse? No, you haven’t, because it isn’t in the Bible. But you would think that it is when you see the actions of some people.

The Bible says that hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins (Proverbs 10:12 NKJV).

We find a classic example of this in the way Jesus responded to the woman who was caught in adultery. He said, Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you? . . . Neither do I. Go and sin no more (John 8:10, 11 NLT).

Galatians 6:1 tells us, Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself (NLT).

We want to restore those who have fallen. We want to help them get back on their feet. Some people who fall into sin don’t know how to get out of the pit they’re in. They don’t know how to break free.

That’s where you and I come in. You who are godly, Paul said, should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.

We also should note that the phrase overcome by some sin in Galatians 6:1 implies that it wasn’t premeditated. It speaks of someone who lowered their guard and got caught, like an animal in a trap.

Yes, they messed up, but it’s our job to restore them. How? Gently. The Greek word Paul used for restore refers to setting a broken bone or putting a dislocated limb back into place.

We should always desire to restore, not condemn, a person who is caught in sin

Shalom

SBS

You’re Never Condemned


Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. – John 3:17 

Jesus came to save us and He tells us that we are loved. The enemy has filtered this truth with a lie by making people believe that God is angry towards them because they sin. Even believers are being deceived by this scheme, and this becomes one of the reasons why they leave the church and prefer to go their own way. If there’s someone who knows the heart of Jesus better than the other writers, it would be the apostle John. He is the only disciple that remained when Jesus was crucified. He knows the heart of Jesus to the extent that He pronounces it to himself by saying He is the disciple whom Jesus loved. My friends, be encouraged and believe what this verse tells you. Jesus is not in the business of condemning you, but rather in saving and loving you

Shalom

SBS

Truth That Nourishes

The Good Life. For each one of us, this phrase conjures up something different. What is it for you? Vast wealth? Sunny days free from responsibility? Perfect health? A powerful position? We all long for whatever we think will make everything just right.

But that joy is ersatz—a word that means synthetic or artificial. Think of a child’s kitchen playset, the kind with plastic pork chops and foam bread. When little ones bring us a heaping plate of food, we only pretend to eat. The same is true of our misplaced desires—they look enticing but will leave us empty. Instead, we must seek out the life Christ presents and feast on His truth.

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul tells his pupil, Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). Only through Him can we take hold of that which is truly life (1 Tim. 6:19).
SBS

Truth That Nourishes

The Good Life. For each one of us, this phrase conjures up something different. What is it for you? Vast wealth? Sunny days free from responsibility? Perfect health? A powerful position? We all long for whatever we think will make everything just right.

But that joy is ersatz—a word that means synthetic or artificial. Think of a child’s kitchen playset, the kind with plastic pork chops and foam bread. When little ones bring us a heaping plate of food, we only pretend to eat. The same is true of our misplaced desires—they look enticing but will leave us empty. Instead, we must seek out the life Christ presents and feast on His truth.

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul tells his pupil, Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). Only through Him can we take hold of that which is truly life (1 Tim. 6:19).
SBS

Mountains melt away like wax in a fire    when the Lord of all the earth draws near. (Psalm 97:5 TPT)


Yahweh calls to us to seek him with all our hearts. He beckons us into a closer, more intimate, and deeper relationship, with him than we had yesterday. As you come closer, surrender your will for his will in your life. In his presence, all your cares and concerns melt like wax. Overwhelmed by his presence, you are forever changed and comforted. Time resting in his presence, changes everything.
Enjoy his peace (shalom), wholeness, nothing broken, and complete. Your focus changes to Yahweh, and all the other things fade into insignificance. Your Heavenly Father provides abundantly, all that you need, including joy, love, and peace.
Mountains melt away like wax in a fire
    when the Lord of all the earth draws near. (Psalm 97:5 TPT)
Yet look at you now! Everything is new! Although you were once distant and far away from God, now you have been brought delightfully close to him through the sacred blood of Jesus—you have actually been united to Christ! Our reconciling “Peace” is Jesus! He has made Jew and non-Jew one in Christ. By dying as our sacrifice, he has broken down every wall of prejudice that separated us and has now made us equal through our union with Christ. (Ephesians 2:13-14 TPT)
SBS

Made for More

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
—Philippians 3:7

As believers, we should all be able to look back on our lives without regret. Sure, we make mistakes here and there. We do things we shouldn’t do. But in the big picture, we should feel confident that we’ve made the right decisions for Christ.

We never waste our lives when we’re investing them in bringing people to Jesus. We never waste our lives when we’re living them for the glory of God.

Of course, it’s fine to enjoy the things this world offers—if they’re not sinful things, that is. But God made us to know Him. That’s why none of the things in this world really will satisfy us. They might bring temporary pleasure and some fun, but it’s short-lived. That’s because we were made for another world. We were made for more.

The Grace to Overcome


Hebrews 4:14-16

The Lord said that though adversity is part of earthly life, He has overcome the world (John 16:33). And because of God’s abundant goodness, kindness, and love for His children, we don’t have to feel discouraged or walk away from His plan.

We’ll know His divine grace divine grace is working in us when we have …

• Strength to persevere. Through the Holy Spirit, God releases His power into us so we might endure (Acts 1:8).

• A spirit of confidence. The Lord understands our troubles and urges us to approach Him boldly for help (Heb. 4:15-16).

• A sense of His presence. When grace is at work, we will be conscious of the Spirit’s abiding support.

• A focus on God. With divine help, we can shift our attention from our situation to God.

• Trust that God will bring us through—and not just barely but with deeper intimacy and greater faith at the end.

• Assurance of God’s sovereignty. We trust that He’s in control of our trials and will provide all we need in order to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Paul had been through shipwrecks, imprisonments, and beatings—difficulties far worse than most of ours. He didn’t quit because he drew on God’s grace and found it sufficient for every circumstance. Where do you need some grace in order not to give up and walk away?

SBS