Friday, December 31, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Prayers Spoken

1 Thessalonians 3

8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

Lord Jesus--Standing firm in a world where so little is stable and enduring remains the challenge. I live in a time of great change. There are times when I wish that things did not move so fast. Any yet, in the middle of change you call to me to hold on to the things that really matter.

In the middle of change is when the I need to trust in the relationships that you have brought into my life. Paul was both encouraged and sought to encourage the church at Thessalonica. The mutuality of giving and receiving should be the way that the church operates.Prayer should tie it all a way that allows the spirit of God to work without restriction.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

Lord Jesus--This is is really a prayer that Paul is praying for the church he planted.

His first request is that he be allowed to revisit them. The events in my life that I am frustrated with the lack of movement are all in your hands and in your direction. Paul felt the reality of the fact that there were obstructions that were in his way which were beyond his ability to remove. His response was to pray. Prayer is the place to start...not action. I am afraid I would be the guy who was checking out ticket prices and wondering how I could make something happen when really all I needed to do was wait...and trust.

The second prayer request was that there would be an increase in love. Love within the church only comes from you, Lord Jesus. I can not make it happen. It is a creative act of God.

The last request is for strength to become all that You would have them to be. The request is that at your arrival grace will have had it's full impact. That there would be no holds barred in the quest for having your active presence engaged in thier lives.

Lord Jesus--These are the requests of my heart...that love and strength would increase and that in all the activities you would be the center of the picture. I wonder what all t he implications of that would be...let it be Lord Jesus in your people today.

As I write this I can only imagine the impact of your remaining the center and heart standing firm in your Jesus in this day.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Notes to the Lord: Walk the Walk Today

1 Thessalonians 3
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

Lord Jesus--If there were a report going back to you from this
outpost of the gospel what would it be? A favorable report? One that focused on the increase in faith and love? Would that report be one that identified positive memories of the experiences shared? Would it be about actions lived out or just about talking about actions lived out? Witness is not seen in the abstract, but in the everyday world.

7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.

Lord Jesus--In the middle of difficult circumstance, there is always reason to be encouraged in what is happening in your Kingdom. Help me to remember that in the middle of whatever present circumstance that confronts me at that moment your people are aware of the faith that I am either demonstrating or failing to live out with grace.

Lord Jesus--You remind me this morning that I never walk alone. You are always there and the
people of faith that I am making this journey with are also watching. Help me to be an encouragement by the grace with which I live out your grace alive within me. I pray right now for those whose journey is challenging today. Be close to their steps, encourage and lead as only You can do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Reality Based Relationships

1 Thessalonians 3

1 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.

Lord Jesus--Paul's heart kept beating to see your work tended and taken care of. He was willing to change agenda to meet the needs that he saw including spliting up his church planting team. Timothy was sent for only one purpose to strengthen and encourage at time when faith was being tested.

You know so much better than we do the reality that surrounds your people right now. We are not here alone, nor do we meet the challenge alone. That was what Timothy's charge was: to remind God's people what they really already knew but needed someone to remind them.

For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.

Lord Jesus the reality of this world is much the same today as it was when Timothy was sent to this your church by Paul. LSCC does not have to deal with persecution, our current battle is to be relevant, real and relational in a world that has marginalized the church.

The only reason you left heaven's gates was to make a relationship possible with us.Help me in this day Lord Jesus to be real and open to relationship where ever I find myself. It is within the context of relationships that your people become relevant. Be with your people this day.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Deep and Lasting Relationships

1 Thessalonians 2
17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way.

Lord Jesus--The connections established in your church are long lasting and endure over time. Paul wanted to see these people again, who he had brought to know you as savior. The relationships established are on the same lines as family...brothers and sisters. Can you continue your work in LSCC? We seek to forge those kind of relationships that endure over time with depth and sincerity.

Lord Jesus--Those kind of enduring and deep relationships are exactly the kind that Satan does not want to exist. He wants us to always be on the surface.

19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

Lord Jesus--Paul saw the relationships that developed over time in the church as a reason for joy and a reason to rejoice. These people won to you at such a risk were the reason for his call. They were the joy of his life.

The ability to establish these kind of relationships both with each other in your church and with You is the only reason that you came to this place.

In this day that will begin in just a few moments...filled with things to do and people to see, help me to remember that it is in the relationship that make up my life that you are seen. Help me to be that kind of person that shows you in my thoughts, my words and my deeds. Inhabit every conversation with your grace.

Lord Jesus--I pray right now for LSCC that the bonds that have been established will deepen by your grace, make this body of Christ something that you can be proud of. Bless your people in this day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Impacts Beyond What I Know

1 Thessalonians 2

13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.

Lord Jesus--These words are not just words on a page. They have power to change me and never leave me the same. Your words work in my heart and life as I am open to them. Help me to be open to all that you would have me be in this day that will begin before I know it.

14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews.

Lord Jesus--The point is to be more like you in this be an imitator and to be more like you that is always the goal. Forgive me when I miss that goal and take my eyes off of the prize.

15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone.

Lord Jesus--It is always a choice that I make each day to look toward you. There are those who choose to go their own way. Choose my choices for me in this coming day...I want to end this day closer to the person that you would have me to be.

16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.

Lord Jesus--The choices that I make have impacts in more way than I know.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Pastors and Parents

1 Thessalonians 2

5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.

Lord Jesus--Paul would not be one to go first class. I am thinking that he would have taken coach if he were here today. He supported himself by making tents. I can relate, I don't make tents but I know what it is to live in two worlds. There is always that change of headset that I have to do, and yet at the same time maintain the grounding of grace. Leading grace over lunch would not work in my little group...nor would it be understanding of their feelings.

Instead, we were like young children among you.Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

Lord Jesus--So there was love that was demonstrated by Paul toward the church. The parent role and a life shared with the people who God brought into his life, was something that Paul experienced again and again. There is a cost in the giving. I am thinking that Paul did not take many vacations, and his down time was really time spent preparing for the next event. I wonder if he ever used a bounce house?

9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

Lord Jesus--It is all hard work some of which goes unnoticed and unseen. I am sure that Paul had sleepless nights on occasion wondering about where the next job was going to come from. I wonder if he ever wondered about how he was going to be able to pull it all off in the middle of working with this church, far from anywhere he had ever called home before.

10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Lord Jesus--That is the deal. Pastoring is much like parenting. Working out the issues with understanding, grace and love...takes time and energy never knowing except by faith's eye how things will turn out. The reality is these relatiionships are durable over time and will be what matters for eternity.

In this day, help me to lead a life that shows that kind of grace.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Notes to the Lord:A Call Answered

1 Thessalonians 2

1 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to t
ell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.

Lord Jesus--Paul's call was one where the appointment was not by committee and the results were personal. He was willing to risk again even in the face of the past. It was not on his own power that he continued to be faithful, you were there with him every step of the way.

Today in Saratoga there is not opposition, more it is finding the ways to be relevant in a cluttered culture. Revelance must be something that is more than a style of music, or a stance but requires interaction in the community on a level that brings you right into the place where everyone is living. Paul was not content until he was in the marketplace and engaged in the everyday of communities in which he lived. He found ways to do us new ways at LSCC to connect in the community we are a part of...

3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

Lord Jesus--There is a question of trust and motives that evidences. What is the point? Why another church? What is different or unique about this group of people or this location? The reality is the answers to those questions are found in the work of the reality of God at work in our hearts. In a way even through so much of this work is public, the real essence is private and in the hands of God who wills and works in hearts.

Lord Jesus--Continue your work in our hearts and lives.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Notes to the Lord:On Modeling

1 Thessalonians 1
7And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,

Lord Jesus--I don't live in Macedonia or is Pine Road and Washington, but the job is the same. It is modeling you to a world that neither cares or leaves room for you in their lives. But that was the way that it was for the Thessalonian church all those years ago when Paul was writing.

for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait
for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Lord Jesus--The idols of today are not the same as they were in the first century...they are not wood and stone to be worshiped. We don't call them gods. We are more sophisticated than that. But lives still revolve around them...things like career, acquiring status, material, houses, financial security. They are things much more tangible.

Lord Jesus--In this day that is dawning now, focus my thoughts, emotions and energy on the things that really matter. Let me be like those early Christians in Thessalonica so full of your grace that everyone could see.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Seeing Jesus

1 Thessalonians 1
4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.

Lord Jesus--The gospel preached has power in and of itself. It must be lived out in ways that are clear and evident to those to whom it is being preached. That is the challenge everyday: to live out with power in real life what it is you call me to preach. Speak in power, Holy Spirit, speak with deep conviction...let me live out the gospel in this place you have called me to with power.

6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Lord Jesus--T
he goal is that in the middle of a dark world your people can be lights. In the middle of suffering, joy can take root as I focus on and live out the message of the gospel of grace. These people to whom Paul was writing were able to make the choice to accept the gospel with clarity and determination.There is joy that comes when I can imitate you, help me to be that kind of person today, in the day that will dawn in just a few hours.

Up Close and Persona
l--There is a qualitative difference that following you makes in my life, Lord Jesus. A difference that can be seen in what I do. It is also a difference that should be seen in every action: in how I do what, I do.

Lord Jesus you want to shine in me, illuminating everything that is a part of my day. You want to be God of big picture and God of the details, God of my macrocosm and God of the microcosm...nothing is either too big or too small. You want dialogue with me about it all. Forgive me when I don't include you. Teach me each day the way of praying "without ceasing."

You call me today to imitate you Lord Jesus. That requires a level of transparency I can not achieve without a continual infilling of your grace...enough to see your fingerprints all around the edges of my life.