Entering God’s Rest

Hebrews 4

Hebrews 4 10

Most of us have been brainwashed since birth with a false concept that we must be in constant activity. When overloaded, we get clever and create ways to save us time. Think of how much time we have saved with inventions like the automobile, microwave and internet. Our travel, cooking, communications and ability to attain knowledge are so much faster than they had been previously. Unfortunately, with each time saving invention, we have used that extra time to add something else into our schedule to become even more overwhelmed and time crunched than before.

 

Any guesses what is the most common response to “how have you been?”  I usually hear and say: Busy! I sometimes look at my calendar and when there is a date that has nothing on it, I stress and wonder what I forgot to put on it. The constant schedule of something to do, places to go and people to see is causing enormous amounts of stress and anxiety in our world. From the beginning, God knew that his creation needed rest and he set the example by resting on the seventh day.

 

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

 

I love the language here: “make every effort to enter that rest.” With our health in mind, God urges us to slow down. Actually, he commands it. Before you excitedly brush off responsibilities for a God prescribed day of relaxation alone on the couch with Netflix and social media, it is more than that.

 

Notice vs. 10, “For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works.” – it is a specific time set aside for God and with God. He is telling us he wants us to make him a priority. He wants us to step away from our busy life focused on us to spend some regular scheduled time with Him.

 

How is your rest time with God? Are you making every effort? Slow down! Take a break and make some time for God in your busy schedule.

 

John Wincapaw

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Reconcilation

Hebrews 2

Hebrews 2 18

This chapter focuses on reconciliation. Throughout all of time we see over and over where even God’s greatest saints fall short (outside of Christ, more on that soon). God cannot be in the presence of sin and evil and that leaves us sinners in a difficult spot – separated from God.

So when people are separated from God, they need a mediator who comes between them to bring reconciliation. Before Christ, the priests stood between God and sinners, offering sacrifices that would reconcile the two.

Then God changed things up – he created his son. His one and only begotten son, Jesus.

Jesus is the perfect mediator/reconciler – he has common ground with both parties but is not the same as either. He was the only perfect man – the spotless lamb the law required. Unlike the priests who repeatedly brought animal sacrifices for themselves and the people, Jesus offered Himself once for all to the Father in payment for the sins of all mankind.

His work on on our behalf does not end there. After his death, he arose and then ascended to heaven, where He sits at the Father’s right hand and intercedes for us. Take comfort, we have someone next to God, fighting on our behalf seeking reconciliation and offering help when we are in need.

-John Wincapaw

Learning in Peru

peru19 glasses and Bible
Earlier this year I was asked to be a part of the LHI Peru trip, which I gladly accepted after much prayer and consideration.  I was not sure what to expect while on the trip, but I was so excited to see how God was going to use me and in what ways I was going to be able to touch the lives of the Peruvians, little did I know just how much God was going to work in my heart and all the things he would teach me throughout the week.
The Peruvian people do not take God’s word for granted.  They sit and listen to Bible studies and sermons for hours on end, and until late into the night.  When one of the ladies within the church heard that her translation of the Bible was not the original version that the early Church read, she wanted to learn Greek so that she would be able to read the Bible in the original language.  This was also the same woman who was excited when she received new reading glasses, and the first thing she chose to read was her Bible. The excitement in her eyes and smile hit me hard, why do I not see this kind of attitude within my own community?  What is it that could make us lack this same kind of excitement within our Christian lives?
What I noticed while in Peru was how dependent on God the whole community was.  This was due to the amount of poverty they lived in and the fact that they have all of their trust in God to provide for them and protect them. I find that the reason we lack this is because we rely on ourselves more than we rely on God.  We each need to examine our hearts and find this same excitement within. Even amongst the days where we think we need God the least, those are generally the days that we need him the most. We cannot forget about God during the good times because we need him just as much as we did in the bad times.  He is the reason for those good times because he always provides for us and takes care of our many needs. When we forget to let God in, that is when the enemy comes in and distracts us away from our Father.
So I want to challenge you to search for that excitement within yourself.  Remember that God wants us to follow him every day of the year, not just on the days that are convenient for us. Allow him to be a part of your everyday and continue to grow stronger in your faith.
Katie-Beth Fletcher

4 Benefits for Christians in This Age

 

Out in the world today, we see a lot of bold claims made by companies. They promise you weight loss, happiness, wealth, status, and anything else that you can think up. What is their purpose in making these bold claims? They want your money. Many of the times the claims are flat out lies and at best they deliver only a fraction of what was promised. What about Christianity? Does the Bible make big claims like companies do?

Personally, I think the Bible makes a lot of claims about those who put their faith in God. But the logical follow up question to that statement is  – are they true? So in this blog post I want to set out to show you four claims the Bible makes about the benefits a Christian receives in this age. The fact that we are talking about this age is important. Obviously a Christian has a major benefit in the age to come with eternal life and the kingdom. However, I want to focus on this life and how being a Christian makes our lives better, now. The four benefits to being a Christian are peace, purpose, perspective, and people.

Peace is a commodity of which the world is in short order. It seems that mental illness is all over the news with illnesses like depression and anxiety sweeping over our nation. Christianity promises to those who put their faith in God that they can find peace. Look at Philippians 4:6-7, “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul, talking to the people of Philippi, is saying that if we hand over our anxiety to God through prayer and thanksgiving in return we will receive peace that surpasses all comprehension. I love how Paul makes the point to say that this peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. I think Christianity has the best solution for finding peace in this life.

1 Peter 2 9

Purpose is an elusive things that some people spend their whole lives searching out. I truly think that people thrive the most when they are living a life after the purpose for which God created them. If you are looking for purpose look at 1 Peter 2:9-10 which says, “9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” First look at verse 10 where it says, “you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God”. In other words, once you had no identity and no purpose but now you are the people of God and you have a purpose. The purpose statement is at the end of verse 9, “so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”. I think when we are giving the good news to people, and that is our driving purpose, we find fulfillment with our lives. What could be better than helping someone change their life forever?

Perspective can be a tricky thing to find, especially perspective that is trustworthy and true. Let’s talk about the world’s perspective on one of the most difficult things we deal with in life, death. To the world, death is crushing, scary, oppressive, breaking, and most of all final. The world has no hope when it comes to death but the Bible offers a better perspective on death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says, “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” If you are a Christian, you are offered a perspective on death that doesn’t include fear but instead centers on hope. Don’t get me wrong, death is still a painful and difficult event but it isn’t crushing for Christians. To me, 1 Thessalonians 4 is a clarifying and liberating passage. Because of the Bible I am freed from the fear of death. Christianity offers us a better perspective on death and a whole multitude of other things.

People, who doesn’t want a people to call their own? Community is an essential part of human flourishing and Christians absolutely crush the competition when it comes to community. Look at what Jesus says in Mark 10:29-30, “29 Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.’” In this present age we will receive 100 times the family that we currently have. This doesn’t mean that all of a sudden our family multiples by 100. What it means is that those who are Christians become our family. You are probably familiar with the term family of God. It is short hand for the community of believers that form one large family all around the world. When I walk into church I know that those people have my back, they love me, they support me, and they are my family.

Maybe now you are asking how can I be sure that these claims actually hold up under pressure? Are these claims made by the Bible like the false claims made by big companies? If you are curious about the validity of the Bible, just ask a long time Christian that you know. They will tell you about the peace they have felt in their lives when there should not have been peace. They will tell you about the purpose they have found. They will tell you about how the Bible has shifted their perspectives for the better. They will tell you about the community that they have in the family of God.

If you are looking for peace, purpose, perspective, or a people I think you should give Christianity a serious look. Maybe you have been on the fence about dedicating your life to Christ or maybe you have fallen away and aren’t where you want to be with God. Either way there is a better life out there, it just takes commitment. You need to commit to following God wherever He leads and you need to put your trust in Jesus. If you are thinking about dedicating or rededicating your life to Christ find a pastor or Christian you trust and talk to them about how following God can change your life for the better.

-Josiah Cain

Success & Popularity

Mark 3

mark 3 8b

“Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him” Mark 3:7-8 (NASB)

At times we may have difficulty grasping the complete size of this crowd.  This was not just a few people, or even a mere few thousand people.  No, there were tens of thousands of people in this crowd.  These people came from all over the country.  These people flocked out of cities to hear of this amazing and blessed prophet who had risen in Galilee.

Mark emphasizes the crowd by stating in verse 20, “And He came home and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal.”  Then, in verse 32, “A crowd was sitting around Him,”  These people who have traveled far and wide surrounded Jesus to have their afflictions healed through him.  For many this would be recognized as a sign of popularity or success, due to the amount of people drawn to Jesus.  In today’s world we would recognize these people as “stars” whether they be actors, athletes, politicians, or singers.  These people are “stars” largely due to their talent and attributes, and these people due to their talent and attributes have attained what in our day is a mark of success. For many this success would be overwhelming.  For many this would lead to sin as their stardom grows, so does their temptation for ungodly things.  This, however, was untrue for Jesus for he knew His path and trusted in his Father.

We, just like Jesus, should also trust in our Father to lead and guide us through the year as we settle back into our lives after camp.  Whether we are returning to high school, college, or daily work lives we should follow the footprints Jesus has laid for us and not fall into the temptation of society or our peers due to our success or popularity.  We should instead continue to grow in  our faith and strengthen our connection with you, our Father, as the year continues.

Let us pray:  “God, we thank you for all the people you have introduced to our lives along with those who we have strengthened our relationship with during the course of the week of FUEL.  We are grateful for the insight you have shown us and for the opportunity to grow in our relationship with you alongside likeminded people who strive just as we do.  We ask that you keep us accountable for the promises and commitments that we have made to you while at camp, while also providing the light to guide us towards the answers that we seek out within our journey in both our lives and our faith.”

–Jacob Bowen

Saved to do Good Works

Titus 3_14

Titus 3

Today we are going to dive deeper into the discussion of good works and how we should apply it to our own lives.

Among some of Paul’s reminders to Titus, in chapter 3, verse 1, he mentions being ¨ready to do whatever is good¨. (Titus 3:1) Continue to ask God to show you what good works you can do. Ask Him to open your eyes to see what service needs to be done. Since God showed His love to us it is now our job to show that love to others. 

¨This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.¨ (Titus 3:8)

As we wait for the coming Kingdom we have a job to do. An opportunity to make a difference. Not only that, but it leads to a joyful and fulfilling life focused on God.

¨Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.¨ (Titus 3:14)

Throughout Titus I see a recurring theme of the importance of good works. This makes me believe that this was something Paul didn’t want Titus and the church in Crete to forget. So maybe we should devote ourselves to doing good as well. Find a way to serve and then do it. 

¨Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody¨       -Brad Montague

Grace (& good works) be with you all,

– Makayla Railton

1 Timothy 6

Sat Devo

“Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good reserve for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:18-19

What is the purpose of life? What really matters in life? These age-old questions have numerous answers, but Paul tries to point us to the true answer in 1 Timothy 6. In this chapter, we see two different kinds of people: those who love money and those who love God. In Paul’s words, those two things can’t exist together. Paul says, “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Paul doesn’t necessarily call money evil in this passage, but he definitely states that loving money, or making it an idol in your life, will lead you down a dark path. In fact, Paul urges Timothy in the next verse (v. 11) to run from these things and to pursue, instead, “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” It would seem from these verses that the love of money and God are mutually exclusive. Jesus confirms this when he says in Matt. 6:24, “No one can be a slave of two masters, since he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.” 

Our culture today encourages us to make ourselves slaves of money. Our lives are dictated by pursuing jobs that will provide enough money to pay our bills and other living expenses until we can get the next paycheck. If we have the chance to work more to get money to buy some more nice things for ourselves, many of us will jump on the opportunity. And, that lifestyle is applauded by those around us. But, we have to always ask ourselves when get sucked into a cycle of living: is this godly or worldly? According to 1 Timothy 6, our purpose in life shouldn’t be to become rich and get all of the material goods that wealth entails. 

So what should our purpose be? Paul answers that in 1 Timothy 6:17-19: 

“Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good reserve for the age to come, so that they may take hold of a life that is real.” 

When we set our hope on God, it changes what we think is important. Instead of pursuing a life of riches on earth, we begin to “collect for [our]selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where [our] treasure is, there [our] heart[s] will be also” (Matt. 6:20-21).

~ Cayce Fletcher