mysaviorspeaks

“I am the Lord and I do not change…”

“I am the Lord, and I do not change…”  – Malachi 3:6

 

Question for the day:  “Do I really know God well enough to trust what He is doing in my life?”

 

Friends,

We are looking at John Wesley’s Quadrilateral this week, trying to reconcile what we believe (each of us) with our reasons for doing so.  Yesterday we talked about scripture, and how it creates the foundation of our beliefs as Methodists.

Today, we are looking at our own life experiences.  Specifically, when dealing with matters of faith, Wesley would encourage us to ask the question, “Is this belief/understanding I have supported by my past experiences with God?”

The problem I have with this is that I have a hard time remembering my past experiences with God.  I have a very short memory.  When I have a problem or an issue that I am working through, I am so eager to seek God’s help.  However, after He provides me with a solution, it doesn’t take me very long to go about my merry way and forget His kindness.  

The downside of living this way is that EVERY time I get scared or worried about something, it normally takes a while for me to fall back into my “SEEK GOD,” mode.  Normally I worry and stay consumed with a problem for way too long before I remember whose child I am.

The Israelites had this problem too if you recall.  They would call out to God, with great need. He would graciously answer, and then a few days later they would forget and become complainers again (sounds like me…)  But God taught them to do something to help them through the hard times.  

After many such deliverances, God instructed the people to set up monuments, or reminders, of His faithfulness.  That way, the next time they encountered difficulty, it wouldn’t be quite so overwhelming.  They did this with what they had on hand, rocks.  Several times it is recorded in scripture that the Israelites used large stones to be build memorials to remind them of the story of God’s protection and provision.  And God would always say, “When your children ask you the meaning of these stones, tell them about the time when…..”

I have tried this on my own and it works incredibly well.  Only, I don’t use stones.  I use a small journal.  I record answered prayers, divine messages from God, and all those occasions that I have seen God work for my good in this life.  I would share that after 10 years of this activity, it is my most trusted link to God.  Because I can go back and read of things that happened in years past that I have forgotten by now.  But they remind me that God is God, He never changes, and He is always faithful to take care of me.

Friends, it doesn’t have to be a journal.  I encourage you to find some way of remembering those times in which You see God at work in your life.  It could be pictures, or poems, or sketch pads, anything that allows you to record your thoughts.  I believe you would find a gold mine of “God touches” that you can use to sustain your faith in the challenging times.  This is the way that I have always been able to say, without a doubt, that “God is in this situation with me & He is working for my good.”  

It is a wonderful feeling, regardless of what I am experiencing.

 

Gracious Father,

Blessed be the One who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed be the One who brings peace beyond all understanding.  Blessed be the One, who rises with healing in His wings.

Oh my Lord, You hold me in Your victorious right hand.  My only experiences of You have been of protection, provision, grace, mercy, and unending love.  Forgive me when I forget those times.  Forgive me when I allow fear and worry to overtake my mind.  Help me, Lord, to hang onto those times that You have carried me – that they might be a witness to me and others in the days to come.

In the name of Jesus Christ I pray,

Amen

“All scripture is God-breathed…”

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

Question for the Day:  How committed are we, as a church, to knowing and understanding the Bible?

 

Friends,

We begin talking today about Wesley’s quadrilateral, his means of interpreting the work of God and his own theology.  As United Methodists, we adhere to Wesley’s teachings and use the same approach to leading the individuals in our churches to define their own relationships with Him.

Mr. Wesley believed in looking at all circumstances through the lens of 4 perspectives: 1.  Is it supported by scripture?  2.  Have we witnessed the same in the history of our church? 3.  Is it reasonable? (Does it make sense?) 4.  Does this fit my previous experiences with God? 

By asking these four questions, we can come to develop our own story with God, for each is different.  It gives us an intellectual as well as an emotional basis for discerning the work of God in our lives and where He may lead us.  

Scripture is the primary source for Christian theology. It is where God reveals Himself to the world. Scripture contains the witness of God’s work and relationship with the world through the Hebrew people, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the witness of the apostles and the early church. The Bible contains God’s word of love, freedom, healing, compassion, justice and hope for a world that is hurting and oppressed by the powers of sin and death. It is God’s story of love and justice for the world into which God invites us to find our story, where it intersects with God and God’s project of forgiveness, healing, and liberation.

As one of our most basic principles, if an idea or belief is in direct conflict with the Word, then it is not something we support or teach.

 

Gracious Lord,

Thank You for blessing us with Your Holy Word.  Your revelation to us is something we can count on.  It is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  Thank You for allowing me to live in a place where Your Word can be read freely and is accessible in so many different forms.  Please forgive me for my lack of commitment to reading the Bible.  I pray, that in Your grace, You will fill me with a hunger and thirst for Your Word, and that You will reveal Yourself to me through it.  Help me, Lord, to know You better.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

“Think and let think…”

“Think and let think.” – John Wesley

 

Question for the day:  “Are we the kind of church that welcomes all people, regardless of how they differ from us?”

 

Friends,

Why is it so hard sometimes to be accepting of people that are different from ourselves?  Specifically inside the church, why are we only comfortable with people that believe exactly as we do?  Are we not confident enough in our beliefs to walk away, unthreatened, when our views on faith are not shared by others?

One of the many reasons that I am drawn to Methodism, is that our founder encouraged free thought.  He believed free thinkers had a much better chance at becoming true disciples than other, more accepting, folks.  This week we are going to look at the elements of Wesley’s Quadrilateral, his “method” for interpreting and understanding his faith.  I believe you will find it enlightening.  I find it encouraging.  But most of all, it helps me to understand that my faith is my own, shaped by my experiences.  As well, the same is true for you.  Now there are some really big things we probably need to agree on in order to work well together inside our denomination.  But there are many other points that are just not that important.  The most important things are our love for Jesus and each other.  And that is all that really matters.

 

Heavenly Father,

May all praise and glory be Yours!  For You alone created this world and every person in it.  Lord, I don’t pretend to know all the answers; especially in matters of faith.  I know what I believe about You and Your son, Jesus.  Help me Lord, to be welcoming to those that don’t think exactly as I do.  As I encounter true seekers of You, please fill my heart with grace and a kinship for fellow believers.  Help me to see past minor differences, and to appreciate the heart and soul of my other brothers and sisters.

May Your Holy Spirit lead me to become a true member of the body, and a lover of others.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

Ladies, get excited… the time is here…

2013 Women's Retreat

 

Registration is beginning for the Liberty Crossings Annual Women’s Retreat.  Come join us as we seek to hear God’s voice and know who we are in Christ.  Space is limited, and everyone is welcomed.  You don’t have to be a member of Liberty Crossings to join us.  If you need more information, please get with me:  lana@libertycrossingsumc.org.

Be Blessed!

 

“How do we know that we know?”

“The same compassion which moves God to pardon a mourning, brokenhearted sinner moves Him to comfort that mourner by witnessing to his spirit that his sins are pardoned.” – John Wesley

Question for the day:  “How does God witness to your spirit that your salvation is assured?”

 

Salvation is a tricky subject.  Nobody is really comfortable talking about it, because not many know how to define it.  In most cases, when I have asked people if they are sure of their eternal salvation, the answer has been, “I hope so.”

“I hope so,” is a horrible answer to this most important of questions.  We are talking about our eternal existence.  Forever.  Will I be in heaven with Jesus, or will I be in eternal damnation and torment?  The reason this answer is so terrible is that it leaves us open to so much doubt and meaningless worry; especially when there is absolutely no reason for it.

John Wesley struggled with this question greatly, even though he was an ordained priest in the church of England.  He was continually plagued early in his life with the question, “How can I really be sure?”  So he set about trying to assure his salvation by doing what any of us would do – he tried really hard to be a good person.

He prayed, he studied his Bible religiously, he looked after the poor, he preached, and he taught.  But that question was always there, in the back of his mind.  And then one day, our gracious God showed him what was missing – a heart relationship.

Through all of John’s hard works and “methods” he had missed the main thing. He didn’t have that true heart relationship with Jesus.  It wasn’t personal, it wasn’t emotional.  Poor John had been like a hamster on a wheel for years, trying to earn something that was already free – GRACE.

See, John had a personal encounter with Christ one night where he described his heart as being “strangely warmed.”  That was his first real encounter with the risen Savior.  And from there he began to understand that God does speak to our spirits and our hearts.  He learned that once we let Him in, God will give us all the assurance we need.  And better yet, he spent the rest of his life preaching this good news.

What about us?  Do we know that we know?  Have we experienced that witness in our spirits that we are truly children of God, redeemed by the Lamb?  If not, how do we get there?  What has to change in the way we relate to God in order to have that kind of relationship?

These are questions that have monumental, eternal consequences for each of us.  I pray that all of us will begin to search and take seriously our relationships with Jesus, for this is where the peace comes from.

Gracious Father,

Your love for me is extravagant.  I know that an eternity with You is only once decision away for me.  Help me to open myself up to your kindness and mercy.  Flood my soul with Your Holy Spirit, that we might be one, and I would be assured of my eternal salvation in You.  Thank You for Your mercy and Your grace.  And thank You for never leaving me to wonder in the “I hope so” realm.  Speak to me today in a way that I can understand.

In the name of my Savior I pray,

Amen

“Get these 3 principles fixed in your heart…” Pt. 3

“Get these three principles fixed in your hearts: that upon your present choice depends your eternal lot.” – John Wesley

 

Question for the day:  “Am I conscious of the decisions I make on a daily basis and the effect they have on my soul?”

 

Friends,

Grace and peace to you.  This is one of the harder issues I face with my faith in an ongoing manner.  My lack of spiritual maturity seems to emerge at the most inconvenient times; especially when I have a decision to make.  It always reminds me of how self-centered I am.  And I really don’t like looking in the mirror that often.  But through God’s grace, I hope to become more kingdom oriented in my thinking as time goes on.  As always, I am thankful for the prayers of friends like you to help discern God’s will for me.  Maybe if you aren’t too busy, you could lift one up for me as I continue to search for answers to these questions:

1.  Should I continue to chase after this career in ministry that I love, or should I devote more time to taking care of my family?

2.  Should I take that vacation I really want, or should I take a lesser one and give the extra money to missions?

3.  Should I forgive that person that hurt my feelings, or continue to hold a grudge because I have a “right to?”

Friends, do you struggle as I do, to make God-honoring choices in the everyday?  How do you stay focused on the larger kindgom issues in the midst of your wants and desires?  This is an opportunity for great growth for me and my relationship with God.  I welcome all the advice I can get.

 

Heavenly Father,

You are a gracious and giving God.  You give me more than I deserve.  Please forgive me when my self-centered heart gets in the way of the path You intend for me.  Teach me to seek your will in all decisions.  Please allow Your Holy Spirit to lead me in the first question, “Does this lead me closer to You, or further away?” in all decisions.  

Help me to see the bigger consequences of the choices I make and to be wise with the opportunities that present themselves to me.  Help me, in the end, to be a person worthy of Your greatest compliment, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

That is all I really want.  To be recognizable as one of Yours, both in this life and the next.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

“I have a confession…”

“Get these three principles fixed in your hearts: that things eternal are much more considerable than things temporal.”  – John Wesley

Question for the day:  “Do we fully live for the eternal? For that one relationship that has no equal?”

I have a confession to make:  I am an avid follower of the Twilight Saga!  It’s true.  Say what you will, but I am captivated by such an epic love story, and here is how it happened:

Most of you know that I don’t watch tv or movies very much.  Who has the time?  But a few months ago, after everyone else was asleep, I was still up doing laundry (can I get a witness?)  So I came through the living room with the tv still on and something caught my attention.  There were these two teenagers on tv discussing the fact that they were waiting until after marriage to have sex.  Of course, I sat down to see what this was all about; how often do you hear that on tv?  Little did I know it was a movie about vampires and werewolves, but after 2 hours I was hooked anyway.

So here I am a few months later, having seen all the movies and still cheering on these two lovebirds through all their obstacles.  In the final movie a song was released called, “A Thousand Years.”  It is a wonderfully romantic song about everlasting love.  The kind that never goes away, and loves you for exactly what you are.  I heard it and began thinking about the fact that everyone on earth wants to be loved that way: 100%,  forever, no matter what…

I was praying about it and Jesus really spoke to my heart.  He loves me like that.  Always has.  Always will.  And He loves each one of you too the same way.  It doesn’t matter what we have done or not done.  It doesn’t matter that we will continue to make mistakes as we go.  He told us that He was willing to do anything for a relationship with us when He carried that cross to calvary.  He reminded us of it in these words from Romans 8:

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ.”

We each were made for epic love, if we would only turn and embrace it.  It is a love that never fails, is true, and has no conditions – So much better than anything we could have here in the temporal.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore my husband and my children.  I can’t imagine love any better than that.  But love in this existence is temporal.  This life eventually comes to an end for all of us.  I don’t know much about what life will be like in eternity.  But I do know that Jesus has promised to be there waiting for me.  Loving me just like He does today.  That is something I can build my life on.

If you watch the song link below, forget about the vampires and teenage romance.  Fix your mind on what Jesus might have to say to you today.  After letting these words sink into my heart, I have walked away with a peace and a joy beyond all understanding.

Dear Lord Jesus,

What can I say about the way You love me?  Nothing, because I can not fully comprehend it.  But I know one thing is for certain, it is better than anything I can have here.  It is eternal and everlasting..  a hard concept for me to grasp.  Help me live into it today.  Help me to live as a child with no regrets and no guilt – for You love me just as I am and have wiped away all the bad and shameful in my life.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and help me to live each day as Your beloved, worthy of all the affection You graciously shower upon me.

In great thanksgiving I pray,

Amen

“Get these 3 principles fixed in your hearts” Pt. 1

“Get these three principles fixed in your hearts: that things not seen are as certain as the things that are seen…” – John Wesley

 

Question for the day:  “How aware are we of the continual presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?”

Gracious Lord,

I will praise You this morning, because I know You are with me.  Your presence never leaves me, although most of the time I am unaware of You.  Forgive me, my King, for letting the material things of this world take center stage in my attention and affection.  

Lord, You have sent Your precious Holy Spirit to lead me along the way.  Give me the “spiritual eyes” that I need to see Him clearly.  Give me a discernment, that I can feel His presence and recognize His voice.  As one of Your precious sheep, I ask that You help me to know You. 

As well, Good Shepherd, please help me to recognize the other voice; the voice of my enemy that comes to steal, kill and destroy.  He is real too and competing for my thoughts and attention. It is he that speaks through the material; and he is very loud.   When he enters my presence, give me the understanding to see it immediately and to stand firm against whatever path he is putting in front of me.

I love you my King.  Help me to love you more, and better, and deeper, and stronger each day.

In the name of Jesus Christ I pray,

Amen 

“Earn all you can…”

“Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can” – John Wesley

Question for the day:  “How well do we truly honor God with our resources?”

Gracious Lord,

Thank You for the opportunities that You have given me to improve my life.  You alone have provided a rich education, fruitful work environments, and unending resources for me to provide for my family.  I understand that all these resources actually belong to You.  And I pray today that You will forgive me for those times that I have let an attitude of greed overtake me.  I pray that You will forgive me for putting my extravagant “wants” before the true “needs” of others.  Mr. Wesley never said anything about spending all I can, but most often, that is where I find myself.

Teach me from this day forward, Lord, to be content with what I have.  Rid me of my consumer mindset, and help me to honor You first with everything I have been given.  Help me to remain committed to giving above my tithe, so that the needs of the world will be met.  Create in me a heart filled with generosity and a charitable spirit.  

And lead me to view money as You do: a powerful tool to be used in the advancement of the kingdom, and not my own comfort.

To You be all honor, glory and praise,

Amen

“Worship is a lost labor without a heart fully devoted to God”

“Worship is a lost labor without a heart fully devoted to God.” – John Wesley

 

Question of the Day:  “What attitude do I bring into worship?”

 

Heavenly Father,

You are the Creator of all things.  You are my Creator, and I was made with a heart specifically designed to worship You.  Forgive me for what I have substituted for true worship.  I have allowed You only my physical presence in a once-per-week format, when You have requested my heart and my mind in an ongoing conversation.

Help me, Lord, to come into “worship” each Sunday with a mind and heart fully prepared to engage with You.  Teach me to pray and quiet myself in order to fully hear Your voice and feel Your presence.  Help me to surrender those things on my mind to You, that I might be fully present and worshipful in spirit every time I encounter You.

And Lord, please forgive me for confining my worship experience to a box.  Help me to approach my daily life with an attitude of worship, in spirit in truth.  May everything I do come with an outpouring of gratitude and honor for You.  In Your grace, please help me to live into this blessed relationship with You in all its fullness.

 

In the name of Jesus I pray,

Amen