My intention was to focus this blog on introducing our summer sermon series, “Why Am I Here”- a Study of Ecclesiastes, but something happened this morning. I heard the news that a celebrity had taken his own life; the second public figure this week whose life ended so tragically. Hearing about a suicide always triggers deep emotions in me. I lost my Dad to suicide when I was 15. My brother-in-law took his life when he was 41. And over the years I’ve known others whose darkness became so deep that they took this step to try to end their pain. Then I heard on the news that suicide is on the rise in our country and I felt even more sadness. So I want to say this to anyone who reads this post and is feeling despair: there is hope! You may think there is no other choice but to take your life; you may feel that the world would be better off without you;….but that is not true. There is hope! You may not see it or feel it, but hope is still there. And that hope is Jesus! He loves you and wants you to call out to Him today. He says to you, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
As I think about it, this blog really is about the basic message of Ecclesiastes after all—in this confusing, painful, disappointing world, our only ultimate hope is God!
We recently completed a sermon series focused on growing in Christ. We considered many aspects of what is called "sanctification", the process by which we become more like Jesus in our daily lives: active faith, obedience, responding to God's Word, bringing our whole selves to God - we focused on each of these. We also were reminded that the crucial foundation from which we live our lives is the reality that we are God's loved children through faith in Jesus. We don't earn that love, gain that love, or have to work to keep that love. It is God's grace driven love, extended to us freely and without reservation.
We ended this series with these powerful questions from Brennan Manning:
"Do you believe that the God of Jesus loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity -- that He loves you in the morning sun and in the evening rain -- that He loves you when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it, your whole being rejects it? Do you believe that God loves without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are and not as you should be?"
"To obey is better than sacrifice." (I Samuel 15:22) With these penetrating words, the prophet Samuel rebuked King Saul's failure to carry out God's specific commands. Without obedience, we cannot grow spiritually. This simple truth permeates both the Old and New Testaments.
Are you struggling to obey God in some area of your life? Is there something you have walled off from God's truth and are refusing to surrender to God? If so, you're not alone! Remember that God loves you more deeply than you can imagine, can be trusted more completely than you can comprehend, and is more powerful than your mind can conceive.
Remember that more than anything, God wants your heart - He wants you to come to Him in faith and lay whatever it is you are holding on to at His feet and say, "Yes" to His will. Remember that Jesus walked the ultimate path of obedience for you as He went to the cross, suffered and died, and then was raised from the dead so that we can have free access to God. 24/7. Go to Him today! (Hebrews 4:16)
This past Sunday, April 8, 2018, we started a new series at DVCC called, "Growing in Christ". In the sermon, I shared the story of how God cornered me shortly after my salvation and compelled me to have a daily "Quiet Time". I didn't like the idea of a "quiet time" - it sounded to me like "nap time" in kindergarten! (Listen to the message here to get the whole story!) I'm so glad God lovingly insisted that I listen to Him about developing this spiritual habit - even if I didn't like the term being used. (Aren't you glad He loves us too much to just let us get our own way?!?)
So, what is a "Quiet Time"? You can use whatever term you like, but it involves a daily personal meeting with God where you quiet your heart and mind, read a portion of His Word, and allow His Spirit to apply it to your life for that day. It is a time to pour out your heart to the Lord, acknowledging His love, accepting His forgiveness, and being reminded that He is with you always. I like to think of it as resetting the direction of my heart towards true "spiritual north" - Jesus! We need this DAILY! Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day, our daily bread."
If you need help with getting your own Quiet Time started, contact us here.