“Lover vs Fearer: What’s the Difference?”

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Date: 06-02-15

My Thoughts:

The Gospel writer, Luke, addresses his second treatise, The Book of Acts, to the same person, Theophilus (see Luke 1:3). Indeed, this could be a real Roman official whose name means, “Friend of God” or “God’s Friend” or “God lover.” But I am suspicious that this is really a euphemism for anyone who desires to move from a “God-fearer” to a “God-lover”.

I have notice that throughout much of the Book of Acts the phrase, “God-fearer,” is employed to describe those who are drawing closer to the true and living God. It is used of God-fearing Jews in Acts 2:4; of a God-fearing Gentile named Cornelius in Acts 10:2; and of some God-fearing Greeks in Thessalonica (Acts 17:4). This phrase appears to mean that although they have a deep, reverential worship of the one True, Living God, they need to come into a more personal intimate relationship with Him.

So is it possible that Luke is encouraging these “God-fearers” on their journey to the Messiah to become God-lovers? What do you think, lifestyle worshiper?  What do you see are the differences between one who is a “God-fearer” and one who is a “God-lover”?

Your thoughts?

Main Text: — Acts 1:1-2 — 1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

We love because He first loved us. — 1 John 4:19 (NIV84)

…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. —Ephesians 3:17-19 (NASB95)

  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. — 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, may I realized how much You Love me; ignite my love for You melting my fear of You and transforming it into Love for You.  Empower me, Lord Jesus Christ, to be patient and kind to myself as well as to others. In Your Name, Amen. 

Caoch Mike

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“Can We Give Joy Away?”

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Date: 04-28-15

The Big Idea: This joy is growing in ways I truly cannot capture in words because of its uniqueness to my experience.

My Thoughts: For many, possessing (let alone expressing) joy in a world so familiar with loss, and sorrow and grief is more than a formidable challenge. There are those, however, who can express the joy they possess in a sincere and infectious manner that lightens the load of many fellow travelers….

But in light of what Jesus says (noted below in John 16), can we give our joy away? He says that no one will be able to take it from us, but does this leave open the option of giving our joy away, much like letting go of an untied balloon?

The reason I ask this is because I have known many throughout my life and in my ministry who are somewhat, shall we say, joyless—this often includes me. Most recently on my journey with Jesus I am  coming to experience the joy He promises and this joy is growing in ways I truly cannot capture in words because of its uniqueness to my experience.

But as I look back on my journey, I have seen myself giving joy away, releasing balloon after balloon of joy only to see it fizzle and quite frankly ppffffftt (or however the onomatopoeia is spelled for this).

So my answer to my question is a mumbled, “yes.” I can give my joy away, but if Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, am I truly giving it away, or merely stifling it?

So, lifestyle worshipers, what are your thoughts on ‘giving joy away’?

Main Text: — John 16:22-24 — 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. [NIV]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. — Galatians 5:22 (NIV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  —John 10:10 (NIV)

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.  — Philippians 1:25-26 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, I confess I have a deep desire to experience the substantial Joy of the Holy Spirit. Create in me a pure heart so that I may be a vessel of Your Joy, in Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

“Overcoming Fear to Step Toward the Father”

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Date: 03-21-15

The Big Idea: As I come to realize that our Heavenly Father is a most forgiving God, these fears I had had melt away with each step toward HIM in this freedom of forgiveness. .

My Thoughts: I vividly recall Sister Mary Eloise teaching us that when we sin, God the Father is just waiting there to hurl a lightening bolt at us, but Jesus, God the Son is at His side saying, “But Father, I died to forgive this sin, too.” As she spoke that last sentence, she would do the sign language for Jesus. (I didn’t learn this until much, much later!) What she was teaching was very true, but my little mind was fearing a rather simple action: “What if Jesus didn’t get there it time to stop the lightening bolt?” Pretty silly, huh?

But sadly this fear kept me from approaching our Heavenly Father for years. I lived in a constant low-grade fear that at any moment a lightening bolt would slip past Jesus as a puck would slide past Tony Esposito—rare, but possible….

Perhaps you have come to learn this a lot sooner than I had in your journey with Jesus, Lifestyle worshiper, but on my pathway to freedom and wholeness it has taken me a while to understand this morning’s main text from Nehemiah: “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (v. 17b). I began to discover this through the birth of my daughters. As each daughter’s birth approached, I feared a very malformed child. This fear was fueled by the very evil things I had done as a young person and by the doubts that Jesus could indeed stop those lightening bolts.

But the LORD is indeed gracious and merciful. By my third daughter’s birth, I was finally starting to get it: The Lord Jesus does stop those lightening bolts—ever time! (His shut out record is perfect!) I expressed this realization by giving my third daughter a very meaningful middle name: Joy. Not only was she named after one of her aunts, this name also captures my journey with Jesus overcoming my fears. I was finally beginning to approach the Father and experience His joy…. (and, BTW I have three beautiful daughters, two wonderful sons-in-law, and 5½ sparkling grandchildren–one’s due in August.)

In all this, as I come to realize that our Heavenly Father is a most forgiving God, these fears I had had melt away with each step toward HIM in this freedom of forgiveness.  And best yet, not only does our Lord Jesus stop ever lightening bolt, He will never leave the net! This is the rest of v. 17: He will not desert me.

As I enjoy this freedom in forgiven, I have come to rely on the LORD’s compassion and abounding Love more and more.  Do you have a story of joy on your pathway to freedom in forgiveness?

Main Text: — Nehemiah 9:16-18— 16 But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. — Psalm 103:8-12 (NIV84)

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”   —Luke 5:22-25 (NIV84)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. — 1 John 2:1-2 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, I  embrace Your grace that forgives my sins. I approach the Heavenly Father full of confident assurance because of the price You paid for me. Enlighten me by Your Holy Spirit to  understand these wonderful and precious promises You have for me in forgiveness. In Your Name, Amen. 

Coach Mike