“Behold, how good and how pleasant if is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. Jesus’ Prayer, John 17:20-21
Friday night, November 4th, our congregation was blessed to participate in a “Unified Evening” under the evangelistic ministry of my dear friend from Columbia County, Pastor Willie Brown. God spoke to Willie’s heart long ago these Scriptures and others found in the Bible, that address a simple, fundamental, and life-changing truth regarding the church, the Body of Christ. That truth proclaimed throughout the Scriptures is that of unity.
Willie not only boldly warned us of the dangers and pitfalls that occur when Christians are not unified, but he also encouraged us as to the rewards of loving one another unconditionally in Christ as we allow the truth of the word of God to change our hearts and behaviors. He also reminded us of the Bible’s proclamation that a house divided against itself will fall whereas unity among the body of believers produces one of the most powerful witnesses to a world that has become so violent and fractured.
For me, one of the highlights of Willie’s message was his quoting Jesus prayer as listed above. Think of it, Jesus prayed before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion that as He and His Father are one, so is His body, of which He is the head, to be one. As Willie said, and I paraphrase, “Church, get out there and do something!” Go out in unity as brothers and sisters in Christ and make a difference for your community as you serve the Kingdom of God!
Lord, Make us One in Christ!
The Thankful Heart
O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1-3
Thankfulness leaves no room for discouragement. There is a legend of a man who found the barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown in the human heart, and on finding the seeds of discouragement more numerous than others, he learned that those seeds could be made to grow almost anywhere. When Satan was questioned, he reluctantly admitted that there was one place in which he could never get them to thrive. ‘And where is that?’ asked the man? Satan replied sadly, ‘In the heart of a grateful man.’ (V. Norskov Olsen, President, Loma Linda University).
Have you been discouraged regarding someone or something? Discouragement can lead to despair and to depression. Take courage my friend! Christ defeated and disarmed the powers of Hell from the Cross, and one of the mightiest weapons the Holy Spirit dispenses from God’s arsenal for His children each and day is, Thanksgiving!
All Praise and Glory to our Mighty Triumphant King!
“…and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And He was a Samaritan. And Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine-where are they? Was not one found who turned back to give glory to God except this foreigner?’”
What an amazing scene! Jesus and his band of disciples have just entered a town where 10 leprous men are shouting from a distance as they greet Jesus. These men were considered “untouchables” in their day and yet they are shouting all-the-more, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” “No one else cares!” We need You!
The truth is, Jesus did show compassion to them. He told them to go and show themselves to the priests which would have been the right thing to do via the priestly law under the Old Covenant law of Moses. Then, the Bible says as all ten lepers left to go to the priest, all ten were healed, but the only one who returned to humbly offer thanks and give all the glory to God for his gift of healing, (who returned immediately by the way), was the Samaritan. Upon which Jesus said, “Rise and go your way, you faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19).
It is wonderful and amazing what a thankful heart will do! But first and foremost, a heart accustomed to Godly gratitude will increasingly give God the glory!
Think about it! Dr. Luke, a physician, offers us the key to a healthy and vibrant Christian life not matter what the circumstances! As sure as faith and salvation go hand-in-hand, the body and the Body of Christ will only thrive to the proportion that it is truly thankful to God!
Thank You, Lord!
Adorenament No. 1: Immanuel
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23
Many years ago, I ordered an “Adornament” kit in the mail produced by FamilyLife containing twelve Christmas ornaments entitled, Adorenaments. So, for twelve Mondays in the 2016-2017 Advent/Christmas Season, I am going to share with you a clip of what I will be hanging on our Adorenament tree which has been placed in our sanctuary for both children and adults to contemplate this holiday season. The first Adorenament features the baby Jesus in His manger with today’s Scripture written across the design.
The truth is, hundreds of years before Jesus Christ was born, it was foretold (See Isaiah 7:14), that a virgin mother would bring a very special baby into the world—the Son of God. This baby would not be a normal baby. He is perfect—without sin—because He is God, but He was like us in that He was human. He’s both God and man! Therefore, one of His names is Immanuel, or ‘God with us.’
The name Immanuel (or Emmanuel) shows how much Almighty God loves us by coming to earth as a man to save us. Jesus made it possible for us to have a relationship with the Father, for He took our sin upon Himself so we, in turn, could be forgiven and made right with God now and forever! Only the sinless Son of God, the God-man could accomplish this!
Jesus also came that we might understand God the Father and the life He wants us to live. Jesus lived, ate, slept, drank water, and breathed air as we do. He was happy, sad, angry, and tempted as we are—yet He did not sin. He was the perfect example for us on how we are to live our lives to please God.
Also by coming to earth, God could understand us! How awesome is that! As Max Lucado says, “God gets us!” We don’t fully understand this mystery—that Jesus can be both God above us and God with us, but we know from the Bible that it’s true! Immanuel: God with us, now and forever!