Seed Of Faith

Weekly Seed of Faith 10/13/2018

SEED OF FAITH — THE PRODIGAL FATHER  

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  Luke 15:20

 

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the love and grace of our blessed Savior! Hope your week has been wonderful! There are so many signs of fall around–even in Southern California! It’s apple-picking time, pumpkins abound, and the trees are losing their leaves. It’s getting dark by 7 pm and there’s finally a “chill” in the air! We’ve even had RAIN here: the song is false: “it never rains in California” oh, indeed, it does! And everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

We are going to be thinking about the word “prodigal” in this SEED OF FAITH. The word “prodigal” means “to spend money or resources freely, recklessly, wastefully and extravagantly”.  Have you ever thought of God’s love as being prodigal? or reckless? or wasteful? or extravagant? I often sit and read my word.  I ask the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom on what I’m reading.  At church, we’ve been signing “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. It really has me thinking. What does reckless mean?  What does it mean to say that God’s love is reckless? Reckless means “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.” The synonyms for reckless are “impetuous, impulsive, audacious, wild, uncontrolled and hasty.”  When you think of God’s love, do these words pop into your mind?

But the truth is that God’s love IS wild, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled, impetuous, audacious, prodigal, extravagant, and lavish!  And this is what Luke fifteen is all about.  Here we find the extravagant, audacious, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled and reckless love of our Almighty God and Heavenly Father.  Take a few moments this week and read Luke 15. As always, be sure to put yourself in the story: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (could be daughter.) I have read and read this story repeatedly.  Every time I read it, it brings tears to my eyes.  I’m so glad for my many thoughtful teachers who have taught me to put myself into the stories of the Bible, to find myself there IN the story. I have put myself into these stories in so many ways. I’ve been the lost sheep. I’ve gone looking for lost sheep. I’ve lost something priceless to me and I’ve searched everywhere for it.  (Right now I’m searching for an envelope that I’ve tucked somewhere “safe”!) I have been the younger son who ran away in this story many times over and I have been the older son, too, who didn’t want to go inside and celebrate the younger son’s success!  What struck me this week in my reading was the reception that the younger son received.

When the younger son came to his senses after living senselessly, he decided to return home. All the way home, the younger son practiced his speech, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”   Don’t miss the next statement.

Look at verse twenty!
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The first thing here in this story:  the son came to his senses.  The second thing he did was get up and head back home.

The story Jesus is telling here now takes a radical and reckless turn. As the son heads home, the father sees him while he is a long way off. The Greek word for “long way off” is “makron” and means “at the farthest point, far away, far off, a great distance.”  That father was looking and waiting and watching for his son. He had to have been doing this for many days. He wasn’t checking the local store or sheepfold for his son.  He was looking in the far distance for the shadow of a person returning. As I read this story this week, I was blessed to think about how God waited, and watched for me to return from my far country.  How about you? He has waited and watched for you, too! What I glean from this story is that God sees you and me, even if we are far away in the far country.  God sees our hearts and has compassion on us.  The Father was filled with compassion when he saw his son on his return journey home. 

And then the Father ran.  He took off running in order to be the first one to greet his son! Think of that reception!  Why would the father run?  Because in their culture, it would be unheard of for an older man to run.  The father would have had to pull up his robe in order to run.  In pulling up his robe, the father would be exposing his legs. In this time, that act was considered SHAMEFUL. How dare the father pull up his robe to RUN to his wayward son. Let that scene sink in.

“My son! Look!  Look! My son–he’s returning home.” The father runs outside of the town into the countryside in order to greet his son before the son reached the town, the father made sure everyone understood the picture, “No shame for my son. Put the shame on me for showing my legs to run to him.” The father runs to his son, threw his arms around him and hugs and kisses him repeatedly!   Can you imagine how filthy dirty the son was?  The son had lost everything, he had been living with pigs, wearing rags.  How awful he must have smelled.

Ah–the beautiful scent of smell! Brings me back to when our son returned from his first missionary trip to Tanzania, Africa. Brian had spent the summer in Tanzania doing mission work when the embassies were bombed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.  The last week that Brian was there the missionaries were instructed to keep a low profile because of the bombing.  Brian emailed us and asked us to pray for him.  He wrote that they asked him to keep a low profile.  Then he wrote, “How do I do that?  I am 6’4” and I am very pale white.” The missionaries he worked for drove Brian out to the outside of town. They put him with the Masai tribe so he could keep a low profile.  The Masai lived out in the bush country of Tanzania in huts made of elephant dung. Yes, Brian lived a week in a hut made of elephant dung.  When things were safe, the missionaries picked him up and put him on a plane for the states. No shower, no bath. Brian tried to wash off as best he could–but at 6’4″–the plane’s restroom was pretty tiny. He landed in Chicago after a week of living in the bush in an elephant dung hut with no shower. You cannot imagine how badly he smelled. It was over 100 degrees that August day when we picked him up–but let me tell you that we rode home with the windows down! Here’s what I remember:

When I saw him coming through the gate, I didn’t care how he smelled.  My son was home! I hugged him and kissed him. I was so thankful that he was finally home safe.

I can only imagine how happy the father was to see his lost son returning home.  He didn’t care how he looked or smelled.  His son was back home! The father ran to his son, took the shame and guilt of showing his legs, and ran and hugged and kissed his son who once was lost but now was found!

So What?
So, what do these ancient words mean to us today? Today we reflect on the reckless, unconditional, audacious, outrageous and extravagant love of our Heavenly Father. God loved us before any human person loved us. “We love Him because He first loved us.” God loves us with a first love, an unlimited love and a reckless love. God will go out and search for us like the lost sheep.  God will sweep the house clean in order to find us like the precious, valuable, lost coin.  God will wait, watch and run to us when he sees us finally returning home to Him.  Our Prodigal Father loves us with a outrageous, audacious, extravagant and reckless love.

My “so what” question is not “How do I find this Prodigal Father?” but “How can I be found by my Prodigal Father?”

The question is not “How am I to know this Prodigal Father?” but “How am I to let myself be known by my Prodigal Father?” 

The question is not “How am I to love my Prodigal Father?” but “How can I let myself be loved by my Prodigal Father?”

Imagine this with me. You have a son.  You love your son.  You also love baseball and wrestling. Your son isn’t much for wrestling, but he does love baseball.  Matter of fact, he gets a college scholarship to play baseball.  He’s a great catcher. He can hit, catch and he can throw you out at second.  He’s 6’4” and over 200 pounds big.
And during his second year of college, he calls home to share the bad news. “Dad, I’m not going to play baseball this summer.” WHAT? WHAT IS THIS NEWS I’M HEARING? Long pause and then I ask, “WHY NOT, SON?” “I’m going on a summer mission trip to Africa.  I won’t have time to learn Kiswahili if I play baseball.”

In a funny sort of way, my son went to the far country.  I was excited and happy for him—but what about baseball?  I mean, this kid could play MLB!

And then, off he goes. My wife and I and his beautiful girlfriend drove him to the airport. Jac was so shook up after he boarded the plane, she walked into the men’s bathroom! We’d never had a child go off to Africa.  And then a week before he returns home, there’s a couple of bombings right where he is. It’s all political. We have no idea of what’s happening except for the brief email that informs us that our son is in hiding.  I get the story here in Luke. Our son, in far away Africa, is hiding for his life. The week passes, and we are at the Chicago airport awaiting his arrival. Despite the smell of week-long elephant dung—our son is home! Nothing else mattered. Get that kid home…get him a hot shower…some Italian lasagna….roll the windows down—my son is back home. Who cares about baseball? Who cares about anything else? My son is home with his two sisters…and our family is complete.

Did you hear me?  Envision this:  when YOU returned home to our heavenly, prodigal God, God’s family was complete!
Let those words sink deeply into your heart.

Our Prodigal Father has a reckless love for us!
Our Prodigal Father is looking into the distance for us!
Our Prodigal Father is trying to find us!
Our Prodigal Father RUNS TO US.
Our Prodigal Father wants to give us the best robe, ring and sandals!
Our Prodigal Father wants to rejoice and celebrate with us!

Nothing else matters…except that YOU ARE HOME.

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you
 
God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

 

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 9/27/18

Seed of Faith – Reckless Living to Reckless Love By Pastor Dave  

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there he squandered his wealth in wild living.” Luke 15:13

Dear Saintly Seed Sowers and Faithful Family and Friends of the SEED:

Greetings in the love of God and the grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit!

My wife shared a Facebook quote with me the other day — the quote goes like this?
One friend said to the other friend, “Do I really need the Holy Spirit to go to Heaven?”
The friend looked at her wildly and said, “Honey, you need the Holy Spirit just to go to Wal-Mart!”

What a topsy-turvy world we live in these days. I love how the stories of the Bible can stretch from years gone by clear through today. We all know a younger son who is like the son in our story. We are know an older brother like the one in our story. But do we all know a father like the one in our story?

We return to our series on “The Reckless Love of God.” For the past few months, we have been looking at the fifteenth chapter of Luke. Teachers and scholars often claim that this chapter is called “the Gospel inside the Gospel.” Are you aware that the word “gospel” means Good News? The stories found in Luke fifteen are really and truly “Good News!” The lost sheep is found and the shepherd says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” (Luke 15:6) The woman who lost her coin then finds her coin after sweeping her house clean shouts, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” (Luke 15:9). Luke 15 contains some great stories: lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. They are great stories of great rejoicing.

These stories have been on my mind for a long time. Why? Because through Dr. Luke, we have a Gospel of good news about a God who has a “Reckless Love” for lost things and lost people. Back in February, I was training to serve in a grace weekend back in my hometown of Rochelle, Illinois. The leader of the weekend sent me his bible verse for the weekend and the theme song he had picked. I had never heard the song so I went to the internet to give it a listen. I got stuck on the word “reckless”. Is God’s love really reckless? I talked with my Monday group about this. I spoke with my Wednesday night group about it, too. I discussed it with my Thursday morning, men’s breakfast. Then I got busy on preaching from Luke 15 and there it was: the reckless love of God. There’s 100 sheep. One is missing. The shepherd leaves the 99 in order to go find the lost sheep.

The truth is that God’s love IS reckless; it’s wild,outrageous, uncontrolled, impetuous, audacious, prodigal, extravagant, and lavish. And this is what Luke fifteen is all about. The extravagant, audacious, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled and reckless love of God. Take a few moments and read chapter 15 of Luke. We have a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.

Our story in today’s SEED OF FAITH is one about reckless living. Jesus told the Pharisees and the teachers of the law this parable when they were accusing Him of eating with tax-collectors and sinners. Who were the tax-collectors and sinners that Jesus was speaking of? Many of them were no different from the reckless-living, younger son who demanded his inheritance and went to the far country to live. The tax collectors were Jews who extorted money from their own people for the Roman government. The sinners were just that—those who were squandered in reckless living!

Let me set the stage. When the younger son asked his father for his share of the inheritance, he was basically saying that the father was dead to him as far as he was concerned. He wanted his share of the inheritance right now so that he could go live the way he wanted to live.

What was going on the mind of the younger son? Why would he ask his father to give him his share of the inheritance and insult his father that way? “Dad, you’re as good as dead to me. I’m outta here. Give my money.” I think the younger son longed for a life where he could have zero responsibilities. He could get up when he wanted to and and go when he wanted to go! No list to check off. No sheep to shear. No calf to feed. No animals or grain to waste his time with. He had better things on the horizon. His life at home was too constraining, too controlling and too demanding. The younger son was not satisfied with his position in the family. He wanted to be his own boss, so fork over the dough. I wonder if he was a little bit jealous of his older brother. The first born sons received the birthright: 2/3 of what Dad had. The younger son was only getting 1/3. Maybe he didn’t want to work so hard because his brother was going to profit off of him? We really don’t know; the story doesn’t say.

As I thought about this passage, it sounded like a familiar story to me? Can you identify?

Maybe this story is even more relevant in our culture today than it was then. Our culture has deliberately chosen to push God out of the picture. We live in a self-sufficient, self-consumed society. I don’t think Frank Sinatra was the originator of the saying — “I did it my way.” I’m pretty sure the reckless living of the younger son defines this life style well.

Look at verse thirteen. Luke says it this way, “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” (Luke 15:13)

The Greek word for “squandered” can be translated “to scatter, to spread around or waste.” I wonder if the younger son got to the far country and started to buy the nicest robes, the best food and expensive walking staffs. Or did he use his inheritance to buy nice jewelry or the best donkey or camel or did he go all out and buy an expensive horse to ride? Did he go and rent the nicest house in town? Again, the bible doesn’t tell us but we certainly can imagine what was going on.

When we lived in Texas, my wife worked at the Liz Claiborne store. The store was located in a huge outlet mall. The manager of Liz Claiborne was a very good friend of the manager at the Coach store in the same outlet. Every day at 3pm, the manager of Liz Claiborne would call down to the Coach store to see if their sales had hit $30,000 by 3pm. If they did, the manager at Liz Claiborne knew that their store was going to have a good day, too! (I wonder if the younger son went shopping at the outlet mall in the far country before the famine hit and squandered his money there?)

The Greek word Luke uses for “wild living” is “asotos.” This word is translated, “senseless, reckless, prodigal, wastefully, and wild.”  I think that Jesus is saying that the lost son had lost his senses and was living a reckless and wasteful life. He was a prodigal son, living far removed from his family’s ways.

COME TO YOUR SENSES
How many people today are living a senseless, wasteful and reckless life without God? They have taken their inheritance and gone off to the far country to live. They’ve taken all of their gifts, their time, talents, treasure and claim them as their own, they’ve taken off to live life without father. They’ve rejected His homestead and are doing it “my way.”

I don’t know where you are in your relationship with your heavenly Father but today’s story is for us! There’s something here for us to learn in the story of reckless living.

In his best-selling book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Philip Yancy tells the story of a conference on comparative religions held in Britain several decades ago.

A group of theologians and other religious intellectuals were discussing whether any single belief was totally unique to Christianity. Different possibilities were put forth. Perhaps the Incarnation? No, other religions, including the Greek and Roman mythologies, had stories of gods becoming human in form. Resurrection? No, other religions also had stories of people returning from the dead. The debate continued for some time, when writer C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked. They told him they were discussing what Christianity’s unique contribution might be among world religions. Very forthrightly, Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

After some discussion, the conferees had to agree. The concept that God’s love comes to us free of charge, with no strings attached, opposes every bit of human logic. The Buddhists have an eightfold path to enlightenment, the Hindus have the concept of Karma, the Jews seek to adhere to the Torah and Muslims have their code of law from the Koran. Each religion has its own way for people to earn divine approval. Only Christianity dares to declare God’s love unconditional — grace.[i]

So What?
One of our “so what” questions for today is for us to take a moment, look at your life and see where we may have wandered into a far country. Do we take our time, our talents or our treasures—and do we lift them high and dedicate them in thanksgiving to our Father God? Or do we run away fast and hard, and spend ourselves on reckless living?

What about the son who stayed and worked hard for the Father? Was he reckless? He did everything the father asked of him—except he didn’t come in and join the party when his little brother returned home. “Dad gave him the best robe, the family signet ring, and killed the best cow we had–for what? Party boy brother? I’ve stayed here and I’ve broken my back working for Dad. What about me?”

One son sang Sinatra’s song, “My way?” The other son sang the blues.

Where are you in this story?
I have good news: it really doesn’t matter because the reckless love of God is going to fully embrace you no matter what. The single belief that separates Christianity from every other religion is this: Grace. Undeserved. Unearned. Freely given.

If you’ve run away, squandered your life on reckless living…come home.

If you’re angry and upset about your brother or sister getting the new car, or diamond ring, or the deed to the house, come home.

We serve a Father who celebrates each and every one of us. Every single day of our lives is numbered. Our Father has a plan for good for us, a plan of hope but we can’t receive it if we stay outside and pout and compare and complain.

One day, every knee is going to bow to Jesus. I’m going to be at that party. I’m going to have the best robe, the family signet ring, and I’m going to be some pretty darn-good BBQ. And guess what? You can, too.

SEED You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing AND RECKLESS love and so do I,
Pastor Dave

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 9/1/2018

Seed of Faith – Reckless Love   By Pastor Dave  

“And when he finds the lost sheep, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”  Luke 15:5-6

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

Today we turn our attention to a wonderful chapter in the Gospel of Luke. I believe that Luke 15 is one of the most powerful chapters in all of the Bible because, to me, Luke 15 illustrates God’s deep, unfailing love. This past spring, I had the opportunity to travel back home to Illinois to help on a grace-based weekend called Tres Dias.  One of the theme songs of the weekend was the song, Reckless Love by Cory Asbury.  if you have never heard the song, here is the link for a Youtube video.  https://youtu.be/Sc6SSHuZvQE  Stop for a moment and listen to this song.

When I first heard the song, I got stuck on the word “RECKLESS.”  How could God’s love be reckless?  Why would I ever call God’s love for me reckless? What does reckless mean?  The word actually means “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.” Listen to some of the synonyms for the word reckless: “impetuous, impulsive, audacious, wild, uncontrolled and hasty.”  When you think of God’s love, I am sure that none of these words instantly pops into your mind.  Matter of fact, I would say that I had often thought of God’s love as controlled, not hasty, careful not impetuous, cautious not impulsive, and gentle rather than wild. This song really made me think. I like when that happens to me. I came home and asked my worship leader if he could listen to it. It didn’t take long for that song to become a crowd favorite.

Here’s the real truth:  God’s love IS wild, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled, impetuous, audacious, prodigal, extravagant, and lavish. And that is what Luke fifteen is all about: the extravagant, audacious, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled and reckless love of God.

Before we get to Luke fifteen, we need to set the stage.  Before we do that, let us come before the throne of God who loves us with a reckless love.  “Lord, God of unfailing love, may Your steadfast, outrageous, lavish love fill our hearts today.  Let us be transformed by Your reckless love.  Amen”

Hear the Good News from our good friend, Dr. Luke, about the reckless love of God that comes to rescue us from all the places we have ever been or from the place where we are right now!

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:1-7

As we look at the opening of Luke 15, we see two sides and we are presented two different views. Luke tells us that the tax-collectors and sinners were gathered around Jesus. Here is an interesting side note–tax-collectors were so reviled and outcast by the Jews that their tithes or offerings were not accepted inside the synagogue. In Jesus’ time, tax-collectors were worse than heathen sinners!  But here we read that both the tax-collectors and the sinners were gathered to hear Jesus.  I love that Jesus never labeled anyone as hopeless. When he saw the people gathering around Him, He saw people who needed redemption.  He saw people who needed to be rescued.  He saw people who needed God’s reckless love.

What I found interesting in my study were the verbs in the opening sentences. The tax-collectors and sinners were gathering.  The verb for gathering is in the present-active tense, which means that the tax collectors were constantly and continually gathering, drawing near, approaching and coming around Jesus.  In other words, they never stopped coming around Jesus! Like a moth to the light, they kept gathering around Jesus.  Next we are told that the Pharisees and teachers of the law were muttering.  Have you ever muttered about something or someone? We all have found ourselves muttering at one time or another. Now let me clarify. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were the shepherds who were not doing what they were supposed to be doing … caring for the sheep.  Their job was to look after the lost sheep!  And the muttering that they were doing was a constant, unending act of complaining, grumbling and muttering.The Pharisees and the teachers of the law set up the story of the outrageous, audacious, lavish, and reckless love of Jesus when they say, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of Jesus!

Did you catch the word that opened my heart this week? Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.  The Greek word for welcomes is “προσδέχομαι prosdechomai.”  Yes, “welcomes” is the verb and it is in the present tense meaning the action of welcome is unending, everlasting, ceaseless and non-stop!  The word “prosdechomai” is translated “accepts, receives, have as a guest, look for, receive willingly, receive favorably, wait for, and welcome!” Jesus continually welcomes us sinners and even eats a meal with us!

Do you get the picture?!  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep. When he finds the lost sheep, he doesn’t beat or berate the sheep. Jesus receives the lost sheep willingly, favorably, and accepts that lost sheep as a guest and welcomes that lost sheep home with Him.  When Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep, He is telling us about the reckless love of God!  Why would God leave the 99 sheep and go looking for one lost sheep!?  That is not reasonable!  That does not make any sense!  That is not practical or logical!  The searching for the one lost sheep is reckless.

I love the ending of this parable!  The Good Shepherd goes in search of…and finds…the lost sheep. Sheep are not known for being intelligent. They wander off searching for greener grass. They tumble down steep terrain and end up bleating “Help!” from their backs. My guess is that this lost sheep is tired from wandering. Jesus gently puts the lost sheep on his shoulders and heads for home. What I hear as I listen to Jesus and this parable is that when Jesus finds us He puts all our sins, our failures, our shame and guilt on His shoulders, too. When Christ died on the cross, His final words were, “It is finished.” Whatever you’ve done, wherever Christ finds you–please know that He has left the 99 behind in order to carry you back home. All that sin that entangles you has been nailed to the cross of Calvary and it’s finished. The victory and peace of the resurrection will now enfold you and carry you home.

SO WHAT?
What happens when the lost sheep is greeted back home? “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:6b-7  
Can you identify? Have you ever been that lost sheep? I have. Jesus has found me and carried me home. Instead of being shunned, I am loved. Instead of paying off my lifetime of debt owed from my foolish choices, I am rejoiced over. Stop here. Take this in. I want you to hear Jesus say this over you, “REJOICE WITH ME; I HAVE FOUND MY LOST SHEEP, (put your name here).”

Here’s the truth of what Jesus was saying to the tax collectors and sinners: The Good Shepherd will search and search and search for you until you are found. I read an interesting fact the other day. People need at least 7 nudges from God until they finally give God their heart. (Some of us need more than 7!)

You know what the real “So What?” is for today? That God’s love really is reckless. No matter who you are or where you are, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done–the Good Shepherd has left the 99 and is looking for YOU. And when you are found–there is great rejoicing.

Whether you are in the crowd of tax-collectors or sinners, or whether you are standing in the crowd of Pharisees and teachers of the law, none of that matter to Jesus.

Don’t let the world and its ways hold you back.  Don’t let your sin and shame hold you back.  Don’t let your fears or failures hold you back.  The Reckless Love of God wants to welcome you, accept you, look for you, receive you willingly and favorably!  It is never too late for the Reckless Love of God to find you and to welcome you back home.

Let us pray … Jesus, how we thank you for Dr. Luke who tells your story. Maybe we aren’t the lost sheep anymore.  Maybe we know of a lost sheep who needs to be found. We are thankful for your reckless love that abandons the 99 and finds the one who is lost.  Right now we pray for those who are lost. (Pause and pray.) Jesus, thank you for coming to find each one of us. Thank you for welcoming us back home. We celebrate as you continue to find the other lost sheep and bring them home. We rejoice for your work done on the cross and for the empty tomb. Most of all, we praise you for your RECKLESS LOVE. Amen.

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/5/18

Seed of Faith – Reconciliation Hope  By Pastor Dave  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gace us the ministry ofreconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

Dear Friends and faithful Seed Sowers!

Happy 4th of July! What thanks we give for those who’ve fought for our freedom. May we celebrate the blessings of the USA:  liberty, faith, justice and freedom. Speaking of freedom, I am also very thankful for the freedom of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. I cannot think of July 4th without also thinking of Christ. The Bible tells us that it is freedom that Christ has set us free.  It is my prayer that as you read this Seed of Faith you will find some freedom in these words and that Christ will set YOU free!

So What? What does it mean that we have been given a ministry of reconciliation?
Look at all of the times that the word reconcile (or some form of it) is used in these three verses! I count five times in three verses.  I would say that the Apostle Paul is trying to tell us something very important about reconciling.

A few months ago, I was in Illinois for a retreat called Tres Dias. On the way there, and during the week, I spent my time in the air writing on this passage in my journal. So much of my time as a pastor is spent on forgiveness–both in forgiving someone, and in being forgiven.  What I can attest to is that it’s tricky work–forgiveness. Do you know that there’s a version of the passage that reads, “The old is going, going, gone and the new is coming, coming coming!” Sometimes, I find this to be true. Sometimes I have to keep forgiving because I keep pulling it back out of God’s hands.  Have you ever done that? A friend of mine told me that she has been on the forgiveness yo yo for years but that after many years, she has finally come to peace and now knows the forgiveness she so needed is now complete–kind of like a puzzle. Sometimes our puzzle of forgiveness is only one or two pieces–those are the easy puzzles and we are delighted when we can forgive and move on  or be forgiven and move on. But other times, that puzzle contains 500-1,000 pieces and it’s just a whole lot more complicated.  Like I said, forgiveness is tricky work. My best advice: keep forgiving. Keep at it. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself–so keep forgiving.

When I was in Rochelle, I was able to be a part of a story regarding forgiveness. The story is about my own family. You may, or may not, know that when I was 12 my oldest brother was killed in a car accident. Our family was forever fractured at that moment. If you’ve lost someone you loved, you hear me and you understand. Tragedy is a night and day event that forever changes your life. Our family was no different. We tried to cope. The loss was huge and I’m not sure our family ever recovered from it. There were 3 brothers and our parents left after our eldest brother was killed. That was in 1968–it’s been 50 years this year. Our family has been what you’d call “fractured”. But this trip to work the Tres Dias Men’s weekend helped me to put more of the puzzle pieces into place for my family.

My dad is now almost 90. At the age of 80, he had heart surgery. I flew out to give support to Mama Sue. My dad recovered beautifully from his surgery! He kept feeling like there was something that he needed to do. Pastor John had told my dad that God didn’t take him because God still had work for him to do. My dad thought maybe he was supposed to go drive a truck or help the farmers get ready for harvest. I kept telling my Dad that God wanted to use him to bring healing to our family–his three sons–and that’s the work God was doing.

A few years later, my Dad made the Tres Dias weekend and he has been working hard ever since to live a life of grace. It’s now ten years later and my dad has made many bridges of love and grace and forgiveness with two of his sons but we still had one son to reach. After the weekend this Spring, my son and I decided that we’d catch the Cub/Cardinal game at Wrigley Field that Monday. Funny thing–the game was canceled due to SNOW! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Baseball in April canceled because it’s snowed out?

Well, with no game to go to we decided that maybe it was time to bring my dad out to see my older brother where he worked. I texted my brother to see if that would be okay and he agreed. My dad, my son and I finished our lunch and headed to see my brother..  We walked in and said our hellos and gave hugs. For the first 15-20 minutes, my son and I talked about our families and then we got caught up with my brother and his family.  At this point,  I asked my dad if there was anything he wanted to say. My dad told my brother he was sorry. My brother forgave my dad. It had been 12 years since they had last talked. When we turned to leave, my dad told my brother that he loved him. What a beautiful story of God’s amazing grace…but it didn’t stop there.

My son, my dad and I decided to go to lay flowers on my mom’s grave–in the snow. While we were there, the three of us visited my oldest brother’s grave. That’s when I realized that my brother had been gone for almost 50 years.

The story doesn’t end here, either.

My son and I then called my younger brother and asked if he and his wife would meet us for dinner! My dad, my step-mama, my son, and my brother and his wife enjoyed a most wonderful Italian meal together.

And here is where the story finally ends: On that day my 89-year-old father was able to visit all 4 of his sons. All because the Cub/Cardinal game was snowed out. I call it Miracle Monday.

Like I said before, sometimes forgiveness happens in a day and sometimes it takes a very long time. Here is what we need to know:  God works in our delays.

Look again at these words of Paul —
18) “God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19) “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
20) Be reconciled to God.

Paul uses the word reconcile five times here. The word in Greek means: “to change, to leave, to give away, to make things right with another person.

First, God reconciles us to Himself. First God changes us, leaves our ways behind us, gives away to a new kind of life, and makes things right with us. We are forgiven and we are reconciled to God! Next, we are given the beautiful ministry of reconciliation. Where are you being asked to change, or to leave behind, or to give away, or to make things right with another person?

This is your “so what?” for this July 4th weekend.

In closing, I have to add this golden nugget of truth. Forgiveness takes one (you). Reconciliation takes at least two. There are times when the other person doesn’t want to have anything to do with you or with forgiveness and reconciliation is impossible–at least for a while. Sometimes you have to accept that all you can do is forgive…and keep forgiving if you have to.

For 50 years, I have been saddened by the death of my older brother. For many years, I have prayed for our family to reconcile. We serve a mighty God. This God can move mountains and this God can snow out any baseball game listed.

Luke 1:37 says, “Nothing is impossible with God.” Our job is to keep trusting, and to keep praying. I pray everyday for you. I know that many of you carry sorrow in your heart. This is a hard world sometimes. May God bless you in your ministry…of reconciliation.

Seed You Sunday! For our good friends in Lusaka, Zambia — Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I” Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you    God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I, Pastor Dave www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Seed of Faith, Resurrection Hope 6/23/2018

Seed of Faith – Resurrection Hope 

By Pastor Dave

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  John 21:15

Dear Seed-Sowers and family of God:
This week’s message comes from the Gospel of John chapter 21. This is a powerful story of resurrection reconciliation. I encourage you to read the whole account found in John 21.  It is only twenty-five verses long …but this story is filled with words of hope and reconciliation. This is a long SEED of FAITH and I will begin it today and finish it next week.

As always, put yourself into the story. Here’s the scene: Jesus has risen! They’ve all seen Jesus by now. He’s walked into the Upper Room and spoken, “Peace!” He’s eaten with them, and asked Thomas to put his fingers into His wounds. Jesus has also asked the disciples to wait for what He is sending.

Waiting.  That’s a hard word. Have you been waiting for something? Time sure does not fly when you are waiting. 

Peter and a few other disciples decided they needed to go do what they did before they knew Jesus:  FISH! So off they went with Peter as the ring leader. They hopped in a boat and went fishing.  As you may already know, night fishing is really good fishing.  The disciples were up all-night fishing.  Please remember, these aren’t disciples turned fishermen, these are fishermen turned disciples.  Their main occupation was fishing. Instead of waiting for the promise of something to happen, these old fishermen went out at night. They fished all night long and caught a whopping, zero, nada, absolutely nothing.  Morning is breaking, and a man appears on the shore.  He has a small fire going and is cooking up a little breakfast–fish and chips. The man hollers to the fishermen. He invites them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. “Who does this guy think he is?” “We are professionals.  We don’t need this rookie’s help.” But…reluctantly they oblige and end up catching so many fish that they can barely haul the net back into the boat.  John looks at the fish in the net and the guy on the shore and declares that this has to be Jesus.  Peter throws on his clothes, jumps in the water and swims the 100 yards to shore (modern day football field).  The rest of the disciples follow in the boat with the net full of fish.  Jesus invites all of them to the fire for breakfast. Sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?
 
Imagine cold, wet, tired disciples sitting around the campfire. In the foreground is a rocky beach and the blue water. The principal characters are:  Jesus, Peter and six other disciples. Here’s what I imagine: Jesus has his back to the blue sea and is standing in the soft glow of the fire. The smoke from the fire floats slowly around the disciples. No one is saying anything because by now they’ve all figured out that the man standing in front of them is their risen Lord and Savior. 
 
What do you think Peter was thinking?

For us to truly understand what is about to happen in this story, we need to go back a few weeks before the Crucifixion. Jesus had taken his disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, (the ekklesia — the called out ones ) and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)
 
Jesus has called Peter “the Rock” because Peter has declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
 
The story now continues with Jesus bringing His disciples to Jerusalem for the Passover. This is when Jesus gathered the disciples in the Upper Room, washed their feet and gave them the new command to love one another. Jesus has now told his disciples that the time has come and he is going away. Peter, good old, boisterous, outspoken, brash, impetuous, bold Peter says, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” (John 13:36-38)
 
All four Gospels tell the story of Peter denying Jesus–not once but three times.  This is Matthew’s account:  Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.  But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”  He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.”  Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:69-75)
 
In order to fully understand today’s story, we need to understand what happened to Peter just weeks earlier:  Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Fast forward a few weeks, when Jesus could really use a man like Peter on his side, Peter denies three times that he doesn’t even know Jesus.  And then the rooster crows.

REJECTION
That’s the first point of today’s message.  We all fail.  We all sin.  We all disappoint.  Throw it all under REJECTION.   Why in one moment are we loving Jesus and in the next moment we act as if we don’t know Him at all?  One day we are worshiping and praising God for all that God has done for us, and the next day we act like we have no idea who Jesus is?
 
RESURRECTION
I’m 100% convinced that the resurrection changes everything! The resurrection overcomes sin.  Resurrection brings light into the darkness.  The resurrection conquers doubt.  The resurrection overcomes fear.  The resurrection brings hope in the midst of failure.  The resurrection restores the rejected. The resurrection brings life from death.  And here is Peter’s dilemma:  “What side of the resurrection will I live on?”

It’s a good question that we should ask ourselves. What side of the resurrection am I going to live on?

Will Peter live on the side of rejection or resurrection?
 
RECONCILIATION
Finally, breakfast was finished, and Jesus had their attention to speak.   I wonder what was going on with Peter.  I can only imagine that Peter’s heart must have skipped a beat when he heard the Lord’s words, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

The Lord was asking, “Simon, do you truly love me?   “After all that has happened, Peter, are you willing to say, out loud and publicly, that you love me?”  Jesus’ words were cutting to the heart.  Jesus said — “do you love me more than these?”  I think that the minute Jesus turned to him and said his name, Peter’s heart began to race, his stomach churned, his cheeks burned, and his eyes misted. This was a tense moment.  Peter was thinking,  “Jesus wants to have a talk with me about the rooster crowing.” Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Is that once for each denial? Perhaps.
 
SO WHAT?
Have you ever been where Peter is?  You’ve done something you are not proud of.  You’ve hurt someone you love deeply by your words or actions. Let us receive the hope in this story:  Jesus met Peter right where Peter was. When Jesus needed Peter the most, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.  After the resurrection, Peter disobeys by going fishing instead of waiting. They were told by Jesus to WAIT.  You just gotta love Peter. After all of Peter’s poor choices,  I am sure he is thinking, “Come on, Jesus, let’s get this over with. YELL AT ME!” 
 
Instead of giving Peter the “what for,” Jesus met Peter right where he was—on the sea fishing instead of waiting.  One of the “so what’s?” for us today is for us to hear that Jesus will meet us right where we are, too.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our tears. Jesus will meet us in the midst of our fears.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our doubts.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our disobedience.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our rejection–of Him.
 
Here’s an interesting side note:  Jesus has addressed Peter as “Simon son of John,” which was Peter’s name before he met Christ. This is a play on words. Peter’s old name, Simon, meant “pebble,” a tiny, light, unstable rock. But Jesus has changed Simon’s name to “Peter” (Cephas) –meaning “rock.” By calling Peter Simon, Jesus is asking him if he is going to go back to who he was before he met Jesus or is he going to be the man that Jesus sees him as.  Are you Peter, the pebble or are you Peter, the rock? 
 
I think we can identify with Peter in a lot of ways.  I certainly identify with Peter. I became a believer in Jesus in 1981. Five years later, I was still battling it out with God: MY WAY or God’s way. Most of the time, I obeyed God’s ways but there were days when I chose myself. One night I was away from my family. I went to a place I didn’t belong with my work staff. We’d gone to a convention in Atlanta. I didn’t want to branded as “different” so I went along but I brought my bible with me–thinking that would help. At one point in the night, I heard the voice of an angel say, “Raphael, Raphael, choose life or choose death.” I turned to my friend and asked if he heard what the guy said. Nope. The angel said it again. Right at that moment, I knew. I had a choice: life or death. I picked up my bible and caught a cab back to the hotel. Jesus and I had a long talk that early morning. Was Jesus enough for me? Would I choose Jesus over any other worldly thing the world offered? David James Peters, let go. Let God.

Here’s your “So What?”
Jesus is on the shore of your life. Wherever you live, He’s there. No matter where you’ve been.  No matter what you’ve done. The question is the same for each one of us. Are you ready? Here’s the question: DO YOU LOVE ME? For me, the question came in a choice to choose life or death. I chose life that night. That’s my prayer for you.  What side of the resurrection are you choosing to live on?  The rejection of Jesus side or the resurrection of Jesus side.  The choice is 100% yours.

There’s more to this story. We’ll finish it up next week!

Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/16/2018

Seed of Faith – Hope Renewed  

By Pastor Dave  

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Greetings! Are you ready for Spring to end and for Summer to be here in full force? I am!

IToday I encourage you to read through the account of the resurrection as told in Luke 24:36-49.  We all need to have our hope renewed! As you read, it is my prayer that you will hear Jesus’ powerful words, “Peace be with you.”  May the peace of Jesus be with you no matter what you are going through. May you hear these words as you battle the world, the flesh or the enemy. As you sell your house, buy a house, look at your bank account, tend to a sick spouse, take that chemo pill, have that surgery, cradle that sick baby–may you hear the risen Lord Jesus speak into your life, “PEACE!”

Luke’s Gospel account of the Resurrection is found in chapter 24. We are told that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women ran back from the tomb and told the disciples that Jesus had risen.  Next we are told that Peter ran to the tomb and came back and told the disciples the same thing:  the tomb is empty, Jesus has risen from the tomb.  We are told that Cleopas and his companion came running back–seven miles from Emaus—in order to tell the disciples that their hearts were burning within them because they had seen and talked with Jesus who was risen from the tomb. After all of these encounters and reports, we are told that the disciples and all those gathered in the Upper Room were  still troubled and doubting.

Troubled and doubting.
On November 9, 1965, at 5:16p.m. events were set in motion that brought New York City to a standstill. A backup relay switch at the Sir Adam Beck power station in Ontario, Canada, was accidentally set too low to handle increasing power transmissions, and it tripped. The power cascaded to the next line, which overloaded and transferred to the next line, shutting down the lines, one after the other.  In less than five minutes, the entire Northeast power grid was offline.  The results were unimaginable.  New York City was entirely blacked out within ten minutes.  There was no power to provide heat or light, no power to allow them to communicate. There was no power to run pumps, move sewage, or deliver water or gas.  The power to run life-support systems at hospitals were cut off.  During the evening rush hour, an estimated eight hundred thousand people were trapped in subways—can you imagine that? Only half of the one hundred and fifty hospitals had emergency power. At JFK airport, two hundred and fifty flights had to be diverted. [i] With no light, no heat, and no communication, thirty million people found themselves encompassed in a dark, silent, frightening world.  All because of a ripple effect set in motion by a small, relay switch that was set too low.

The disciples had just experienced a blackout.  The Scripture tells us that the entire world experienced a blackout for three hours when Jesus hung on the cross and died. The disciples watched as their hopes were shattered. Jesus was crucified on the cross. Just the night before, all of them had run for cover when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Peter denied knowing Jesus—three times.  Yes.  You bet the disciples were troubled and filled with doubt.

Aren’t we a lot like the disciples? Fair-weather friends when trouble and doubt appear, we run for cover?  As the disciples were all huddled away together in fear, frustration, doubt and discouragement — Jesus basically walks through a wall and says,  “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Luke 24:38
In verse 36 as Jesus entered the disciples’ room, notice the first thing He said,“Peace be with you!”  PEACE is a common Jesus theme.

How about when Jesus was born? Didn’t the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
And right after Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples, he spoke to them and said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:27 Yes! Peace is a common Jesus thing.

When the Living Word speaks of “peace,”  God wants us to build a foundation of hope! After His birth, build a foundation of hope.  After the Last Supper, build a foundation of hope.  After Jesus has risen, build a foundation of hope.  After He walks into the room of your life, build a foundation of hope!

I read a story about the building of the Chase Manhattan Bank. When the building was halfway through construction, they discovered what no builder ever wants to learn, the sixty-story massive skyscraper was not built on rock, but quicksand. At some point, if they didn’t fix it, the building would sink, topple over and destroy part of Manhattan. Something had to be done. Engineers were brought in to try and solve the problem. Then some geologists were brought in and they stated that it would take a million years for the quicksand to solidify.   Then someone came up with an innovative idea.  They sank pipes deep into the quicksand and forced a solution of sodium silicate and calcium chloride into the quicksand. In a few days, the quicksand turned into solid, watertight sandstone.  They were able to finish the building.  Injecting the additives was ingenious.[ii]

In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah called Jesus the Prince of Peace!  When Jesus came to earth, He came to bring peace.  Peace–not as the world gives peace but as only Jesus Christ can bring peace into our troubles and our doubts! Jesus told His disciples to not let their hearts be troubled and here they were, a mere three days after Jesus was crucified, and their hearts were already troubled, and their minds are filled with doubts. In just three days and they are hiding away in the Upper Room. Don’t you love a good story like this? Those people were human just like you and me. And all of a suddenly, Jesus entered into the room of their discouragements, fears, frustrations, disbelief and doubts.

Take notice now: What is the first thing that Jesus says? Peace be with you.

The whole reason we gather together is so that we can worship God and hear the words of Scripture.  When you hear someone preaching, listen to how you can apply the words of Scripture into your life.  Each week, as I read, study and prepare my message, I pray that Jesus will walk into the room of every heart who hears the message. I’m praying this for the people in our congregation, and for those who hear the message on the radio, and for those who read this SEED OF FAITH. “Jesus, please walk right into the room of their heart.  The room that’s filled with fear, doubt, and troubles.”

Notice that when Jesus enters a room, Jesus ENTERS THE ROOM.  PEACE. Shalom–not just peace…but the peace of God that enters every aspect of your life:  physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, sexually, relationship-wise, financially.  You name the fear or the doubt or the trouble and that is exactly where Jesus wants to enter and say just one word, “PEACE!”

So What?
Jesus asks the disciples to look at his hands and feet.  Jesus asks the disciples to touch Him.  Jesus wanted them to have hope!  He wanted them to have peace.  Jesus is not a ghost!  Jesus is not a made-up story in order to make people feel good!  Jesus was crucified just like he said He would be and on the third day he was raised back to life just like he said he would be. Jesus tells his disciples to remember that all of this was predicted in the Holy Scriptures. Everything he had told them had to be fulfilled. And then he “opened their minds so they could understand!”  Wow!  What a powerful statement. “Jesus, open up our minds and help us to understand why we are so afraid, or troubled, or why we doubt you.”

In Holman’s Dictionary there are 120 Old Testament Prophecies listed that are fulfilled by Jesus. That’s why Jesus is sharing all of the Scriptures with them!  Jesus wanted them to base their hope–not just on the miracle of the resurrection–but to base their hope in the Scripture. Jesus concludes His encounter with the disciples in the Upper Room by saying, You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:48-49

So What?
Every Sunday we gather to worship. Every week we gather to read the SEED OF FAITH. It is always my number one goal to be certain that the Living Word is rightly preached. Why? Because we are no different than the first disciples! Just like them, we are troubled!  We  have our doubts! We struggle with discouragement and depression!

And then we hear the living word of truth, and our foundation of hope is fitted with one more brick in our foundation of faith, and hope.

Think about how that one, little, relay switch covered an entire city in darkness. It wasn’t anyone’s fault who lived in New York City—but there they were—enveloped in a total blackout; all 30 million people.  I think we can relate. There have been times when we’ve been covered by darkness and we had nothing to do with it. Our world jolted to a screeching halt.  We sit and wait. The relay switch of our lives has gone haywire somewhere, and maybe it isn’t our fault at all.  Life happens.

The truth is that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead can and will fix our broken relay switch.  The resurrection will bring light into our darkness.

The year was 1997.  I had just graduated from seminary. I was out applying for jobs and going on interviews. I wasn’t able to work as much as I needed to. We lived frugally, and made the house payment, utilities, and whatever other monthly bills we had but the month had arrived when we needed to go pay our house taxes. Jac and I didn’t have the first or second installment.  They let the first installment slide and waited for full payment. Jac and I taped our tax bill to the vent of our stove—face down. It was our visual reminder to PRAY for our specific needs.  No one could see it but us. Jac said that the stove was the heart of our home because we used it every day to feed our family. We would see it taped there and beg God to do a miracle. That bill had been taped there for several months. With all of the seminary graduation stuff and Jodi’s high school graduation stuff—there was no stuff leftover for our house taxes.  That account was empty. The day finally arrived when the tax bill was mailed to the house. Jac and I taped it to the stove vent and we prayed. Jesus, we have no clue how to pay this $4,000 bill but You do.”

I decided it was time to go down to the county court house and tell them we needed an extension.  Once I had a job, we would sell the house and pay the taxes. I’d go do that tomorrow. The Holy Spirit said, “Open the bill.” There—across the middle of the $4,000 tax bill in big, red, bold letters was a sight I will never forget:  PAID IN FULL.  I looked at Jac and said, “There’s been some sort of a mistake.  This says our taxes are paid in full.” I had to get up and go to work early the next day, so Jac took the bill and called the tax office from the Christian Book Store where she worked. Jac explained that there had been some sort of a mistake. The man on the other end of the phone said, “There’s no mistake, Mrs. Peters, your house taxes are paid in full. All $4,000 are paid.” Jac was so excited that she drove around town until she found my truck and worksite. She came bolting into the new-house construction site where I was staining a bannister and said, “Dave! It’s not a mistake.  Someone paid our taxes. They are paid in full.”  Twenty-one years later, I still do not know who paid that bill…$4,000. PAID IN FULL.  BOTH INSTALLMENTS. PAID.

Because of the resurrection, Jesus walks into our lives, where we are hiding in doubt and fear and the LIGHT OF THE WORLD SPEAKS INTO OUR DARKNESS: PEACE. DON’T BE AFRAID.

Here’s your SO WHAT for the week:
Get out your LIVING WORD and turn to Luke 24.    “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Luke 24:38
Tell Jesus exactly where you are troubled, and exactly where you doubt. And let’s all pray for one another to hear those beautiful words deep within our heart, “PEACE.”  Shalom–in every aspect of your life, and especially where you need peace the most.

SEED YOU Sunday!

Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com


[i] Staff of the New York Times, The Night the Lights Went Out (New York: Signer Brooks, 1965)

[ii] Norman Vincent Peale, The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking, New Yor; Simon & Schuster, 1959

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith – 6/10/2018

Seed of Faith – Remembering Hope  By Pastor Dave  

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:21-23

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Hope. What a wonderful word! We continue our series on HOPE! When it all comes down to it, “Heaven’s One Promise: Emmanuel” is really all there is. God became man and dwelt among us. Jesus lived, died, and rose again. You can go looking for hope in all the glitter the world offers but it won’t last.  There will always be ANOTHER thing to buy, have, do, see or be. If you find your hope in God, His steadfast love will never cease. His mercies never come to an end because they are new each and every morning. (Lamentations) Let’s get going.

In our passage from Lamentations we hear again some powerful words of hope in the midst of suffering, doubt, fear, frustration, pain, discouragement, opposition, and disappointment. Let me set the scene. Jerusalem had been totally destroyed by the Babylonians. The best and the brightest of the Jews were taken captive to Babylon to be slaves. The rest of the people who had not died in the invasion were left behind in a broken-down city.  Jerusalem–a city with no walls, no food, no protection, and no hope. Yet in these shadows of darkness the writer of Lamentations remembers the hope of God!  Scholars credit the Prophet Jeremiah with writing the book of Lamentations and Jeremiah is nicknamed “The Weeping Prophet.”  By the time we get to chapter three of the book, we hear a cry of hope! Jeremiah remembers that his God is a loving God!   Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”  The word that Jeremiah uses for God’s “love” is “hesed.” Hesed…a powerful word of grace, mercy, loving-kindness, and steadfast love! Listen as Jeremiah writes, “Because of the Lord’s great love…Because of God’s great grace… Because of God’s great mercy…  Because of God’s great loving-kindness…  Because of God’s great steadfast love… we are not consumed — we are not finished, we are not used up!”   Why not?  Because God’s compassions never fail!    Isn’t it wonderful that Jeremiah uses the plural for compassion–“compassions”? Our God is a God of countless daily compassion for each one of us. In the Hebrew, Jeremiah is telling us that God is filled with countless expressions of love towards us; not just one time, not just one time each day—but over and over and over again—many times each day we can count on the fact God’s great love, and grace, and mercy and loving kindness is for us and is a countless number! We really need to remember this, we cannot exhaust God’s love for us. (Try making a list right now of all of the blessing that you have at this moment.  Start with: heart beating, lungs breathing…)

Have you ever been discouraged, defeated, disappointed, disillusioned, overwhelmed, overcome or outcast?  Have you ever known what it feels like to lose hope? These Jews have lost their hope.   The walls of their great city have been destroyed. The city is in ruins. The people have no peace. These people were left behind in their destroyed Jerusalem. They were hopeless. Their city had no walls!  They had no protection.  They had no food or water. They were discouraged, defeated, depressed, and deeply disappointed.  But wait! God sends a message through the prophet Jeremiah, “Tell the people that there is hope.” “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 Are these words in Lamentations familiar to you? Listen to the words of a well-known hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness by Thomas O. Chisholm (1866–1960).

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Morning by morning new mercies I see; Great is thy faithfulness!  Great is thy Faithfulness!

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not: There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!

The story of how Chisholm came to write his hymn reveals a profound truth about God’s faithfulness. Many of our great hymns were written in response to a dramatic spiritual experience but this is not the case with “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” The hymn was not the product of a single experience of Chisholm but of a lifetime of God’s faithful care. Not long before his death, Chisholm wrote, My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. But I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.”[i]  

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

SO WHAT? Our “So what, Pastor Dave?”  comes from the prophet Jeremiah. Call to mind God’s steadfast love for you. Write them down.  Say them out loud right now. I’m praying that hope will begin to rise up from within you.

What exactly should we be calling to mind?  God’s great faithfulness! This is your “So What?” challenge today.  Get a piece of paper out…and every day of this week, say this verse, sing this song, and start listing all of the many blessings you can recall. This summer I will turn 64. I will have lived on this good earth for over 23,000 days! No matter what I’m going through right now—I can look back on my life and say that God is faithful. No matter what storms have risen up in my life, God’s compassions have been there every single morning of my 23,000 days.  The same goes for you. God’s compassions for each one of us will never fail. And the best part is that they are new every single morning. God’s faithfulness to us is great. Today’s message is about sitting down and figuring out how many thousands of days you’ve lived on planet earth. How many days has God’s great faithfulness covered you? How many mornings have you received a new start of God’s hesed and compassion? That’s your job this week, this is your “SO WHAT, PASTOR DAVE?”  Figure out how many days you’ve been on this earth. Look back over your life. My prayer is that like the Jews in war-torn Jerusalem, we will begin to find the hope that we have been given. Our God has been with us. Every single morning we’ve been given God’s compassions. If you’re in dangerous territory as you read this—wait it out. Like the Jews left behind in Jerusalem, our message is the same one that Jeremiah gave: HOPE IN GOD. And just how do we do that?  We remember God’s faithfulness. I went to seminary at the age of 40. Jac and I lovingly call it the cemetery instead of seminary.  Seminary is when we learned how to live on spaghettios, eggs, and watermelon. We lived on what was often dropped by our side porch: day old bread, and the mercy of others who dropped off groceries. One week someone dropped off a grocery bag for our youngest daughter. Inside of the bag was a box of Velveeta and a head of broccoli. Jodi must have mentioned to someone that she missed having REAL FOOD to eat! She was so excited! She steamed the broccoli and got ready to melt the Velveeta. Taped inside to the lining of the cheese was an envelope: “Please go get a HOMECOMING DRESS with this money.” It was $100. If we had never answered the call to seminary, I would not have any awesome stories to share with you about God’s HESED: God’s grace, mercy, loving-kindness, and steadfast love! There it was in full, living color, on the back of the silver lining of the cheese. Jodi cried. She saw her parents living this seminary journey of God’s mercy but for the first time, God’s mercy covered her. With her cravings satisfied for REAL FOOD she went and got a pretty new dress! Sometimes God’s mercy and faithfulness don’t look exactly like how we thing it should it look, does it? And three years later, when I was ordained, I finished the service by having the people sing, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I couldn’t even sing because I knew how faithful God had been to me in seminary. Even to this day, when I feel overwhelmed in ministry, when I am overwhelmed with this rash, when the world tells me I’m a big nothing—this is the song that brings me back full circle. Go ahead, SING WITH ME!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father! There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not: As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Seed You Sunday! For our good friends in Lusaka, Zambia — Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I” Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you    God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I, Pastor Dave www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Here is a link to a YouTube by Selah for you to listen to if you desire! https://youtu.be/SrsfCZvqGxQ

[i] Thomas Chisholm, quoted in Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI:

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 3/28/2018

by Pastor Dave  |  March 28, 2018

Holy Week & Easter — Seed of Faith

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” John 20:1

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

This is Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem. Tensions were high. The Pharisees were now planning a way to kill Jesus. The disciples were preparing the Upper Room for Passover. The people of Jerusalem were preparing for the Passover. I encourage you to read the account of the resurrection from the four Gospel writers. You can find these stories in Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1-18. May God’s Words of life speak hope into your heart, soul and mind as you read.

It seems like Lent was forever ago, doesn’t it? Lent is a seven-week journey. We’ve been studying the concept of HOPE throughout Lent. Do you know that my greatest prayer is that each one of us will find ourselves in the stories of the Bible? We are there. As you read, I am praying that somewhere in every story–you can see yourself.

Jesus’ followers had walked with Jesus for three years. They watched while Jesus healed hundreds of people. They watched as Jesus walked on water, calmed storms and… raised the dead. Just days after Jesus entered the Holy City (Jerusalem) on a donkey, He was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed as a common criminal. The journey of Lent is a dangerous road–if we are serious, we just may find ourselves somewhere in this story of Holy Week. Were we cheering and waving palms on Palm Sunday? Or were we plotting a way to get rid of Jesus? Were we humble enough to have Jesus wash our feet? Or were we more worried about the money we’d make when we identified Jesus to the soldiers? Were we ashamed when we all fled the garden and left Jesus alone when they came for him? Or were we more like Peter, who followed but didn’t quite have the courage to say, “Jesus is my best friend?” Where were you when Jesus walked to Calvary? Did you volunteer to help Him carry His cross? Were you hiding in fear? Maybe you were begging for a miracle? At any rate, we are there now–Good Friday is on the horizon.

During the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross, “darkness came over all the land.” (Matthew 27:45b, NIV) As I studied this week, I was amazed as I read and translated the Greek: the darkness that fell didn’t begin and end in Jerusalem…the Greek word used for “land” is “ge” which is translated “universe.” As Jesus was being crucified, darkness covered the earth, the universe, from the sixth hour (high noon) to the ninth hour (3 pm). Now put yourself into the story of Good Friday. Can you imagine the high-noon sun being blotted out by total darkness…for three hours? What if the darkness that fell––not only covered the universe but also covered hearts, minds, and spirits?

Some of us know what that feels like. Some of us feel that way today. I’m sure each one of us knows someone who feels as though their world is very dark right now. If that you, I want you to hear this: there is hope.

“SO WHAT?”
Every week we try to tear apart the living word and make some sense of the stories in the Scriptures. Every week we try to break down the Hebrew and the Greek and we try to apply what was written thousands of years ago to our own lives. The Bible isn’t just a book you read, the bible is a book that reads you. If you look hard enough, you are somewhere between the pages.

Here’s our “SO WHAT?” for this Holy Week and Easter:

Easter is the hinge pin of Christianity. The resurrection is front and center of the split between the darkness and the light. That’s right. Darkness fell and covered the entire universe. Jesus died. God’s only Son died. As I read and studied and prayed this week, this hit me: we don’t celebrate Easter as “the third day after the Crucifixion.” As important as the Crucifixion is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity. As important as Jesus dying to save us from our sins really is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity. The hinge pin…is…the empty tomb. The entire darkness of the universe was brightened by the light of the empty tomb–the RESURRECTION!

THE TRUE LIGHT OF THE WORLD OVERCAME THE DARKNESS OF THE UNIVERSE.

THE TOMB IS EMPTY. JESUS IS ALIVE!

Whatever it is that causes darkness in our lives— it has been conquered. Jesus conquered HELL, DEATH and the GRAVE. Jesus has conquered all sin—all my sin, all your sin. Whatever our sins are…whatever darkness we live in…whatever darkness covers our lives…Jesus has put that to death. And not only has Jesus put our darkness to death…he has conquered it for us…and has risen from the dead…and the darkness!

The light shines into the darkness, but the darkness could not overcome it. (John 1:5)
The true light that gives light to every person was coming into the world. (John 1:9)

“I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. WHOEVER FOLLOWS ME WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, BUT WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.” (John 8:12)

THE TOMB IS EMPTY. Jesus is ALIVE.

SO WHAT?

This is the RESURRECTION HOPE: Jesus IS ALIVE!!

THE TOMB IS EMPTY…whatever we are facing—THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD IS WITH US.

His light is promised to shine into our darkness…and no matter what that darkness is, it cannot overcome THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

Our journey of Lent may be coming to a close but the journey of our life is not. Because of Jesus, we have the very same Resurrection hope that raised him from the dead. We have the very same Resurrection hope that met the disciples on Easter evening in the Upper Room. We have the same Resurrection hope that traveled with the two on the road to Emmaus.

As we celebrate Easter this year, I’m praying that the truth of the Light of the World is burning brightly within your heart!

Hallelujah! Jesus is alive!

See You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
theseedchristianfellowship.outreachapps.com

   

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved.
May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.

Our mailing address is:
6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701

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Holy Week & Easter — Seed of Faith

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” John 20:1
Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

This is Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem.  Tensions were high.  The Pharisees were now planning a way to kill Jesus.  The disciples were preparing the Upper Room for Passover.  The people of Jerusalem were preparing for the Passover. I encourage you to read the account of the resurrection from the four Gospel writers. You can find these stories in Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1-18.  May God’s Words of life speak hope into your heart, soul and mind as you read.

It seems like Lent was forever ago, doesn’t it? Lent is a seven-week journey.  We’ve been studying the concept of HOPE throughout Lent. Do you know that my greatest prayer is that each one of us will find ourselves in the stories of the Bible? We are there. As you read, I am praying that somewhere in every story–you can see yourself.

Jesus’ followers had walked with Jesus for three years. They watched while Jesus healed hundreds of people. They watched as Jesus walked on water, calmed storms and… raised the dead. Just days after Jesus entered the Holy City (Jerusalem) on a donkey, He was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed as a common criminal. The journey of Lent is a dangerous road–if we are serious, we just may find ourselves somewhere in this story of Holy Week. Were we cheering and waving palms on Palm Sunday? Or were we plotting a way to get rid of Jesus? Were we humble enough to have Jesus wash our feet? Or were we more worried about the money we’d make when we identified Jesus to the soldiers? Were we ashamed when we all fled the garden and left Jesus alone when they came for him? Or were we more like Peter, who followed but didn’t quite have the courage to say, “Jesus is my best friend?” Where were you when Jesus walked to Calvary? Did you volunteer to help Him carry His cross? Were you hiding in fear? Maybe you were begging for a miracle? At any rate, we are there now–Good Friday is on the horizon.

During the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross, “darkness came over all the land.” (Matthew 27:45b, NIV)   As I studied this week, I was amazed as I read and translated the Greek: the darkness that fell didn’t begin and end in Jerusalem…the  Greek word used for “land” is “ge” which is translated “universe.”  As Jesus was being crucified, darkness covered the earth, the universe, from the sixth hour (high noon) to the ninth hour (3 pm). Now put yourself into the story of Good Friday. Can you imagine the high-noon sun being blotted out by total darkness…for three hours?   What if the darkness that fell––not only covered the universe but also covered hearts, minds, and spirits?

Some of us know what that feels like. Some of us feel that way today. I’m sure each one of us knows someone who feels as though their world is very dark right now. If that you, I want you to hear this:   there is hope.

“SO WHAT?”
Every week we try to tear apart the living word and make some sense of the stories in the Scriptures.  Every week we try to break down the Hebrew and the Greek and we try to apply what was written thousands of years ago to our own lives. The Bible isn’t just a book you read, the bible is a book that reads you. If you look hard enough, you are somewhere between the pages.

Here’s our “SO WHAT?” for this Holy Week and Easter:

Easter is the hinge pin of Christianity.  The resurrection is front and center of the split between the darkness and the light.  That’s right.  Darkness fell and covered the entire universe. Jesus died.  God’s only Son died. As I read and studied and prayed this week, this hit me:  we don’t celebrate Easter as “the third day after the Crucifixion.”  As important as the Crucifixion is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity.  As important as Jesus dying to save us from our sins really is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity.  The hinge pin…is…the empty tomb. The entire darkness of the universe was brightened by the light of the empty tomb–the RESURRECTION!

THE TRUE LIGHT OF THE WORLD OVERCAME THE DARKNESS OF THE UNIVERSE. 

THE TOMB IS EMPTY.  JESUS IS ALIVE!

Whatever it is that causes darkness in our lives— it has been conquered.  Jesus conquered HELL, DEATH and the GRAVE.  Jesus has conquered all sin—all my sin, all your sin.  Whatever our sins are…whatever darkness we live in…whatever darkness covers our lives…Jesus has put that to death.  And not only has Jesus put our darkness to death…he has conquered it for us…and has risen from the dead…and the darkness!

The light shines into the darkness, but the darkness could not overcome it.  (John 1:5) 
The true light that gives light to every person was coming into the world. (John 1:9)

 “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.  WHOEVER FOLLOWS ME WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, BUT WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.” (John 8:12)

THE TOMB IS EMPTY.  Jesus is ALIVE.

SO WHAT?

This is the RESURRECTION HOPE: Jesus IS ALIVE!! 

THE TOMB IS EMPTY…whatever we are facing—THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD IS WITH US. 

His light is promised to shine into our darkness…and no matter what that darkness is, it cannot overcome THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

Our journey of Lent may be coming to a close but the journey of our life is not. Because of Jesus, we have the very same Resurrection hope that raised him from the dead. We have the very same Resurrection hope that met the disciples on Easter evening in the Upper Room. We have the same Resurrection hope that traveled with the two on the road to Emmaus. 

As we celebrate Easter this year, I’m praying that the truth of the Light of the World is burning brightly within your heart!

Hallelujah!  Jesus is alive! 

See You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

   

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved.
May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.

Our mailing address is:
6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701

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Weekly Seed of Faith 3/17/18

by Pastor Dave | March 17, 2018

SEED OF FAITH
A DOOR OF HOPE
A LIVING HOPE

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” I Peter 1:3-5

Dear Saints and Servants of the Lord:

Each week I plan to sit and write my Seed of Faith early in the week. Monday comes and so does ministry! And then…I had to go to the doctor’s office twice this week because I had pain in my chest and back. I called the nurse hotline and they said, “COME IN NOW!”  They wanted to make sure my heart was okay.  The doctor did an EKG–all is well.  This is a new doctor with my new insurance program. He thinks my stress is too high. I think it is the rash.  He said he’s never seen a rash like mine and maybe the rash is traveling to other places inside my body.  At any rate, the doctor is sending me to a new dermatologist next week. It’s been a busy week; here it is Friday again.

Hope! Hope! Hope!  What does hope mean?  What is hope?  How can we have hope in our troubled times?  Today let’s take a few minutes to read Psalm 71:1-8; Hosea 2:14-17 and 1 Peter 1:1-9.

DOOR OF HOPE!
The prophet Hosea gives us a wonderful word picture of hope in our Old Testament reading.  The prophet tells the people that God will bring them out to the desert, away from all their worldly distractions.  God will bring them out of the Valley of Achor — which literally means “trouble”.  Hosea is prophesying to the people that God will bring them out of the Valley of trouble and will transform their valley from a door of trouble into a door of hope.

How many of us are in the valley of trouble? Are we resident aliens living on the edge of society? Have we been scattered, or dispersed? Are we living in troubling times?  Has the weight of the world collapsed on you?  Has a recent medical condition brought you to your knees? Maybe you are suffering from a broken relationship with a family member, father, mother, brother, sister or friend.  We understand the valley of Achor — the valley of trouble. Is the valley of trouble your place of employment or lack of employment?  Maybe your Valley of trouble is school. We live in troubling times.  Maybe, just maybe, this is your time of the Valley Achor — the Valley of trouble.  Hear verse 15 again:  “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”  The Old Testament (Hebrew) word that Hosea uses for “hope” is “tiqvah — teek-vah.”  “Teek vah” means “to wait for, to look expectantly in one direction.”  In the Old Testament book of Joshua, the image of hope was a red or scarlet cord.  This image comes from the story of Rahab.  Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho.  Rahab was a relative of Boaz—and she is an ancestor of both David and Jesus!   Her home was built into the city wall.  Her “occupation” brought many visitors.  One day she harbored Israelite spies—no one thought much of it but the spies wanted to thank her for hiding them.  They instructed her to tie a red cord in her window so that Rahab and her family would be safe from the coming Israelite invasion. (Joshua 2:18-21)

Hold the visual image of a red cord in your mind as an image of hope.  The very valley of your trouble—God can turn into your door of trouble into a door of hope!

LIVING HOPE!
The people to whom Peter is writing his letter to are living in troubling times.  They are dispersed around the known world.  For us, it would be places like Rancho Cucamonga, Alta Loma, Etiwanda, Upland, Ontario, Claremont, Riverside, Corona–Southern California and the world. One of the main reasons that our good friend, Peter, wrote this letter was to help raise the sojourners above the world they lived in.  Peter wanted to remind this people group that they were not of this world Peter wanted to give them a living hope: the door of hope.  “Wait expectantly.  Look in one direction.  This is the door of hope:  wait for it to open!”

The Greek word for “hope” is “elpis — el-peece” meaning “a happy anticipation of good, a favorable and confidant expectation.”  Today we’ve lost the deep meaning of hope, instead– it’s almost like wishing.  During New Testament times, hope was not just an optimistic outlook or wishful thinking, it was the confident expectation based on solid certainty. Our biblical hope rests entirely upon God’s promises. Hope is our confidence in grace’s future accomplishment.  What area in your life are you waiting for God’s grace to accomplish God’s work in your life?  This biblical hope is your door out of the Valley of trouble—we anticipate with solid certainty that this door will be opening soon!

Billy Graham hoped beyond hope as Paul wrote in Romans five.  Billy was hanging onto Jesus Christ–a blessed hope, a living hope.  Jesus Christ was the open door in his Valley of Achor—he was 99 years old when God called him home.

Peter is writing to the suffering Christians of the first century, and wanted to encourage them.  This hope is “living”– dynamic, vital, and alive.  This hope is living water flowing from a perennial spring that never runs out.  In the Greek language, “living” is a present, active participle–meaning that the action is going and ongoing. What Peter is saying is that over and over again, through God’s great mercy, those who are in the valley of trouble are eternally offered a door of hope through the red cord of Christ’s death and resurrection.  We have a living hope!  We have a living hope that we can count on–not once but over and over again because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  Jesus Christ is alive forever and because of this we  have a living, ongoing hope.  We look expectantly in Christ’s direction.  We anticipate with pleasure that our door of hope will open!

AN INHERITANCE KEPT IN HEAVEN
So What?
I was thinking of hope as an acrostic — I like to think in those terms because it helps me to pray and remember.  Here is my attempt, I encourage you to make up your own:

H — Hold                     
O — On
P — Praying
E — Everyday

H — Hang
O — On
P — Pray
E — Expectantly

H — Heaven’s
O — One
P — Promise
E — Eternity

A number of years ago, in a mental institution outside Boston, a young girl known as “Little Annie” was locked in the dungeon. The dungeon was the only place for those who were hopelessly insane. In Little Annie’s case, they saw no hope for her, so she was consigned to a living death in that small cage which received little light and even less hope. About that time, an elderly nurse was nearing retirement. She felt there was hope for all of God’s children, so she started taking her lunch into the dungeon and eating outside Little Annie’s cage. She felt perhaps she could communicate some love and hope to the little girl.

In many ways, Little Annie was like an animal. On occasions, she would violently attack the person who came to her cage. At other times, she would completely ignore them. When the elderly nurse started visiting her, Little Annie gave no indication that she was even aware of her presence. One day, the elderly nurse brought some brownies to the dungeon and left them outside the cage. Little Annie gave no hint she knew they were there, but when the nurse returned the next day, the brownies were gone. From that time on, the nurse would bring brownies when she made her Thursday visit. Soon after, the doctors in the institution noticed a change was taking place. After a period of time, they decided to move Little Annie upstairs. Finally, the day came when Little Annie–the “hopeless case” was told she could return home. But Little Annie did not wish to leave. She chose to stay, to help others. Little Annie cared for, taught, and nurtured Helen Keller.   Little Annie’s name is Anne Sullivan.[i]

Think of this for a moment!  An unnamed elderly nurse who was at the end of her career gave a brownie to a hopeless, caged, little girl.  That brownie was a lifeline–a red cord of hope.  This small gesture of hope changed a young girl. She went from being hopelessly insane into a young woman who went on to touch the lives of millions through her love and care for Helen Keller.  All because of a nurse and a brownie.

Think back through your own life.  Who has hung a red cord of hope for you? Who has helped you to build your foundation in God? This week take a moment to give thanks for those who have helped you in your journey of hope.  I don’t know about you but I am eternally grateful to all those who came and left the brownie of hope next to my cage.

Billy Graham has held out the red cord of hope for countless millions yet when asked if he knew how many people he had saved, he humbly answered, “Yes, I do.  I know exactly how many.” The reporter was astounded.  “How many?” Billy smiled and replied, “Zero.” All God asks of us is to simply hold out the red cord of hope to those we know. There’s your weekly assignment.  Hold out the red cord of hope to someone. Ask God to give you the wisdom to do this.

Billy Graham died a few weeks ago. I’ve recorded his funeral and a movie based on his life, “An Extraordinary Journey”. Both are red cords of hope for me. Both have encouraged me. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Billy Graham:  “One day you will hear that Billy Graham has died.  Don’t you believe it. On that day I’ll be more alive than ever before! I’ve just changed addresses.” 

Over the past two months my good friend had gotten really sick. He had a hard summer and fall. Over the holidays he was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. This is one my best friends.  I’m used to going to the hospital and visiting people. I’m not used to going to the hospital to visit my really sick friend. Over the last two months, I’ve gone to see him just about every day. We’ve talked about his cancer, his life and his upcoming death. He told me, “Dave, if the worst thing that happens to me is that I go home to live with Jesus forever –well, then that’s not bad at all.” My friend died two days after Billy Graham died. My friend hung out the red cord of hope for me. He turned my door of the valley of trouble into a door of hope. He is with Jesus right now. He is whole.  There is no more pain, no more fear and no more tears.  This is what my friend taught me: A living God offers me a living hope.

The “so what” for us today is to pray and think of those who God has placed into our lives.  Who can we leave a brownie with?  Who can we hang a red cord of hope out for?  Who can we stand with?  Who can we pray for? How can my life influence someone else’s life for good?  

Just beyond our Valley of Achor (trouble) lies our door of HOPE.  That door may look like an empty tomb but it’s way more than that. That empty tomb is really the door of HOPE: the RISEN Jesus CHRIST!

I buried my friend last week. I helped with his memorial service. Here’s what I learned:
I have a living God who has given me a living hope. 

After having chest pains for two days, I started thinking, “What if I have a heart attack? What if I die tomorrow?” I have to tell you that between Billy Graham and my friend, I’ve hung onto the red cord of hope that they left out for me; the brownie of hope they left out by my cage. “If the worst thing that happens to me is that I die and go live with Jesus forever–well, then, that’s not a bad thing at all.  I’ll simply change my address.  I’ll be more alive than ever before.  There will be no more pain, no more fear, no more tears.”  HOPE: Heaven’s ONLY PROMISE–ETERNITY.

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com


[i] Hewitt, James S., Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale Publishing, Wheaton, IL.

Weekly Seed of Faith 3/10/2018

March 10, 2018

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers!

How’s your journey through the Lenten season? If it’s anything like mine, I’m praying for you. I lost one of my best friends. He fought the good fight. He ran the race.

I remember when I first became a Christian and my pastor encouraged me to start reading the Bible. He told me that I would find all the hope I needed within the pages of the Bible. At that point in my life, I was struggling with many things that stole my hope away.

Howard Hendrick, a great preacher, wrote, “Discouragement is the anesthetic that the devil uses on a person just before he reaches in carves out the heart.”[i] I think Hendricks is right. When we lose hope, we lose the ability to dream. Despair replaces joy. Fear replaces faith. Anxiety replaces peace. Insecurity replaces security. Restlessness replaces calm. Impossibilities replace possibilities. Pessimism replaces optimism. Hopelessness replaces hopefulness.

“Lord God, we read your word and this Seed Of Faith today and ask to be filled with Your hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Fill us with Your hope that will strengthen us to live in this world. As we journey to the cross this Lenten season, fan the fire of Your HOPE deep within us. Amen”

I have a few Psalms that I want to share before we read our New Testament. I pray that here in these words of Holy Scripture, you find the HOPE you seek.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
“May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:22
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11
“Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.” Psalm 119:43
“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” Psalm 119:49-50
“May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:74
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:81
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:114
“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:147

It was the fall of 1998. My wife and I had picked up all our belongings and moved to our first church in Southwest Missouri. We moved ten hours and hundreds of miles away from everything that we knew–from our community, our church, our jobs, our family and friends. We left the church that brought us up in the faith and helped us raise our children. Our three children had graduated from High School and were now off to college, seeking to find their own futures that were filled with hope. We bought a brand-new home in a little town twenty miles from Branson, Missouri. The church we were called to was in conflict. Within our first year, the former pastor’s wife had filed a civil lawsuit against the secretary for alienation of affection and she won. We didn’t know anything about this case but her court case hit the national press. The people in the church were not happy campers; there was a lot of discouragement and conflict within the four walls. The heart of the church had been cut out and the spirit of the church was angry and hopeless. This was a true church catastrophe. My wife and I had no part of the conflict in any way, shape or form but we held the offices that the people in the church were mad at. The overarching church leadership became involved and assessed the situation. They met with the people in the church, they met with Jac and they met with me. Their conclusion: because of all of the former situation involving the prior ministry team, I was really the interim pastor—the pastor who jumps into the middle of a church mess and tries to bring the congregation back to the focus and foundation of Christ…before they bring in another pastor. This church was angry and deeply troubled. The leadership board of the ecclesiastical church also felt it was not safe for my wife to attend the church at this time; the people had projected their anger from the old pastor’s wife to the new pastor’s wife.

Can you imagine? We had left everything in the entire world in order to follow God. We bought a new home and we had hoped to live in the Ozarks forever. Instead, we found ourselves in the middle of a church fight that we never imagined and had nothing to do with. To say the least, our hopes were shattered.

For an escape from the dark clouds of hopelessness, Jac and I would drive to Branson on Sunday afternoons after church. (Like going to Disneyland after church here in Southern California.) There’s a great theme park in Branson called Silver Dollar City. We always joked that it should be called, “Steal Your Dollars City”. At any rate, I’d go preach on Sunday and then go home and get my wife and drive down to Branson. We became season passholders.

One Sunday night when Silver Dollar City was closing, we were walking out with the large crowd but we noticed hundreds of other people entering the park and heading down another pathway. We stopped one of them and asked where they were going. They told us that every Sunday night after the park closes, Silver Dollar City holds an open-air concert in an outdoor amphitheater. My wife and I looked at each other and said, “Why not — we have nothing to lose — even if it might be country music.”

The open-air amphitheater was cut out from stone and had seats rising up from the stage. We sat in the top row, just in case we wanted to make a bee line for home. We had never heard of the group that was set to play.

Toward the end of the concert, the lead singer asked everyone to sit down. He talked about hope. To be honest with you, I don’t remember a word he said but I do remember the song he sang. He said that they were going to play a new song and asked us to remain seated until we knew that we knew that we knew that our hope was in God. “Don’t stand up until you know that your hope is God.” They started to sing. Tears welled up in my eyes and spilled over. In my very first call, I had lost my hope. I was discouraged and wanted to quit. I was pastoring a church that the leadership board had determined was not safe for my wife to attend. Who does that? How do I fix that? I was hopeless.

Over and over he sang these words:

My hope is You
Show me Your ways
Guide me in truth
In all my days
My hope is You[ii]

For twenty minutes, they sang this song over and over again. The lead singer talked about how he came to write this song—in the middle of his own hopelessness. Jac and I were undone. There in the middle of Steal Your Dollar City—I mean Silver Dollar City—the Holy Spirit had zeroed in straight into our hearts. In our first call to our first church, we had lost our hope. We had taken our eyes off of God and put them on the church. I was the last person to stand but God’s hope had started to penetrate my broken heart.

Hope! What is hope? Webster defines hope: “to cherish a desire with anticipation, to desire with expectation of obtainment, to expect with confidence: trust.”[iii]

In the Old Testament there is no single Hebrew word that corresponds directly to the English word “hope.” More than a dozen Hebrew words are translated for the one word HOPE–and each has its own nuance. In the New Testament the most common word that is used for hope is “elpis.” It means to distinguish the basis of hope, the object of hope, and the activity of hope. In both Hebrew and Greek, the noun forms tend to express basis of hope—the reason we hope. The basic biblical definition of hope is a confident expectation, a full expectation of a favorable future under God’s direction. That is what happened to me as I sat inside that stone amphitheater: MY HOPE IS GOD. The Holy Spirit started healing the fragments of my splintered heart. I had so hoped that this first call would be my only call. I had so hoped that my wife and I would live in the Ozarks for the rest of our lives–it was really a beautiful area.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for….” Hope is a foundation! Hope is our foundation to faith!

Maybe you can identify with these Bible characters:

Abraham and Sarah hoped that God’s promises were true even though they were past the age of having children.

Joseph endured mistreatment from his family; yet he endured in hope through his slavery and imprisonment.

Ruth and Naomi suffered the loss of their loved ones but through hope they overcame disappointment.

David bounced back from several devastating failures: adultery, murder, career and family failures yet he endured in hope and wrote many of the Psalms of hope that we read today.

Elijah suffered criticism, so much that he wanted to die, but God resurrected his hope.

Nehemiah was discouraged with harsh political, legal, and social circumstances yet in hope he rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem and restored the land.

John Mark was rejected by the Apostle Paul yet in hope he later became a teacher and pastor. He authored the book of James.

Peter was disappointed with himself for not being able to stand up under pressure yet he became one of the leaders of the early church. Peter found his hope in the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

Just pick up the bible and you will find a person who faced discouragement, disappointment, discontent, disaster, and even death, yet throughout the Scriptures we find where hope is revealed: in God. “MY HOPE IS YOU.” (It makes a great breath prayer. You can say this all day long.)

So What?
As we begin this series on Hope, it is my hope that you will find your hope in GOD!

Find hope to set you free from your past.
Find hope to bounce back from discouragement.
Find hope to dream again.
Find hope to liberate you from the chains that have held you down.
Find hope to light the darkness of your path.
Find hope to help you persevere through your trials.
Find hope to give you resurrection power.

Hope is a deep and powerful force anchored in God’s Word. Things got worse at the little church in the Ozarks before they got better but we had been given the tremendous gift of HOPE found in a stone amphitheatre in Branson, MO. God used this devastating experience of my first call in order to get me to go to where I had decided I would never go: California! Looking back, I’m thankful for what I learned during my first call: MY HOPE IS YOU!

Here is the link for the song “My Hope Is You” by Third Day — https://youtu.be/85XmMoYlTPU

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
theseedchristianfellowship.outreachapps.com/

[i] L.C. Naden, Christ Is The Answer, Warburton, Victoria, Australia, Signs Publishing Company, 1950
[ii] CCLI Song # 2373672 Brad Avery | David Carr | Mac Powell | Mark D. Lee | Tai Anderson © 1997 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Vandura 2500 Songs (Admin. by Kobalt Music Publishing America, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com
CCLI License # 3278479
[iii] Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Weekly Seed of Faith 10/13/2018

SEED OF FAITH — THE PRODIGAL FATHER  

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  Luke 15:20

 

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the love and grace of our blessed Savior! Hope your week has been wonderful! There are so many signs of fall around–even in Southern California! It’s apple-picking time, pumpkins abound, and the trees are losing their leaves. It’s getting dark by 7 pm and there’s finally a “chill” in the air! We’ve even had RAIN here: the song is false: “it never rains in California” oh, indeed, it does! And everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

We are going to be thinking about the word “prodigal” in this SEED OF FAITH. The word “prodigal” means “to spend money or resources freely, recklessly, wastefully and extravagantly”.  Have you ever thought of God’s love as being prodigal? or reckless? or wasteful? or extravagant? I often sit and read my word.  I ask the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom on what I’m reading.  At church, we’ve been signing “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. It really has me thinking. What does reckless mean?  What does it mean to say that God’s love is reckless? Reckless means “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.” The synonyms for reckless are “impetuous, impulsive, audacious, wild, uncontrolled and hasty.”  When you think of God’s love, do these words pop into your mind?

But the truth is that God’s love IS wild, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled, impetuous, audacious, prodigal, extravagant, and lavish!  And this is what Luke fifteen is all about.  Here we find the extravagant, audacious, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled and reckless love of our Almighty God and Heavenly Father.  Take a few moments this week and read Luke 15. As always, be sure to put yourself in the story: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (could be daughter.) I have read and read this story repeatedly.  Every time I read it, it brings tears to my eyes.  I’m so glad for my many thoughtful teachers who have taught me to put myself into the stories of the Bible, to find myself there IN the story. I have put myself into these stories in so many ways. I’ve been the lost sheep. I’ve gone looking for lost sheep. I’ve lost something priceless to me and I’ve searched everywhere for it.  (Right now I’m searching for an envelope that I’ve tucked somewhere “safe”!) I have been the younger son who ran away in this story many times over and I have been the older son, too, who didn’t want to go inside and celebrate the younger son’s success!  What struck me this week in my reading was the reception that the younger son received.

When the younger son came to his senses after living senselessly, he decided to return home. All the way home, the younger son practiced his speech, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”   Don’t miss the next statement.

Look at verse twenty!
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The first thing here in this story:  the son came to his senses.  The second thing he did was get up and head back home.

The story Jesus is telling here now takes a radical and reckless turn. As the son heads home, the father sees him while he is a long way off. The Greek word for “long way off” is “makron” and means “at the farthest point, far away, far off, a great distance.”  That father was looking and waiting and watching for his son. He had to have been doing this for many days. He wasn’t checking the local store or sheepfold for his son.  He was looking in the far distance for the shadow of a person returning. As I read this story this week, I was blessed to think about how God waited, and watched for me to return from my far country.  How about you? He has waited and watched for you, too! What I glean from this story is that God sees you and me, even if we are far away in the far country.  God sees our hearts and has compassion on us.  The Father was filled with compassion when he saw his son on his return journey home. 

And then the Father ran.  He took off running in order to be the first one to greet his son! Think of that reception!  Why would the father run?  Because in their culture, it would be unheard of for an older man to run.  The father would have had to pull up his robe in order to run.  In pulling up his robe, the father would be exposing his legs. In this time, that act was considered SHAMEFUL. How dare the father pull up his robe to RUN to his wayward son. Let that scene sink in.

“My son! Look!  Look! My son–he’s returning home.” The father runs outside of the town into the countryside in order to greet his son before the son reached the town, the father made sure everyone understood the picture, “No shame for my son. Put the shame on me for showing my legs to run to him.” The father runs to his son, threw his arms around him and hugs and kisses him repeatedly!   Can you imagine how filthy dirty the son was?  The son had lost everything, he had been living with pigs, wearing rags.  How awful he must have smelled.

Ah–the beautiful scent of smell! Brings me back to when our son returned from his first missionary trip to Tanzania, Africa. Brian had spent the summer in Tanzania doing mission work when the embassies were bombed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.  The last week that Brian was there the missionaries were instructed to keep a low profile because of the bombing.  Brian emailed us and asked us to pray for him.  He wrote that they asked him to keep a low profile.  Then he wrote, “How do I do that?  I am 6’4” and I am very pale white.” The missionaries he worked for drove Brian out to the outside of town. They put him with the Masai tribe so he could keep a low profile.  The Masai lived out in the bush country of Tanzania in huts made of elephant dung. Yes, Brian lived a week in a hut made of elephant dung.  When things were safe, the missionaries picked him up and put him on a plane for the states. No shower, no bath. Brian tried to wash off as best he could–but at 6’4″–the plane’s restroom was pretty tiny. He landed in Chicago after a week of living in the bush in an elephant dung hut with no shower. You cannot imagine how badly he smelled. It was over 100 degrees that August day when we picked him up–but let me tell you that we rode home with the windows down! Here’s what I remember:

When I saw him coming through the gate, I didn’t care how he smelled.  My son was home! I hugged him and kissed him. I was so thankful that he was finally home safe.

I can only imagine how happy the father was to see his lost son returning home.  He didn’t care how he looked or smelled.  His son was back home! The father ran to his son, took the shame and guilt of showing his legs, and ran and hugged and kissed his son who once was lost but now was found!

So What?
So, what do these ancient words mean to us today? Today we reflect on the reckless, unconditional, audacious, outrageous and extravagant love of our Heavenly Father. God loved us before any human person loved us. “We love Him because He first loved us.” God loves us with a first love, an unlimited love and a reckless love. God will go out and search for us like the lost sheep.  God will sweep the house clean in order to find us like the precious, valuable, lost coin.  God will wait, watch and run to us when he sees us finally returning home to Him.  Our Prodigal Father loves us with a outrageous, audacious, extravagant and reckless love.

My “so what” question is not “How do I find this Prodigal Father?” but “How can I be found by my Prodigal Father?”

The question is not “How am I to know this Prodigal Father?” but “How am I to let myself be known by my Prodigal Father?” 

The question is not “How am I to love my Prodigal Father?” but “How can I let myself be loved by my Prodigal Father?”

Imagine this with me. You have a son.  You love your son.  You also love baseball and wrestling. Your son isn’t much for wrestling, but he does love baseball.  Matter of fact, he gets a college scholarship to play baseball.  He’s a great catcher. He can hit, catch and he can throw you out at second.  He’s 6’4” and over 200 pounds big.
And during his second year of college, he calls home to share the bad news. “Dad, I’m not going to play baseball this summer.” WHAT? WHAT IS THIS NEWS I’M HEARING? Long pause and then I ask, “WHY NOT, SON?” “I’m going on a summer mission trip to Africa.  I won’t have time to learn Kiswahili if I play baseball.”

In a funny sort of way, my son went to the far country.  I was excited and happy for him—but what about baseball?  I mean, this kid could play MLB!

And then, off he goes. My wife and I and his beautiful girlfriend drove him to the airport. Jac was so shook up after he boarded the plane, she walked into the men’s bathroom! We’d never had a child go off to Africa.  And then a week before he returns home, there’s a couple of bombings right where he is. It’s all political. We have no idea of what’s happening except for the brief email that informs us that our son is in hiding.  I get the story here in Luke. Our son, in far away Africa, is hiding for his life. The week passes, and we are at the Chicago airport awaiting his arrival. Despite the smell of week-long elephant dung—our son is home! Nothing else mattered. Get that kid home…get him a hot shower…some Italian lasagna….roll the windows down—my son is back home. Who cares about baseball? Who cares about anything else? My son is home with his two sisters…and our family is complete.

Did you hear me?  Envision this:  when YOU returned home to our heavenly, prodigal God, God’s family was complete!
Let those words sink deeply into your heart.

Our Prodigal Father has a reckless love for us!
Our Prodigal Father is looking into the distance for us!
Our Prodigal Father is trying to find us!
Our Prodigal Father RUNS TO US.
Our Prodigal Father wants to give us the best robe, ring and sandals!
Our Prodigal Father wants to rejoice and celebrate with us!

Nothing else matters…except that YOU ARE HOME.

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you
 
God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

 

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Weekly Seed of Faith 9/27/18

Seed of Faith – Reckless Living to Reckless Love By Pastor Dave  

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there he squandered his wealth in wild living.” Luke 15:13

Dear Saintly Seed Sowers and Faithful Family and Friends of the SEED:

Greetings in the love of God and the grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit!

My wife shared a Facebook quote with me the other day — the quote goes like this?
One friend said to the other friend, “Do I really need the Holy Spirit to go to Heaven?”
The friend looked at her wildly and said, “Honey, you need the Holy Spirit just to go to Wal-Mart!”

What a topsy-turvy world we live in these days. I love how the stories of the Bible can stretch from years gone by clear through today. We all know a younger son who is like the son in our story. We are know an older brother like the one in our story. But do we all know a father like the one in our story?

We return to our series on “The Reckless Love of God.” For the past few months, we have been looking at the fifteenth chapter of Luke. Teachers and scholars often claim that this chapter is called “the Gospel inside the Gospel.” Are you aware that the word “gospel” means Good News? The stories found in Luke fifteen are really and truly “Good News!” The lost sheep is found and the shepherd says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” (Luke 15:6) The woman who lost her coin then finds her coin after sweeping her house clean shouts, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” (Luke 15:9). Luke 15 contains some great stories: lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. They are great stories of great rejoicing.

These stories have been on my mind for a long time. Why? Because through Dr. Luke, we have a Gospel of good news about a God who has a “Reckless Love” for lost things and lost people. Back in February, I was training to serve in a grace weekend back in my hometown of Rochelle, Illinois. The leader of the weekend sent me his bible verse for the weekend and the theme song he had picked. I had never heard the song so I went to the internet to give it a listen. I got stuck on the word “reckless”. Is God’s love really reckless? I talked with my Monday group about this. I spoke with my Wednesday night group about it, too. I discussed it with my Thursday morning, men’s breakfast. Then I got busy on preaching from Luke 15 and there it was: the reckless love of God. There’s 100 sheep. One is missing. The shepherd leaves the 99 in order to go find the lost sheep.

The truth is that God’s love IS reckless; it’s wild,outrageous, uncontrolled, impetuous, audacious, prodigal, extravagant, and lavish. And this is what Luke fifteen is all about. The extravagant, audacious, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled and reckless love of God. Take a few moments and read chapter 15 of Luke. We have a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.

Our story in today’s SEED OF FAITH is one about reckless living. Jesus told the Pharisees and the teachers of the law this parable when they were accusing Him of eating with tax-collectors and sinners. Who were the tax-collectors and sinners that Jesus was speaking of? Many of them were no different from the reckless-living, younger son who demanded his inheritance and went to the far country to live. The tax collectors were Jews who extorted money from their own people for the Roman government. The sinners were just that—those who were squandered in reckless living!

Let me set the stage. When the younger son asked his father for his share of the inheritance, he was basically saying that the father was dead to him as far as he was concerned. He wanted his share of the inheritance right now so that he could go live the way he wanted to live.

What was going on the mind of the younger son? Why would he ask his father to give him his share of the inheritance and insult his father that way? “Dad, you’re as good as dead to me. I’m outta here. Give my money.” I think the younger son longed for a life where he could have zero responsibilities. He could get up when he wanted to and and go when he wanted to go! No list to check off. No sheep to shear. No calf to feed. No animals or grain to waste his time with. He had better things on the horizon. His life at home was too constraining, too controlling and too demanding. The younger son was not satisfied with his position in the family. He wanted to be his own boss, so fork over the dough. I wonder if he was a little bit jealous of his older brother. The first born sons received the birthright: 2/3 of what Dad had. The younger son was only getting 1/3. Maybe he didn’t want to work so hard because his brother was going to profit off of him? We really don’t know; the story doesn’t say.

As I thought about this passage, it sounded like a familiar story to me? Can you identify?

Maybe this story is even more relevant in our culture today than it was then. Our culture has deliberately chosen to push God out of the picture. We live in a self-sufficient, self-consumed society. I don’t think Frank Sinatra was the originator of the saying — “I did it my way.” I’m pretty sure the reckless living of the younger son defines this life style well.

Look at verse thirteen. Luke says it this way, “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” (Luke 15:13)

The Greek word for “squandered” can be translated “to scatter, to spread around or waste.” I wonder if the younger son got to the far country and started to buy the nicest robes, the best food and expensive walking staffs. Or did he use his inheritance to buy nice jewelry or the best donkey or camel or did he go all out and buy an expensive horse to ride? Did he go and rent the nicest house in town? Again, the bible doesn’t tell us but we certainly can imagine what was going on.

When we lived in Texas, my wife worked at the Liz Claiborne store. The store was located in a huge outlet mall. The manager of Liz Claiborne was a very good friend of the manager at the Coach store in the same outlet. Every day at 3pm, the manager of Liz Claiborne would call down to the Coach store to see if their sales had hit $30,000 by 3pm. If they did, the manager at Liz Claiborne knew that their store was going to have a good day, too! (I wonder if the younger son went shopping at the outlet mall in the far country before the famine hit and squandered his money there?)

The Greek word Luke uses for “wild living” is “asotos.” This word is translated, “senseless, reckless, prodigal, wastefully, and wild.”  I think that Jesus is saying that the lost son had lost his senses and was living a reckless and wasteful life. He was a prodigal son, living far removed from his family’s ways.

COME TO YOUR SENSES
How many people today are living a senseless, wasteful and reckless life without God? They have taken their inheritance and gone off to the far country to live. They’ve taken all of their gifts, their time, talents, treasure and claim them as their own, they’ve taken off to live life without father. They’ve rejected His homestead and are doing it “my way.”

I don’t know where you are in your relationship with your heavenly Father but today’s story is for us! There’s something here for us to learn in the story of reckless living.

In his best-selling book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Philip Yancy tells the story of a conference on comparative religions held in Britain several decades ago.

A group of theologians and other religious intellectuals were discussing whether any single belief was totally unique to Christianity. Different possibilities were put forth. Perhaps the Incarnation? No, other religions, including the Greek and Roman mythologies, had stories of gods becoming human in form. Resurrection? No, other religions also had stories of people returning from the dead. The debate continued for some time, when writer C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked. They told him they were discussing what Christianity’s unique contribution might be among world religions. Very forthrightly, Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

After some discussion, the conferees had to agree. The concept that God’s love comes to us free of charge, with no strings attached, opposes every bit of human logic. The Buddhists have an eightfold path to enlightenment, the Hindus have the concept of Karma, the Jews seek to adhere to the Torah and Muslims have their code of law from the Koran. Each religion has its own way for people to earn divine approval. Only Christianity dares to declare God’s love unconditional — grace.[i]

So What?
One of our “so what” questions for today is for us to take a moment, look at your life and see where we may have wandered into a far country. Do we take our time, our talents or our treasures—and do we lift them high and dedicate them in thanksgiving to our Father God? Or do we run away fast and hard, and spend ourselves on reckless living?

What about the son who stayed and worked hard for the Father? Was he reckless? He did everything the father asked of him—except he didn’t come in and join the party when his little brother returned home. “Dad gave him the best robe, the family signet ring, and killed the best cow we had–for what? Party boy brother? I’ve stayed here and I’ve broken my back working for Dad. What about me?”

One son sang Sinatra’s song, “My way?” The other son sang the blues.

Where are you in this story?
I have good news: it really doesn’t matter because the reckless love of God is going to fully embrace you no matter what. The single belief that separates Christianity from every other religion is this: Grace. Undeserved. Unearned. Freely given.

If you’ve run away, squandered your life on reckless living…come home.

If you’re angry and upset about your brother or sister getting the new car, or diamond ring, or the deed to the house, come home.

We serve a Father who celebrates each and every one of us. Every single day of our lives is numbered. Our Father has a plan for good for us, a plan of hope but we can’t receive it if we stay outside and pout and compare and complain.

One day, every knee is going to bow to Jesus. I’m going to be at that party. I’m going to have the best robe, the family signet ring, and I’m going to be some pretty darn-good BBQ. And guess what? You can, too.

SEED You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing AND RECKLESS love and so do I,
Pastor Dave

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 9/1/2018

Seed of Faith – Reckless Love   By Pastor Dave  

“And when he finds the lost sheep, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”  Luke 15:5-6

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

Today we turn our attention to a wonderful chapter in the Gospel of Luke. I believe that Luke 15 is one of the most powerful chapters in all of the Bible because, to me, Luke 15 illustrates God’s deep, unfailing love. This past spring, I had the opportunity to travel back home to Illinois to help on a grace-based weekend called Tres Dias.  One of the theme songs of the weekend was the song, Reckless Love by Cory Asbury.  if you have never heard the song, here is the link for a Youtube video.  https://youtu.be/Sc6SSHuZvQE  Stop for a moment and listen to this song.

When I first heard the song, I got stuck on the word “RECKLESS.”  How could God’s love be reckless?  Why would I ever call God’s love for me reckless? What does reckless mean?  The word actually means “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.” Listen to some of the synonyms for the word reckless: “impetuous, impulsive, audacious, wild, uncontrolled and hasty.”  When you think of God’s love, I am sure that none of these words instantly pops into your mind.  Matter of fact, I would say that I had often thought of God’s love as controlled, not hasty, careful not impetuous, cautious not impulsive, and gentle rather than wild. This song really made me think. I like when that happens to me. I came home and asked my worship leader if he could listen to it. It didn’t take long for that song to become a crowd favorite.

Here’s the real truth:  God’s love IS wild, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled, impetuous, audacious, prodigal, extravagant, and lavish. And that is what Luke fifteen is all about: the extravagant, audacious, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled and reckless love of God.

Before we get to Luke fifteen, we need to set the stage.  Before we do that, let us come before the throne of God who loves us with a reckless love.  “Lord, God of unfailing love, may Your steadfast, outrageous, lavish love fill our hearts today.  Let us be transformed by Your reckless love.  Amen”

Hear the Good News from our good friend, Dr. Luke, about the reckless love of God that comes to rescue us from all the places we have ever been or from the place where we are right now!

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:1-7

As we look at the opening of Luke 15, we see two sides and we are presented two different views. Luke tells us that the tax-collectors and sinners were gathered around Jesus. Here is an interesting side note–tax-collectors were so reviled and outcast by the Jews that their tithes or offerings were not accepted inside the synagogue. In Jesus’ time, tax-collectors were worse than heathen sinners!  But here we read that both the tax-collectors and the sinners were gathered to hear Jesus.  I love that Jesus never labeled anyone as hopeless. When he saw the people gathering around Him, He saw people who needed redemption.  He saw people who needed to be rescued.  He saw people who needed God’s reckless love.

What I found interesting in my study were the verbs in the opening sentences. The tax-collectors and sinners were gathering.  The verb for gathering is in the present-active tense, which means that the tax collectors were constantly and continually gathering, drawing near, approaching and coming around Jesus.  In other words, they never stopped coming around Jesus! Like a moth to the light, they kept gathering around Jesus.  Next we are told that the Pharisees and teachers of the law were muttering.  Have you ever muttered about something or someone? We all have found ourselves muttering at one time or another. Now let me clarify. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were the shepherds who were not doing what they were supposed to be doing … caring for the sheep.  Their job was to look after the lost sheep!  And the muttering that they were doing was a constant, unending act of complaining, grumbling and muttering.The Pharisees and the teachers of the law set up the story of the outrageous, audacious, lavish, and reckless love of Jesus when they say, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of Jesus!

Did you catch the word that opened my heart this week? Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.  The Greek word for welcomes is “προσδέχομαι prosdechomai.”  Yes, “welcomes” is the verb and it is in the present tense meaning the action of welcome is unending, everlasting, ceaseless and non-stop!  The word “prosdechomai” is translated “accepts, receives, have as a guest, look for, receive willingly, receive favorably, wait for, and welcome!” Jesus continually welcomes us sinners and even eats a meal with us!

Do you get the picture?!  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep. When he finds the lost sheep, he doesn’t beat or berate the sheep. Jesus receives the lost sheep willingly, favorably, and accepts that lost sheep as a guest and welcomes that lost sheep home with Him.  When Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep, He is telling us about the reckless love of God!  Why would God leave the 99 sheep and go looking for one lost sheep!?  That is not reasonable!  That does not make any sense!  That is not practical or logical!  The searching for the one lost sheep is reckless.

I love the ending of this parable!  The Good Shepherd goes in search of…and finds…the lost sheep. Sheep are not known for being intelligent. They wander off searching for greener grass. They tumble down steep terrain and end up bleating “Help!” from their backs. My guess is that this lost sheep is tired from wandering. Jesus gently puts the lost sheep on his shoulders and heads for home. What I hear as I listen to Jesus and this parable is that when Jesus finds us He puts all our sins, our failures, our shame and guilt on His shoulders, too. When Christ died on the cross, His final words were, “It is finished.” Whatever you’ve done, wherever Christ finds you–please know that He has left the 99 behind in order to carry you back home. All that sin that entangles you has been nailed to the cross of Calvary and it’s finished. The victory and peace of the resurrection will now enfold you and carry you home.

SO WHAT?
What happens when the lost sheep is greeted back home? “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:6b-7  
Can you identify? Have you ever been that lost sheep? I have. Jesus has found me and carried me home. Instead of being shunned, I am loved. Instead of paying off my lifetime of debt owed from my foolish choices, I am rejoiced over. Stop here. Take this in. I want you to hear Jesus say this over you, “REJOICE WITH ME; I HAVE FOUND MY LOST SHEEP, (put your name here).”

Here’s the truth of what Jesus was saying to the tax collectors and sinners: The Good Shepherd will search and search and search for you until you are found. I read an interesting fact the other day. People need at least 7 nudges from God until they finally give God their heart. (Some of us need more than 7!)

You know what the real “So What?” is for today? That God’s love really is reckless. No matter who you are or where you are, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done–the Good Shepherd has left the 99 and is looking for YOU. And when you are found–there is great rejoicing.

Whether you are in the crowd of tax-collectors or sinners, or whether you are standing in the crowd of Pharisees and teachers of the law, none of that matter to Jesus.

Don’t let the world and its ways hold you back.  Don’t let your sin and shame hold you back.  Don’t let your fears or failures hold you back.  The Reckless Love of God wants to welcome you, accept you, look for you, receive you willingly and favorably!  It is never too late for the Reckless Love of God to find you and to welcome you back home.

Let us pray … Jesus, how we thank you for Dr. Luke who tells your story. Maybe we aren’t the lost sheep anymore.  Maybe we know of a lost sheep who needs to be found. We are thankful for your reckless love that abandons the 99 and finds the one who is lost.  Right now we pray for those who are lost. (Pause and pray.) Jesus, thank you for coming to find each one of us. Thank you for welcoming us back home. We celebrate as you continue to find the other lost sheep and bring them home. We rejoice for your work done on the cross and for the empty tomb. Most of all, we praise you for your RECKLESS LOVE. Amen.

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/5/18

Seed of Faith – Reconciliation Hope  By Pastor Dave  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gace us the ministry ofreconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

Dear Friends and faithful Seed Sowers!

Happy 4th of July! What thanks we give for those who’ve fought for our freedom. May we celebrate the blessings of the USA:  liberty, faith, justice and freedom. Speaking of freedom, I am also very thankful for the freedom of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. I cannot think of July 4th without also thinking of Christ. The Bible tells us that it is freedom that Christ has set us free.  It is my prayer that as you read this Seed of Faith you will find some freedom in these words and that Christ will set YOU free!

So What? What does it mean that we have been given a ministry of reconciliation?
Look at all of the times that the word reconcile (or some form of it) is used in these three verses! I count five times in three verses.  I would say that the Apostle Paul is trying to tell us something very important about reconciling.

A few months ago, I was in Illinois for a retreat called Tres Dias. On the way there, and during the week, I spent my time in the air writing on this passage in my journal. So much of my time as a pastor is spent on forgiveness–both in forgiving someone, and in being forgiven.  What I can attest to is that it’s tricky work–forgiveness. Do you know that there’s a version of the passage that reads, “The old is going, going, gone and the new is coming, coming coming!” Sometimes, I find this to be true. Sometimes I have to keep forgiving because I keep pulling it back out of God’s hands.  Have you ever done that? A friend of mine told me that she has been on the forgiveness yo yo for years but that after many years, she has finally come to peace and now knows the forgiveness she so needed is now complete–kind of like a puzzle. Sometimes our puzzle of forgiveness is only one or two pieces–those are the easy puzzles and we are delighted when we can forgive and move on  or be forgiven and move on. But other times, that puzzle contains 500-1,000 pieces and it’s just a whole lot more complicated.  Like I said, forgiveness is tricky work. My best advice: keep forgiving. Keep at it. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself–so keep forgiving.

When I was in Rochelle, I was able to be a part of a story regarding forgiveness. The story is about my own family. You may, or may not, know that when I was 12 my oldest brother was killed in a car accident. Our family was forever fractured at that moment. If you’ve lost someone you loved, you hear me and you understand. Tragedy is a night and day event that forever changes your life. Our family was no different. We tried to cope. The loss was huge and I’m not sure our family ever recovered from it. There were 3 brothers and our parents left after our eldest brother was killed. That was in 1968–it’s been 50 years this year. Our family has been what you’d call “fractured”. But this trip to work the Tres Dias Men’s weekend helped me to put more of the puzzle pieces into place for my family.

My dad is now almost 90. At the age of 80, he had heart surgery. I flew out to give support to Mama Sue. My dad recovered beautifully from his surgery! He kept feeling like there was something that he needed to do. Pastor John had told my dad that God didn’t take him because God still had work for him to do. My dad thought maybe he was supposed to go drive a truck or help the farmers get ready for harvest. I kept telling my Dad that God wanted to use him to bring healing to our family–his three sons–and that’s the work God was doing.

A few years later, my Dad made the Tres Dias weekend and he has been working hard ever since to live a life of grace. It’s now ten years later and my dad has made many bridges of love and grace and forgiveness with two of his sons but we still had one son to reach. After the weekend this Spring, my son and I decided that we’d catch the Cub/Cardinal game at Wrigley Field that Monday. Funny thing–the game was canceled due to SNOW! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Baseball in April canceled because it’s snowed out?

Well, with no game to go to we decided that maybe it was time to bring my dad out to see my older brother where he worked. I texted my brother to see if that would be okay and he agreed. My dad, my son and I finished our lunch and headed to see my brother..  We walked in and said our hellos and gave hugs. For the first 15-20 minutes, my son and I talked about our families and then we got caught up with my brother and his family.  At this point,  I asked my dad if there was anything he wanted to say. My dad told my brother he was sorry. My brother forgave my dad. It had been 12 years since they had last talked. When we turned to leave, my dad told my brother that he loved him. What a beautiful story of God’s amazing grace…but it didn’t stop there.

My son, my dad and I decided to go to lay flowers on my mom’s grave–in the snow. While we were there, the three of us visited my oldest brother’s grave. That’s when I realized that my brother had been gone for almost 50 years.

The story doesn’t end here, either.

My son and I then called my younger brother and asked if he and his wife would meet us for dinner! My dad, my step-mama, my son, and my brother and his wife enjoyed a most wonderful Italian meal together.

And here is where the story finally ends: On that day my 89-year-old father was able to visit all 4 of his sons. All because the Cub/Cardinal game was snowed out. I call it Miracle Monday.

Like I said before, sometimes forgiveness happens in a day and sometimes it takes a very long time. Here is what we need to know:  God works in our delays.

Look again at these words of Paul —
18) “God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19) “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
20) Be reconciled to God.

Paul uses the word reconcile five times here. The word in Greek means: “to change, to leave, to give away, to make things right with another person.

First, God reconciles us to Himself. First God changes us, leaves our ways behind us, gives away to a new kind of life, and makes things right with us. We are forgiven and we are reconciled to God! Next, we are given the beautiful ministry of reconciliation. Where are you being asked to change, or to leave behind, or to give away, or to make things right with another person?

This is your “so what?” for this July 4th weekend.

In closing, I have to add this golden nugget of truth. Forgiveness takes one (you). Reconciliation takes at least two. There are times when the other person doesn’t want to have anything to do with you or with forgiveness and reconciliation is impossible–at least for a while. Sometimes you have to accept that all you can do is forgive…and keep forgiving if you have to.

For 50 years, I have been saddened by the death of my older brother. For many years, I have prayed for our family to reconcile. We serve a mighty God. This God can move mountains and this God can snow out any baseball game listed.

Luke 1:37 says, “Nothing is impossible with God.” Our job is to keep trusting, and to keep praying. I pray everyday for you. I know that many of you carry sorrow in your heart. This is a hard world sometimes. May God bless you in your ministry…of reconciliation.

Seed You Sunday! For our good friends in Lusaka, Zambia — Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I” Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you    God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I, Pastor Dave www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Seed of Faith, Resurrection Hope 6/23/2018

Seed of Faith – Resurrection Hope 

By Pastor Dave

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  John 21:15

Dear Seed-Sowers and family of God:
This week’s message comes from the Gospel of John chapter 21. This is a powerful story of resurrection reconciliation. I encourage you to read the whole account found in John 21.  It is only twenty-five verses long …but this story is filled with words of hope and reconciliation. This is a long SEED of FAITH and I will begin it today and finish it next week.

As always, put yourself into the story. Here’s the scene: Jesus has risen! They’ve all seen Jesus by now. He’s walked into the Upper Room and spoken, “Peace!” He’s eaten with them, and asked Thomas to put his fingers into His wounds. Jesus has also asked the disciples to wait for what He is sending.

Waiting.  That’s a hard word. Have you been waiting for something? Time sure does not fly when you are waiting. 

Peter and a few other disciples decided they needed to go do what they did before they knew Jesus:  FISH! So off they went with Peter as the ring leader. They hopped in a boat and went fishing.  As you may already know, night fishing is really good fishing.  The disciples were up all-night fishing.  Please remember, these aren’t disciples turned fishermen, these are fishermen turned disciples.  Their main occupation was fishing. Instead of waiting for the promise of something to happen, these old fishermen went out at night. They fished all night long and caught a whopping, zero, nada, absolutely nothing.  Morning is breaking, and a man appears on the shore.  He has a small fire going and is cooking up a little breakfast–fish and chips. The man hollers to the fishermen. He invites them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. “Who does this guy think he is?” “We are professionals.  We don’t need this rookie’s help.” But…reluctantly they oblige and end up catching so many fish that they can barely haul the net back into the boat.  John looks at the fish in the net and the guy on the shore and declares that this has to be Jesus.  Peter throws on his clothes, jumps in the water and swims the 100 yards to shore (modern day football field).  The rest of the disciples follow in the boat with the net full of fish.  Jesus invites all of them to the fire for breakfast. Sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?
 
Imagine cold, wet, tired disciples sitting around the campfire. In the foreground is a rocky beach and the blue water. The principal characters are:  Jesus, Peter and six other disciples. Here’s what I imagine: Jesus has his back to the blue sea and is standing in the soft glow of the fire. The smoke from the fire floats slowly around the disciples. No one is saying anything because by now they’ve all figured out that the man standing in front of them is their risen Lord and Savior. 
 
What do you think Peter was thinking?

For us to truly understand what is about to happen in this story, we need to go back a few weeks before the Crucifixion. Jesus had taken his disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, (the ekklesia — the called out ones ) and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)
 
Jesus has called Peter “the Rock” because Peter has declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
 
The story now continues with Jesus bringing His disciples to Jerusalem for the Passover. This is when Jesus gathered the disciples in the Upper Room, washed their feet and gave them the new command to love one another. Jesus has now told his disciples that the time has come and he is going away. Peter, good old, boisterous, outspoken, brash, impetuous, bold Peter says, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” (John 13:36-38)
 
All four Gospels tell the story of Peter denying Jesus–not once but three times.  This is Matthew’s account:  Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.  But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”  He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.”  Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:69-75)
 
In order to fully understand today’s story, we need to understand what happened to Peter just weeks earlier:  Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Fast forward a few weeks, when Jesus could really use a man like Peter on his side, Peter denies three times that he doesn’t even know Jesus.  And then the rooster crows.

REJECTION
That’s the first point of today’s message.  We all fail.  We all sin.  We all disappoint.  Throw it all under REJECTION.   Why in one moment are we loving Jesus and in the next moment we act as if we don’t know Him at all?  One day we are worshiping and praising God for all that God has done for us, and the next day we act like we have no idea who Jesus is?
 
RESURRECTION
I’m 100% convinced that the resurrection changes everything! The resurrection overcomes sin.  Resurrection brings light into the darkness.  The resurrection conquers doubt.  The resurrection overcomes fear.  The resurrection brings hope in the midst of failure.  The resurrection restores the rejected. The resurrection brings life from death.  And here is Peter’s dilemma:  “What side of the resurrection will I live on?”

It’s a good question that we should ask ourselves. What side of the resurrection am I going to live on?

Will Peter live on the side of rejection or resurrection?
 
RECONCILIATION
Finally, breakfast was finished, and Jesus had their attention to speak.   I wonder what was going on with Peter.  I can only imagine that Peter’s heart must have skipped a beat when he heard the Lord’s words, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

The Lord was asking, “Simon, do you truly love me?   “After all that has happened, Peter, are you willing to say, out loud and publicly, that you love me?”  Jesus’ words were cutting to the heart.  Jesus said — “do you love me more than these?”  I think that the minute Jesus turned to him and said his name, Peter’s heart began to race, his stomach churned, his cheeks burned, and his eyes misted. This was a tense moment.  Peter was thinking,  “Jesus wants to have a talk with me about the rooster crowing.” Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Is that once for each denial? Perhaps.
 
SO WHAT?
Have you ever been where Peter is?  You’ve done something you are not proud of.  You’ve hurt someone you love deeply by your words or actions. Let us receive the hope in this story:  Jesus met Peter right where Peter was. When Jesus needed Peter the most, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.  After the resurrection, Peter disobeys by going fishing instead of waiting. They were told by Jesus to WAIT.  You just gotta love Peter. After all of Peter’s poor choices,  I am sure he is thinking, “Come on, Jesus, let’s get this over with. YELL AT ME!” 
 
Instead of giving Peter the “what for,” Jesus met Peter right where he was—on the sea fishing instead of waiting.  One of the “so what’s?” for us today is for us to hear that Jesus will meet us right where we are, too.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our tears. Jesus will meet us in the midst of our fears.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our doubts.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our disobedience.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our rejection–of Him.
 
Here’s an interesting side note:  Jesus has addressed Peter as “Simon son of John,” which was Peter’s name before he met Christ. This is a play on words. Peter’s old name, Simon, meant “pebble,” a tiny, light, unstable rock. But Jesus has changed Simon’s name to “Peter” (Cephas) –meaning “rock.” By calling Peter Simon, Jesus is asking him if he is going to go back to who he was before he met Jesus or is he going to be the man that Jesus sees him as.  Are you Peter, the pebble or are you Peter, the rock? 
 
I think we can identify with Peter in a lot of ways.  I certainly identify with Peter. I became a believer in Jesus in 1981. Five years later, I was still battling it out with God: MY WAY or God’s way. Most of the time, I obeyed God’s ways but there were days when I chose myself. One night I was away from my family. I went to a place I didn’t belong with my work staff. We’d gone to a convention in Atlanta. I didn’t want to branded as “different” so I went along but I brought my bible with me–thinking that would help. At one point in the night, I heard the voice of an angel say, “Raphael, Raphael, choose life or choose death.” I turned to my friend and asked if he heard what the guy said. Nope. The angel said it again. Right at that moment, I knew. I had a choice: life or death. I picked up my bible and caught a cab back to the hotel. Jesus and I had a long talk that early morning. Was Jesus enough for me? Would I choose Jesus over any other worldly thing the world offered? David James Peters, let go. Let God.

Here’s your “So What?”
Jesus is on the shore of your life. Wherever you live, He’s there. No matter where you’ve been.  No matter what you’ve done. The question is the same for each one of us. Are you ready? Here’s the question: DO YOU LOVE ME? For me, the question came in a choice to choose life or death. I chose life that night. That’s my prayer for you.  What side of the resurrection are you choosing to live on?  The rejection of Jesus side or the resurrection of Jesus side.  The choice is 100% yours.

There’s more to this story. We’ll finish it up next week!

Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/16/2018

Seed of Faith – Hope Renewed  

By Pastor Dave  

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Greetings! Are you ready for Spring to end and for Summer to be here in full force? I am!

IToday I encourage you to read through the account of the resurrection as told in Luke 24:36-49.  We all need to have our hope renewed! As you read, it is my prayer that you will hear Jesus’ powerful words, “Peace be with you.”  May the peace of Jesus be with you no matter what you are going through. May you hear these words as you battle the world, the flesh or the enemy. As you sell your house, buy a house, look at your bank account, tend to a sick spouse, take that chemo pill, have that surgery, cradle that sick baby–may you hear the risen Lord Jesus speak into your life, “PEACE!”

Luke’s Gospel account of the Resurrection is found in chapter 24. We are told that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women ran back from the tomb and told the disciples that Jesus had risen.  Next we are told that Peter ran to the tomb and came back and told the disciples the same thing:  the tomb is empty, Jesus has risen from the tomb.  We are told that Cleopas and his companion came running back–seven miles from Emaus—in order to tell the disciples that their hearts were burning within them because they had seen and talked with Jesus who was risen from the tomb. After all of these encounters and reports, we are told that the disciples and all those gathered in the Upper Room were  still troubled and doubting.

Troubled and doubting.
On November 9, 1965, at 5:16p.m. events were set in motion that brought New York City to a standstill. A backup relay switch at the Sir Adam Beck power station in Ontario, Canada, was accidentally set too low to handle increasing power transmissions, and it tripped. The power cascaded to the next line, which overloaded and transferred to the next line, shutting down the lines, one after the other.  In less than five minutes, the entire Northeast power grid was offline.  The results were unimaginable.  New York City was entirely blacked out within ten minutes.  There was no power to provide heat or light, no power to allow them to communicate. There was no power to run pumps, move sewage, or deliver water or gas.  The power to run life-support systems at hospitals were cut off.  During the evening rush hour, an estimated eight hundred thousand people were trapped in subways—can you imagine that? Only half of the one hundred and fifty hospitals had emergency power. At JFK airport, two hundred and fifty flights had to be diverted. [i] With no light, no heat, and no communication, thirty million people found themselves encompassed in a dark, silent, frightening world.  All because of a ripple effect set in motion by a small, relay switch that was set too low.

The disciples had just experienced a blackout.  The Scripture tells us that the entire world experienced a blackout for three hours when Jesus hung on the cross and died. The disciples watched as their hopes were shattered. Jesus was crucified on the cross. Just the night before, all of them had run for cover when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Peter denied knowing Jesus—three times.  Yes.  You bet the disciples were troubled and filled with doubt.

Aren’t we a lot like the disciples? Fair-weather friends when trouble and doubt appear, we run for cover?  As the disciples were all huddled away together in fear, frustration, doubt and discouragement — Jesus basically walks through a wall and says,  “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Luke 24:38
In verse 36 as Jesus entered the disciples’ room, notice the first thing He said,“Peace be with you!”  PEACE is a common Jesus theme.

How about when Jesus was born? Didn’t the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
And right after Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples, he spoke to them and said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:27 Yes! Peace is a common Jesus thing.

When the Living Word speaks of “peace,”  God wants us to build a foundation of hope! After His birth, build a foundation of hope.  After the Last Supper, build a foundation of hope.  After Jesus has risen, build a foundation of hope.  After He walks into the room of your life, build a foundation of hope!

I read a story about the building of the Chase Manhattan Bank. When the building was halfway through construction, they discovered what no builder ever wants to learn, the sixty-story massive skyscraper was not built on rock, but quicksand. At some point, if they didn’t fix it, the building would sink, topple over and destroy part of Manhattan. Something had to be done. Engineers were brought in to try and solve the problem. Then some geologists were brought in and they stated that it would take a million years for the quicksand to solidify.   Then someone came up with an innovative idea.  They sank pipes deep into the quicksand and forced a solution of sodium silicate and calcium chloride into the quicksand. In a few days, the quicksand turned into solid, watertight sandstone.  They were able to finish the building.  Injecting the additives was ingenious.[ii]

In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah called Jesus the Prince of Peace!  When Jesus came to earth, He came to bring peace.  Peace–not as the world gives peace but as only Jesus Christ can bring peace into our troubles and our doubts! Jesus told His disciples to not let their hearts be troubled and here they were, a mere three days after Jesus was crucified, and their hearts were already troubled, and their minds are filled with doubts. In just three days and they are hiding away in the Upper Room. Don’t you love a good story like this? Those people were human just like you and me. And all of a suddenly, Jesus entered into the room of their discouragements, fears, frustrations, disbelief and doubts.

Take notice now: What is the first thing that Jesus says? Peace be with you.

The whole reason we gather together is so that we can worship God and hear the words of Scripture.  When you hear someone preaching, listen to how you can apply the words of Scripture into your life.  Each week, as I read, study and prepare my message, I pray that Jesus will walk into the room of every heart who hears the message. I’m praying this for the people in our congregation, and for those who hear the message on the radio, and for those who read this SEED OF FAITH. “Jesus, please walk right into the room of their heart.  The room that’s filled with fear, doubt, and troubles.”

Notice that when Jesus enters a room, Jesus ENTERS THE ROOM.  PEACE. Shalom–not just peace…but the peace of God that enters every aspect of your life:  physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, sexually, relationship-wise, financially.  You name the fear or the doubt or the trouble and that is exactly where Jesus wants to enter and say just one word, “PEACE!”

So What?
Jesus asks the disciples to look at his hands and feet.  Jesus asks the disciples to touch Him.  Jesus wanted them to have hope!  He wanted them to have peace.  Jesus is not a ghost!  Jesus is not a made-up story in order to make people feel good!  Jesus was crucified just like he said He would be and on the third day he was raised back to life just like he said he would be. Jesus tells his disciples to remember that all of this was predicted in the Holy Scriptures. Everything he had told them had to be fulfilled. And then he “opened their minds so they could understand!”  Wow!  What a powerful statement. “Jesus, open up our minds and help us to understand why we are so afraid, or troubled, or why we doubt you.”

In Holman’s Dictionary there are 120 Old Testament Prophecies listed that are fulfilled by Jesus. That’s why Jesus is sharing all of the Scriptures with them!  Jesus wanted them to base their hope–not just on the miracle of the resurrection–but to base their hope in the Scripture. Jesus concludes His encounter with the disciples in the Upper Room by saying, You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:48-49

So What?
Every Sunday we gather to worship. Every week we gather to read the SEED OF FAITH. It is always my number one goal to be certain that the Living Word is rightly preached. Why? Because we are no different than the first disciples! Just like them, we are troubled!  We  have our doubts! We struggle with discouragement and depression!

And then we hear the living word of truth, and our foundation of hope is fitted with one more brick in our foundation of faith, and hope.

Think about how that one, little, relay switch covered an entire city in darkness. It wasn’t anyone’s fault who lived in New York City—but there they were—enveloped in a total blackout; all 30 million people.  I think we can relate. There have been times when we’ve been covered by darkness and we had nothing to do with it. Our world jolted to a screeching halt.  We sit and wait. The relay switch of our lives has gone haywire somewhere, and maybe it isn’t our fault at all.  Life happens.

The truth is that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead can and will fix our broken relay switch.  The resurrection will bring light into our darkness.

The year was 1997.  I had just graduated from seminary. I was out applying for jobs and going on interviews. I wasn’t able to work as much as I needed to. We lived frugally, and made the house payment, utilities, and whatever other monthly bills we had but the month had arrived when we needed to go pay our house taxes. Jac and I didn’t have the first or second installment.  They let the first installment slide and waited for full payment. Jac and I taped our tax bill to the vent of our stove—face down. It was our visual reminder to PRAY for our specific needs.  No one could see it but us. Jac said that the stove was the heart of our home because we used it every day to feed our family. We would see it taped there and beg God to do a miracle. That bill had been taped there for several months. With all of the seminary graduation stuff and Jodi’s high school graduation stuff—there was no stuff leftover for our house taxes.  That account was empty. The day finally arrived when the tax bill was mailed to the house. Jac and I taped it to the stove vent and we prayed. Jesus, we have no clue how to pay this $4,000 bill but You do.”

I decided it was time to go down to the county court house and tell them we needed an extension.  Once I had a job, we would sell the house and pay the taxes. I’d go do that tomorrow. The Holy Spirit said, “Open the bill.” There—across the middle of the $4,000 tax bill in big, red, bold letters was a sight I will never forget:  PAID IN FULL.  I looked at Jac and said, “There’s been some sort of a mistake.  This says our taxes are paid in full.” I had to get up and go to work early the next day, so Jac took the bill and called the tax office from the Christian Book Store where she worked. Jac explained that there had been some sort of a mistake. The man on the other end of the phone said, “There’s no mistake, Mrs. Peters, your house taxes are paid in full. All $4,000 are paid.” Jac was so excited that she drove around town until she found my truck and worksite. She came bolting into the new-house construction site where I was staining a bannister and said, “Dave! It’s not a mistake.  Someone paid our taxes. They are paid in full.”  Twenty-one years later, I still do not know who paid that bill…$4,000. PAID IN FULL.  BOTH INSTALLMENTS. PAID.

Because of the resurrection, Jesus walks into our lives, where we are hiding in doubt and fear and the LIGHT OF THE WORLD SPEAKS INTO OUR DARKNESS: PEACE. DON’T BE AFRAID.

Here’s your SO WHAT for the week:
Get out your LIVING WORD and turn to Luke 24.    “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Luke 24:38
Tell Jesus exactly where you are troubled, and exactly where you doubt. And let’s all pray for one another to hear those beautiful words deep within our heart, “PEACE.”  Shalom–in every aspect of your life, and especially where you need peace the most.

SEED YOU Sunday!

Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com


[i] Staff of the New York Times, The Night the Lights Went Out (New York: Signer Brooks, 1965)

[ii] Norman Vincent Peale, The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking, New Yor; Simon & Schuster, 1959

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith – 6/10/2018

Seed of Faith – Remembering Hope  By Pastor Dave  

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:21-23

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Hope. What a wonderful word! We continue our series on HOPE! When it all comes down to it, “Heaven’s One Promise: Emmanuel” is really all there is. God became man and dwelt among us. Jesus lived, died, and rose again. You can go looking for hope in all the glitter the world offers but it won’t last.  There will always be ANOTHER thing to buy, have, do, see or be. If you find your hope in God, His steadfast love will never cease. His mercies never come to an end because they are new each and every morning. (Lamentations) Let’s get going.

In our passage from Lamentations we hear again some powerful words of hope in the midst of suffering, doubt, fear, frustration, pain, discouragement, opposition, and disappointment. Let me set the scene. Jerusalem had been totally destroyed by the Babylonians. The best and the brightest of the Jews were taken captive to Babylon to be slaves. The rest of the people who had not died in the invasion were left behind in a broken-down city.  Jerusalem–a city with no walls, no food, no protection, and no hope. Yet in these shadows of darkness the writer of Lamentations remembers the hope of God!  Scholars credit the Prophet Jeremiah with writing the book of Lamentations and Jeremiah is nicknamed “The Weeping Prophet.”  By the time we get to chapter three of the book, we hear a cry of hope! Jeremiah remembers that his God is a loving God!   Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”  The word that Jeremiah uses for God’s “love” is “hesed.” Hesed…a powerful word of grace, mercy, loving-kindness, and steadfast love! Listen as Jeremiah writes, “Because of the Lord’s great love…Because of God’s great grace… Because of God’s great mercy…  Because of God’s great loving-kindness…  Because of God’s great steadfast love… we are not consumed — we are not finished, we are not used up!”   Why not?  Because God’s compassions never fail!    Isn’t it wonderful that Jeremiah uses the plural for compassion–“compassions”? Our God is a God of countless daily compassion for each one of us. In the Hebrew, Jeremiah is telling us that God is filled with countless expressions of love towards us; not just one time, not just one time each day—but over and over and over again—many times each day we can count on the fact God’s great love, and grace, and mercy and loving kindness is for us and is a countless number! We really need to remember this, we cannot exhaust God’s love for us. (Try making a list right now of all of the blessing that you have at this moment.  Start with: heart beating, lungs breathing…)

Have you ever been discouraged, defeated, disappointed, disillusioned, overwhelmed, overcome or outcast?  Have you ever known what it feels like to lose hope? These Jews have lost their hope.   The walls of their great city have been destroyed. The city is in ruins. The people have no peace. These people were left behind in their destroyed Jerusalem. They were hopeless. Their city had no walls!  They had no protection.  They had no food or water. They were discouraged, defeated, depressed, and deeply disappointed.  But wait! God sends a message through the prophet Jeremiah, “Tell the people that there is hope.” “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 Are these words in Lamentations familiar to you? Listen to the words of a well-known hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness by Thomas O. Chisholm (1866–1960).

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Morning by morning new mercies I see; Great is thy faithfulness!  Great is thy Faithfulness!

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not: There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!

The story of how Chisholm came to write his hymn reveals a profound truth about God’s faithfulness. Many of our great hymns were written in response to a dramatic spiritual experience but this is not the case with “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” The hymn was not the product of a single experience of Chisholm but of a lifetime of God’s faithful care. Not long before his death, Chisholm wrote, My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. But I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.”[i]  

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

SO WHAT? Our “So what, Pastor Dave?”  comes from the prophet Jeremiah. Call to mind God’s steadfast love for you. Write them down.  Say them out loud right now. I’m praying that hope will begin to rise up from within you.

What exactly should we be calling to mind?  God’s great faithfulness! This is your “So What?” challenge today.  Get a piece of paper out…and every day of this week, say this verse, sing this song, and start listing all of the many blessings you can recall. This summer I will turn 64. I will have lived on this good earth for over 23,000 days! No matter what I’m going through right now—I can look back on my life and say that God is faithful. No matter what storms have risen up in my life, God’s compassions have been there every single morning of my 23,000 days.  The same goes for you. God’s compassions for each one of us will never fail. And the best part is that they are new every single morning. God’s faithfulness to us is great. Today’s message is about sitting down and figuring out how many thousands of days you’ve lived on planet earth. How many days has God’s great faithfulness covered you? How many mornings have you received a new start of God’s hesed and compassion? That’s your job this week, this is your “SO WHAT, PASTOR DAVE?”  Figure out how many days you’ve been on this earth. Look back over your life. My prayer is that like the Jews in war-torn Jerusalem, we will begin to find the hope that we have been given. Our God has been with us. Every single morning we’ve been given God’s compassions. If you’re in dangerous territory as you read this—wait it out. Like the Jews left behind in Jerusalem, our message is the same one that Jeremiah gave: HOPE IN GOD. And just how do we do that?  We remember God’s faithfulness. I went to seminary at the age of 40. Jac and I lovingly call it the cemetery instead of seminary.  Seminary is when we learned how to live on spaghettios, eggs, and watermelon. We lived on what was often dropped by our side porch: day old bread, and the mercy of others who dropped off groceries. One week someone dropped off a grocery bag for our youngest daughter. Inside of the bag was a box of Velveeta and a head of broccoli. Jodi must have mentioned to someone that she missed having REAL FOOD to eat! She was so excited! She steamed the broccoli and got ready to melt the Velveeta. Taped inside to the lining of the cheese was an envelope: “Please go get a HOMECOMING DRESS with this money.” It was $100. If we had never answered the call to seminary, I would not have any awesome stories to share with you about God’s HESED: God’s grace, mercy, loving-kindness, and steadfast love! There it was in full, living color, on the back of the silver lining of the cheese. Jodi cried. She saw her parents living this seminary journey of God’s mercy but for the first time, God’s mercy covered her. With her cravings satisfied for REAL FOOD she went and got a pretty new dress! Sometimes God’s mercy and faithfulness don’t look exactly like how we thing it should it look, does it? And three years later, when I was ordained, I finished the service by having the people sing, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I couldn’t even sing because I knew how faithful God had been to me in seminary. Even to this day, when I feel overwhelmed in ministry, when I am overwhelmed with this rash, when the world tells me I’m a big nothing—this is the song that brings me back full circle. Go ahead, SING WITH ME!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father! There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not: As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Seed You Sunday! For our good friends in Lusaka, Zambia — Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I” Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you    God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I, Pastor Dave www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Here is a link to a YouTube by Selah for you to listen to if you desire! https://youtu.be/SrsfCZvqGxQ

[i] Thomas Chisholm, quoted in Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI:

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 3/28/2018

by Pastor Dave  |  March 28, 2018

Holy Week & Easter — Seed of Faith

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” John 20:1

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

This is Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem. Tensions were high. The Pharisees were now planning a way to kill Jesus. The disciples were preparing the Upper Room for Passover. The people of Jerusalem were preparing for the Passover. I encourage you to read the account of the resurrection from the four Gospel writers. You can find these stories in Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1-18. May God’s Words of life speak hope into your heart, soul and mind as you read.

It seems like Lent was forever ago, doesn’t it? Lent is a seven-week journey. We’ve been studying the concept of HOPE throughout Lent. Do you know that my greatest prayer is that each one of us will find ourselves in the stories of the Bible? We are there. As you read, I am praying that somewhere in every story–you can see yourself.

Jesus’ followers had walked with Jesus for three years. They watched while Jesus healed hundreds of people. They watched as Jesus walked on water, calmed storms and… raised the dead. Just days after Jesus entered the Holy City (Jerusalem) on a donkey, He was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed as a common criminal. The journey of Lent is a dangerous road–if we are serious, we just may find ourselves somewhere in this story of Holy Week. Were we cheering and waving palms on Palm Sunday? Or were we plotting a way to get rid of Jesus? Were we humble enough to have Jesus wash our feet? Or were we more worried about the money we’d make when we identified Jesus to the soldiers? Were we ashamed when we all fled the garden and left Jesus alone when they came for him? Or were we more like Peter, who followed but didn’t quite have the courage to say, “Jesus is my best friend?” Where were you when Jesus walked to Calvary? Did you volunteer to help Him carry His cross? Were you hiding in fear? Maybe you were begging for a miracle? At any rate, we are there now–Good Friday is on the horizon.

During the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross, “darkness came over all the land.” (Matthew 27:45b, NIV) As I studied this week, I was amazed as I read and translated the Greek: the darkness that fell didn’t begin and end in Jerusalem…the Greek word used for “land” is “ge” which is translated “universe.” As Jesus was being crucified, darkness covered the earth, the universe, from the sixth hour (high noon) to the ninth hour (3 pm). Now put yourself into the story of Good Friday. Can you imagine the high-noon sun being blotted out by total darkness…for three hours? What if the darkness that fell––not only covered the universe but also covered hearts, minds, and spirits?

Some of us know what that feels like. Some of us feel that way today. I’m sure each one of us knows someone who feels as though their world is very dark right now. If that you, I want you to hear this: there is hope.

“SO WHAT?”
Every week we try to tear apart the living word and make some sense of the stories in the Scriptures. Every week we try to break down the Hebrew and the Greek and we try to apply what was written thousands of years ago to our own lives. The Bible isn’t just a book you read, the bible is a book that reads you. If you look hard enough, you are somewhere between the pages.

Here’s our “SO WHAT?” for this Holy Week and Easter:

Easter is the hinge pin of Christianity. The resurrection is front and center of the split between the darkness and the light. That’s right. Darkness fell and covered the entire universe. Jesus died. God’s only Son died. As I read and studied and prayed this week, this hit me: we don’t celebrate Easter as “the third day after the Crucifixion.” As important as the Crucifixion is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity. As important as Jesus dying to save us from our sins really is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity. The hinge pin…is…the empty tomb. The entire darkness of the universe was brightened by the light of the empty tomb–the RESURRECTION!

THE TRUE LIGHT OF THE WORLD OVERCAME THE DARKNESS OF THE UNIVERSE.

THE TOMB IS EMPTY. JESUS IS ALIVE!

Whatever it is that causes darkness in our lives— it has been conquered. Jesus conquered HELL, DEATH and the GRAVE. Jesus has conquered all sin—all my sin, all your sin. Whatever our sins are…whatever darkness we live in…whatever darkness covers our lives…Jesus has put that to death. And not only has Jesus put our darkness to death…he has conquered it for us…and has risen from the dead…and the darkness!

The light shines into the darkness, but the darkness could not overcome it. (John 1:5)
The true light that gives light to every person was coming into the world. (John 1:9)

“I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. WHOEVER FOLLOWS ME WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, BUT WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.” (John 8:12)

THE TOMB IS EMPTY. Jesus is ALIVE.

SO WHAT?

This is the RESURRECTION HOPE: Jesus IS ALIVE!!

THE TOMB IS EMPTY…whatever we are facing—THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD IS WITH US.

His light is promised to shine into our darkness…and no matter what that darkness is, it cannot overcome THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

Our journey of Lent may be coming to a close but the journey of our life is not. Because of Jesus, we have the very same Resurrection hope that raised him from the dead. We have the very same Resurrection hope that met the disciples on Easter evening in the Upper Room. We have the same Resurrection hope that traveled with the two on the road to Emmaus.

As we celebrate Easter this year, I’m praying that the truth of the Light of the World is burning brightly within your heart!

Hallelujah! Jesus is alive!

See You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
theseedchristianfellowship.outreachapps.com

   

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved.
May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.

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Holy Week & Easter — Seed of Faith

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” John 20:1
Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

This is Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem.  Tensions were high.  The Pharisees were now planning a way to kill Jesus.  The disciples were preparing the Upper Room for Passover.  The people of Jerusalem were preparing for the Passover. I encourage you to read the account of the resurrection from the four Gospel writers. You can find these stories in Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1-18.  May God’s Words of life speak hope into your heart, soul and mind as you read.

It seems like Lent was forever ago, doesn’t it? Lent is a seven-week journey.  We’ve been studying the concept of HOPE throughout Lent. Do you know that my greatest prayer is that each one of us will find ourselves in the stories of the Bible? We are there. As you read, I am praying that somewhere in every story–you can see yourself.

Jesus’ followers had walked with Jesus for three years. They watched while Jesus healed hundreds of people. They watched as Jesus walked on water, calmed storms and… raised the dead. Just days after Jesus entered the Holy City (Jerusalem) on a donkey, He was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed as a common criminal. The journey of Lent is a dangerous road–if we are serious, we just may find ourselves somewhere in this story of Holy Week. Were we cheering and waving palms on Palm Sunday? Or were we plotting a way to get rid of Jesus? Were we humble enough to have Jesus wash our feet? Or were we more worried about the money we’d make when we identified Jesus to the soldiers? Were we ashamed when we all fled the garden and left Jesus alone when they came for him? Or were we more like Peter, who followed but didn’t quite have the courage to say, “Jesus is my best friend?” Where were you when Jesus walked to Calvary? Did you volunteer to help Him carry His cross? Were you hiding in fear? Maybe you were begging for a miracle? At any rate, we are there now–Good Friday is on the horizon.

During the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross, “darkness came over all the land.” (Matthew 27:45b, NIV)   As I studied this week, I was amazed as I read and translated the Greek: the darkness that fell didn’t begin and end in Jerusalem…the  Greek word used for “land” is “ge” which is translated “universe.”  As Jesus was being crucified, darkness covered the earth, the universe, from the sixth hour (high noon) to the ninth hour (3 pm). Now put yourself into the story of Good Friday. Can you imagine the high-noon sun being blotted out by total darkness…for three hours?   What if the darkness that fell––not only covered the universe but also covered hearts, minds, and spirits?

Some of us know what that feels like. Some of us feel that way today. I’m sure each one of us knows someone who feels as though their world is very dark right now. If that you, I want you to hear this:   there is hope.

“SO WHAT?”
Every week we try to tear apart the living word and make some sense of the stories in the Scriptures.  Every week we try to break down the Hebrew and the Greek and we try to apply what was written thousands of years ago to our own lives. The Bible isn’t just a book you read, the bible is a book that reads you. If you look hard enough, you are somewhere between the pages.

Here’s our “SO WHAT?” for this Holy Week and Easter:

Easter is the hinge pin of Christianity.  The resurrection is front and center of the split between the darkness and the light.  That’s right.  Darkness fell and covered the entire universe. Jesus died.  God’s only Son died. As I read and studied and prayed this week, this hit me:  we don’t celebrate Easter as “the third day after the Crucifixion.”  As important as the Crucifixion is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity.  As important as Jesus dying to save us from our sins really is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity.  The hinge pin…is…the empty tomb. The entire darkness of the universe was brightened by the light of the empty tomb–the RESURRECTION!

THE TRUE LIGHT OF THE WORLD OVERCAME THE DARKNESS OF THE UNIVERSE. 

THE TOMB IS EMPTY.  JESUS IS ALIVE!

Whatever it is that causes darkness in our lives— it has been conquered.  Jesus conquered HELL, DEATH and the GRAVE.  Jesus has conquered all sin—all my sin, all your sin.  Whatever our sins are…whatever darkness we live in…whatever darkness covers our lives…Jesus has put that to death.  And not only has Jesus put our darkness to death…he has conquered it for us…and has risen from the dead…and the darkness!

The light shines into the darkness, but the darkness could not overcome it.  (John 1:5) 
The true light that gives light to every person was coming into the world. (John 1:9)

 “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.  WHOEVER FOLLOWS ME WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, BUT WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.” (John 8:12)

THE TOMB IS EMPTY.  Jesus is ALIVE.

SO WHAT?

This is the RESURRECTION HOPE: Jesus IS ALIVE!! 

THE TOMB IS EMPTY…whatever we are facing—THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD IS WITH US. 

His light is promised to shine into our darkness…and no matter what that darkness is, it cannot overcome THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

Our journey of Lent may be coming to a close but the journey of our life is not. Because of Jesus, we have the very same Resurrection hope that raised him from the dead. We have the very same Resurrection hope that met the disciples on Easter evening in the Upper Room. We have the same Resurrection hope that traveled with the two on the road to Emmaus. 

As we celebrate Easter this year, I’m praying that the truth of the Light of the World is burning brightly within your heart!

Hallelujah!  Jesus is alive! 

See You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

   

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved.
May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.

Our mailing address is:
6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701

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Weekly Seed of Faith 3/17/18

by Pastor Dave | March 17, 2018

SEED OF FAITH
A DOOR OF HOPE
A LIVING HOPE

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” I Peter 1:3-5

Dear Saints and Servants of the Lord:

Each week I plan to sit and write my Seed of Faith early in the week. Monday comes and so does ministry! And then…I had to go to the doctor’s office twice this week because I had pain in my chest and back. I called the nurse hotline and they said, “COME IN NOW!”  They wanted to make sure my heart was okay.  The doctor did an EKG–all is well.  This is a new doctor with my new insurance program. He thinks my stress is too high. I think it is the rash.  He said he’s never seen a rash like mine and maybe the rash is traveling to other places inside my body.  At any rate, the doctor is sending me to a new dermatologist next week. It’s been a busy week; here it is Friday again.

Hope! Hope! Hope!  What does hope mean?  What is hope?  How can we have hope in our troubled times?  Today let’s take a few minutes to read Psalm 71:1-8; Hosea 2:14-17 and 1 Peter 1:1-9.

DOOR OF HOPE!
The prophet Hosea gives us a wonderful word picture of hope in our Old Testament reading.  The prophet tells the people that God will bring them out to the desert, away from all their worldly distractions.  God will bring them out of the Valley of Achor — which literally means “trouble”.  Hosea is prophesying to the people that God will bring them out of the Valley of trouble and will transform their valley from a door of trouble into a door of hope.

How many of us are in the valley of trouble? Are we resident aliens living on the edge of society? Have we been scattered, or dispersed? Are we living in troubling times?  Has the weight of the world collapsed on you?  Has a recent medical condition brought you to your knees? Maybe you are suffering from a broken relationship with a family member, father, mother, brother, sister or friend.  We understand the valley of Achor — the valley of trouble. Is the valley of trouble your place of employment or lack of employment?  Maybe your Valley of trouble is school. We live in troubling times.  Maybe, just maybe, this is your time of the Valley Achor — the Valley of trouble.  Hear verse 15 again:  “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”  The Old Testament (Hebrew) word that Hosea uses for “hope” is “tiqvah — teek-vah.”  “Teek vah” means “to wait for, to look expectantly in one direction.”  In the Old Testament book of Joshua, the image of hope was a red or scarlet cord.  This image comes from the story of Rahab.  Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho.  Rahab was a relative of Boaz—and she is an ancestor of both David and Jesus!   Her home was built into the city wall.  Her “occupation” brought many visitors.  One day she harbored Israelite spies—no one thought much of it but the spies wanted to thank her for hiding them.  They instructed her to tie a red cord in her window so that Rahab and her family would be safe from the coming Israelite invasion. (Joshua 2:18-21)

Hold the visual image of a red cord in your mind as an image of hope.  The very valley of your trouble—God can turn into your door of trouble into a door of hope!

LIVING HOPE!
The people to whom Peter is writing his letter to are living in troubling times.  They are dispersed around the known world.  For us, it would be places like Rancho Cucamonga, Alta Loma, Etiwanda, Upland, Ontario, Claremont, Riverside, Corona–Southern California and the world. One of the main reasons that our good friend, Peter, wrote this letter was to help raise the sojourners above the world they lived in.  Peter wanted to remind this people group that they were not of this world Peter wanted to give them a living hope: the door of hope.  “Wait expectantly.  Look in one direction.  This is the door of hope:  wait for it to open!”

The Greek word for “hope” is “elpis — el-peece” meaning “a happy anticipation of good, a favorable and confidant expectation.”  Today we’ve lost the deep meaning of hope, instead– it’s almost like wishing.  During New Testament times, hope was not just an optimistic outlook or wishful thinking, it was the confident expectation based on solid certainty. Our biblical hope rests entirely upon God’s promises. Hope is our confidence in grace’s future accomplishment.  What area in your life are you waiting for God’s grace to accomplish God’s work in your life?  This biblical hope is your door out of the Valley of trouble—we anticipate with solid certainty that this door will be opening soon!

Billy Graham hoped beyond hope as Paul wrote in Romans five.  Billy was hanging onto Jesus Christ–a blessed hope, a living hope.  Jesus Christ was the open door in his Valley of Achor—he was 99 years old when God called him home.

Peter is writing to the suffering Christians of the first century, and wanted to encourage them.  This hope is “living”– dynamic, vital, and alive.  This hope is living water flowing from a perennial spring that never runs out.  In the Greek language, “living” is a present, active participle–meaning that the action is going and ongoing. What Peter is saying is that over and over again, through God’s great mercy, those who are in the valley of trouble are eternally offered a door of hope through the red cord of Christ’s death and resurrection.  We have a living hope!  We have a living hope that we can count on–not once but over and over again because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  Jesus Christ is alive forever and because of this we  have a living, ongoing hope.  We look expectantly in Christ’s direction.  We anticipate with pleasure that our door of hope will open!

AN INHERITANCE KEPT IN HEAVEN
So What?
I was thinking of hope as an acrostic — I like to think in those terms because it helps me to pray and remember.  Here is my attempt, I encourage you to make up your own:

H — Hold                     
O — On
P — Praying
E — Everyday

H — Hang
O — On
P — Pray
E — Expectantly

H — Heaven’s
O — One
P — Promise
E — Eternity

A number of years ago, in a mental institution outside Boston, a young girl known as “Little Annie” was locked in the dungeon. The dungeon was the only place for those who were hopelessly insane. In Little Annie’s case, they saw no hope for her, so she was consigned to a living death in that small cage which received little light and even less hope. About that time, an elderly nurse was nearing retirement. She felt there was hope for all of God’s children, so she started taking her lunch into the dungeon and eating outside Little Annie’s cage. She felt perhaps she could communicate some love and hope to the little girl.

In many ways, Little Annie was like an animal. On occasions, she would violently attack the person who came to her cage. At other times, she would completely ignore them. When the elderly nurse started visiting her, Little Annie gave no indication that she was even aware of her presence. One day, the elderly nurse brought some brownies to the dungeon and left them outside the cage. Little Annie gave no hint she knew they were there, but when the nurse returned the next day, the brownies were gone. From that time on, the nurse would bring brownies when she made her Thursday visit. Soon after, the doctors in the institution noticed a change was taking place. After a period of time, they decided to move Little Annie upstairs. Finally, the day came when Little Annie–the “hopeless case” was told she could return home. But Little Annie did not wish to leave. She chose to stay, to help others. Little Annie cared for, taught, and nurtured Helen Keller.   Little Annie’s name is Anne Sullivan.[i]

Think of this for a moment!  An unnamed elderly nurse who was at the end of her career gave a brownie to a hopeless, caged, little girl.  That brownie was a lifeline–a red cord of hope.  This small gesture of hope changed a young girl. She went from being hopelessly insane into a young woman who went on to touch the lives of millions through her love and care for Helen Keller.  All because of a nurse and a brownie.

Think back through your own life.  Who has hung a red cord of hope for you? Who has helped you to build your foundation in God? This week take a moment to give thanks for those who have helped you in your journey of hope.  I don’t know about you but I am eternally grateful to all those who came and left the brownie of hope next to my cage.

Billy Graham has held out the red cord of hope for countless millions yet when asked if he knew how many people he had saved, he humbly answered, “Yes, I do.  I know exactly how many.” The reporter was astounded.  “How many?” Billy smiled and replied, “Zero.” All God asks of us is to simply hold out the red cord of hope to those we know. There’s your weekly assignment.  Hold out the red cord of hope to someone. Ask God to give you the wisdom to do this.

Billy Graham died a few weeks ago. I’ve recorded his funeral and a movie based on his life, “An Extraordinary Journey”. Both are red cords of hope for me. Both have encouraged me. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Billy Graham:  “One day you will hear that Billy Graham has died.  Don’t you believe it. On that day I’ll be more alive than ever before! I’ve just changed addresses.” 

Over the past two months my good friend had gotten really sick. He had a hard summer and fall. Over the holidays he was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. This is one my best friends.  I’m used to going to the hospital and visiting people. I’m not used to going to the hospital to visit my really sick friend. Over the last two months, I’ve gone to see him just about every day. We’ve talked about his cancer, his life and his upcoming death. He told me, “Dave, if the worst thing that happens to me is that I go home to live with Jesus forever –well, then that’s not bad at all.” My friend died two days after Billy Graham died. My friend hung out the red cord of hope for me. He turned my door of the valley of trouble into a door of hope. He is with Jesus right now. He is whole.  There is no more pain, no more fear and no more tears.  This is what my friend taught me: A living God offers me a living hope.

The “so what” for us today is to pray and think of those who God has placed into our lives.  Who can we leave a brownie with?  Who can we hang a red cord of hope out for?  Who can we stand with?  Who can we pray for? How can my life influence someone else’s life for good?  

Just beyond our Valley of Achor (trouble) lies our door of HOPE.  That door may look like an empty tomb but it’s way more than that. That empty tomb is really the door of HOPE: the RISEN Jesus CHRIST!

I buried my friend last week. I helped with his memorial service. Here’s what I learned:
I have a living God who has given me a living hope. 

After having chest pains for two days, I started thinking, “What if I have a heart attack? What if I die tomorrow?” I have to tell you that between Billy Graham and my friend, I’ve hung onto the red cord of hope that they left out for me; the brownie of hope they left out by my cage. “If the worst thing that happens to me is that I die and go live with Jesus forever–well, then, that’s not a bad thing at all.  I’ll simply change my address.  I’ll be more alive than ever before.  There will be no more pain, no more fear, no more tears.”  HOPE: Heaven’s ONLY PROMISE–ETERNITY.

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com


[i] Hewitt, James S., Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale Publishing, Wheaton, IL.

Weekly Seed of Faith 3/10/2018

March 10, 2018

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers!

How’s your journey through the Lenten season? If it’s anything like mine, I’m praying for you. I lost one of my best friends. He fought the good fight. He ran the race.

I remember when I first became a Christian and my pastor encouraged me to start reading the Bible. He told me that I would find all the hope I needed within the pages of the Bible. At that point in my life, I was struggling with many things that stole my hope away.

Howard Hendrick, a great preacher, wrote, “Discouragement is the anesthetic that the devil uses on a person just before he reaches in carves out the heart.”[i] I think Hendricks is right. When we lose hope, we lose the ability to dream. Despair replaces joy. Fear replaces faith. Anxiety replaces peace. Insecurity replaces security. Restlessness replaces calm. Impossibilities replace possibilities. Pessimism replaces optimism. Hopelessness replaces hopefulness.

“Lord God, we read your word and this Seed Of Faith today and ask to be filled with Your hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Fill us with Your hope that will strengthen us to live in this world. As we journey to the cross this Lenten season, fan the fire of Your HOPE deep within us. Amen”

I have a few Psalms that I want to share before we read our New Testament. I pray that here in these words of Holy Scripture, you find the HOPE you seek.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
“May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:22
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11
“Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.” Psalm 119:43
“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” Psalm 119:49-50
“May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:74
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:81
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:114
“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:147

It was the fall of 1998. My wife and I had picked up all our belongings and moved to our first church in Southwest Missouri. We moved ten hours and hundreds of miles away from everything that we knew–from our community, our church, our jobs, our family and friends. We left the church that brought us up in the faith and helped us raise our children. Our three children had graduated from High School and were now off to college, seeking to find their own futures that were filled with hope. We bought a brand-new home in a little town twenty miles from Branson, Missouri. The church we were called to was in conflict. Within our first year, the former pastor’s wife had filed a civil lawsuit against the secretary for alienation of affection and she won. We didn’t know anything about this case but her court case hit the national press. The people in the church were not happy campers; there was a lot of discouragement and conflict within the four walls. The heart of the church had been cut out and the spirit of the church was angry and hopeless. This was a true church catastrophe. My wife and I had no part of the conflict in any way, shape or form but we held the offices that the people in the church were mad at. The overarching church leadership became involved and assessed the situation. They met with the people in the church, they met with Jac and they met with me. Their conclusion: because of all of the former situation involving the prior ministry team, I was really the interim pastor—the pastor who jumps into the middle of a church mess and tries to bring the congregation back to the focus and foundation of Christ…before they bring in another pastor. This church was angry and deeply troubled. The leadership board of the ecclesiastical church also felt it was not safe for my wife to attend the church at this time; the people had projected their anger from the old pastor’s wife to the new pastor’s wife.

Can you imagine? We had left everything in the entire world in order to follow God. We bought a new home and we had hoped to live in the Ozarks forever. Instead, we found ourselves in the middle of a church fight that we never imagined and had nothing to do with. To say the least, our hopes were shattered.

For an escape from the dark clouds of hopelessness, Jac and I would drive to Branson on Sunday afternoons after church. (Like going to Disneyland after church here in Southern California.) There’s a great theme park in Branson called Silver Dollar City. We always joked that it should be called, “Steal Your Dollars City”. At any rate, I’d go preach on Sunday and then go home and get my wife and drive down to Branson. We became season passholders.

One Sunday night when Silver Dollar City was closing, we were walking out with the large crowd but we noticed hundreds of other people entering the park and heading down another pathway. We stopped one of them and asked where they were going. They told us that every Sunday night after the park closes, Silver Dollar City holds an open-air concert in an outdoor amphitheater. My wife and I looked at each other and said, “Why not — we have nothing to lose — even if it might be country music.”

The open-air amphitheater was cut out from stone and had seats rising up from the stage. We sat in the top row, just in case we wanted to make a bee line for home. We had never heard of the group that was set to play.

Toward the end of the concert, the lead singer asked everyone to sit down. He talked about hope. To be honest with you, I don’t remember a word he said but I do remember the song he sang. He said that they were going to play a new song and asked us to remain seated until we knew that we knew that we knew that our hope was in God. “Don’t stand up until you know that your hope is God.” They started to sing. Tears welled up in my eyes and spilled over. In my very first call, I had lost my hope. I was discouraged and wanted to quit. I was pastoring a church that the leadership board had determined was not safe for my wife to attend. Who does that? How do I fix that? I was hopeless.

Over and over he sang these words:

My hope is You
Show me Your ways
Guide me in truth
In all my days
My hope is You[ii]

For twenty minutes, they sang this song over and over again. The lead singer talked about how he came to write this song—in the middle of his own hopelessness. Jac and I were undone. There in the middle of Steal Your Dollar City—I mean Silver Dollar City—the Holy Spirit had zeroed in straight into our hearts. In our first call to our first church, we had lost our hope. We had taken our eyes off of God and put them on the church. I was the last person to stand but God’s hope had started to penetrate my broken heart.

Hope! What is hope? Webster defines hope: “to cherish a desire with anticipation, to desire with expectation of obtainment, to expect with confidence: trust.”[iii]

In the Old Testament there is no single Hebrew word that corresponds directly to the English word “hope.” More than a dozen Hebrew words are translated for the one word HOPE–and each has its own nuance. In the New Testament the most common word that is used for hope is “elpis.” It means to distinguish the basis of hope, the object of hope, and the activity of hope. In both Hebrew and Greek, the noun forms tend to express basis of hope—the reason we hope. The basic biblical definition of hope is a confident expectation, a full expectation of a favorable future under God’s direction. That is what happened to me as I sat inside that stone amphitheater: MY HOPE IS GOD. The Holy Spirit started healing the fragments of my splintered heart. I had so hoped that this first call would be my only call. I had so hoped that my wife and I would live in the Ozarks for the rest of our lives–it was really a beautiful area.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for….” Hope is a foundation! Hope is our foundation to faith!

Maybe you can identify with these Bible characters:

Abraham and Sarah hoped that God’s promises were true even though they were past the age of having children.

Joseph endured mistreatment from his family; yet he endured in hope through his slavery and imprisonment.

Ruth and Naomi suffered the loss of their loved ones but through hope they overcame disappointment.

David bounced back from several devastating failures: adultery, murder, career and family failures yet he endured in hope and wrote many of the Psalms of hope that we read today.

Elijah suffered criticism, so much that he wanted to die, but God resurrected his hope.

Nehemiah was discouraged with harsh political, legal, and social circumstances yet in hope he rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem and restored the land.

John Mark was rejected by the Apostle Paul yet in hope he later became a teacher and pastor. He authored the book of James.

Peter was disappointed with himself for not being able to stand up under pressure yet he became one of the leaders of the early church. Peter found his hope in the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

Just pick up the bible and you will find a person who faced discouragement, disappointment, discontent, disaster, and even death, yet throughout the Scriptures we find where hope is revealed: in God. “MY HOPE IS YOU.” (It makes a great breath prayer. You can say this all day long.)

So What?
As we begin this series on Hope, it is my hope that you will find your hope in GOD!

Find hope to set you free from your past.
Find hope to bounce back from discouragement.
Find hope to dream again.
Find hope to liberate you from the chains that have held you down.
Find hope to light the darkness of your path.
Find hope to help you persevere through your trials.
Find hope to give you resurrection power.

Hope is a deep and powerful force anchored in God’s Word. Things got worse at the little church in the Ozarks before they got better but we had been given the tremendous gift of HOPE found in a stone amphitheatre in Branson, MO. God used this devastating experience of my first call in order to get me to go to where I had decided I would never go: California! Looking back, I’m thankful for what I learned during my first call: MY HOPE IS YOU!

Here is the link for the song “My Hope Is You” by Third Day — https://youtu.be/85XmMoYlTPU

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
theseedchristianfellowship.outreachapps.com/

[i] L.C. Naden, Christ Is The Answer, Warburton, Victoria, Australia, Signs Publishing Company, 1950
[ii] CCLI Song # 2373672 Brad Avery | David Carr | Mac Powell | Mark D. Lee | Tai Anderson © 1997 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Vandura 2500 Songs (Admin. by Kobalt Music Publishing America, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com
CCLI License # 3278479
[iii] Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Weekly Seed of Faith 10/13/2018

SEED OF FAITH — THE PRODIGAL FATHER  

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  Luke 15:20

 

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the love and grace of our blessed Savior! Hope your week has been wonderful! There are so many signs of fall around–even in Southern California! It’s apple-picking time, pumpkins abound, and the trees are losing their leaves. It’s getting dark by 7 pm and there’s finally a “chill” in the air! We’ve even had RAIN here: the song is false: “it never rains in California” oh, indeed, it does! And everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

We are going to be thinking about the word “prodigal” in this SEED OF FAITH. The word “prodigal” means “to spend money or resources freely, recklessly, wastefully and extravagantly”.  Have you ever thought of God’s love as being prodigal? or reckless? or wasteful? or extravagant? I often sit and read my word.  I ask the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom on what I’m reading.  At church, we’ve been signing “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. It really has me thinking. What does reckless mean?  What does it mean to say that God’s love is reckless? Reckless means “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.” The synonyms for reckless are “impetuous, impulsive, audacious, wild, uncontrolled and hasty.”  When you think of God’s love, do these words pop into your mind?

But the truth is that God’s love IS wild, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled, impetuous, audacious, prodigal, extravagant, and lavish!  And this is what Luke fifteen is all about.  Here we find the extravagant, audacious, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled and reckless love of our Almighty God and Heavenly Father.  Take a few moments this week and read Luke 15. As always, be sure to put yourself in the story: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (could be daughter.) I have read and read this story repeatedly.  Every time I read it, it brings tears to my eyes.  I’m so glad for my many thoughtful teachers who have taught me to put myself into the stories of the Bible, to find myself there IN the story. I have put myself into these stories in so many ways. I’ve been the lost sheep. I’ve gone looking for lost sheep. I’ve lost something priceless to me and I’ve searched everywhere for it.  (Right now I’m searching for an envelope that I’ve tucked somewhere “safe”!) I have been the younger son who ran away in this story many times over and I have been the older son, too, who didn’t want to go inside and celebrate the younger son’s success!  What struck me this week in my reading was the reception that the younger son received.

When the younger son came to his senses after living senselessly, he decided to return home. All the way home, the younger son practiced his speech, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”   Don’t miss the next statement.

Look at verse twenty!
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The first thing here in this story:  the son came to his senses.  The second thing he did was get up and head back home.

The story Jesus is telling here now takes a radical and reckless turn. As the son heads home, the father sees him while he is a long way off. The Greek word for “long way off” is “makron” and means “at the farthest point, far away, far off, a great distance.”  That father was looking and waiting and watching for his son. He had to have been doing this for many days. He wasn’t checking the local store or sheepfold for his son.  He was looking in the far distance for the shadow of a person returning. As I read this story this week, I was blessed to think about how God waited, and watched for me to return from my far country.  How about you? He has waited and watched for you, too! What I glean from this story is that God sees you and me, even if we are far away in the far country.  God sees our hearts and has compassion on us.  The Father was filled with compassion when he saw his son on his return journey home. 

And then the Father ran.  He took off running in order to be the first one to greet his son! Think of that reception!  Why would the father run?  Because in their culture, it would be unheard of for an older man to run.  The father would have had to pull up his robe in order to run.  In pulling up his robe, the father would be exposing his legs. In this time, that act was considered SHAMEFUL. How dare the father pull up his robe to RUN to his wayward son. Let that scene sink in.

“My son! Look!  Look! My son–he’s returning home.” The father runs outside of the town into the countryside in order to greet his son before the son reached the town, the father made sure everyone understood the picture, “No shame for my son. Put the shame on me for showing my legs to run to him.” The father runs to his son, threw his arms around him and hugs and kisses him repeatedly!   Can you imagine how filthy dirty the son was?  The son had lost everything, he had been living with pigs, wearing rags.  How awful he must have smelled.

Ah–the beautiful scent of smell! Brings me back to when our son returned from his first missionary trip to Tanzania, Africa. Brian had spent the summer in Tanzania doing mission work when the embassies were bombed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.  The last week that Brian was there the missionaries were instructed to keep a low profile because of the bombing.  Brian emailed us and asked us to pray for him.  He wrote that they asked him to keep a low profile.  Then he wrote, “How do I do that?  I am 6’4” and I am very pale white.” The missionaries he worked for drove Brian out to the outside of town. They put him with the Masai tribe so he could keep a low profile.  The Masai lived out in the bush country of Tanzania in huts made of elephant dung. Yes, Brian lived a week in a hut made of elephant dung.  When things were safe, the missionaries picked him up and put him on a plane for the states. No shower, no bath. Brian tried to wash off as best he could–but at 6’4″–the plane’s restroom was pretty tiny. He landed in Chicago after a week of living in the bush in an elephant dung hut with no shower. You cannot imagine how badly he smelled. It was over 100 degrees that August day when we picked him up–but let me tell you that we rode home with the windows down! Here’s what I remember:

When I saw him coming through the gate, I didn’t care how he smelled.  My son was home! I hugged him and kissed him. I was so thankful that he was finally home safe.

I can only imagine how happy the father was to see his lost son returning home.  He didn’t care how he looked or smelled.  His son was back home! The father ran to his son, took the shame and guilt of showing his legs, and ran and hugged and kissed his son who once was lost but now was found!

So What?
So, what do these ancient words mean to us today? Today we reflect on the reckless, unconditional, audacious, outrageous and extravagant love of our Heavenly Father. God loved us before any human person loved us. “We love Him because He first loved us.” God loves us with a first love, an unlimited love and a reckless love. God will go out and search for us like the lost sheep.  God will sweep the house clean in order to find us like the precious, valuable, lost coin.  God will wait, watch and run to us when he sees us finally returning home to Him.  Our Prodigal Father loves us with a outrageous, audacious, extravagant and reckless love.

My “so what” question is not “How do I find this Prodigal Father?” but “How can I be found by my Prodigal Father?”

The question is not “How am I to know this Prodigal Father?” but “How am I to let myself be known by my Prodigal Father?” 

The question is not “How am I to love my Prodigal Father?” but “How can I let myself be loved by my Prodigal Father?”

Imagine this with me. You have a son.  You love your son.  You also love baseball and wrestling. Your son isn’t much for wrestling, but he does love baseball.  Matter of fact, he gets a college scholarship to play baseball.  He’s a great catcher. He can hit, catch and he can throw you out at second.  He’s 6’4” and over 200 pounds big.
And during his second year of college, he calls home to share the bad news. “Dad, I’m not going to play baseball this summer.” WHAT? WHAT IS THIS NEWS I’M HEARING? Long pause and then I ask, “WHY NOT, SON?” “I’m going on a summer mission trip to Africa.  I won’t have time to learn Kiswahili if I play baseball.”

In a funny sort of way, my son went to the far country.  I was excited and happy for him—but what about baseball?  I mean, this kid could play MLB!

And then, off he goes. My wife and I and his beautiful girlfriend drove him to the airport. Jac was so shook up after he boarded the plane, she walked into the men’s bathroom! We’d never had a child go off to Africa.  And then a week before he returns home, there’s a couple of bombings right where he is. It’s all political. We have no idea of what’s happening except for the brief email that informs us that our son is in hiding.  I get the story here in Luke. Our son, in far away Africa, is hiding for his life. The week passes, and we are at the Chicago airport awaiting his arrival. Despite the smell of week-long elephant dung—our son is home! Nothing else mattered. Get that kid home…get him a hot shower…some Italian lasagna….roll the windows down—my son is back home. Who cares about baseball? Who cares about anything else? My son is home with his two sisters…and our family is complete.

Did you hear me?  Envision this:  when YOU returned home to our heavenly, prodigal God, God’s family was complete!
Let those words sink deeply into your heart.

Our Prodigal Father has a reckless love for us!
Our Prodigal Father is looking into the distance for us!
Our Prodigal Father is trying to find us!
Our Prodigal Father RUNS TO US.
Our Prodigal Father wants to give us the best robe, ring and sandals!
Our Prodigal Father wants to rejoice and celebrate with us!

Nothing else matters…except that YOU ARE HOME.

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you
 
God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

 

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 9/27/18

Seed of Faith – Reckless Living to Reckless Love By Pastor Dave  

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there he squandered his wealth in wild living.” Luke 15:13

Dear Saintly Seed Sowers and Faithful Family and Friends of the SEED:

Greetings in the love of God and the grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit!

My wife shared a Facebook quote with me the other day — the quote goes like this?
One friend said to the other friend, “Do I really need the Holy Spirit to go to Heaven?”
The friend looked at her wildly and said, “Honey, you need the Holy Spirit just to go to Wal-Mart!”

What a topsy-turvy world we live in these days. I love how the stories of the Bible can stretch from years gone by clear through today. We all know a younger son who is like the son in our story. We are know an older brother like the one in our story. But do we all know a father like the one in our story?

We return to our series on “The Reckless Love of God.” For the past few months, we have been looking at the fifteenth chapter of Luke. Teachers and scholars often claim that this chapter is called “the Gospel inside the Gospel.” Are you aware that the word “gospel” means Good News? The stories found in Luke fifteen are really and truly “Good News!” The lost sheep is found and the shepherd says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” (Luke 15:6) The woman who lost her coin then finds her coin after sweeping her house clean shouts, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” (Luke 15:9). Luke 15 contains some great stories: lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. They are great stories of great rejoicing.

These stories have been on my mind for a long time. Why? Because through Dr. Luke, we have a Gospel of good news about a God who has a “Reckless Love” for lost things and lost people. Back in February, I was training to serve in a grace weekend back in my hometown of Rochelle, Illinois. The leader of the weekend sent me his bible verse for the weekend and the theme song he had picked. I had never heard the song so I went to the internet to give it a listen. I got stuck on the word “reckless”. Is God’s love really reckless? I talked with my Monday group about this. I spoke with my Wednesday night group about it, too. I discussed it with my Thursday morning, men’s breakfast. Then I got busy on preaching from Luke 15 and there it was: the reckless love of God. There’s 100 sheep. One is missing. The shepherd leaves the 99 in order to go find the lost sheep.

The truth is that God’s love IS reckless; it’s wild,outrageous, uncontrolled, impetuous, audacious, prodigal, extravagant, and lavish. And this is what Luke fifteen is all about. The extravagant, audacious, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled and reckless love of God. Take a few moments and read chapter 15 of Luke. We have a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.

Our story in today’s SEED OF FAITH is one about reckless living. Jesus told the Pharisees and the teachers of the law this parable when they were accusing Him of eating with tax-collectors and sinners. Who were the tax-collectors and sinners that Jesus was speaking of? Many of them were no different from the reckless-living, younger son who demanded his inheritance and went to the far country to live. The tax collectors were Jews who extorted money from their own people for the Roman government. The sinners were just that—those who were squandered in reckless living!

Let me set the stage. When the younger son asked his father for his share of the inheritance, he was basically saying that the father was dead to him as far as he was concerned. He wanted his share of the inheritance right now so that he could go live the way he wanted to live.

What was going on the mind of the younger son? Why would he ask his father to give him his share of the inheritance and insult his father that way? “Dad, you’re as good as dead to me. I’m outta here. Give my money.” I think the younger son longed for a life where he could have zero responsibilities. He could get up when he wanted to and and go when he wanted to go! No list to check off. No sheep to shear. No calf to feed. No animals or grain to waste his time with. He had better things on the horizon. His life at home was too constraining, too controlling and too demanding. The younger son was not satisfied with his position in the family. He wanted to be his own boss, so fork over the dough. I wonder if he was a little bit jealous of his older brother. The first born sons received the birthright: 2/3 of what Dad had. The younger son was only getting 1/3. Maybe he didn’t want to work so hard because his brother was going to profit off of him? We really don’t know; the story doesn’t say.

As I thought about this passage, it sounded like a familiar story to me? Can you identify?

Maybe this story is even more relevant in our culture today than it was then. Our culture has deliberately chosen to push God out of the picture. We live in a self-sufficient, self-consumed society. I don’t think Frank Sinatra was the originator of the saying — “I did it my way.” I’m pretty sure the reckless living of the younger son defines this life style well.

Look at verse thirteen. Luke says it this way, “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” (Luke 15:13)

The Greek word for “squandered” can be translated “to scatter, to spread around or waste.” I wonder if the younger son got to the far country and started to buy the nicest robes, the best food and expensive walking staffs. Or did he use his inheritance to buy nice jewelry or the best donkey or camel or did he go all out and buy an expensive horse to ride? Did he go and rent the nicest house in town? Again, the bible doesn’t tell us but we certainly can imagine what was going on.

When we lived in Texas, my wife worked at the Liz Claiborne store. The store was located in a huge outlet mall. The manager of Liz Claiborne was a very good friend of the manager at the Coach store in the same outlet. Every day at 3pm, the manager of Liz Claiborne would call down to the Coach store to see if their sales had hit $30,000 by 3pm. If they did, the manager at Liz Claiborne knew that their store was going to have a good day, too! (I wonder if the younger son went shopping at the outlet mall in the far country before the famine hit and squandered his money there?)

The Greek word Luke uses for “wild living” is “asotos.” This word is translated, “senseless, reckless, prodigal, wastefully, and wild.”  I think that Jesus is saying that the lost son had lost his senses and was living a reckless and wasteful life. He was a prodigal son, living far removed from his family’s ways.

COME TO YOUR SENSES
How many people today are living a senseless, wasteful and reckless life without God? They have taken their inheritance and gone off to the far country to live. They’ve taken all of their gifts, their time, talents, treasure and claim them as their own, they’ve taken off to live life without father. They’ve rejected His homestead and are doing it “my way.”

I don’t know where you are in your relationship with your heavenly Father but today’s story is for us! There’s something here for us to learn in the story of reckless living.

In his best-selling book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Philip Yancy tells the story of a conference on comparative religions held in Britain several decades ago.

A group of theologians and other religious intellectuals were discussing whether any single belief was totally unique to Christianity. Different possibilities were put forth. Perhaps the Incarnation? No, other religions, including the Greek and Roman mythologies, had stories of gods becoming human in form. Resurrection? No, other religions also had stories of people returning from the dead. The debate continued for some time, when writer C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked. They told him they were discussing what Christianity’s unique contribution might be among world religions. Very forthrightly, Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

After some discussion, the conferees had to agree. The concept that God’s love comes to us free of charge, with no strings attached, opposes every bit of human logic. The Buddhists have an eightfold path to enlightenment, the Hindus have the concept of Karma, the Jews seek to adhere to the Torah and Muslims have their code of law from the Koran. Each religion has its own way for people to earn divine approval. Only Christianity dares to declare God’s love unconditional — grace.[i]

So What?
One of our “so what” questions for today is for us to take a moment, look at your life and see where we may have wandered into a far country. Do we take our time, our talents or our treasures—and do we lift them high and dedicate them in thanksgiving to our Father God? Or do we run away fast and hard, and spend ourselves on reckless living?

What about the son who stayed and worked hard for the Father? Was he reckless? He did everything the father asked of him—except he didn’t come in and join the party when his little brother returned home. “Dad gave him the best robe, the family signet ring, and killed the best cow we had–for what? Party boy brother? I’ve stayed here and I’ve broken my back working for Dad. What about me?”

One son sang Sinatra’s song, “My way?” The other son sang the blues.

Where are you in this story?
I have good news: it really doesn’t matter because the reckless love of God is going to fully embrace you no matter what. The single belief that separates Christianity from every other religion is this: Grace. Undeserved. Unearned. Freely given.

If you’ve run away, squandered your life on reckless living…come home.

If you’re angry and upset about your brother or sister getting the new car, or diamond ring, or the deed to the house, come home.

We serve a Father who celebrates each and every one of us. Every single day of our lives is numbered. Our Father has a plan for good for us, a plan of hope but we can’t receive it if we stay outside and pout and compare and complain.

One day, every knee is going to bow to Jesus. I’m going to be at that party. I’m going to have the best robe, the family signet ring, and I’m going to be some pretty darn-good BBQ. And guess what? You can, too.

SEED You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing AND RECKLESS love and so do I,
Pastor Dave

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 9/1/2018

Seed of Faith – Reckless Love   By Pastor Dave  

“And when he finds the lost sheep, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”  Luke 15:5-6

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

Today we turn our attention to a wonderful chapter in the Gospel of Luke. I believe that Luke 15 is one of the most powerful chapters in all of the Bible because, to me, Luke 15 illustrates God’s deep, unfailing love. This past spring, I had the opportunity to travel back home to Illinois to help on a grace-based weekend called Tres Dias.  One of the theme songs of the weekend was the song, Reckless Love by Cory Asbury.  if you have never heard the song, here is the link for a Youtube video.  https://youtu.be/Sc6SSHuZvQE  Stop for a moment and listen to this song.

When I first heard the song, I got stuck on the word “RECKLESS.”  How could God’s love be reckless?  Why would I ever call God’s love for me reckless? What does reckless mean?  The word actually means “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.” Listen to some of the synonyms for the word reckless: “impetuous, impulsive, audacious, wild, uncontrolled and hasty.”  When you think of God’s love, I am sure that none of these words instantly pops into your mind.  Matter of fact, I would say that I had often thought of God’s love as controlled, not hasty, careful not impetuous, cautious not impulsive, and gentle rather than wild. This song really made me think. I like when that happens to me. I came home and asked my worship leader if he could listen to it. It didn’t take long for that song to become a crowd favorite.

Here’s the real truth:  God’s love IS wild, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled, impetuous, audacious, prodigal, extravagant, and lavish. And that is what Luke fifteen is all about: the extravagant, audacious, outrageous, enthusiastic, uncontrolled and reckless love of God.

Before we get to Luke fifteen, we need to set the stage.  Before we do that, let us come before the throne of God who loves us with a reckless love.  “Lord, God of unfailing love, may Your steadfast, outrageous, lavish love fill our hearts today.  Let us be transformed by Your reckless love.  Amen”

Hear the Good News from our good friend, Dr. Luke, about the reckless love of God that comes to rescue us from all the places we have ever been or from the place where we are right now!

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:1-7

As we look at the opening of Luke 15, we see two sides and we are presented two different views. Luke tells us that the tax-collectors and sinners were gathered around Jesus. Here is an interesting side note–tax-collectors were so reviled and outcast by the Jews that their tithes or offerings were not accepted inside the synagogue. In Jesus’ time, tax-collectors were worse than heathen sinners!  But here we read that both the tax-collectors and the sinners were gathered to hear Jesus.  I love that Jesus never labeled anyone as hopeless. When he saw the people gathering around Him, He saw people who needed redemption.  He saw people who needed to be rescued.  He saw people who needed God’s reckless love.

What I found interesting in my study were the verbs in the opening sentences. The tax-collectors and sinners were gathering.  The verb for gathering is in the present-active tense, which means that the tax collectors were constantly and continually gathering, drawing near, approaching and coming around Jesus.  In other words, they never stopped coming around Jesus! Like a moth to the light, they kept gathering around Jesus.  Next we are told that the Pharisees and teachers of the law were muttering.  Have you ever muttered about something or someone? We all have found ourselves muttering at one time or another. Now let me clarify. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were the shepherds who were not doing what they were supposed to be doing … caring for the sheep.  Their job was to look after the lost sheep!  And the muttering that they were doing was a constant, unending act of complaining, grumbling and muttering.The Pharisees and the teachers of the law set up the story of the outrageous, audacious, lavish, and reckless love of Jesus when they say, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of Jesus!

Did you catch the word that opened my heart this week? Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.  The Greek word for welcomes is “προσδέχομαι prosdechomai.”  Yes, “welcomes” is the verb and it is in the present tense meaning the action of welcome is unending, everlasting, ceaseless and non-stop!  The word “prosdechomai” is translated “accepts, receives, have as a guest, look for, receive willingly, receive favorably, wait for, and welcome!” Jesus continually welcomes us sinners and even eats a meal with us!

Do you get the picture?!  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep. When he finds the lost sheep, he doesn’t beat or berate the sheep. Jesus receives the lost sheep willingly, favorably, and accepts that lost sheep as a guest and welcomes that lost sheep home with Him.  When Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep, He is telling us about the reckless love of God!  Why would God leave the 99 sheep and go looking for one lost sheep!?  That is not reasonable!  That does not make any sense!  That is not practical or logical!  The searching for the one lost sheep is reckless.

I love the ending of this parable!  The Good Shepherd goes in search of…and finds…the lost sheep. Sheep are not known for being intelligent. They wander off searching for greener grass. They tumble down steep terrain and end up bleating “Help!” from their backs. My guess is that this lost sheep is tired from wandering. Jesus gently puts the lost sheep on his shoulders and heads for home. What I hear as I listen to Jesus and this parable is that when Jesus finds us He puts all our sins, our failures, our shame and guilt on His shoulders, too. When Christ died on the cross, His final words were, “It is finished.” Whatever you’ve done, wherever Christ finds you–please know that He has left the 99 behind in order to carry you back home. All that sin that entangles you has been nailed to the cross of Calvary and it’s finished. The victory and peace of the resurrection will now enfold you and carry you home.

SO WHAT?
What happens when the lost sheep is greeted back home? “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:6b-7  
Can you identify? Have you ever been that lost sheep? I have. Jesus has found me and carried me home. Instead of being shunned, I am loved. Instead of paying off my lifetime of debt owed from my foolish choices, I am rejoiced over. Stop here. Take this in. I want you to hear Jesus say this over you, “REJOICE WITH ME; I HAVE FOUND MY LOST SHEEP, (put your name here).”

Here’s the truth of what Jesus was saying to the tax collectors and sinners: The Good Shepherd will search and search and search for you until you are found. I read an interesting fact the other day. People need at least 7 nudges from God until they finally give God their heart. (Some of us need more than 7!)

You know what the real “So What?” is for today? That God’s love really is reckless. No matter who you are or where you are, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done–the Good Shepherd has left the 99 and is looking for YOU. And when you are found–there is great rejoicing.

Whether you are in the crowd of tax-collectors or sinners, or whether you are standing in the crowd of Pharisees and teachers of the law, none of that matter to Jesus.

Don’t let the world and its ways hold you back.  Don’t let your sin and shame hold you back.  Don’t let your fears or failures hold you back.  The Reckless Love of God wants to welcome you, accept you, look for you, receive you willingly and favorably!  It is never too late for the Reckless Love of God to find you and to welcome you back home.

Let us pray … Jesus, how we thank you for Dr. Luke who tells your story. Maybe we aren’t the lost sheep anymore.  Maybe we know of a lost sheep who needs to be found. We are thankful for your reckless love that abandons the 99 and finds the one who is lost.  Right now we pray for those who are lost. (Pause and pray.) Jesus, thank you for coming to find each one of us. Thank you for welcoming us back home. We celebrate as you continue to find the other lost sheep and bring them home. We rejoice for your work done on the cross and for the empty tomb. Most of all, we praise you for your RECKLESS LOVE. Amen.

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/5/18

Seed of Faith – Reconciliation Hope  By Pastor Dave  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gace us the ministry ofreconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

Dear Friends and faithful Seed Sowers!

Happy 4th of July! What thanks we give for those who’ve fought for our freedom. May we celebrate the blessings of the USA:  liberty, faith, justice and freedom. Speaking of freedom, I am also very thankful for the freedom of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. I cannot think of July 4th without also thinking of Christ. The Bible tells us that it is freedom that Christ has set us free.  It is my prayer that as you read this Seed of Faith you will find some freedom in these words and that Christ will set YOU free!

So What? What does it mean that we have been given a ministry of reconciliation?
Look at all of the times that the word reconcile (or some form of it) is used in these three verses! I count five times in three verses.  I would say that the Apostle Paul is trying to tell us something very important about reconciling.

A few months ago, I was in Illinois for a retreat called Tres Dias. On the way there, and during the week, I spent my time in the air writing on this passage in my journal. So much of my time as a pastor is spent on forgiveness–both in forgiving someone, and in being forgiven.  What I can attest to is that it’s tricky work–forgiveness. Do you know that there’s a version of the passage that reads, “The old is going, going, gone and the new is coming, coming coming!” Sometimes, I find this to be true. Sometimes I have to keep forgiving because I keep pulling it back out of God’s hands.  Have you ever done that? A friend of mine told me that she has been on the forgiveness yo yo for years but that after many years, she has finally come to peace and now knows the forgiveness she so needed is now complete–kind of like a puzzle. Sometimes our puzzle of forgiveness is only one or two pieces–those are the easy puzzles and we are delighted when we can forgive and move on  or be forgiven and move on. But other times, that puzzle contains 500-1,000 pieces and it’s just a whole lot more complicated.  Like I said, forgiveness is tricky work. My best advice: keep forgiving. Keep at it. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself–so keep forgiving.

When I was in Rochelle, I was able to be a part of a story regarding forgiveness. The story is about my own family. You may, or may not, know that when I was 12 my oldest brother was killed in a car accident. Our family was forever fractured at that moment. If you’ve lost someone you loved, you hear me and you understand. Tragedy is a night and day event that forever changes your life. Our family was no different. We tried to cope. The loss was huge and I’m not sure our family ever recovered from it. There were 3 brothers and our parents left after our eldest brother was killed. That was in 1968–it’s been 50 years this year. Our family has been what you’d call “fractured”. But this trip to work the Tres Dias Men’s weekend helped me to put more of the puzzle pieces into place for my family.

My dad is now almost 90. At the age of 80, he had heart surgery. I flew out to give support to Mama Sue. My dad recovered beautifully from his surgery! He kept feeling like there was something that he needed to do. Pastor John had told my dad that God didn’t take him because God still had work for him to do. My dad thought maybe he was supposed to go drive a truck or help the farmers get ready for harvest. I kept telling my Dad that God wanted to use him to bring healing to our family–his three sons–and that’s the work God was doing.

A few years later, my Dad made the Tres Dias weekend and he has been working hard ever since to live a life of grace. It’s now ten years later and my dad has made many bridges of love and grace and forgiveness with two of his sons but we still had one son to reach. After the weekend this Spring, my son and I decided that we’d catch the Cub/Cardinal game at Wrigley Field that Monday. Funny thing–the game was canceled due to SNOW! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Baseball in April canceled because it’s snowed out?

Well, with no game to go to we decided that maybe it was time to bring my dad out to see my older brother where he worked. I texted my brother to see if that would be okay and he agreed. My dad, my son and I finished our lunch and headed to see my brother..  We walked in and said our hellos and gave hugs. For the first 15-20 minutes, my son and I talked about our families and then we got caught up with my brother and his family.  At this point,  I asked my dad if there was anything he wanted to say. My dad told my brother he was sorry. My brother forgave my dad. It had been 12 years since they had last talked. When we turned to leave, my dad told my brother that he loved him. What a beautiful story of God’s amazing grace…but it didn’t stop there.

My son, my dad and I decided to go to lay flowers on my mom’s grave–in the snow. While we were there, the three of us visited my oldest brother’s grave. That’s when I realized that my brother had been gone for almost 50 years.

The story doesn’t end here, either.

My son and I then called my younger brother and asked if he and his wife would meet us for dinner! My dad, my step-mama, my son, and my brother and his wife enjoyed a most wonderful Italian meal together.

And here is where the story finally ends: On that day my 89-year-old father was able to visit all 4 of his sons. All because the Cub/Cardinal game was snowed out. I call it Miracle Monday.

Like I said before, sometimes forgiveness happens in a day and sometimes it takes a very long time. Here is what we need to know:  God works in our delays.

Look again at these words of Paul —
18) “God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19) “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
20) Be reconciled to God.

Paul uses the word reconcile five times here. The word in Greek means: “to change, to leave, to give away, to make things right with another person.

First, God reconciles us to Himself. First God changes us, leaves our ways behind us, gives away to a new kind of life, and makes things right with us. We are forgiven and we are reconciled to God! Next, we are given the beautiful ministry of reconciliation. Where are you being asked to change, or to leave behind, or to give away, or to make things right with another person?

This is your “so what?” for this July 4th weekend.

In closing, I have to add this golden nugget of truth. Forgiveness takes one (you). Reconciliation takes at least two. There are times when the other person doesn’t want to have anything to do with you or with forgiveness and reconciliation is impossible–at least for a while. Sometimes you have to accept that all you can do is forgive…and keep forgiving if you have to.

For 50 years, I have been saddened by the death of my older brother. For many years, I have prayed for our family to reconcile. We serve a mighty God. This God can move mountains and this God can snow out any baseball game listed.

Luke 1:37 says, “Nothing is impossible with God.” Our job is to keep trusting, and to keep praying. I pray everyday for you. I know that many of you carry sorrow in your heart. This is a hard world sometimes. May God bless you in your ministry…of reconciliation.

Seed You Sunday! For our good friends in Lusaka, Zambia — Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I” Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you    God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I, Pastor Dave www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Seed of Faith, Resurrection Hope 6/23/2018

Seed of Faith – Resurrection Hope 

By Pastor Dave

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  John 21:15

Dear Seed-Sowers and family of God:
This week’s message comes from the Gospel of John chapter 21. This is a powerful story of resurrection reconciliation. I encourage you to read the whole account found in John 21.  It is only twenty-five verses long …but this story is filled with words of hope and reconciliation. This is a long SEED of FAITH and I will begin it today and finish it next week.

As always, put yourself into the story. Here’s the scene: Jesus has risen! They’ve all seen Jesus by now. He’s walked into the Upper Room and spoken, “Peace!” He’s eaten with them, and asked Thomas to put his fingers into His wounds. Jesus has also asked the disciples to wait for what He is sending.

Waiting.  That’s a hard word. Have you been waiting for something? Time sure does not fly when you are waiting. 

Peter and a few other disciples decided they needed to go do what they did before they knew Jesus:  FISH! So off they went with Peter as the ring leader. They hopped in a boat and went fishing.  As you may already know, night fishing is really good fishing.  The disciples were up all-night fishing.  Please remember, these aren’t disciples turned fishermen, these are fishermen turned disciples.  Their main occupation was fishing. Instead of waiting for the promise of something to happen, these old fishermen went out at night. They fished all night long and caught a whopping, zero, nada, absolutely nothing.  Morning is breaking, and a man appears on the shore.  He has a small fire going and is cooking up a little breakfast–fish and chips. The man hollers to the fishermen. He invites them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. “Who does this guy think he is?” “We are professionals.  We don’t need this rookie’s help.” But…reluctantly they oblige and end up catching so many fish that they can barely haul the net back into the boat.  John looks at the fish in the net and the guy on the shore and declares that this has to be Jesus.  Peter throws on his clothes, jumps in the water and swims the 100 yards to shore (modern day football field).  The rest of the disciples follow in the boat with the net full of fish.  Jesus invites all of them to the fire for breakfast. Sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?
 
Imagine cold, wet, tired disciples sitting around the campfire. In the foreground is a rocky beach and the blue water. The principal characters are:  Jesus, Peter and six other disciples. Here’s what I imagine: Jesus has his back to the blue sea and is standing in the soft glow of the fire. The smoke from the fire floats slowly around the disciples. No one is saying anything because by now they’ve all figured out that the man standing in front of them is their risen Lord and Savior. 
 
What do you think Peter was thinking?

For us to truly understand what is about to happen in this story, we need to go back a few weeks before the Crucifixion. Jesus had taken his disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, (the ekklesia — the called out ones ) and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)
 
Jesus has called Peter “the Rock” because Peter has declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
 
The story now continues with Jesus bringing His disciples to Jerusalem for the Passover. This is when Jesus gathered the disciples in the Upper Room, washed their feet and gave them the new command to love one another. Jesus has now told his disciples that the time has come and he is going away. Peter, good old, boisterous, outspoken, brash, impetuous, bold Peter says, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” (John 13:36-38)
 
All four Gospels tell the story of Peter denying Jesus–not once but three times.  This is Matthew’s account:  Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.  But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”  He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.”  Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:69-75)
 
In order to fully understand today’s story, we need to understand what happened to Peter just weeks earlier:  Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Fast forward a few weeks, when Jesus could really use a man like Peter on his side, Peter denies three times that he doesn’t even know Jesus.  And then the rooster crows.

REJECTION
That’s the first point of today’s message.  We all fail.  We all sin.  We all disappoint.  Throw it all under REJECTION.   Why in one moment are we loving Jesus and in the next moment we act as if we don’t know Him at all?  One day we are worshiping and praising God for all that God has done for us, and the next day we act like we have no idea who Jesus is?
 
RESURRECTION
I’m 100% convinced that the resurrection changes everything! The resurrection overcomes sin.  Resurrection brings light into the darkness.  The resurrection conquers doubt.  The resurrection overcomes fear.  The resurrection brings hope in the midst of failure.  The resurrection restores the rejected. The resurrection brings life from death.  And here is Peter’s dilemma:  “What side of the resurrection will I live on?”

It’s a good question that we should ask ourselves. What side of the resurrection am I going to live on?

Will Peter live on the side of rejection or resurrection?
 
RECONCILIATION
Finally, breakfast was finished, and Jesus had their attention to speak.   I wonder what was going on with Peter.  I can only imagine that Peter’s heart must have skipped a beat when he heard the Lord’s words, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

The Lord was asking, “Simon, do you truly love me?   “After all that has happened, Peter, are you willing to say, out loud and publicly, that you love me?”  Jesus’ words were cutting to the heart.  Jesus said — “do you love me more than these?”  I think that the minute Jesus turned to him and said his name, Peter’s heart began to race, his stomach churned, his cheeks burned, and his eyes misted. This was a tense moment.  Peter was thinking,  “Jesus wants to have a talk with me about the rooster crowing.” Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Is that once for each denial? Perhaps.
 
SO WHAT?
Have you ever been where Peter is?  You’ve done something you are not proud of.  You’ve hurt someone you love deeply by your words or actions. Let us receive the hope in this story:  Jesus met Peter right where Peter was. When Jesus needed Peter the most, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.  After the resurrection, Peter disobeys by going fishing instead of waiting. They were told by Jesus to WAIT.  You just gotta love Peter. After all of Peter’s poor choices,  I am sure he is thinking, “Come on, Jesus, let’s get this over with. YELL AT ME!” 
 
Instead of giving Peter the “what for,” Jesus met Peter right where he was—on the sea fishing instead of waiting.  One of the “so what’s?” for us today is for us to hear that Jesus will meet us right where we are, too.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our tears. Jesus will meet us in the midst of our fears.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our doubts.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our disobedience.  Jesus will meet us in the midst of our rejection–of Him.
 
Here’s an interesting side note:  Jesus has addressed Peter as “Simon son of John,” which was Peter’s name before he met Christ. This is a play on words. Peter’s old name, Simon, meant “pebble,” a tiny, light, unstable rock. But Jesus has changed Simon’s name to “Peter” (Cephas) –meaning “rock.” By calling Peter Simon, Jesus is asking him if he is going to go back to who he was before he met Jesus or is he going to be the man that Jesus sees him as.  Are you Peter, the pebble or are you Peter, the rock? 
 
I think we can identify with Peter in a lot of ways.  I certainly identify with Peter. I became a believer in Jesus in 1981. Five years later, I was still battling it out with God: MY WAY or God’s way. Most of the time, I obeyed God’s ways but there were days when I chose myself. One night I was away from my family. I went to a place I didn’t belong with my work staff. We’d gone to a convention in Atlanta. I didn’t want to branded as “different” so I went along but I brought my bible with me–thinking that would help. At one point in the night, I heard the voice of an angel say, “Raphael, Raphael, choose life or choose death.” I turned to my friend and asked if he heard what the guy said. Nope. The angel said it again. Right at that moment, I knew. I had a choice: life or death. I picked up my bible and caught a cab back to the hotel. Jesus and I had a long talk that early morning. Was Jesus enough for me? Would I choose Jesus over any other worldly thing the world offered? David James Peters, let go. Let God.

Here’s your “So What?”
Jesus is on the shore of your life. Wherever you live, He’s there. No matter where you’ve been.  No matter what you’ve done. The question is the same for each one of us. Are you ready? Here’s the question: DO YOU LOVE ME? For me, the question came in a choice to choose life or death. I chose life that night. That’s my prayer for you.  What side of the resurrection are you choosing to live on?  The rejection of Jesus side or the resurrection of Jesus side.  The choice is 100% yours.

There’s more to this story. We’ll finish it up next week!

Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/16/2018

Seed of Faith – Hope Renewed  

By Pastor Dave  

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Greetings! Are you ready for Spring to end and for Summer to be here in full force? I am!

IToday I encourage you to read through the account of the resurrection as told in Luke 24:36-49.  We all need to have our hope renewed! As you read, it is my prayer that you will hear Jesus’ powerful words, “Peace be with you.”  May the peace of Jesus be with you no matter what you are going through. May you hear these words as you battle the world, the flesh or the enemy. As you sell your house, buy a house, look at your bank account, tend to a sick spouse, take that chemo pill, have that surgery, cradle that sick baby–may you hear the risen Lord Jesus speak into your life, “PEACE!”

Luke’s Gospel account of the Resurrection is found in chapter 24. We are told that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women ran back from the tomb and told the disciples that Jesus had risen.  Next we are told that Peter ran to the tomb and came back and told the disciples the same thing:  the tomb is empty, Jesus has risen from the tomb.  We are told that Cleopas and his companion came running back–seven miles from Emaus—in order to tell the disciples that their hearts were burning within them because they had seen and talked with Jesus who was risen from the tomb. After all of these encounters and reports, we are told that the disciples and all those gathered in the Upper Room were  still troubled and doubting.

Troubled and doubting.
On November 9, 1965, at 5:16p.m. events were set in motion that brought New York City to a standstill. A backup relay switch at the Sir Adam Beck power station in Ontario, Canada, was accidentally set too low to handle increasing power transmissions, and it tripped. The power cascaded to the next line, which overloaded and transferred to the next line, shutting down the lines, one after the other.  In less than five minutes, the entire Northeast power grid was offline.  The results were unimaginable.  New York City was entirely blacked out within ten minutes.  There was no power to provide heat or light, no power to allow them to communicate. There was no power to run pumps, move sewage, or deliver water or gas.  The power to run life-support systems at hospitals were cut off.  During the evening rush hour, an estimated eight hundred thousand people were trapped in subways—can you imagine that? Only half of the one hundred and fifty hospitals had emergency power. At JFK airport, two hundred and fifty flights had to be diverted. [i] With no light, no heat, and no communication, thirty million people found themselves encompassed in a dark, silent, frightening world.  All because of a ripple effect set in motion by a small, relay switch that was set too low.

The disciples had just experienced a blackout.  The Scripture tells us that the entire world experienced a blackout for three hours when Jesus hung on the cross and died. The disciples watched as their hopes were shattered. Jesus was crucified on the cross. Just the night before, all of them had run for cover when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Peter denied knowing Jesus—three times.  Yes.  You bet the disciples were troubled and filled with doubt.

Aren’t we a lot like the disciples? Fair-weather friends when trouble and doubt appear, we run for cover?  As the disciples were all huddled away together in fear, frustration, doubt and discouragement — Jesus basically walks through a wall and says,  “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Luke 24:38
In verse 36 as Jesus entered the disciples’ room, notice the first thing He said,“Peace be with you!”  PEACE is a common Jesus theme.

How about when Jesus was born? Didn’t the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
And right after Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples, he spoke to them and said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:27 Yes! Peace is a common Jesus thing.

When the Living Word speaks of “peace,”  God wants us to build a foundation of hope! After His birth, build a foundation of hope.  After the Last Supper, build a foundation of hope.  After Jesus has risen, build a foundation of hope.  After He walks into the room of your life, build a foundation of hope!

I read a story about the building of the Chase Manhattan Bank. When the building was halfway through construction, they discovered what no builder ever wants to learn, the sixty-story massive skyscraper was not built on rock, but quicksand. At some point, if they didn’t fix it, the building would sink, topple over and destroy part of Manhattan. Something had to be done. Engineers were brought in to try and solve the problem. Then some geologists were brought in and they stated that it would take a million years for the quicksand to solidify.   Then someone came up with an innovative idea.  They sank pipes deep into the quicksand and forced a solution of sodium silicate and calcium chloride into the quicksand. In a few days, the quicksand turned into solid, watertight sandstone.  They were able to finish the building.  Injecting the additives was ingenious.[ii]

In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah called Jesus the Prince of Peace!  When Jesus came to earth, He came to bring peace.  Peace–not as the world gives peace but as only Jesus Christ can bring peace into our troubles and our doubts! Jesus told His disciples to not let their hearts be troubled and here they were, a mere three days after Jesus was crucified, and their hearts were already troubled, and their minds are filled with doubts. In just three days and they are hiding away in the Upper Room. Don’t you love a good story like this? Those people were human just like you and me. And all of a suddenly, Jesus entered into the room of their discouragements, fears, frustrations, disbelief and doubts.

Take notice now: What is the first thing that Jesus says? Peace be with you.

The whole reason we gather together is so that we can worship God and hear the words of Scripture.  When you hear someone preaching, listen to how you can apply the words of Scripture into your life.  Each week, as I read, study and prepare my message, I pray that Jesus will walk into the room of every heart who hears the message. I’m praying this for the people in our congregation, and for those who hear the message on the radio, and for those who read this SEED OF FAITH. “Jesus, please walk right into the room of their heart.  The room that’s filled with fear, doubt, and troubles.”

Notice that when Jesus enters a room, Jesus ENTERS THE ROOM.  PEACE. Shalom–not just peace…but the peace of God that enters every aspect of your life:  physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, sexually, relationship-wise, financially.  You name the fear or the doubt or the trouble and that is exactly where Jesus wants to enter and say just one word, “PEACE!”

So What?
Jesus asks the disciples to look at his hands and feet.  Jesus asks the disciples to touch Him.  Jesus wanted them to have hope!  He wanted them to have peace.  Jesus is not a ghost!  Jesus is not a made-up story in order to make people feel good!  Jesus was crucified just like he said He would be and on the third day he was raised back to life just like he said he would be. Jesus tells his disciples to remember that all of this was predicted in the Holy Scriptures. Everything he had told them had to be fulfilled. And then he “opened their minds so they could understand!”  Wow!  What a powerful statement. “Jesus, open up our minds and help us to understand why we are so afraid, or troubled, or why we doubt you.”

In Holman’s Dictionary there are 120 Old Testament Prophecies listed that are fulfilled by Jesus. That’s why Jesus is sharing all of the Scriptures with them!  Jesus wanted them to base their hope–not just on the miracle of the resurrection–but to base their hope in the Scripture. Jesus concludes His encounter with the disciples in the Upper Room by saying, You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:48-49

So What?
Every Sunday we gather to worship. Every week we gather to read the SEED OF FAITH. It is always my number one goal to be certain that the Living Word is rightly preached. Why? Because we are no different than the first disciples! Just like them, we are troubled!  We  have our doubts! We struggle with discouragement and depression!

And then we hear the living word of truth, and our foundation of hope is fitted with one more brick in our foundation of faith, and hope.

Think about how that one, little, relay switch covered an entire city in darkness. It wasn’t anyone’s fault who lived in New York City—but there they were—enveloped in a total blackout; all 30 million people.  I think we can relate. There have been times when we’ve been covered by darkness and we had nothing to do with it. Our world jolted to a screeching halt.  We sit and wait. The relay switch of our lives has gone haywire somewhere, and maybe it isn’t our fault at all.  Life happens.

The truth is that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead can and will fix our broken relay switch.  The resurrection will bring light into our darkness.

The year was 1997.  I had just graduated from seminary. I was out applying for jobs and going on interviews. I wasn’t able to work as much as I needed to. We lived frugally, and made the house payment, utilities, and whatever other monthly bills we had but the month had arrived when we needed to go pay our house taxes. Jac and I didn’t have the first or second installment.  They let the first installment slide and waited for full payment. Jac and I taped our tax bill to the vent of our stove—face down. It was our visual reminder to PRAY for our specific needs.  No one could see it but us. Jac said that the stove was the heart of our home because we used it every day to feed our family. We would see it taped there and beg God to do a miracle. That bill had been taped there for several months. With all of the seminary graduation stuff and Jodi’s high school graduation stuff—there was no stuff leftover for our house taxes.  That account was empty. The day finally arrived when the tax bill was mailed to the house. Jac and I taped it to the stove vent and we prayed. Jesus, we have no clue how to pay this $4,000 bill but You do.”

I decided it was time to go down to the county court house and tell them we needed an extension.  Once I had a job, we would sell the house and pay the taxes. I’d go do that tomorrow. The Holy Spirit said, “Open the bill.” There—across the middle of the $4,000 tax bill in big, red, bold letters was a sight I will never forget:  PAID IN FULL.  I looked at Jac and said, “There’s been some sort of a mistake.  This says our taxes are paid in full.” I had to get up and go to work early the next day, so Jac took the bill and called the tax office from the Christian Book Store where she worked. Jac explained that there had been some sort of a mistake. The man on the other end of the phone said, “There’s no mistake, Mrs. Peters, your house taxes are paid in full. All $4,000 are paid.” Jac was so excited that she drove around town until she found my truck and worksite. She came bolting into the new-house construction site where I was staining a bannister and said, “Dave! It’s not a mistake.  Someone paid our taxes. They are paid in full.”  Twenty-one years later, I still do not know who paid that bill…$4,000. PAID IN FULL.  BOTH INSTALLMENTS. PAID.

Because of the resurrection, Jesus walks into our lives, where we are hiding in doubt and fear and the LIGHT OF THE WORLD SPEAKS INTO OUR DARKNESS: PEACE. DON’T BE AFRAID.

Here’s your SO WHAT for the week:
Get out your LIVING WORD and turn to Luke 24.    “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Luke 24:38
Tell Jesus exactly where you are troubled, and exactly where you doubt. And let’s all pray for one another to hear those beautiful words deep within our heart, “PEACE.”  Shalom–in every aspect of your life, and especially where you need peace the most.

SEED YOU Sunday!

Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com


[i] Staff of the New York Times, The Night the Lights Went Out (New York: Signer Brooks, 1965)

[ii] Norman Vincent Peale, The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking, New Yor; Simon & Schuster, 1959

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith – 6/10/2018

Seed of Faith – Remembering Hope  By Pastor Dave  

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:21-23

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Hope. What a wonderful word! We continue our series on HOPE! When it all comes down to it, “Heaven’s One Promise: Emmanuel” is really all there is. God became man and dwelt among us. Jesus lived, died, and rose again. You can go looking for hope in all the glitter the world offers but it won’t last.  There will always be ANOTHER thing to buy, have, do, see or be. If you find your hope in God, His steadfast love will never cease. His mercies never come to an end because they are new each and every morning. (Lamentations) Let’s get going.

In our passage from Lamentations we hear again some powerful words of hope in the midst of suffering, doubt, fear, frustration, pain, discouragement, opposition, and disappointment. Let me set the scene. Jerusalem had been totally destroyed by the Babylonians. The best and the brightest of the Jews were taken captive to Babylon to be slaves. The rest of the people who had not died in the invasion were left behind in a broken-down city.  Jerusalem–a city with no walls, no food, no protection, and no hope. Yet in these shadows of darkness the writer of Lamentations remembers the hope of God!  Scholars credit the Prophet Jeremiah with writing the book of Lamentations and Jeremiah is nicknamed “The Weeping Prophet.”  By the time we get to chapter three of the book, we hear a cry of hope! Jeremiah remembers that his God is a loving God!   Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”  The word that Jeremiah uses for God’s “love” is “hesed.” Hesed…a powerful word of grace, mercy, loving-kindness, and steadfast love! Listen as Jeremiah writes, “Because of the Lord’s great love…Because of God’s great grace… Because of God’s great mercy…  Because of God’s great loving-kindness…  Because of God’s great steadfast love… we are not consumed — we are not finished, we are not used up!”   Why not?  Because God’s compassions never fail!    Isn’t it wonderful that Jeremiah uses the plural for compassion–“compassions”? Our God is a God of countless daily compassion for each one of us. In the Hebrew, Jeremiah is telling us that God is filled with countless expressions of love towards us; not just one time, not just one time each day—but over and over and over again—many times each day we can count on the fact God’s great love, and grace, and mercy and loving kindness is for us and is a countless number! We really need to remember this, we cannot exhaust God’s love for us. (Try making a list right now of all of the blessing that you have at this moment.  Start with: heart beating, lungs breathing…)

Have you ever been discouraged, defeated, disappointed, disillusioned, overwhelmed, overcome or outcast?  Have you ever known what it feels like to lose hope? These Jews have lost their hope.   The walls of their great city have been destroyed. The city is in ruins. The people have no peace. These people were left behind in their destroyed Jerusalem. They were hopeless. Their city had no walls!  They had no protection.  They had no food or water. They were discouraged, defeated, depressed, and deeply disappointed.  But wait! God sends a message through the prophet Jeremiah, “Tell the people that there is hope.” “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 Are these words in Lamentations familiar to you? Listen to the words of a well-known hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness by Thomas O. Chisholm (1866–1960).

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Morning by morning new mercies I see; Great is thy faithfulness!  Great is thy Faithfulness!

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not: There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!

The story of how Chisholm came to write his hymn reveals a profound truth about God’s faithfulness. Many of our great hymns were written in response to a dramatic spiritual experience but this is not the case with “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” The hymn was not the product of a single experience of Chisholm but of a lifetime of God’s faithful care. Not long before his death, Chisholm wrote, My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. But I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.”[i]  

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

SO WHAT? Our “So what, Pastor Dave?”  comes from the prophet Jeremiah. Call to mind God’s steadfast love for you. Write them down.  Say them out loud right now. I’m praying that hope will begin to rise up from within you.

What exactly should we be calling to mind?  God’s great faithfulness! This is your “So What?” challenge today.  Get a piece of paper out…and every day of this week, say this verse, sing this song, and start listing all of the many blessings you can recall. This summer I will turn 64. I will have lived on this good earth for over 23,000 days! No matter what I’m going through right now—I can look back on my life and say that God is faithful. No matter what storms have risen up in my life, God’s compassions have been there every single morning of my 23,000 days.  The same goes for you. God’s compassions for each one of us will never fail. And the best part is that they are new every single morning. God’s faithfulness to us is great. Today’s message is about sitting down and figuring out how many thousands of days you’ve lived on planet earth. How many days has God’s great faithfulness covered you? How many mornings have you received a new start of God’s hesed and compassion? That’s your job this week, this is your “SO WHAT, PASTOR DAVE?”  Figure out how many days you’ve been on this earth. Look back over your life. My prayer is that like the Jews in war-torn Jerusalem, we will begin to find the hope that we have been given. Our God has been with us. Every single morning we’ve been given God’s compassions. If you’re in dangerous territory as you read this—wait it out. Like the Jews left behind in Jerusalem, our message is the same one that Jeremiah gave: HOPE IN GOD. And just how do we do that?  We remember God’s faithfulness. I went to seminary at the age of 40. Jac and I lovingly call it the cemetery instead of seminary.  Seminary is when we learned how to live on spaghettios, eggs, and watermelon. We lived on what was often dropped by our side porch: day old bread, and the mercy of others who dropped off groceries. One week someone dropped off a grocery bag for our youngest daughter. Inside of the bag was a box of Velveeta and a head of broccoli. Jodi must have mentioned to someone that she missed having REAL FOOD to eat! She was so excited! She steamed the broccoli and got ready to melt the Velveeta. Taped inside to the lining of the cheese was an envelope: “Please go get a HOMECOMING DRESS with this money.” It was $100. If we had never answered the call to seminary, I would not have any awesome stories to share with you about God’s HESED: God’s grace, mercy, loving-kindness, and steadfast love! There it was in full, living color, on the back of the silver lining of the cheese. Jodi cried. She saw her parents living this seminary journey of God’s mercy but for the first time, God’s mercy covered her. With her cravings satisfied for REAL FOOD she went and got a pretty new dress! Sometimes God’s mercy and faithfulness don’t look exactly like how we thing it should it look, does it? And three years later, when I was ordained, I finished the service by having the people sing, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I couldn’t even sing because I knew how faithful God had been to me in seminary. Even to this day, when I feel overwhelmed in ministry, when I am overwhelmed with this rash, when the world tells me I’m a big nothing—this is the song that brings me back full circle. Go ahead, SING WITH ME!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father! There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not: As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Seed You Sunday! For our good friends in Lusaka, Zambia — Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I” Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you    God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I, Pastor Dave www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Here is a link to a YouTube by Selah for you to listen to if you desire! https://youtu.be/SrsfCZvqGxQ

[i] Thomas Chisholm, quoted in Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI:

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 3/28/2018

by Pastor Dave  |  March 28, 2018

Holy Week & Easter — Seed of Faith

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” John 20:1

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

This is Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem. Tensions were high. The Pharisees were now planning a way to kill Jesus. The disciples were preparing the Upper Room for Passover. The people of Jerusalem were preparing for the Passover. I encourage you to read the account of the resurrection from the four Gospel writers. You can find these stories in Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1-18. May God’s Words of life speak hope into your heart, soul and mind as you read.

It seems like Lent was forever ago, doesn’t it? Lent is a seven-week journey. We’ve been studying the concept of HOPE throughout Lent. Do you know that my greatest prayer is that each one of us will find ourselves in the stories of the Bible? We are there. As you read, I am praying that somewhere in every story–you can see yourself.

Jesus’ followers had walked with Jesus for three years. They watched while Jesus healed hundreds of people. They watched as Jesus walked on water, calmed storms and… raised the dead. Just days after Jesus entered the Holy City (Jerusalem) on a donkey, He was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed as a common criminal. The journey of Lent is a dangerous road–if we are serious, we just may find ourselves somewhere in this story of Holy Week. Were we cheering and waving palms on Palm Sunday? Or were we plotting a way to get rid of Jesus? Were we humble enough to have Jesus wash our feet? Or were we more worried about the money we’d make when we identified Jesus to the soldiers? Were we ashamed when we all fled the garden and left Jesus alone when they came for him? Or were we more like Peter, who followed but didn’t quite have the courage to say, “Jesus is my best friend?” Where were you when Jesus walked to Calvary? Did you volunteer to help Him carry His cross? Were you hiding in fear? Maybe you were begging for a miracle? At any rate, we are there now–Good Friday is on the horizon.

During the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross, “darkness came over all the land.” (Matthew 27:45b, NIV) As I studied this week, I was amazed as I read and translated the Greek: the darkness that fell didn’t begin and end in Jerusalem…the Greek word used for “land” is “ge” which is translated “universe.” As Jesus was being crucified, darkness covered the earth, the universe, from the sixth hour (high noon) to the ninth hour (3 pm). Now put yourself into the story of Good Friday. Can you imagine the high-noon sun being blotted out by total darkness…for three hours? What if the darkness that fell––not only covered the universe but also covered hearts, minds, and spirits?

Some of us know what that feels like. Some of us feel that way today. I’m sure each one of us knows someone who feels as though their world is very dark right now. If that you, I want you to hear this: there is hope.

“SO WHAT?”
Every week we try to tear apart the living word and make some sense of the stories in the Scriptures. Every week we try to break down the Hebrew and the Greek and we try to apply what was written thousands of years ago to our own lives. The Bible isn’t just a book you read, the bible is a book that reads you. If you look hard enough, you are somewhere between the pages.

Here’s our “SO WHAT?” for this Holy Week and Easter:

Easter is the hinge pin of Christianity. The resurrection is front and center of the split between the darkness and the light. That’s right. Darkness fell and covered the entire universe. Jesus died. God’s only Son died. As I read and studied and prayed this week, this hit me: we don’t celebrate Easter as “the third day after the Crucifixion.” As important as the Crucifixion is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity. As important as Jesus dying to save us from our sins really is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity. The hinge pin…is…the empty tomb. The entire darkness of the universe was brightened by the light of the empty tomb–the RESURRECTION!

THE TRUE LIGHT OF THE WORLD OVERCAME THE DARKNESS OF THE UNIVERSE.

THE TOMB IS EMPTY. JESUS IS ALIVE!

Whatever it is that causes darkness in our lives— it has been conquered. Jesus conquered HELL, DEATH and the GRAVE. Jesus has conquered all sin—all my sin, all your sin. Whatever our sins are…whatever darkness we live in…whatever darkness covers our lives…Jesus has put that to death. And not only has Jesus put our darkness to death…he has conquered it for us…and has risen from the dead…and the darkness!

The light shines into the darkness, but the darkness could not overcome it. (John 1:5)
The true light that gives light to every person was coming into the world. (John 1:9)

“I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. WHOEVER FOLLOWS ME WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, BUT WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.” (John 8:12)

THE TOMB IS EMPTY. Jesus is ALIVE.

SO WHAT?

This is the RESURRECTION HOPE: Jesus IS ALIVE!!

THE TOMB IS EMPTY…whatever we are facing—THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD IS WITH US.

His light is promised to shine into our darkness…and no matter what that darkness is, it cannot overcome THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

Our journey of Lent may be coming to a close but the journey of our life is not. Because of Jesus, we have the very same Resurrection hope that raised him from the dead. We have the very same Resurrection hope that met the disciples on Easter evening in the Upper Room. We have the same Resurrection hope that traveled with the two on the road to Emmaus.

As we celebrate Easter this year, I’m praying that the truth of the Light of the World is burning brightly within your heart!

Hallelujah! Jesus is alive!

See You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
theseedchristianfellowship.outreachapps.com

   

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved.
May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.

Our mailing address is:
6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701

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You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Holy Week & Easter — Seed of Faith

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” John 20:1
Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

This is Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem.  Tensions were high.  The Pharisees were now planning a way to kill Jesus.  The disciples were preparing the Upper Room for Passover.  The people of Jerusalem were preparing for the Passover. I encourage you to read the account of the resurrection from the four Gospel writers. You can find these stories in Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1-18.  May God’s Words of life speak hope into your heart, soul and mind as you read.

It seems like Lent was forever ago, doesn’t it? Lent is a seven-week journey.  We’ve been studying the concept of HOPE throughout Lent. Do you know that my greatest prayer is that each one of us will find ourselves in the stories of the Bible? We are there. As you read, I am praying that somewhere in every story–you can see yourself.

Jesus’ followers had walked with Jesus for three years. They watched while Jesus healed hundreds of people. They watched as Jesus walked on water, calmed storms and… raised the dead. Just days after Jesus entered the Holy City (Jerusalem) on a donkey, He was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed as a common criminal. The journey of Lent is a dangerous road–if we are serious, we just may find ourselves somewhere in this story of Holy Week. Were we cheering and waving palms on Palm Sunday? Or were we plotting a way to get rid of Jesus? Were we humble enough to have Jesus wash our feet? Or were we more worried about the money we’d make when we identified Jesus to the soldiers? Were we ashamed when we all fled the garden and left Jesus alone when they came for him? Or were we more like Peter, who followed but didn’t quite have the courage to say, “Jesus is my best friend?” Where were you when Jesus walked to Calvary? Did you volunteer to help Him carry His cross? Were you hiding in fear? Maybe you were begging for a miracle? At any rate, we are there now–Good Friday is on the horizon.

During the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross, “darkness came over all the land.” (Matthew 27:45b, NIV)   As I studied this week, I was amazed as I read and translated the Greek: the darkness that fell didn’t begin and end in Jerusalem…the  Greek word used for “land” is “ge” which is translated “universe.”  As Jesus was being crucified, darkness covered the earth, the universe, from the sixth hour (high noon) to the ninth hour (3 pm). Now put yourself into the story of Good Friday. Can you imagine the high-noon sun being blotted out by total darkness…for three hours?   What if the darkness that fell––not only covered the universe but also covered hearts, minds, and spirits?

Some of us know what that feels like. Some of us feel that way today. I’m sure each one of us knows someone who feels as though their world is very dark right now. If that you, I want you to hear this:   there is hope.

“SO WHAT?”
Every week we try to tear apart the living word and make some sense of the stories in the Scriptures.  Every week we try to break down the Hebrew and the Greek and we try to apply what was written thousands of years ago to our own lives. The Bible isn’t just a book you read, the bible is a book that reads you. If you look hard enough, you are somewhere between the pages.

Here’s our “SO WHAT?” for this Holy Week and Easter:

Easter is the hinge pin of Christianity.  The resurrection is front and center of the split between the darkness and the light.  That’s right.  Darkness fell and covered the entire universe. Jesus died.  God’s only Son died. As I read and studied and prayed this week, this hit me:  we don’t celebrate Easter as “the third day after the Crucifixion.”  As important as the Crucifixion is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity.  As important as Jesus dying to save us from our sins really is…it isn’t the hinge pin of Christianity.  The hinge pin…is…the empty tomb. The entire darkness of the universe was brightened by the light of the empty tomb–the RESURRECTION!

THE TRUE LIGHT OF THE WORLD OVERCAME THE DARKNESS OF THE UNIVERSE. 

THE TOMB IS EMPTY.  JESUS IS ALIVE!

Whatever it is that causes darkness in our lives— it has been conquered.  Jesus conquered HELL, DEATH and the GRAVE.  Jesus has conquered all sin—all my sin, all your sin.  Whatever our sins are…whatever darkness we live in…whatever darkness covers our lives…Jesus has put that to death.  And not only has Jesus put our darkness to death…he has conquered it for us…and has risen from the dead…and the darkness!

The light shines into the darkness, but the darkness could not overcome it.  (John 1:5) 
The true light that gives light to every person was coming into the world. (John 1:9)

 “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.  WHOEVER FOLLOWS ME WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, BUT WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.” (John 8:12)

THE TOMB IS EMPTY.  Jesus is ALIVE.

SO WHAT?

This is the RESURRECTION HOPE: Jesus IS ALIVE!! 

THE TOMB IS EMPTY…whatever we are facing—THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD IS WITH US. 

His light is promised to shine into our darkness…and no matter what that darkness is, it cannot overcome THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

Our journey of Lent may be coming to a close but the journey of our life is not. Because of Jesus, we have the very same Resurrection hope that raised him from the dead. We have the very same Resurrection hope that met the disciples on Easter evening in the Upper Room. We have the same Resurrection hope that traveled with the two on the road to Emmaus. 

As we celebrate Easter this year, I’m praying that the truth of the Light of the World is burning brightly within your heart!

Hallelujah!  Jesus is alive! 

See You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

   

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Weekly Seed of Faith 3/17/18

by Pastor Dave | March 17, 2018

SEED OF FAITH
A DOOR OF HOPE
A LIVING HOPE

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” I Peter 1:3-5

Dear Saints and Servants of the Lord:

Each week I plan to sit and write my Seed of Faith early in the week. Monday comes and so does ministry! And then…I had to go to the doctor’s office twice this week because I had pain in my chest and back. I called the nurse hotline and they said, “COME IN NOW!”  They wanted to make sure my heart was okay.  The doctor did an EKG–all is well.  This is a new doctor with my new insurance program. He thinks my stress is too high. I think it is the rash.  He said he’s never seen a rash like mine and maybe the rash is traveling to other places inside my body.  At any rate, the doctor is sending me to a new dermatologist next week. It’s been a busy week; here it is Friday again.

Hope! Hope! Hope!  What does hope mean?  What is hope?  How can we have hope in our troubled times?  Today let’s take a few minutes to read Psalm 71:1-8; Hosea 2:14-17 and 1 Peter 1:1-9.

DOOR OF HOPE!
The prophet Hosea gives us a wonderful word picture of hope in our Old Testament reading.  The prophet tells the people that God will bring them out to the desert, away from all their worldly distractions.  God will bring them out of the Valley of Achor — which literally means “trouble”.  Hosea is prophesying to the people that God will bring them out of the Valley of trouble and will transform their valley from a door of trouble into a door of hope.

How many of us are in the valley of trouble? Are we resident aliens living on the edge of society? Have we been scattered, or dispersed? Are we living in troubling times?  Has the weight of the world collapsed on you?  Has a recent medical condition brought you to your knees? Maybe you are suffering from a broken relationship with a family member, father, mother, brother, sister or friend.  We understand the valley of Achor — the valley of trouble. Is the valley of trouble your place of employment or lack of employment?  Maybe your Valley of trouble is school. We live in troubling times.  Maybe, just maybe, this is your time of the Valley Achor — the Valley of trouble.  Hear verse 15 again:  “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”  The Old Testament (Hebrew) word that Hosea uses for “hope” is “tiqvah — teek-vah.”  “Teek vah” means “to wait for, to look expectantly in one direction.”  In the Old Testament book of Joshua, the image of hope was a red or scarlet cord.  This image comes from the story of Rahab.  Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho.  Rahab was a relative of Boaz—and she is an ancestor of both David and Jesus!   Her home was built into the city wall.  Her “occupation” brought many visitors.  One day she harbored Israelite spies—no one thought much of it but the spies wanted to thank her for hiding them.  They instructed her to tie a red cord in her window so that Rahab and her family would be safe from the coming Israelite invasion. (Joshua 2:18-21)

Hold the visual image of a red cord in your mind as an image of hope.  The very valley of your trouble—God can turn into your door of trouble into a door of hope!

LIVING HOPE!
The people to whom Peter is writing his letter to are living in troubling times.  They are dispersed around the known world.  For us, it would be places like Rancho Cucamonga, Alta Loma, Etiwanda, Upland, Ontario, Claremont, Riverside, Corona–Southern California and the world. One of the main reasons that our good friend, Peter, wrote this letter was to help raise the sojourners above the world they lived in.  Peter wanted to remind this people group that they were not of this world Peter wanted to give them a living hope: the door of hope.  “Wait expectantly.  Look in one direction.  This is the door of hope:  wait for it to open!”

The Greek word for “hope” is “elpis — el-peece” meaning “a happy anticipation of good, a favorable and confidant expectation.”  Today we’ve lost the deep meaning of hope, instead– it’s almost like wishing.  During New Testament times, hope was not just an optimistic outlook or wishful thinking, it was the confident expectation based on solid certainty. Our biblical hope rests entirely upon God’s promises. Hope is our confidence in grace’s future accomplishment.  What area in your life are you waiting for God’s grace to accomplish God’s work in your life?  This biblical hope is your door out of the Valley of trouble—we anticipate with solid certainty that this door will be opening soon!

Billy Graham hoped beyond hope as Paul wrote in Romans five.  Billy was hanging onto Jesus Christ–a blessed hope, a living hope.  Jesus Christ was the open door in his Valley of Achor—he was 99 years old when God called him home.

Peter is writing to the suffering Christians of the first century, and wanted to encourage them.  This hope is “living”– dynamic, vital, and alive.  This hope is living water flowing from a perennial spring that never runs out.  In the Greek language, “living” is a present, active participle–meaning that the action is going and ongoing. What Peter is saying is that over and over again, through God’s great mercy, those who are in the valley of trouble are eternally offered a door of hope through the red cord of Christ’s death and resurrection.  We have a living hope!  We have a living hope that we can count on–not once but over and over again because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  Jesus Christ is alive forever and because of this we  have a living, ongoing hope.  We look expectantly in Christ’s direction.  We anticipate with pleasure that our door of hope will open!

AN INHERITANCE KEPT IN HEAVEN
So What?
I was thinking of hope as an acrostic — I like to think in those terms because it helps me to pray and remember.  Here is my attempt, I encourage you to make up your own:

H — Hold                     
O — On
P — Praying
E — Everyday

H — Hang
O — On
P — Pray
E — Expectantly

H — Heaven’s
O — One
P — Promise
E — Eternity

A number of years ago, in a mental institution outside Boston, a young girl known as “Little Annie” was locked in the dungeon. The dungeon was the only place for those who were hopelessly insane. In Little Annie’s case, they saw no hope for her, so she was consigned to a living death in that small cage which received little light and even less hope. About that time, an elderly nurse was nearing retirement. She felt there was hope for all of God’s children, so she started taking her lunch into the dungeon and eating outside Little Annie’s cage. She felt perhaps she could communicate some love and hope to the little girl.

In many ways, Little Annie was like an animal. On occasions, she would violently attack the person who came to her cage. At other times, she would completely ignore them. When the elderly nurse started visiting her, Little Annie gave no indication that she was even aware of her presence. One day, the elderly nurse brought some brownies to the dungeon and left them outside the cage. Little Annie gave no hint she knew they were there, but when the nurse returned the next day, the brownies were gone. From that time on, the nurse would bring brownies when she made her Thursday visit. Soon after, the doctors in the institution noticed a change was taking place. After a period of time, they decided to move Little Annie upstairs. Finally, the day came when Little Annie–the “hopeless case” was told she could return home. But Little Annie did not wish to leave. She chose to stay, to help others. Little Annie cared for, taught, and nurtured Helen Keller.   Little Annie’s name is Anne Sullivan.[i]

Think of this for a moment!  An unnamed elderly nurse who was at the end of her career gave a brownie to a hopeless, caged, little girl.  That brownie was a lifeline–a red cord of hope.  This small gesture of hope changed a young girl. She went from being hopelessly insane into a young woman who went on to touch the lives of millions through her love and care for Helen Keller.  All because of a nurse and a brownie.

Think back through your own life.  Who has hung a red cord of hope for you? Who has helped you to build your foundation in God? This week take a moment to give thanks for those who have helped you in your journey of hope.  I don’t know about you but I am eternally grateful to all those who came and left the brownie of hope next to my cage.

Billy Graham has held out the red cord of hope for countless millions yet when asked if he knew how many people he had saved, he humbly answered, “Yes, I do.  I know exactly how many.” The reporter was astounded.  “How many?” Billy smiled and replied, “Zero.” All God asks of us is to simply hold out the red cord of hope to those we know. There’s your weekly assignment.  Hold out the red cord of hope to someone. Ask God to give you the wisdom to do this.

Billy Graham died a few weeks ago. I’ve recorded his funeral and a movie based on his life, “An Extraordinary Journey”. Both are red cords of hope for me. Both have encouraged me. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Billy Graham:  “One day you will hear that Billy Graham has died.  Don’t you believe it. On that day I’ll be more alive than ever before! I’ve just changed addresses.” 

Over the past two months my good friend had gotten really sick. He had a hard summer and fall. Over the holidays he was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. This is one my best friends.  I’m used to going to the hospital and visiting people. I’m not used to going to the hospital to visit my really sick friend. Over the last two months, I’ve gone to see him just about every day. We’ve talked about his cancer, his life and his upcoming death. He told me, “Dave, if the worst thing that happens to me is that I go home to live with Jesus forever –well, then that’s not bad at all.” My friend died two days after Billy Graham died. My friend hung out the red cord of hope for me. He turned my door of the valley of trouble into a door of hope. He is with Jesus right now. He is whole.  There is no more pain, no more fear and no more tears.  This is what my friend taught me: A living God offers me a living hope.

The “so what” for us today is to pray and think of those who God has placed into our lives.  Who can we leave a brownie with?  Who can we hang a red cord of hope out for?  Who can we stand with?  Who can we pray for? How can my life influence someone else’s life for good?  

Just beyond our Valley of Achor (trouble) lies our door of HOPE.  That door may look like an empty tomb but it’s way more than that. That empty tomb is really the door of HOPE: the RISEN Jesus CHRIST!

I buried my friend last week. I helped with his memorial service. Here’s what I learned:
I have a living God who has given me a living hope. 

After having chest pains for two days, I started thinking, “What if I have a heart attack? What if I die tomorrow?” I have to tell you that between Billy Graham and my friend, I’ve hung onto the red cord of hope that they left out for me; the brownie of hope they left out by my cage. “If the worst thing that happens to me is that I die and go live with Jesus forever–well, then, that’s not a bad thing at all.  I’ll simply change my address.  I’ll be more alive than ever before.  There will be no more pain, no more fear, no more tears.”  HOPE: Heaven’s ONLY PROMISE–ETERNITY.

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com


[i] Hewitt, James S., Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale Publishing, Wheaton, IL.

Weekly Seed of Faith 3/10/2018

March 10, 2018

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers!

How’s your journey through the Lenten season? If it’s anything like mine, I’m praying for you. I lost one of my best friends. He fought the good fight. He ran the race.

I remember when I first became a Christian and my pastor encouraged me to start reading the Bible. He told me that I would find all the hope I needed within the pages of the Bible. At that point in my life, I was struggling with many things that stole my hope away.

Howard Hendrick, a great preacher, wrote, “Discouragement is the anesthetic that the devil uses on a person just before he reaches in carves out the heart.”[i] I think Hendricks is right. When we lose hope, we lose the ability to dream. Despair replaces joy. Fear replaces faith. Anxiety replaces peace. Insecurity replaces security. Restlessness replaces calm. Impossibilities replace possibilities. Pessimism replaces optimism. Hopelessness replaces hopefulness.

“Lord God, we read your word and this Seed Of Faith today and ask to be filled with Your hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Fill us with Your hope that will strengthen us to live in this world. As we journey to the cross this Lenten season, fan the fire of Your HOPE deep within us. Amen”

I have a few Psalms that I want to share before we read our New Testament. I pray that here in these words of Holy Scripture, you find the HOPE you seek.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
“May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:22
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11
“Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.” Psalm 119:43
“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” Psalm 119:49-50
“May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:74
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:81
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:114
“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:147

It was the fall of 1998. My wife and I had picked up all our belongings and moved to our first church in Southwest Missouri. We moved ten hours and hundreds of miles away from everything that we knew–from our community, our church, our jobs, our family and friends. We left the church that brought us up in the faith and helped us raise our children. Our three children had graduated from High School and were now off to college, seeking to find their own futures that were filled with hope. We bought a brand-new home in a little town twenty miles from Branson, Missouri. The church we were called to was in conflict. Within our first year, the former pastor’s wife had filed a civil lawsuit against the secretary for alienation of affection and she won. We didn’t know anything about this case but her court case hit the national press. The people in the church were not happy campers; there was a lot of discouragement and conflict within the four walls. The heart of the church had been cut out and the spirit of the church was angry and hopeless. This was a true church catastrophe. My wife and I had no part of the conflict in any way, shape or form but we held the offices that the people in the church were mad at. The overarching church leadership became involved and assessed the situation. They met with the people in the church, they met with Jac and they met with me. Their conclusion: because of all of the former situation involving the prior ministry team, I was really the interim pastor—the pastor who jumps into the middle of a church mess and tries to bring the congregation back to the focus and foundation of Christ…before they bring in another pastor. This church was angry and deeply troubled. The leadership board of the ecclesiastical church also felt it was not safe for my wife to attend the church at this time; the people had projected their anger from the old pastor’s wife to the new pastor’s wife.

Can you imagine? We had left everything in the entire world in order to follow God. We bought a new home and we had hoped to live in the Ozarks forever. Instead, we found ourselves in the middle of a church fight that we never imagined and had nothing to do with. To say the least, our hopes were shattered.

For an escape from the dark clouds of hopelessness, Jac and I would drive to Branson on Sunday afternoons after church. (Like going to Disneyland after church here in Southern California.) There’s a great theme park in Branson called Silver Dollar City. We always joked that it should be called, “Steal Your Dollars City”. At any rate, I’d go preach on Sunday and then go home and get my wife and drive down to Branson. We became season passholders.

One Sunday night when Silver Dollar City was closing, we were walking out with the large crowd but we noticed hundreds of other people entering the park and heading down another pathway. We stopped one of them and asked where they were going. They told us that every Sunday night after the park closes, Silver Dollar City holds an open-air concert in an outdoor amphitheater. My wife and I looked at each other and said, “Why not — we have nothing to lose — even if it might be country music.”

The open-air amphitheater was cut out from stone and had seats rising up from the stage. We sat in the top row, just in case we wanted to make a bee line for home. We had never heard of the group that was set to play.

Toward the end of the concert, the lead singer asked everyone to sit down. He talked about hope. To be honest with you, I don’t remember a word he said but I do remember the song he sang. He said that they were going to play a new song and asked us to remain seated until we knew that we knew that we knew that our hope was in God. “Don’t stand up until you know that your hope is God.” They started to sing. Tears welled up in my eyes and spilled over. In my very first call, I had lost my hope. I was discouraged and wanted to quit. I was pastoring a church that the leadership board had determined was not safe for my wife to attend. Who does that? How do I fix that? I was hopeless.

Over and over he sang these words:

My hope is You
Show me Your ways
Guide me in truth
In all my days
My hope is You[ii]

For twenty minutes, they sang this song over and over again. The lead singer talked about how he came to write this song—in the middle of his own hopelessness. Jac and I were undone. There in the middle of Steal Your Dollar City—I mean Silver Dollar City—the Holy Spirit had zeroed in straight into our hearts. In our first call to our first church, we had lost our hope. We had taken our eyes off of God and put them on the church. I was the last person to stand but God’s hope had started to penetrate my broken heart.

Hope! What is hope? Webster defines hope: “to cherish a desire with anticipation, to desire with expectation of obtainment, to expect with confidence: trust.”[iii]

In the Old Testament there is no single Hebrew word that corresponds directly to the English word “hope.” More than a dozen Hebrew words are translated for the one word HOPE–and each has its own nuance. In the New Testament the most common word that is used for hope is “elpis.” It means to distinguish the basis of hope, the object of hope, and the activity of hope. In both Hebrew and Greek, the noun forms tend to express basis of hope—the reason we hope. The basic biblical definition of hope is a confident expectation, a full expectation of a favorable future under God’s direction. That is what happened to me as I sat inside that stone amphitheater: MY HOPE IS GOD. The Holy Spirit started healing the fragments of my splintered heart. I had so hoped that this first call would be my only call. I had so hoped that my wife and I would live in the Ozarks for the rest of our lives–it was really a beautiful area.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for….” Hope is a foundation! Hope is our foundation to faith!

Maybe you can identify with these Bible characters:

Abraham and Sarah hoped that God’s promises were true even though they were past the age of having children.

Joseph endured mistreatment from his family; yet he endured in hope through his slavery and imprisonment.

Ruth and Naomi suffered the loss of their loved ones but through hope they overcame disappointment.

David bounced back from several devastating failures: adultery, murder, career and family failures yet he endured in hope and wrote many of the Psalms of hope that we read today.

Elijah suffered criticism, so much that he wanted to die, but God resurrected his hope.

Nehemiah was discouraged with harsh political, legal, and social circumstances yet in hope he rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem and restored the land.

John Mark was rejected by the Apostle Paul yet in hope he later became a teacher and pastor. He authored the book of James.

Peter was disappointed with himself for not being able to stand up under pressure yet he became one of the leaders of the early church. Peter found his hope in the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

Just pick up the bible and you will find a person who faced discouragement, disappointment, discontent, disaster, and even death, yet throughout the Scriptures we find where hope is revealed: in God. “MY HOPE IS YOU.” (It makes a great breath prayer. You can say this all day long.)

So What?
As we begin this series on Hope, it is my hope that you will find your hope in GOD!

Find hope to set you free from your past.
Find hope to bounce back from discouragement.
Find hope to dream again.
Find hope to liberate you from the chains that have held you down.
Find hope to light the darkness of your path.
Find hope to help you persevere through your trials.
Find hope to give you resurrection power.

Hope is a deep and powerful force anchored in God’s Word. Things got worse at the little church in the Ozarks before they got better but we had been given the tremendous gift of HOPE found in a stone amphitheatre in Branson, MO. God used this devastating experience of my first call in order to get me to go to where I had decided I would never go: California! Looking back, I’m thankful for what I learned during my first call: MY HOPE IS YOU!

Here is the link for the song “My Hope Is You” by Third Day — https://youtu.be/85XmMoYlTPU

Seed You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you

God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,
Pastor Dave
theseedchristianfellowship.outreachapps.com/

[i] L.C. Naden, Christ Is The Answer, Warburton, Victoria, Australia, Signs Publishing Company, 1950
[ii] CCLI Song # 2373672 Brad Avery | David Carr | Mac Powell | Mark D. Lee | Tai Anderson © 1997 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Vandura 2500 Songs (Admin. by Kobalt Music Publishing America, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com
CCLI License # 3278479
[iii] Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.