Seed Of Faith

A Child Is Born

Seed of Faith – A Child Is Born   By Pastor Dave  

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isiah 9:6

Dear Friends, Family and Faithful Seed Sowers:
Merry Christmas! Happy Advent Season, too! I apologize for not getting the Seed of Faith out.  A loving brother-in-Christ/friend called the other day and busted my chops for not getting the SEED OF FAITH out sooner.  He said, “What are you doing?  I need a midweek shot of faith in the arm.  I can’t wait until Friday or Saturday. That is way too close to Sunday!”  I love my brothers in the faith who are called to take me to task! (Once a wrestler, always a wrestler?) To be honest with you, when I started writing this devotionals many years ago, I titled them “Mid-Week Seeds of Faith.”  It really is my plan to get them out by the middle of the week.

Many of you know that for the past two years my wife and I have been battling lead poisoning. The four years before that I was battling a painful, mysterious rash which have come to understand is part of the way my body handled the lead poisoning. All I can say is that we mean well.  We mean to get the SEED OF FAITH out weekly, it’s just that life gets in the way.  Both Jac and I have done two rounds of chelation. Chelation is a medical process that helps to remove the heavy metals in your body.  This process takes a toll on your body, and mind. In October, my wife and I went back to the doctor to be tested again for our lead numbers. Our lead numbers went up instead of down!  We were surprised and very disappointed.  The doctor thinks that once you begin the process of pulling the lead from your bones–it’s an ongoing one and that our numbers are going to reflect the process. The bad news is that we both have to do another round of chelation. This means three days of taking the DMSA pills every twelve hours and then we let them work in our body for the next eleven days. It’s a two-week process and must be repeated for five cycles (10 weeks, 70 days).  As each round progresses, your body wears down and you feel worse as time goes on. It also takes months for the body to finish the “shed the lead” stage. When Jac was asked to begin her third cycle last January, she said, “I just can’t.” Our doctor is really amazing. She shifted to “How about the fall?” I’m happy to report that Jac is in her 5th week! Only five more weeks to go. I am waiting until after the holidays.  Please keep us in prayer. This week’s Seed of faith is late!  I am sorry! (This is Jac. I am Dave’s “grammar queen.” I want you to know that he has had his SEED of FAITH ready. I’m the one who has fallen behind on the job. He’s too sweet to tell you the truth.) Let’s get to the devotional:

One of the most often read Scriptures at Christmas time is Isaiah 9:6 ,For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah tells us that this child will be born to us!  This child will be given to us!  In the actual Hebrew Bible it translates, “For a child to us is born, to us is given a Son.”  Isaiah made it personal.  This child that will be born will be born to YOU.  This child that is given is going to be given to YOU. It’s personal.  This isn’t some wild and crazy “out there” concept.  This is a “within you” concept!  Isaiah goes on to say that this Child who will be born to us…is really special:  the dominion, rule, and the authority of all the world will be on his shoulders.  All of this given to us is by God TO us…personally.

Are you worried and troubled about the government?  Are you worried and troubled about this world?  Are you worried and troubled about the authority of world rulers?  Isaiah is a prophet at a time when the Jewish nation was defeated and captured. Isn’t it just like God that God has Isaiah preaching GOOD NEWS in the midst of their darkness? I remember our seminary Christmases. They were thin and they were dark. One year, someone gave us $600 dollars on December 23rd. Jac and I were recovering from the flu. But we didn’t have any presents for the 3 kids. Zippo.  Zero. Nada. Nothing. We forced ourselves to drive 30 miles to the nearest mall. We had fevers. We were delirious.  We actually had to lay down on a bench and sleep. When we woke up, I remember Jac saying, “Someday this is going to be funny.”  Kind of like the Holy Spirit telling the defeated, captured Israelites that God won’t always be silent; there is GOOD NEWS ahead.

What a powerful promise was given:  all authority will be on the shoulders of God’s Son; a Son who will be freely given…to you…to each one of us… for generations and generations!!! His name will be called “Wonderful Counselor.”  (Are you in need of any advice or counsel?   Isaiah is prophesying that Jesus is the one who gives the best advice and counsel.  Need some wonderful counseling?  Read your Word.)

Next Isaiah says that Jesus will be called “Mighty God.”  Here’s the Hebrew translation: the Child given to you, and you, and you—will be your MIGHTY GOD  who is unstoppable and will never, ever, be defeated.  (We serve a MIGHTY GOD, friends. No matter what you are facing, our MIGHTY God is unstoppable.)

This Child will be called “Everlasting Father” which literally translated means, “Father from Eternity.”  This Child will be kind, compassionate, caring and loving from the beginning of time to the end of time—and beyond all time.  (Do you need a kind, compassionate, caring, loving Father?)

This Child will be the “Prince of Peace — Sar-shalom!” And in this child… that is given to us…we will find wholeness, completeness, safety, satisfaction and peace!  This child, this Son that is given to us will bring light into the very darkness of our world. (We don’t need to worry about what’s going on: GOD’S GOT THIS!)

Fast forward 750 years! The Apostle John writes an account of what he knows regarding the prophesies about the actual coming of the Messiah. Open your bible to John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

In January of 2007, Joshua Bell emerged from the Metro and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript—a youngish, white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money and began to play. For the next 45 minutes, in the D.C. Metro on January 12, 2007, Bell played Mozart and Schubert as over 1,000 people streamed by, most hardly taking notice. If they had paid attention, they might have recognized the young man for the world-renowned violinist he is. They also might have noted the violin he played—a rare Stradivarius worth over $3 million. This idea was all part of a project arranged by The Washington Post—”an experiment in context, perception, and priorities—as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste. In a banal setting, at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” (GREAT QUESTION.) Just three days earlier, Joshua Bell had sold out Boston Symphony Hall, the ordinary seats went for $100. In the subway, Bell garnered about $32 from the 27 people who stopped long enough to give a donation.[i]For forty-five minutes, over a thousand people passed by Joshua and they never even noticed him or stopped to acknowledge him.

How often has the same thing happened with Christ’s entrance into our world?

So What?
Friends, I don’t know all that you are going through right now, only God does.  God knows where you have been and God knows where you are now and God knows where you are going. God knows your finances.  God knows your relationships. God knows your health concerns. God knows your brokenness, your hurt, your pain, your fears, your hopes, your dreams and joys. God knows your sorrow, your loss and your grief. Around 2,000 years ago, the light of the world was born of a virgin in a cave near Bethlehem, just like the prophet Isaiah had predicted.

Have we passed by the manger? Are we like those who were too busy to notice a $3 million violin and a world reknown violinist? Do we toss Jesus our chump change? Come on, $32 from 27 people? Here’s the real deal: a child has been born to YOU. That child, whose birth we will celebrate on December 25th, isn’t just some newborn child. That child is our mighty Counselor, our mighty God, our everlasting Father, and our prince of peace.

The Washington Post’s experiment was an experiment “in context, perception, and priorities—as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste. In a banal setting, at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” If we had walked by, we really wouldn’t have missed all that much. What I can tell you is that if you walk by THE CHILD BORN TO YOU that Isaiah prophesied about, you could lose your very life.

During this season of Advent, dust off your bible. Read a chapter. Jac is doing what she calls her “assignment from God.” Reading a chapter from the Gospel of Luke each day. There are 24 chapters.  She started December 1st.  She’s determined to be faithful through the 24th. She writes down her interpretation of each chapter and posts it on facebook. She told me today she’s had about 5 people leave a comment. “I’m just doing what God impressed upon my heart. I have no clue what those seeds of faith will grow.”

As I close out today’s SEED, that’s good news for me. I’m going to really try to get my SEED of FAITH out by Wednesday. So my really good, jaw-busting brother in Christ can have a mid-week meal, shot in the arm of faith.

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 12/1/18

Seed of Faith – Home For Christmas   By Pastor Dave  

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us.’”   Matthew 1:22-23

Dear Faithful Friends:

Can you believe it?  The season of Advent begins this Sunday which means that Christmas will be only 25 days away!  Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming.” It follows, then, that Advent is the season to prepare our hearts and our homes for the coming of Christ. The word “Advent” has two common associations:  the birth of Christ and also the second Coming of Christ–called the Paroursia.  Yes!  Not only are we to prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas on December 25, we are also to prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s return!   Last week, the church calendar marked the end of the calendar year with CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY. Now we begin the new church calendar year–with Advent. Advent is always celebrated the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The theme of this Advent SEED OF FAITH is “Home for Christmas.”

When you hear the word “home” what comes to your mind?  For many of us, the word “home” brings to mind memories of love and laughter, family, fun and food, security and safety… a place to belong, a place to grow into the person you were created by God to become.

Home is a shelter, a house, a residence or birthplace. Or is that all it is?  Could it be more than just a shelter, a residence or a birthplace?

Many of you know the birth story of Jesus.  Joseph and Mary are expecting.  Caesar Augustus, the ruler of Rome, has ordered a census that commands all people to be counted.  Everyone who was a part of the Roman Empire had to travel to the place of their birth in order to be counted in the Roman census.  Joseph was born in Bethlehem, he and Mary left Nazareth and traveled 80 miles south.  In those days 80 miles was a 4-day walk (20 miles a day) but since Mary was very pregnant—it most likely took them a week to make the trip.  It is during this time of the census that Jesus was born in Bethlehem—a town of 200 people.  Bethlehem is a mountainous region that sits 2,600 feet above the Mediterranean Sea.

Listen to these powerful words that God had given to Micah, the prophet, to proclaim to the people of Israel, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  I looked up the original Hebrew on this verse, “whose origins are from old, from ancient times” and it is translated “from the beginning of eternity.”  The message God had given Micah was for him to tell the people that though Bethlehem was small among the clans of Judah (Southern Israel) that ever since the beginning of time they had been given a powerful destiny:  the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  The Jewish people had been given the place.  They knew where to look for the Messiah–Bethlehem. Amazing, isn’t it?

Seven hundred years now pass Micah’s prophecy.  God then fulfills this promise by having Caesar Augustus call for a census.  Who would have ever thought that God would use a foreign ruler to bring into action the plan designed from the beginning of eternity?  Wouldn’t you think you would be looking at Bethlehem until the Messiah was born? I know I would have been keeping my eye on this tiny, obscure town of 200.

Do you believe God is sovereign over time?  Do you believe God is sovereign over your lifetime?  Do you believe God knows the plans that God has for you and that those plans include calling you to this very place at this very time?

Home for Jesus was Bethlehem.  Bethlehem! What do we know about Bethlehem?  Why did God choose Bethlehem?

Bethlehem was a small town six miles southwest of Jerusalem.  The first time it is mentioned in the Bible is in relation to Jacob and Rachel.  (Abraham, Isaac, then Jacob and Esau. Jacob married Rachel.)  Jacob had twelve sons and this is where we get the 12 tribes of Israel.  Jacob had several wives but Rachel was the love of his life.  Rachel was the mother of Joseph (coat of many colors) and Benjamin.  Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin.  “So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).  Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.” (Genesis 35:19-20)

Jacob buried Rachel near Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. This all takes place 2,000 years before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  The next time Bethlehem is mentioned in the Bible is in the Book of Ruth.  We are told about the famine in the land and how Naomi and her husband leave Bethlehem and go to Moab.  Listen to how it is written in Ruth 1:1-2 — In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.”

Naomi, their sons and her husband leave Bethlehem and head across the Jordan River to live in a foreign land.  Their sons take wives from Moab. Husband Elimelech dies, as do both of his two sons.  Naomi is now a widow and decides to head back home to Bethlehem.  Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, a Moabite, insists on returning back the Bethlehem with Naomi.  From Ruth 1:16-17, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth is a very short book; you can read it in one sitting.  In Ruth you will find the story of Ruth and Boaz.  Boaz is a relative of Naomi and the kinsman-redeemer who ends up marrying Ruth and providing for Naomi.  They have a son and name him Obed.  Obed has a son and names him Jesse, and Jesse has a son and names him David—as in the second king of Israel.  This makes Ruth, the foreigner and a Moabite woman without Jewish blood, the great-grandmother of King David.  This is powerful testimony when you consider that prophecy declares the Messiah will come from the line of David and will be born in Bethlehem!  Boaz was not just Ruth’s kinsmen redeemer…his blood made Jesus come from the line of David, house of Judah!  This is why Bethlehem is called the City of David.  All of these people (except Ruth) were born in the little, farming town six miles south of Jerusalem, the town called Bethlehem.

Think of the timeline like this:

1. God was preparing a place for the coming of the Messiah.  Around 2000 B.C., Rachel was buried near Bethlehem with a pillar set up to mark her place.

2. Seven to nine hundred years later (1375-1050 B.C.), God calls a foreigner by the name of Ruth into the story.   Ruth, a foreigner, an outcast and outsider, makes her home with Naomi in Bethlehem.  Boaz marries Ruth.  Obed, Jesse, and King David are born from this bloodline.

3. Three to four hundred years (742-687 B.C) go by and here we are:  God sends the prophet Micah to tell the people that out of Bethlehem–will come the Messiah.

4. 700 B.C. Micah prophesies the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.

Yet, all of this time God had been working.

In the Hebrew language Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”  Bethlehem was located in a fertile area in Judah and produced great crops of figs and wheat. I fascinating that here in Bethlehem, the “house of bread,” the true Bread of Life is delivered from heaven to earth?

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

The Scriptures record the journey of the Jewish nation–God working out the ultimate purpose of having the Messiah born in Bethlehem, the house of bread, before the beginning of time or place.  God is SOVEREIGN over time and place!

SO WHAT?
The theme for this Advent message is “Home for Christmas.”  Bing Crosby made the song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” a hit in 1943 when it was first recorded.  It has been a favorite Christmas song ever since.  “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written with the idea of a World War II soldier singing about being home for Christmas–even if it was  only in his dreams.

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

In 1999 Jac and I moved to serve a church in Upland, California. Everyone kept telling us that we needed to go see Disneyland–especially at Christmas. We decided to make the trip shortly after Jodi had returned to college after Thanksgiving break. We’d been instructed to go early and stay late. We fell in love with the park–there were families everywhere, laughing and enjoying their time. We were up by the castle when the evening “show” began. All of our favorite Christmas songs were played and then–the snow started falling and the song, “I’ll be home for Christmas” came over the loud speakers. It’s a kind of unspoken fact that pastors don’t go home for Christmas; they have a church that they serve. The church wants their pastor there for those big days like Christmas and Easter–go figure! Jodi had just flown back to Missoui, Brian and Jennifer were married and not living anywhere near California. Jac and I cried like babies right there in the middle of Disneyland. Yes, home is a place, a shelter, a residence but home is also where your heart is. Our hearts were back in St. Louis and Rochelle.

It is my prayer that as we journey through these four weeks of Advent, we will come to realize that we are home.  It is not a dream!  You are home and you are loved in God’s grace and love.  Ever since the beginning of time, it has been God’s plan to place us right where we are into God’s story.  Wherever you are, you are home. We are home! We are not lost—Immanuel is here, “God is with us.”  God has been with us from the beginning of time right up to today.  God has been working out His plan to bring us home for Christmas since Jacob and Rachael, Ruth and Boaz, David and Bathsheba, Mary and Joseph—and Jesus!  If we are with God this Advent Season—we are not lost at all. God will help us to prepare our hearts and our homes as we await Christ’s birth and His second coming.

The “So what?” for us today?   God is sovereign over time and place. God is the Authority with supreme rank and power over all of time.  God is working even when we don’t see or understand.  God is sovereign over where we are this very second!  And the same God who spoke to Micah, who spoke to Ruth and Boaz, who spoke to King David and to Joseph and Mary—this marvelous God has called us here–to this place and this time–so we will find our hearts’ true home in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus–the bread of life!

As I prayed about what I could possibly put together for an Advent message, I found myself singing, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” over and over. As Jac and I started to walk down Main Street that late November night, the snow was falling silently. We both learned that night that home is where our hearts are.

Here is what I heard as I prayed and studied and sweated over “the plan” for this Christmas:
“Dave, tell my people I have a plan.  I’ve had a plan all along—since the beginning of time.  Tell them about Micah, Ruth, Boaz, David, Zechariah, Isaiah, Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary.  Tell them the story again—about shepherds and angels and wise men.  I want my church to come home for Christmas—home at the manger…home in Bethlehem…home where my one and only Son was born.  We don’t need all the bells and whistles.  Keep it simple.  I want my children home for Christmas.”  “Home” means a shelter, a house, a residence or birthplace.  This Christmas I believe with all of my heart that God wants our lives, our hearts and our homes to be a shelter and a residence for the Christ Child—and THAT is the real “so what?” for us this first week of Advent!  As long as God is the ONE who is writing HIS STORY, we are not lost!

No matter where you travel to for the holidays, my prayer for you is that you are HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!

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

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 11/23/18

Seed of Faith – Happy are the Hungry   By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Today we turn to the fourth Beatitude in our series, “Blessed and Broken”.  Today’s beatitude is, “Happy are the hungry!” Don’t you find it funny that THIS is the SEED OF FAITH for the day after Thanksgiving? I hope your day was blessed. I saw this post on facebook and thought it was great:
THANKSGIVING = Day of THANKS + Day of GIVING. I hope yours was both a day of thanks and a day of giving.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

The truth is that many of us today do not know what it’s like to be hungry or thirsty. When we are thirsty in 2018, we go the faucet and out pours water that is drinkable, clean and pure.  This is not true for many other people in our world. The world still needs clean water for all people.  When we are hungry, we can stop at any of hundreds of fast food places and pick up something.  Again, this is not true for many people in different parts of the world. We need to pray for those who go to bed hungry, and if we know anyone who needs food–I pray you help them fill that need. Go to your local church, I am sure they will help.

We need to put ourselves into the context of this passage.  Put yourself on that mountaintop. When Jesus gathered those who were following him on that mount, Jesus knew that they knew first hand what it was like to be hungry and thirsty.  A working man’s wage was one denarius, this was not a wage on which anyone ever got fat or full. Back in the days of Christ, a working man in Palestine ate meat only once a week.  It is a fact that the working man and the day laborer were never far from the borderline of real hunger and actual starvation.

Think for a moment of being a traveler on a journey, in the area around Jerusalem around 33 AD.  In the middle of our journey through the arid desert, a hot wind could stir up a sandstorm.  Recently, we were down in Palm Desert for the memorial service for of the father of one of our members.  The temperature that day was blistering 112 degrees outside — (Thank God for air conditioning!)  The sign leading out of town said, “Beware of blowing sand.”  As we were driving out of town that day, I thought of what it would be like to be back in Jesus’ time, walking through the desert to hear him preach.  The temperature would be above 100 degrees, the hot the wind would be blowing yet we would be walking to hear Jesus!!! Can you imagine yourself doing this? If we were walking through the desert areas of Jerusalem, and the wind picked up, there would be nothing for us to do but wrap ourselves up, cover our head in our hooded cloak, turn our back to the blowing wind, and wait while the swirling sand filled our nostrils and our throats until we felt  like we could suffocate. We would be parched with an overpowering thirst.

Can you imagine being so hungry and so poor that you are only able to eat meat once a week? Can you imagine the wind blowing sand into your face until your throat was so parched?

I can’t imagine that!  The closest I’ve ever came to know what it is like to be hungry and thirsty was when I wrestled in college and I had to get down to my wrestling weight. Each season I went from my normal 180 pounds to 142 pounds!  I lived on ice cubes for days. I even “flavored” them with unsweetened Kool-Aid! I wanted to quench my thirst without adding any extra weight. When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled,” He is teaching us that the ways of this world and the things of this world will never ever fill us.

The Greek words used for “hunger and thirst” are present-active verbs meaning that the action is a continuous and ongoing action. A more accurate way to translate these words is “those who are hungering and always hungering and those who thirst and are always thirsting will be filled.” Another interesting point I learned in my study this week is that we will be filled—not with a bite, not with a morsel…but we are going to be filled with the entire enchilada! We aren’t just going to stop into McDonalds and grab a Big Mac to go…we are going to get that Big Mac combo supersized. There’s going to be more than enough for us to be filled with. Can you imagine that?  Oh, I forgot. Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day! Right now in my frig sits ham, turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberries, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, creamed cauliflower, mac n cheese casserole, pumpkin pie, strawberry delight, and cranberry pudding. Can you imagine feeling this way every day? This is exactly what Jesus is talking about. We are going to be filled.

SO WHAT?  So What — exactly what are we to be hungering and thirsting for?

Jesus says that we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness!  Righteousness is a lifestyle or a living that aligns itself with God’s ways.  The actual Hebrew words means “to walk in the right path”.  An easy way to think of righteousness is to word it: right living!

How do we hunger and thirst after righteousness? How do we hunger and thirst after right living?

I think of the opening lines of Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”  (Psalm 42:1-2)

One on my favorite stories of Jesus’ miracles is when he feeds the five thousand men with a few loaves and two fish in John 6. Jesus fed all those who were gathered—5,000 men—then the women, and children—and the crowd could have easily been 10,000 people. The Scriptures teach us that this whole crowd that was gathered there was satisfied.  Then Jesus told his disciples to gather up the crumbs so that nothing was wasted. What a powerful thought — Jesus says that nothing will be wasted!  Then Jesus gives one of His Great “I Am” statements as he declares, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

So What is it that you pant after?  So what is it that you long for?  What are you hungry for?  What are you thirsty for? Jesus is saying that if we come to Him, we will never be hungry, and if we believe in Him, we will never be thirsty. In today’s Beatitude Jesus is telling us that if we hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS, right living, we will be filled. Look again at Peterson’s version: “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” He’s food and drink in the best Thanksgiving meal you’ll ever eat!

In 1987 I made a grace weekend where I was challenged to read my bible for 15 minutes a day. Shortly after the weekend, Jac and I read about Billy Graham and Pat Robertson and how they each read 5 Psalms and a book of Proverbs a day. After the weekend, I started reading my bible and I even wrote my thoughts down right there in my bible. Then I started journaling about what I read. And then I started buying other books that would help me to understand my Bible reading. Thirty-one years later, I’m still reading my Bible. Jesus words are true to me. The more I hunger and thirst for right living, I find the answers to my life right here in my Bible. Remember that grace retreat I went on in 1987, well a few weeks later, my wife went on the weekend. She was so excited because she had decided to read her bible for an hour a day! It didn’t take too many days for her to realize that maybe she should start small and build up! She started with five minutes. (It’s taken her 30 years to be able to say she reads her Bible for an hour!)

Your “SO WHAT?” that I’m after is for you to ask yourself this question: WHAT IS IT THAT I HUNGER AND THIRST FOR? Does it satisfy me? Do I hunger and thirst for more…food, money, clothes, fame, fortune, power, cars, homes, trinkets? Do these things satisfy?

I heard someone say that within the human heart is a Jesus-shaped hole that will never be filled with THINGS…that this Jesus shaped-hole needs words of life in order to be filled and satisfied. If you don’t read your bible, start small. Read a Psalm. Or read a chapter in a Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.)

Today’s Beatitude is simple: Turn to God and hunger and thirst after Him.  You will be filled! Not a morsel, not a bite, but you will be filled with the entire enchilada of the living words of life.

Thanksgiving is over. Soon the leftovers will be over, too. And I will still get hungry. I want you to know that I am living proof of someone who used to hunger and thirst for many things that the world offered but I found out that Jesus Christ is the only one who will truly ever satisfy my soul, my heart, my mind and my life. I would walk through a blinding sand storm to hear Him speak. How about you?

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 11/16/18

Seed of Faith – Happy Are The Meek   By Pastor Dave  

King David said, “But the meek shall inherit the land, and enjoy great peace.”  Psalm 37:11

Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed Sowers:

It is always such a joy and blessing to sit down and write. I think the SEED OF FAITH goes out to around 500 people.  Always know that you have my permission to forward any and all SEEDS OF FAITH. I live to proclaim the living WORD of life and nothing would bless me more than to know that you share my same passion!

As we approach the holidays, may I ask us to begin and end each day with a prayer for those who are struggling with the holidays this year? God knows who they are, and they need to be covered in prayer as they face the holidays. Many have lost loved ones this year. Many are struggling with cancer, diabetes, and other serious health issues. For so many, the holidays contain heartache. Let us promise to lift them up in prayer and if you can give them a call, a text, a card to say you are thinking of them, please do. This is when the BODY of CHRIST puts on arms and legs, hands and feet–as we pray. God bless us as we answer the Holy Spirit’s leading.

These past few weeks, we have been working our way through Jesus’ teaching in Matthew called the Beatitudes.  I have entitled this series — Blessed and Broken!  We are blessed when hear these wonderful words of life.  We are broken when we try to live these words out in our lives.  Hence, we are blessed and broken when we hear and receive these words from Matthew.

There are 3 bullet points for today: the meaning of meekness, the manifestation of meekness, and the ministry of meekness.

1. THE MEANING OF MEEKNESS

The Greek word for “meek” is “praos,” which means “mild, soft or gentle.”  Meekness does not mean weakness.  Meekness means power under control. Meekness is not cowardice. Meekness is not a lack of conviction, it’s not mere human niceness.  Meekness is courage, and meekness is conviction.  This courage and conviction comes from trusting in God, and not from trusting in ourselves–or in anything else other than GOD.  The spirit of meekness comes from Jesus. The Holy Spirit wants to help us grow TODAY as we read about meekness (just in time for the holidays.) Paul writes in Philippians these powerful words:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.  Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  (Philippians 2:3-11)

Do you see the meaning of meekness?  Can you put this picture in your mind when you hear the word? Paul said, “don’t be conceited or selfish — consider others better than yourselves.”  This is a great “so what?” for us today. Go ahead, ask yourself, “Do I consider others better than I consider myself?” 

Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped but instead He humbled Himself and took on the form of a slave. I think this is the epitome of meekness: serving. Another great “so what?’ question here, am I servant of others? Do I expect others to serve me or am I able to find a way to serve God by serving others?

How do you respond when people treat you like a servant?  The Scriptures teach us that we are to be slaves of Christ and servants of all. I think this is really hard for us. It’s easy to resent being treated like a servant. Maybe the problem begins when we aren’t aware that we are to be slaves of Jesus Christ because once you’ve conquered that mountain, being a servant comes a little easier.

Point #1:  Meekness is not weakness!  Meekness is power under control. Meekness is courage, and conviction.  This courage and conviction comes from trusting in God, not from trusting in ourselves.  “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

2.  THE MANIFESTATION OF MEEKNESS

The Bible is full of wonderful stories about meekness.  Just think for a moment of
some of the meek people of the Bible.  There is Abraham in the story told in Genesis 13 when he allows Lot to choose first.  They were going to divide up the land.  Abraham gave up the right to have the best land, the most productive land, the best view in the country, and the best seat in the house–for the sake of harmony between the households.  Abraham had the right and the power to do as he pleased, but in meekness he gladly waived his rights and set aside his power. He let his nephew choose first. Imagine this happening today here in Southern California or wherever you live. There’s two properties up for grabs. You and your nephew are going to battle it out but, no, you decide to let your nephew choose first.  WOW!

How about the story of Joseph when he is sold into slavery by his own brothers, and put in prison by Pharaoh’s wife? This guy was innocent yet he went to prison. How in the world did Joseph  become second in command of Pharaoh’s land?  I think his meekness went a long way. Nope, not weakness but a strength and gentleness under control. Joseph’s brothers them travel and visit Egypt  There is a famine in their land and they need food.  Where do they go to ask for help? Egypt. They don’t know it but they are standing in front of their brother, Joseph! The kid brother they threw in a well and then sold into the slave trade. Joseph recognized them but they didn’t recognize Joseph. He could have easily refused to help them. He could have put them into the same slavery that they had put him into. Meekness.  Power under control. Joseph carried forgiveness and love for his brothers.  Put this scene into your memory.  When Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, “he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it and the household of Pharaoh heard it.” (Genesis 45:2) And at this very moment, Joseph tells his brothers, Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.” (Genesis 50:19-20) In meekness Joseph understood that it was God who was in control, not him, and it would be God who would be the judge of each of them.  Joseph forgives his brothers and then moves to help them.  Meekness– power under control!

Do you know who the meekest man in the bible is? “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3) Yes.  You read that right.  Moses. Isn’t he the one who killed the Egyptian? Didn’t Moses stand before Pharaoh and demand, “Let my people go?” Didn’t ten plagues follow? Wasn’t it Moses who got angry at the Israelites as they wandered in the desert for 40 years?  Didn’t Moses break the stone tablets from God when he saw the golden calf being worshiped? And yet, here in the book of Numbers, chapter 12, we are told that Moses is the meekest man who ever lived.  The context of the story-line is that Miriam and Aaron (Moses’ sister and brother) were busy slandering Moses because he had taken a Cushite for a wife after his first wife died.  A Cushite woman would have been from Africa.  Miriam and Aaron now try to start a rebellion over the prejudices that they hold.  Moses did not fight back or defend himself.  Moses allowed God to defend him. Meekness: power under control. God then turned the skin of Miriam into a white, leprous color. She was shunned and put outside of the camp. Did Moses stand tall and say, “Well, Miriam. How does that feel? That should teach you to mess with Moses.” No. Not even close. Moses prays for her to be healed.  This is quite a fascinating story of the manifestation of meekness.  I encourage you the read the story in Numbers 12 this week. I wonder if anyone reading this has a similar problem? Someone did you wrong.  They deserve whatever comes their way. You even have a few things in mind. Let me tell you what Moses would do. Moses would pray for your offender. Another “so what?” moment here.  Can you pray for your offender? (I can hear you screaming all the way from here!) Joseph wept but then he did the right thing.  Moses stomped and struck rocks and threw tablets, but then he did the right thing.  I’m thinking, “Jesus, this book is way smarter than me.  Show me what to do.  Show me how to respond. Help me to pray.”

Point #2: The Bible is full of the stories of meekness: Abraham and Lot, Joseph and his brothers, Moses and his sister.  These are just a few. The next time you go reading a bible story, look for meekness.  I bet it’s there. Meekness: Courage and conviction from trusting God—not ourselves. When we are meek, we are promised to inherit the earth! One of the definitions of “inherit” is: to come into possession of what belonged to someone else. Is this all beginning to make a little more sense? By letting go, somehow our hearts are filled.

3.  THE MINISTRY OF MEEKNESS
The ministry of meekness begins in the heart.  In Psalm 37, King David gives us powerful words to live by:  Trust in the Lord. Delight yourself in the Lord. Commit your way to the Lord.Be still before the Lord.  King David, the psalmist, tells us that if we trust, delight, commit, and be still we will be given the desires of our hearts. Did you hear that? What is the desire of your heart?  Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse — who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The other day I was reading the Sermon on the Mount, chapters five through seven, in the Gospel of Matthew.  I study around 30 hours a week (at least) so that I am prepared to proclaim the word rightly. On this day, I was stopped in my tracks by Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I want you to think about this verse. Ask yourself,  “What is my treasure?” I want you to know that this is where your heart is.

You may, or may not, know that I’ve served on all kinds of retreat weekends: Credo, Walk to Emmaus, Tres Dias, Camino, Via de Cristo, Cursillo, the ROCK, Chrysalis. Of all the grace weekends that I’ve help with, the very first talk is about this very question.  Where is your treasure? What do you treasure? The answer is found by looking at these questions:  Where do I spend my money?  Where do I spend my time? What do I talk about the most? What do I think about the most? I encourage you to ponder these questions this week. You may not like some of the answers. I know the very first time I attended my Cursillo weekend, I was faced with making some major changes in my life. My life’s work isn’t really about where I work. My life’s work is really my wife, our kids, our grandchildren, our family and our friends.  My wife still tells the story about when I returned from my weekend.  I asked her, “Would you like to take the kids for a walk to the park?” She’d asked me for years to take walks with her. I started showing up for dinner and every night we took a walk somewhere with the kids. One night before she made her weekend, she asked me, “Okay. What have you done with my husband?” Once she got away, and had time to think about the answers to these questions, she knew where her treasure was. It wasn’t in Wal-Mart, or Target, or shopping. It wasn’t in the kids’ activities and if they succeeded or not. We realized that our family is our treasure. We started making Sunday, “FAMILY FUN DAY.” I’m praying for you as you read this SEED. May the Holy Spirit be gentle and may you see a new area of where your treasures really are.

Point 3: My treasure really is Christ.  Christ in me. From there, Christ will help me to serve and love others.

SO WHAT?

Are you ready to take the SEED OF FAITH grace and meekness test?

Where do I spend my money?
Where do I spend my time?
What do I talk about the most?
What do I think about the most?

I hope to God that you pass with flying meekness.

“But the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” Psalm 37:11
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

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

Seed of Faith – HAPPY ARE THE SAD
By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”   Matthew 5:4

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed Sower:

First of all, please look and read the scripture above in red ink. Write it down in your heart.  Keep it posted on the lamp post of your mind. You can count on this verse. I minister with so many who mourn. The ministry is so often included with people who mourn; and this is a verse for the ages. The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. This is my prayer as you open this SEED of FAITH: “Lord, whomever is mourning, comfort them. Bring peace and comfort beyond our understanding into the very heart of all who mourn.”

Today, we look at the second of the eight Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  The Beatitudes are found in the beginning of Jesus’ most famous teaching called “The Sermon on the Mount” found in Chapter 5 of Matthew.  Last week, I encouraged you to read through chapters five, six and seven of the Gospel of Matthew.  As you read these chapters, pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you, comfort you, guide you and challenge you to grow deeper roots into the heart of God.

This beatitude has me thinking. Blessed are the sad? Why wouldn’t Jesus say that? “Blessed are the happy!” That makes perfect sense in my world. I would be all over that saying, “Yeah! I am happy to be alive!  I’m happy to be a Christian!  I’m happy in my marriage!  Happy that I get a chance to do all the things I want to do.” But never once does Jesus say, “Blessed are the Happy.”  In fact, He says quite the opposite, “Happy are the sad!”

When I read this, there is a part of me that wants to say, “Time-out!  What do you mean, ‘Blessed are those who mourn?’  ‘Happy are the sad!?’” In our world today, there is a cultural acceptance that the way to happiness is having everything you want and having everything go your way.  The world we live in tells us that pleasure brings happiness, money brings happiness, entertainment brings happiness, fame and praise bring happiness, and self-expression brings happiness. On the flip side of that principle: avoiding pain, trouble, disappointments, frustration, hardships and other problems will also bring us happiness.  Throughout history a basic axiom of the world has been that favorable things will bring happiness, and unfavorable things will bring unhappiness.  Yet Jesus is teaching, “Happy are the sad!”

For a few minutes, let’s look at what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  Let’s look at the idea of Biblical mourning and comforting.  We will try to understand the blessedness of mourning, and the blessedness of comfort.

THE BLESSEDNESS OF MOURNING
The Greek word used for “mourn” is “pentheo,”  Pentheo is strongest word used for mourning in the Greek language.  Pentheo is the word used for mourning for the dead, for the passionate lament for the one who was loved.  There are several ways we can translate this passage. William Barclay’s commentary says, “Blessed is the one who has endured the bitterest sorrow that life can bring.”  The Arabs have a proverb, “All sunshine makes a desert.[i]

We all grieve. Grief is not just a one time event. We all grieve more than once in our lives. Perhaps you have grieved over the death of a parent, a grandparent, a child, a brother or sister, a spouse, or a  good friend.  We grieve over the loss of a job we loved, the loss of a marriage, the loss of personal rejection, the loss of our possessions, and the loss of our health.  It seems like daily we hear of natural disasters.  Many grieve the loss of  homes and family in earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and wild fires.

The good news for us is that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted.  “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. In Matthew 11:4-5, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”   Jesus has come to bind up the brokenhearted. The good news is that if you are in a season of mourning, you are being blessed by the one who came to bind up your broken heart. If you are sad, wait. The mighty One is coming to comfort you. 

I had breakfast with a friend of mine recently. She is a widow. She has been in a season of grieving. As we talked, she said, “I don’t know what happened but God took away that deep, deep sorrow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still sad but that deep sorrow that cut to the deepest part of me–is not there anymore. God took that away.” I’m beginning to see that when we grieve, the Holy Spirit comes and comforts us in a way we cannot explain. My friend received a binding up of a part of her broken heart. Happy are those who mourn, for they are comforted. Maybe it should read, “Happy are those who mourn who know Christ for in their sorrow, the Holy Spirit will bring unexplainable, beyond our understanding, comfort.” I’ve watched as this woman has mourned. It is heart breaking. I’ve prayed. Many others have prayed. Many months have gone by and I often left feeling sad. Today, today I left thanking God for taking away my friend’s sharpest, deepest, cut-to-the-bone sorrow.

In Psalm 30, King David dedicated the temple saying, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” (Psalm 30:5; 11-12)  Our mourning may linger for a night, but joy is promised to come in the morning.  What a wonderful promise. The Lord will turn our mourning into dancing! Psalm 30 is another promise we can stand on. In time, in God’s time, our sackcloth is removed and we are clothed with joy–and our soul praises God!

Are you brokenhearted today?  Are you trapped in a dungeon of despair?  Have the crises and calamities of life wrapped you up and held you captive?  Are you overwhelmed?  Are you oppressed?  Are you overcome with doubts, fears and worries? Hear the Good News of Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn — happy are the sad — for they will be comforted.”

THE BLESSEDNESS OF COMFORT
Now that we’ve looked at the Greek “pentheo” for mourn, let’s look at the Greek word used for “comfort”–“parakleo.”  Do you recognize this word? It is a compound word in the Greek made up of two other words–“para” meaning “near or alongside” and “kaleo” means “I call”. Parakleo is the same word used for the Holy Spirit, called the “paraclete”, the “comforter” or “helper.”  The Holy Spirit is the one who is called alongside us to comfort us, and to help us grow. Even in the midst of our grief, we can take comfort that the Holy Spirit walks alongside us.

Right after I became a Christian, my wife signed us up for a small group in our church.  The group was called  a “Growth Group.”  I wasn’t too hep on the idea but Jac wanted to go, so I did. Every night after our Growth Group met, I got in the car and told my wife, “If Doug ever calls me, and asks me to share, I’m telling him, ‘No.'” Of course, about the fourth week in, the group was studying II Corinthians 1:3-7. “Blessed be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”  Our fearless leader, Doug, read the passage to the group and he started to work the room. He asked each person if they would like to share. And they did.  He came to me and asked me if I would like to share on how God has comforted me and how I could comfort others.  I sat there and flatly answered, “NO!”

Little did I know that God has a great sense of humor!

That night after growth group I was angry. I was angry that Doug called on me. I was angry that Jac had drug me to some stupid group. After about an hour, Jac looked at me and said, “Dave, I think you might need to pray about this verse.  Maybe through the death of your brother, God has helped you to understand true sorrow so that through his death you can truly understand others when they mourn. I think that God wants you to pray about this.” When we went back the next week, I shared.  I think I’ve been sharing ever since.  That was the night that God broke open the hard, sealed shell I had built around my heart. I still talk with Doug, and we laugh a whole lot over God’s sense of humor.  The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort led me out of my darkness so I would learn how to comfort others. I know that this comfort isn’t anything I can package up and deliver but I can pray and I can wait for the Holy Spirit to walk alongside those who grieve. I can pray and I can wait while Jesus binds up their broken, broken hearts.

So What?
There’s a little more to the story about my friend. After we had breakfast, I drove her home.  Jac was with me.  She and Jac got busy talking while I was out checking her car’s engine, she and Jac disappeared upstairs. She had given us her husband’s dresser, which fits perfectly in our bedroom. Our friend showed Jac the print she had put up over her antique dresser. She said, “I wanted to show you what I look at the first thing every morning.”  The sign read, “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. Do not be afraid. I am with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Jac hugged our friend. Our friend has the Holy Spirit inside her and the Holy Spirit has been walking alongside her since her husband passed. Jac said she simply looked into our friend’s eyes. No words were spoken.  They just hugged. She had been comforted.

The “so what?” for today isn’t easy, it’s complicated. Blessed are those who mourn…for they will be comforted. In God’s time, the Holy Spirit will comfort you. My brother had been gone for over ten years. I had a heart that was broken. God used my friend to introduce a bible verse to me.  II Corinthians 1:3, “Blessed be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  I still miss my oldest brother. We were a tag team, brothers 1 and 3 against brothers 2 and 4. That night after Growth Group, I stayed up and asked God to comfort me so that I could learn how to bring comfort to others who were troubled. A few years later, God called me into full-time ministry. I now lead GROWTH GROUPS!

May the God of all comfort walk alongside you as you mourn. May the Holy Spirit give you a verse that you can hold onto. May the words on the pages of Scripture become LIVING WORDS OF COMFORT, HOPE and LIFE.

“Thank you, Father, that when we mourn, you promise to comfort us. Right now, we pray for those who need YOUR comfort: those with prodigal children, those with health issues, those who have pain, we pray for those who are addicted, we pray for those who have lost someone they love, we pray for the mentally ill. Lord, we are going to hold onto your promise that you will comfort those who mourn. Help us to pray. Amen.”

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

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 10/26/18

Seed of Faith – Happy are the Humble   By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

As always, greetings in the love and forgiveness of Christ. It is my hope and prayer that you will be blessed –fully happy–as you seek and serve the Lord!

Last week we began our journey through the Beatitudes.  We learned the word “blessed” can be substituted with the word “happy”.  The Greek word “makarios” is translated “blessed” and incorporates the meaning of wholeness, joy, well-being, and a holistic peace that is expressed by the Hebrew word “shalom.” (Listen to the word “blessed” in the Amplified version of the Bible: “happy, to be envied, spiritually prosperous, with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation regardless of outward conditions.  ” Wow! I want to feel this kind of blessed.) If you want to know this kind of blessed–peace, the kind that passes our own understanding, the kind of happy that makes you feel totally complete and whole, then this series is for you! No one is too broken to be blessed by the living words of Christ found in Matthew.

Jesus said something very preposterous on the mountainside that day.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” With these words, Jesus then launched into the greatest sermon ever preached. Jesus BROUGHT IT! He laid it down right there on the mountainside. The Sermon on the Mount (mountain) is stunningly brilliant and captivatingly fresh. Jesus quotes no rabbis, religious authorities, or ancient authors. In this sermon, Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter with amazing authority as he tells his us all how to get into the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew presents Jesus as the teacher, and the scholars present the Gospel of Matthew as the Teaching Gospel.  Here we have the ultimate teacher teaching us how to become ultimately blessed—whole, happy, joyful.  I encourage you to sit down and read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) over the next seven weeks. Allow the teaching words of Jesus, the teacher, to honestly and unabashedly teach you how to be truly happy—the kind of happy that brings a whole, complete and joyful way INTO your life.

What Does it mean to be Poor In Spirit?
Have you noticed that when Jesus began His teaching, He does not begin with curses but with blessings?  I have been thinking all week about verse three of Matthew five, “Blessed are the poor in spirit—the kingdom belongs to them.”
This statement is like saying that the General Admission tickets for the World Series this week at Dodger Stadium equal the best, box, private seats in the stadium. That’s ridiculous!   The world says, “Blessed are the season ticket holders, those with the reserved seats. Happy are the Skybox executives with the full buffet. Blessed are the Press and media giants who get onto the field and inside the post-game locker room. Happy are the celebrity fans who are shown on camera. Blessed are the players who have access to all that fame and money!” That’s who we would say are blessed.  Certainly not those in the upper rows at the top of stadium; yet, this is what Jesus is telling us.  It’s not the outside condition that matters most to Jesus, it’s our inside condition. Blessed are the fans in the worst seats in the stadium—because the kingdom of heaven can belong to them–no matter what the outward conditions of your life are.
What Jesus is saying at the beginning of this sermon is that in order to be truly happy, we must learn how to be “poor in spirit.”  Jesus is not talking about being physically poor. When studying the Be Attitudes, we need a theological perspective to understand this kind of poverty.

In today’s world, we are taught: “Stand on your own two feet.” “Reach for the top.” “Make something of yourself.” “Plan your work and work your plan.” “Be assertive.” “Look out for number one.”  We are advised to spike our resumes with action verbs and finesse the facts of our lives. We turn “trash man” into “Sanitation Engineer,” and “short-order cook” into “Culinary Chef”. We list initials before and behind our names, we display our degrees on the wall, and we keep our credentials hanging on the wall. Worldly wisdom dictates that we should make ourselves large in stature. This is not at all what Christ is sharing with us from the mountainside.

To be “poor in Spirit” is to be at odds with the world.  To be “poor in Spirit” is the exact opposite of “haughty, self-assertive, self-sufficient, self -concerned, self-reliant, self-supporting, self-contained, independent.” Jesus is going after words like “insignificant, grieving, meek, mild, patient, long-suffering, upright, merciful, pure in heart, peaceful, persecuted, reviled. Quite a contrast in these two lists. Think about it.  Pray about what Jesus is telling us in Matthew 5. What words in list one can you begin to delete from your Spiritual Resume? What words can you add from list two? 

Last week, in Jesus class, Miss Jac taught the young children through the object lesson of SLIME that selfishness is the lack of consideration of others. She had the kids name their favorite color and then she paired them with someone who had a different favorite color. They then had to make SLIME together. The kids had to work out what color they would pick.  Then the children made slime together. They had to figure out who measured, who stirred, who kneaded, and who added what color to what. At the end of their project, they divided their slime—each taking half home. Miss Jac asked the class if they would share an example of people being selfish. One child said, “I would…but I don’t want to make that person look bad.” Miss Jac then shared a video about our two dogs, Journey and Jonah.  Jonah is way more selfish than Journey! Jonah crowds Journey out of the treats.  Jonah jumps on Journey and pesters him in order to get the full attention. For Jonah, there is never a time when he’s laid back. He’s the ME FIRST dog.  He’s the IT’S ALL ABOUT ME dog! The kids laughed and laughed at the video. One of the kids said, “Jonah needs to go back in the belly of the whale and learn some stuff.” Miss Jac ended the lesson by telling the kids that she was really proud of them for not wanting to make someone else look bad.
Here’s where I take that lesson and tell you: THAT child is poor in spirit! That child is not selfish and did not lack consideration!That child is blessed.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom.”

Mother Teresa said, “The poor can see better. The poor stand a better chance of being saved by God because they know the truth:  without God, they don’t stand a chance at all.” Being poor in spirit is to be spiritually bankrupt before God.  Those who know they are spiritually poor are humble.  Humility means being “low-minded.” In essence, Jesus is saying,  “Blessed are the low-minded, the humble, the poor in spirit, the spiritually bankrupt, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
SO WHAT
The “so what” question for us today is: “How do I become low-minded– poor in spirit?”  The answer is “We must empty our lives of the none-essential STUFF–in order to be filled with God.”  I read a great illustration on this: There was a person who went in to speak to the pastor.  She told him she was leaving the church because it was filled with hypocrites. She said she knows a person who cusses all the time, she knows a person who cheats on their taxes, she knows another person who lies. The pastor asked the woman if she would do an experiment before she decided to leave the church.  He filled a coffee cup with coffee–it was filled to the brim.  He set it on a saucer.  Then he told the lady to go into the fellowship and to walk around the hall in a full circle and come back.  The hall was filled with people laughing and talking and enjoying cookies and coffee.  The woman went out and did as the pastor asked.  She came back, coffee cup and saucer in tow.  The pastor asked her if she heard anyone telling lies or cussing? The woman answered, “NO.” The pastor asked her why not.  “Because I was so concerned about spilling the coffee.” The pastor replied, “Each one of us is the coffee cup. If only we would concentrate on what’s in our cup instead of what’s inside of everyone else’s.” The woman got the point. I always say, “When I point a finger at someone else, I need to remember that there are three fingers that point back to me.” Being a good Trinitarian, I know that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are telling me to worry more about me than the one I’m pointing at.

The woman portray us. Whatever it is that we are full of—is what is going to spill out of us when we stumble and fall or when someone else stumbles into us.  If we are filling ourselves up with the words of Jesus, we stand a much better chance of spilling out the good stuff like humility, happiness, joy, grace, love, mercy and blessedness.

The other day we were driving home from our grandson’s all-star baseball game. Sometimes Grammy feels deeply about her grandchildren and the fairness they don’t receive–in her humble opinion. She was upset with the coach who, in her opinion, did not pitch the best pitcher, her grandson. We lost. Now, this wasn’t just any game. This was a Little League GO TO STATE game. Our team was one of the final six teams in the competition. The coach pitched his son. Left him in the entire game. We lost.  Jac was really grumbling as we got back into our car for the long drive home. Then she looked at the sign she has printed and taped to the dash of the car: “WIMITY. WILL IT MATTER IN TEN YEARS?”  I pointed to the sign and she said, “You know, I should make a bunch of these. I could sell them wherever I go. I could probably sell 5 a day at $1 each.”  Will it matter in ten years about the game? No. What are you grumbling about? WIMITY. Matter of fact, Miss Jac gave that message to the children the next Sunday. She actually had people ask her for a copy of her sign! One woman said, “I need that in my car for driving in the traffic.” One man said, “I need that at work on my desk. Will it matter in ten years?” WIMITY. (On your email, you can right click on the X –that enables you to see the pictures.  There’s one of WIMITY at the bottom of this message.)

Your homework for the week is to try to keep emptying yourself of your negativity…and read the words of Jesus in Matthew 5-7. Let’s try to fill our hearts and minds with the beatitudes. Let’s start with the first one: Blessed are the poor in spirit…for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

You want to be truly happy?  You want to be truly whole and complete? A few weeks ago, the St. Louis Cardinals played the Dodgers in L.A. We went online and bought 7 tickets and brought the family to the game. They weren’t bleacher seats but the next ones up.  We were out in left field by the FAIR pole.  Matter of fact, the pole was directly in my way! I had to sit forward in my seat so I could see the game! It was a terrific game that went into extra innings–14! What do I remember from that game? Do I remember how bad my seat was or do I remember the amazing pitching by Buehler? Do I remember making friends with those sitting around us–because I was wearing RED and they were wearing blue? The Cards ended up sweeping LA that series. As we walked out, one of the guys cleaning the stadium shouted out to me, “Hey, come get this broom! YOU SWEPT US!” WIMITY. I won’t remember in ten years about the pole being in my way. I will remember the camaraderie of that night with my family–three dressed in Dodger blue and four in STL red. I will remember taking a family picture from the bleacher’s end and I will remember the broom! You know, somehow, we have to figure out how to be happy when we’re sitting in the bleachers of life.

It’s one of the keys to HAPPINESS.  It’s one of the keys to FEELING BLESSED.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom.”

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

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 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.

A Child Is Born

Seed of Faith – A Child Is Born   By Pastor Dave  

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isiah 9:6

Dear Friends, Family and Faithful Seed Sowers:
Merry Christmas! Happy Advent Season, too! I apologize for not getting the Seed of Faith out.  A loving brother-in-Christ/friend called the other day and busted my chops for not getting the SEED OF FAITH out sooner.  He said, “What are you doing?  I need a midweek shot of faith in the arm.  I can’t wait until Friday or Saturday. That is way too close to Sunday!”  I love my brothers in the faith who are called to take me to task! (Once a wrestler, always a wrestler?) To be honest with you, when I started writing this devotionals many years ago, I titled them “Mid-Week Seeds of Faith.”  It really is my plan to get them out by the middle of the week.

Many of you know that for the past two years my wife and I have been battling lead poisoning. The four years before that I was battling a painful, mysterious rash which have come to understand is part of the way my body handled the lead poisoning. All I can say is that we mean well.  We mean to get the SEED OF FAITH out weekly, it’s just that life gets in the way.  Both Jac and I have done two rounds of chelation. Chelation is a medical process that helps to remove the heavy metals in your body.  This process takes a toll on your body, and mind. In October, my wife and I went back to the doctor to be tested again for our lead numbers. Our lead numbers went up instead of down!  We were surprised and very disappointed.  The doctor thinks that once you begin the process of pulling the lead from your bones–it’s an ongoing one and that our numbers are going to reflect the process. The bad news is that we both have to do another round of chelation. This means three days of taking the DMSA pills every twelve hours and then we let them work in our body for the next eleven days. It’s a two-week process and must be repeated for five cycles (10 weeks, 70 days).  As each round progresses, your body wears down and you feel worse as time goes on. It also takes months for the body to finish the “shed the lead” stage. When Jac was asked to begin her third cycle last January, she said, “I just can’t.” Our doctor is really amazing. She shifted to “How about the fall?” I’m happy to report that Jac is in her 5th week! Only five more weeks to go. I am waiting until after the holidays.  Please keep us in prayer. This week’s Seed of faith is late!  I am sorry! (This is Jac. I am Dave’s “grammar queen.” I want you to know that he has had his SEED of FAITH ready. I’m the one who has fallen behind on the job. He’s too sweet to tell you the truth.) Let’s get to the devotional:

One of the most often read Scriptures at Christmas time is Isaiah 9:6 ,For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah tells us that this child will be born to us!  This child will be given to us!  In the actual Hebrew Bible it translates, “For a child to us is born, to us is given a Son.”  Isaiah made it personal.  This child that will be born will be born to YOU.  This child that is given is going to be given to YOU. It’s personal.  This isn’t some wild and crazy “out there” concept.  This is a “within you” concept!  Isaiah goes on to say that this Child who will be born to us…is really special:  the dominion, rule, and the authority of all the world will be on his shoulders.  All of this given to us is by God TO us…personally.

Are you worried and troubled about the government?  Are you worried and troubled about this world?  Are you worried and troubled about the authority of world rulers?  Isaiah is a prophet at a time when the Jewish nation was defeated and captured. Isn’t it just like God that God has Isaiah preaching GOOD NEWS in the midst of their darkness? I remember our seminary Christmases. They were thin and they were dark. One year, someone gave us $600 dollars on December 23rd. Jac and I were recovering from the flu. But we didn’t have any presents for the 3 kids. Zippo.  Zero. Nada. Nothing. We forced ourselves to drive 30 miles to the nearest mall. We had fevers. We were delirious.  We actually had to lay down on a bench and sleep. When we woke up, I remember Jac saying, “Someday this is going to be funny.”  Kind of like the Holy Spirit telling the defeated, captured Israelites that God won’t always be silent; there is GOOD NEWS ahead.

What a powerful promise was given:  all authority will be on the shoulders of God’s Son; a Son who will be freely given…to you…to each one of us… for generations and generations!!! His name will be called “Wonderful Counselor.”  (Are you in need of any advice or counsel?   Isaiah is prophesying that Jesus is the one who gives the best advice and counsel.  Need some wonderful counseling?  Read your Word.)

Next Isaiah says that Jesus will be called “Mighty God.”  Here’s the Hebrew translation: the Child given to you, and you, and you—will be your MIGHTY GOD  who is unstoppable and will never, ever, be defeated.  (We serve a MIGHTY GOD, friends. No matter what you are facing, our MIGHTY God is unstoppable.)

This Child will be called “Everlasting Father” which literally translated means, “Father from Eternity.”  This Child will be kind, compassionate, caring and loving from the beginning of time to the end of time—and beyond all time.  (Do you need a kind, compassionate, caring, loving Father?)

This Child will be the “Prince of Peace — Sar-shalom!” And in this child… that is given to us…we will find wholeness, completeness, safety, satisfaction and peace!  This child, this Son that is given to us will bring light into the very darkness of our world. (We don’t need to worry about what’s going on: GOD’S GOT THIS!)

Fast forward 750 years! The Apostle John writes an account of what he knows regarding the prophesies about the actual coming of the Messiah. Open your bible to John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

In January of 2007, Joshua Bell emerged from the Metro and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript—a youngish, white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money and began to play. For the next 45 minutes, in the D.C. Metro on January 12, 2007, Bell played Mozart and Schubert as over 1,000 people streamed by, most hardly taking notice. If they had paid attention, they might have recognized the young man for the world-renowned violinist he is. They also might have noted the violin he played—a rare Stradivarius worth over $3 million. This idea was all part of a project arranged by The Washington Post—”an experiment in context, perception, and priorities—as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste. In a banal setting, at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” (GREAT QUESTION.) Just three days earlier, Joshua Bell had sold out Boston Symphony Hall, the ordinary seats went for $100. In the subway, Bell garnered about $32 from the 27 people who stopped long enough to give a donation.[i]For forty-five minutes, over a thousand people passed by Joshua and they never even noticed him or stopped to acknowledge him.

How often has the same thing happened with Christ’s entrance into our world?

So What?
Friends, I don’t know all that you are going through right now, only God does.  God knows where you have been and God knows where you are now and God knows where you are going. God knows your finances.  God knows your relationships. God knows your health concerns. God knows your brokenness, your hurt, your pain, your fears, your hopes, your dreams and joys. God knows your sorrow, your loss and your grief. Around 2,000 years ago, the light of the world was born of a virgin in a cave near Bethlehem, just like the prophet Isaiah had predicted.

Have we passed by the manger? Are we like those who were too busy to notice a $3 million violin and a world reknown violinist? Do we toss Jesus our chump change? Come on, $32 from 27 people? Here’s the real deal: a child has been born to YOU. That child, whose birth we will celebrate on December 25th, isn’t just some newborn child. That child is our mighty Counselor, our mighty God, our everlasting Father, and our prince of peace.

The Washington Post’s experiment was an experiment “in context, perception, and priorities—as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste. In a banal setting, at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” If we had walked by, we really wouldn’t have missed all that much. What I can tell you is that if you walk by THE CHILD BORN TO YOU that Isaiah prophesied about, you could lose your very life.

During this season of Advent, dust off your bible. Read a chapter. Jac is doing what she calls her “assignment from God.” Reading a chapter from the Gospel of Luke each day. There are 24 chapters.  She started December 1st.  She’s determined to be faithful through the 24th. She writes down her interpretation of each chapter and posts it on facebook. She told me today she’s had about 5 people leave a comment. “I’m just doing what God impressed upon my heart. I have no clue what those seeds of faith will grow.”

As I close out today’s SEED, that’s good news for me. I’m going to really try to get my SEED of FAITH out by Wednesday. So my really good, jaw-busting brother in Christ can have a mid-week meal, shot in the arm of faith.

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 12/1/18

Seed of Faith – Home For Christmas   By Pastor Dave  

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us.’”   Matthew 1:22-23

Dear Faithful Friends:

Can you believe it?  The season of Advent begins this Sunday which means that Christmas will be only 25 days away!  Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming.” It follows, then, that Advent is the season to prepare our hearts and our homes for the coming of Christ. The word “Advent” has two common associations:  the birth of Christ and also the second Coming of Christ–called the Paroursia.  Yes!  Not only are we to prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas on December 25, we are also to prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s return!   Last week, the church calendar marked the end of the calendar year with CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY. Now we begin the new church calendar year–with Advent. Advent is always celebrated the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The theme of this Advent SEED OF FAITH is “Home for Christmas.”

When you hear the word “home” what comes to your mind?  For many of us, the word “home” brings to mind memories of love and laughter, family, fun and food, security and safety… a place to belong, a place to grow into the person you were created by God to become.

Home is a shelter, a house, a residence or birthplace. Or is that all it is?  Could it be more than just a shelter, a residence or a birthplace?

Many of you know the birth story of Jesus.  Joseph and Mary are expecting.  Caesar Augustus, the ruler of Rome, has ordered a census that commands all people to be counted.  Everyone who was a part of the Roman Empire had to travel to the place of their birth in order to be counted in the Roman census.  Joseph was born in Bethlehem, he and Mary left Nazareth and traveled 80 miles south.  In those days 80 miles was a 4-day walk (20 miles a day) but since Mary was very pregnant—it most likely took them a week to make the trip.  It is during this time of the census that Jesus was born in Bethlehem—a town of 200 people.  Bethlehem is a mountainous region that sits 2,600 feet above the Mediterranean Sea.

Listen to these powerful words that God had given to Micah, the prophet, to proclaim to the people of Israel, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  I looked up the original Hebrew on this verse, “whose origins are from old, from ancient times” and it is translated “from the beginning of eternity.”  The message God had given Micah was for him to tell the people that though Bethlehem was small among the clans of Judah (Southern Israel) that ever since the beginning of time they had been given a powerful destiny:  the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  The Jewish people had been given the place.  They knew where to look for the Messiah–Bethlehem. Amazing, isn’t it?

Seven hundred years now pass Micah’s prophecy.  God then fulfills this promise by having Caesar Augustus call for a census.  Who would have ever thought that God would use a foreign ruler to bring into action the plan designed from the beginning of eternity?  Wouldn’t you think you would be looking at Bethlehem until the Messiah was born? I know I would have been keeping my eye on this tiny, obscure town of 200.

Do you believe God is sovereign over time?  Do you believe God is sovereign over your lifetime?  Do you believe God knows the plans that God has for you and that those plans include calling you to this very place at this very time?

Home for Jesus was Bethlehem.  Bethlehem! What do we know about Bethlehem?  Why did God choose Bethlehem?

Bethlehem was a small town six miles southwest of Jerusalem.  The first time it is mentioned in the Bible is in relation to Jacob and Rachel.  (Abraham, Isaac, then Jacob and Esau. Jacob married Rachel.)  Jacob had twelve sons and this is where we get the 12 tribes of Israel.  Jacob had several wives but Rachel was the love of his life.  Rachel was the mother of Joseph (coat of many colors) and Benjamin.  Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin.  “So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).  Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.” (Genesis 35:19-20)

Jacob buried Rachel near Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. This all takes place 2,000 years before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  The next time Bethlehem is mentioned in the Bible is in the Book of Ruth.  We are told about the famine in the land and how Naomi and her husband leave Bethlehem and go to Moab.  Listen to how it is written in Ruth 1:1-2 — In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.”

Naomi, their sons and her husband leave Bethlehem and head across the Jordan River to live in a foreign land.  Their sons take wives from Moab. Husband Elimelech dies, as do both of his two sons.  Naomi is now a widow and decides to head back home to Bethlehem.  Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, a Moabite, insists on returning back the Bethlehem with Naomi.  From Ruth 1:16-17, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth is a very short book; you can read it in one sitting.  In Ruth you will find the story of Ruth and Boaz.  Boaz is a relative of Naomi and the kinsman-redeemer who ends up marrying Ruth and providing for Naomi.  They have a son and name him Obed.  Obed has a son and names him Jesse, and Jesse has a son and names him David—as in the second king of Israel.  This makes Ruth, the foreigner and a Moabite woman without Jewish blood, the great-grandmother of King David.  This is powerful testimony when you consider that prophecy declares the Messiah will come from the line of David and will be born in Bethlehem!  Boaz was not just Ruth’s kinsmen redeemer…his blood made Jesus come from the line of David, house of Judah!  This is why Bethlehem is called the City of David.  All of these people (except Ruth) were born in the little, farming town six miles south of Jerusalem, the town called Bethlehem.

Think of the timeline like this:

1. God was preparing a place for the coming of the Messiah.  Around 2000 B.C., Rachel was buried near Bethlehem with a pillar set up to mark her place.

2. Seven to nine hundred years later (1375-1050 B.C.), God calls a foreigner by the name of Ruth into the story.   Ruth, a foreigner, an outcast and outsider, makes her home with Naomi in Bethlehem.  Boaz marries Ruth.  Obed, Jesse, and King David are born from this bloodline.

3. Three to four hundred years (742-687 B.C) go by and here we are:  God sends the prophet Micah to tell the people that out of Bethlehem–will come the Messiah.

4. 700 B.C. Micah prophesies the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.

Yet, all of this time God had been working.

In the Hebrew language Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”  Bethlehem was located in a fertile area in Judah and produced great crops of figs and wheat. I fascinating that here in Bethlehem, the “house of bread,” the true Bread of Life is delivered from heaven to earth?

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

The Scriptures record the journey of the Jewish nation–God working out the ultimate purpose of having the Messiah born in Bethlehem, the house of bread, before the beginning of time or place.  God is SOVEREIGN over time and place!

SO WHAT?
The theme for this Advent message is “Home for Christmas.”  Bing Crosby made the song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” a hit in 1943 when it was first recorded.  It has been a favorite Christmas song ever since.  “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written with the idea of a World War II soldier singing about being home for Christmas–even if it was  only in his dreams.

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

In 1999 Jac and I moved to serve a church in Upland, California. Everyone kept telling us that we needed to go see Disneyland–especially at Christmas. We decided to make the trip shortly after Jodi had returned to college after Thanksgiving break. We’d been instructed to go early and stay late. We fell in love with the park–there were families everywhere, laughing and enjoying their time. We were up by the castle when the evening “show” began. All of our favorite Christmas songs were played and then–the snow started falling and the song, “I’ll be home for Christmas” came over the loud speakers. It’s a kind of unspoken fact that pastors don’t go home for Christmas; they have a church that they serve. The church wants their pastor there for those big days like Christmas and Easter–go figure! Jodi had just flown back to Missoui, Brian and Jennifer were married and not living anywhere near California. Jac and I cried like babies right there in the middle of Disneyland. Yes, home is a place, a shelter, a residence but home is also where your heart is. Our hearts were back in St. Louis and Rochelle.

It is my prayer that as we journey through these four weeks of Advent, we will come to realize that we are home.  It is not a dream!  You are home and you are loved in God’s grace and love.  Ever since the beginning of time, it has been God’s plan to place us right where we are into God’s story.  Wherever you are, you are home. We are home! We are not lost—Immanuel is here, “God is with us.”  God has been with us from the beginning of time right up to today.  God has been working out His plan to bring us home for Christmas since Jacob and Rachael, Ruth and Boaz, David and Bathsheba, Mary and Joseph—and Jesus!  If we are with God this Advent Season—we are not lost at all. God will help us to prepare our hearts and our homes as we await Christ’s birth and His second coming.

The “So what?” for us today?   God is sovereign over time and place. God is the Authority with supreme rank and power over all of time.  God is working even when we don’t see or understand.  God is sovereign over where we are this very second!  And the same God who spoke to Micah, who spoke to Ruth and Boaz, who spoke to King David and to Joseph and Mary—this marvelous God has called us here–to this place and this time–so we will find our hearts’ true home in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus–the bread of life!

As I prayed about what I could possibly put together for an Advent message, I found myself singing, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” over and over. As Jac and I started to walk down Main Street that late November night, the snow was falling silently. We both learned that night that home is where our hearts are.

Here is what I heard as I prayed and studied and sweated over “the plan” for this Christmas:
“Dave, tell my people I have a plan.  I’ve had a plan all along—since the beginning of time.  Tell them about Micah, Ruth, Boaz, David, Zechariah, Isaiah, Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary.  Tell them the story again—about shepherds and angels and wise men.  I want my church to come home for Christmas—home at the manger…home in Bethlehem…home where my one and only Son was born.  We don’t need all the bells and whistles.  Keep it simple.  I want my children home for Christmas.”  “Home” means a shelter, a house, a residence or birthplace.  This Christmas I believe with all of my heart that God wants our lives, our hearts and our homes to be a shelter and a residence for the Christ Child—and THAT is the real “so what?” for us this first week of Advent!  As long as God is the ONE who is writing HIS STORY, we are not lost!

No matter where you travel to for the holidays, my prayer for you is that you are HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!

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

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 11/23/18

Seed of Faith – Happy are the Hungry   By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Today we turn to the fourth Beatitude in our series, “Blessed and Broken”.  Today’s beatitude is, “Happy are the hungry!” Don’t you find it funny that THIS is the SEED OF FAITH for the day after Thanksgiving? I hope your day was blessed. I saw this post on facebook and thought it was great:
THANKSGIVING = Day of THANKS + Day of GIVING. I hope yours was both a day of thanks and a day of giving.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

The truth is that many of us today do not know what it’s like to be hungry or thirsty. When we are thirsty in 2018, we go the faucet and out pours water that is drinkable, clean and pure.  This is not true for many other people in our world. The world still needs clean water for all people.  When we are hungry, we can stop at any of hundreds of fast food places and pick up something.  Again, this is not true for many people in different parts of the world. We need to pray for those who go to bed hungry, and if we know anyone who needs food–I pray you help them fill that need. Go to your local church, I am sure they will help.

We need to put ourselves into the context of this passage.  Put yourself on that mountaintop. When Jesus gathered those who were following him on that mount, Jesus knew that they knew first hand what it was like to be hungry and thirsty.  A working man’s wage was one denarius, this was not a wage on which anyone ever got fat or full. Back in the days of Christ, a working man in Palestine ate meat only once a week.  It is a fact that the working man and the day laborer were never far from the borderline of real hunger and actual starvation.

Think for a moment of being a traveler on a journey, in the area around Jerusalem around 33 AD.  In the middle of our journey through the arid desert, a hot wind could stir up a sandstorm.  Recently, we were down in Palm Desert for the memorial service for of the father of one of our members.  The temperature that day was blistering 112 degrees outside — (Thank God for air conditioning!)  The sign leading out of town said, “Beware of blowing sand.”  As we were driving out of town that day, I thought of what it would be like to be back in Jesus’ time, walking through the desert to hear him preach.  The temperature would be above 100 degrees, the hot the wind would be blowing yet we would be walking to hear Jesus!!! Can you imagine yourself doing this? If we were walking through the desert areas of Jerusalem, and the wind picked up, there would be nothing for us to do but wrap ourselves up, cover our head in our hooded cloak, turn our back to the blowing wind, and wait while the swirling sand filled our nostrils and our throats until we felt  like we could suffocate. We would be parched with an overpowering thirst.

Can you imagine being so hungry and so poor that you are only able to eat meat once a week? Can you imagine the wind blowing sand into your face until your throat was so parched?

I can’t imagine that!  The closest I’ve ever came to know what it is like to be hungry and thirsty was when I wrestled in college and I had to get down to my wrestling weight. Each season I went from my normal 180 pounds to 142 pounds!  I lived on ice cubes for days. I even “flavored” them with unsweetened Kool-Aid! I wanted to quench my thirst without adding any extra weight. When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled,” He is teaching us that the ways of this world and the things of this world will never ever fill us.

The Greek words used for “hunger and thirst” are present-active verbs meaning that the action is a continuous and ongoing action. A more accurate way to translate these words is “those who are hungering and always hungering and those who thirst and are always thirsting will be filled.” Another interesting point I learned in my study this week is that we will be filled—not with a bite, not with a morsel…but we are going to be filled with the entire enchilada! We aren’t just going to stop into McDonalds and grab a Big Mac to go…we are going to get that Big Mac combo supersized. There’s going to be more than enough for us to be filled with. Can you imagine that?  Oh, I forgot. Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day! Right now in my frig sits ham, turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberries, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, creamed cauliflower, mac n cheese casserole, pumpkin pie, strawberry delight, and cranberry pudding. Can you imagine feeling this way every day? This is exactly what Jesus is talking about. We are going to be filled.

SO WHAT?  So What — exactly what are we to be hungering and thirsting for?

Jesus says that we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness!  Righteousness is a lifestyle or a living that aligns itself with God’s ways.  The actual Hebrew words means “to walk in the right path”.  An easy way to think of righteousness is to word it: right living!

How do we hunger and thirst after righteousness? How do we hunger and thirst after right living?

I think of the opening lines of Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”  (Psalm 42:1-2)

One on my favorite stories of Jesus’ miracles is when he feeds the five thousand men with a few loaves and two fish in John 6. Jesus fed all those who were gathered—5,000 men—then the women, and children—and the crowd could have easily been 10,000 people. The Scriptures teach us that this whole crowd that was gathered there was satisfied.  Then Jesus told his disciples to gather up the crumbs so that nothing was wasted. What a powerful thought — Jesus says that nothing will be wasted!  Then Jesus gives one of His Great “I Am” statements as he declares, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

So What is it that you pant after?  So what is it that you long for?  What are you hungry for?  What are you thirsty for? Jesus is saying that if we come to Him, we will never be hungry, and if we believe in Him, we will never be thirsty. In today’s Beatitude Jesus is telling us that if we hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS, right living, we will be filled. Look again at Peterson’s version: “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” He’s food and drink in the best Thanksgiving meal you’ll ever eat!

In 1987 I made a grace weekend where I was challenged to read my bible for 15 minutes a day. Shortly after the weekend, Jac and I read about Billy Graham and Pat Robertson and how they each read 5 Psalms and a book of Proverbs a day. After the weekend, I started reading my bible and I even wrote my thoughts down right there in my bible. Then I started journaling about what I read. And then I started buying other books that would help me to understand my Bible reading. Thirty-one years later, I’m still reading my Bible. Jesus words are true to me. The more I hunger and thirst for right living, I find the answers to my life right here in my Bible. Remember that grace retreat I went on in 1987, well a few weeks later, my wife went on the weekend. She was so excited because she had decided to read her bible for an hour a day! It didn’t take too many days for her to realize that maybe she should start small and build up! She started with five minutes. (It’s taken her 30 years to be able to say she reads her Bible for an hour!)

Your “SO WHAT?” that I’m after is for you to ask yourself this question: WHAT IS IT THAT I HUNGER AND THIRST FOR? Does it satisfy me? Do I hunger and thirst for more…food, money, clothes, fame, fortune, power, cars, homes, trinkets? Do these things satisfy?

I heard someone say that within the human heart is a Jesus-shaped hole that will never be filled with THINGS…that this Jesus shaped-hole needs words of life in order to be filled and satisfied. If you don’t read your bible, start small. Read a Psalm. Or read a chapter in a Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.)

Today’s Beatitude is simple: Turn to God and hunger and thirst after Him.  You will be filled! Not a morsel, not a bite, but you will be filled with the entire enchilada of the living words of life.

Thanksgiving is over. Soon the leftovers will be over, too. And I will still get hungry. I want you to know that I am living proof of someone who used to hunger and thirst for many things that the world offered but I found out that Jesus Christ is the only one who will truly ever satisfy my soul, my heart, my mind and my life. I would walk through a blinding sand storm to hear Him speak. How about you?

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 11/16/18

Seed of Faith – Happy Are The Meek   By Pastor Dave  

King David said, “But the meek shall inherit the land, and enjoy great peace.”  Psalm 37:11

Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed Sowers:

It is always such a joy and blessing to sit down and write. I think the SEED OF FAITH goes out to around 500 people.  Always know that you have my permission to forward any and all SEEDS OF FAITH. I live to proclaim the living WORD of life and nothing would bless me more than to know that you share my same passion!

As we approach the holidays, may I ask us to begin and end each day with a prayer for those who are struggling with the holidays this year? God knows who they are, and they need to be covered in prayer as they face the holidays. Many have lost loved ones this year. Many are struggling with cancer, diabetes, and other serious health issues. For so many, the holidays contain heartache. Let us promise to lift them up in prayer and if you can give them a call, a text, a card to say you are thinking of them, please do. This is when the BODY of CHRIST puts on arms and legs, hands and feet–as we pray. God bless us as we answer the Holy Spirit’s leading.

These past few weeks, we have been working our way through Jesus’ teaching in Matthew called the Beatitudes.  I have entitled this series — Blessed and Broken!  We are blessed when hear these wonderful words of life.  We are broken when we try to live these words out in our lives.  Hence, we are blessed and broken when we hear and receive these words from Matthew.

There are 3 bullet points for today: the meaning of meekness, the manifestation of meekness, and the ministry of meekness.

1. THE MEANING OF MEEKNESS

The Greek word for “meek” is “praos,” which means “mild, soft or gentle.”  Meekness does not mean weakness.  Meekness means power under control. Meekness is not cowardice. Meekness is not a lack of conviction, it’s not mere human niceness.  Meekness is courage, and meekness is conviction.  This courage and conviction comes from trusting in God, and not from trusting in ourselves–or in anything else other than GOD.  The spirit of meekness comes from Jesus. The Holy Spirit wants to help us grow TODAY as we read about meekness (just in time for the holidays.) Paul writes in Philippians these powerful words:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.  Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  (Philippians 2:3-11)

Do you see the meaning of meekness?  Can you put this picture in your mind when you hear the word? Paul said, “don’t be conceited or selfish — consider others better than yourselves.”  This is a great “so what?” for us today. Go ahead, ask yourself, “Do I consider others better than I consider myself?” 

Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped but instead He humbled Himself and took on the form of a slave. I think this is the epitome of meekness: serving. Another great “so what?’ question here, am I servant of others? Do I expect others to serve me or am I able to find a way to serve God by serving others?

How do you respond when people treat you like a servant?  The Scriptures teach us that we are to be slaves of Christ and servants of all. I think this is really hard for us. It’s easy to resent being treated like a servant. Maybe the problem begins when we aren’t aware that we are to be slaves of Jesus Christ because once you’ve conquered that mountain, being a servant comes a little easier.

Point #1:  Meekness is not weakness!  Meekness is power under control. Meekness is courage, and conviction.  This courage and conviction comes from trusting in God, not from trusting in ourselves.  “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

2.  THE MANIFESTATION OF MEEKNESS

The Bible is full of wonderful stories about meekness.  Just think for a moment of
some of the meek people of the Bible.  There is Abraham in the story told in Genesis 13 when he allows Lot to choose first.  They were going to divide up the land.  Abraham gave up the right to have the best land, the most productive land, the best view in the country, and the best seat in the house–for the sake of harmony between the households.  Abraham had the right and the power to do as he pleased, but in meekness he gladly waived his rights and set aside his power. He let his nephew choose first. Imagine this happening today here in Southern California or wherever you live. There’s two properties up for grabs. You and your nephew are going to battle it out but, no, you decide to let your nephew choose first.  WOW!

How about the story of Joseph when he is sold into slavery by his own brothers, and put in prison by Pharaoh’s wife? This guy was innocent yet he went to prison. How in the world did Joseph  become second in command of Pharaoh’s land?  I think his meekness went a long way. Nope, not weakness but a strength and gentleness under control. Joseph’s brothers them travel and visit Egypt  There is a famine in their land and they need food.  Where do they go to ask for help? Egypt. They don’t know it but they are standing in front of their brother, Joseph! The kid brother they threw in a well and then sold into the slave trade. Joseph recognized them but they didn’t recognize Joseph. He could have easily refused to help them. He could have put them into the same slavery that they had put him into. Meekness.  Power under control. Joseph carried forgiveness and love for his brothers.  Put this scene into your memory.  When Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, “he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it and the household of Pharaoh heard it.” (Genesis 45:2) And at this very moment, Joseph tells his brothers, Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.” (Genesis 50:19-20) In meekness Joseph understood that it was God who was in control, not him, and it would be God who would be the judge of each of them.  Joseph forgives his brothers and then moves to help them.  Meekness– power under control!

Do you know who the meekest man in the bible is? “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3) Yes.  You read that right.  Moses. Isn’t he the one who killed the Egyptian? Didn’t Moses stand before Pharaoh and demand, “Let my people go?” Didn’t ten plagues follow? Wasn’t it Moses who got angry at the Israelites as they wandered in the desert for 40 years?  Didn’t Moses break the stone tablets from God when he saw the golden calf being worshiped? And yet, here in the book of Numbers, chapter 12, we are told that Moses is the meekest man who ever lived.  The context of the story-line is that Miriam and Aaron (Moses’ sister and brother) were busy slandering Moses because he had taken a Cushite for a wife after his first wife died.  A Cushite woman would have been from Africa.  Miriam and Aaron now try to start a rebellion over the prejudices that they hold.  Moses did not fight back or defend himself.  Moses allowed God to defend him. Meekness: power under control. God then turned the skin of Miriam into a white, leprous color. She was shunned and put outside of the camp. Did Moses stand tall and say, “Well, Miriam. How does that feel? That should teach you to mess with Moses.” No. Not even close. Moses prays for her to be healed.  This is quite a fascinating story of the manifestation of meekness.  I encourage you the read the story in Numbers 12 this week. I wonder if anyone reading this has a similar problem? Someone did you wrong.  They deserve whatever comes their way. You even have a few things in mind. Let me tell you what Moses would do. Moses would pray for your offender. Another “so what?” moment here.  Can you pray for your offender? (I can hear you screaming all the way from here!) Joseph wept but then he did the right thing.  Moses stomped and struck rocks and threw tablets, but then he did the right thing.  I’m thinking, “Jesus, this book is way smarter than me.  Show me what to do.  Show me how to respond. Help me to pray.”

Point #2: The Bible is full of the stories of meekness: Abraham and Lot, Joseph and his brothers, Moses and his sister.  These are just a few. The next time you go reading a bible story, look for meekness.  I bet it’s there. Meekness: Courage and conviction from trusting God—not ourselves. When we are meek, we are promised to inherit the earth! One of the definitions of “inherit” is: to come into possession of what belonged to someone else. Is this all beginning to make a little more sense? By letting go, somehow our hearts are filled.

3.  THE MINISTRY OF MEEKNESS
The ministry of meekness begins in the heart.  In Psalm 37, King David gives us powerful words to live by:  Trust in the Lord. Delight yourself in the Lord. Commit your way to the Lord.Be still before the Lord.  King David, the psalmist, tells us that if we trust, delight, commit, and be still we will be given the desires of our hearts. Did you hear that? What is the desire of your heart?  Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse — who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The other day I was reading the Sermon on the Mount, chapters five through seven, in the Gospel of Matthew.  I study around 30 hours a week (at least) so that I am prepared to proclaim the word rightly. On this day, I was stopped in my tracks by Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I want you to think about this verse. Ask yourself,  “What is my treasure?” I want you to know that this is where your heart is.

You may, or may not, know that I’ve served on all kinds of retreat weekends: Credo, Walk to Emmaus, Tres Dias, Camino, Via de Cristo, Cursillo, the ROCK, Chrysalis. Of all the grace weekends that I’ve help with, the very first talk is about this very question.  Where is your treasure? What do you treasure? The answer is found by looking at these questions:  Where do I spend my money?  Where do I spend my time? What do I talk about the most? What do I think about the most? I encourage you to ponder these questions this week. You may not like some of the answers. I know the very first time I attended my Cursillo weekend, I was faced with making some major changes in my life. My life’s work isn’t really about where I work. My life’s work is really my wife, our kids, our grandchildren, our family and our friends.  My wife still tells the story about when I returned from my weekend.  I asked her, “Would you like to take the kids for a walk to the park?” She’d asked me for years to take walks with her. I started showing up for dinner and every night we took a walk somewhere with the kids. One night before she made her weekend, she asked me, “Okay. What have you done with my husband?” Once she got away, and had time to think about the answers to these questions, she knew where her treasure was. It wasn’t in Wal-Mart, or Target, or shopping. It wasn’t in the kids’ activities and if they succeeded or not. We realized that our family is our treasure. We started making Sunday, “FAMILY FUN DAY.” I’m praying for you as you read this SEED. May the Holy Spirit be gentle and may you see a new area of where your treasures really are.

Point 3: My treasure really is Christ.  Christ in me. From there, Christ will help me to serve and love others.

SO WHAT?

Are you ready to take the SEED OF FAITH grace and meekness test?

Where do I spend my money?
Where do I spend my time?
What do I talk about the most?
What do I think about the most?

I hope to God that you pass with flying meekness.

“But the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” Psalm 37:11
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

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

Seed of Faith – HAPPY ARE THE SAD
By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”   Matthew 5:4

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed Sower:

First of all, please look and read the scripture above in red ink. Write it down in your heart.  Keep it posted on the lamp post of your mind. You can count on this verse. I minister with so many who mourn. The ministry is so often included with people who mourn; and this is a verse for the ages. The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. This is my prayer as you open this SEED of FAITH: “Lord, whomever is mourning, comfort them. Bring peace and comfort beyond our understanding into the very heart of all who mourn.”

Today, we look at the second of the eight Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  The Beatitudes are found in the beginning of Jesus’ most famous teaching called “The Sermon on the Mount” found in Chapter 5 of Matthew.  Last week, I encouraged you to read through chapters five, six and seven of the Gospel of Matthew.  As you read these chapters, pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you, comfort you, guide you and challenge you to grow deeper roots into the heart of God.

This beatitude has me thinking. Blessed are the sad? Why wouldn’t Jesus say that? “Blessed are the happy!” That makes perfect sense in my world. I would be all over that saying, “Yeah! I am happy to be alive!  I’m happy to be a Christian!  I’m happy in my marriage!  Happy that I get a chance to do all the things I want to do.” But never once does Jesus say, “Blessed are the Happy.”  In fact, He says quite the opposite, “Happy are the sad!”

When I read this, there is a part of me that wants to say, “Time-out!  What do you mean, ‘Blessed are those who mourn?’  ‘Happy are the sad!?’” In our world today, there is a cultural acceptance that the way to happiness is having everything you want and having everything go your way.  The world we live in tells us that pleasure brings happiness, money brings happiness, entertainment brings happiness, fame and praise bring happiness, and self-expression brings happiness. On the flip side of that principle: avoiding pain, trouble, disappointments, frustration, hardships and other problems will also bring us happiness.  Throughout history a basic axiom of the world has been that favorable things will bring happiness, and unfavorable things will bring unhappiness.  Yet Jesus is teaching, “Happy are the sad!”

For a few minutes, let’s look at what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  Let’s look at the idea of Biblical mourning and comforting.  We will try to understand the blessedness of mourning, and the blessedness of comfort.

THE BLESSEDNESS OF MOURNING
The Greek word used for “mourn” is “pentheo,”  Pentheo is strongest word used for mourning in the Greek language.  Pentheo is the word used for mourning for the dead, for the passionate lament for the one who was loved.  There are several ways we can translate this passage. William Barclay’s commentary says, “Blessed is the one who has endured the bitterest sorrow that life can bring.”  The Arabs have a proverb, “All sunshine makes a desert.[i]

We all grieve. Grief is not just a one time event. We all grieve more than once in our lives. Perhaps you have grieved over the death of a parent, a grandparent, a child, a brother or sister, a spouse, or a  good friend.  We grieve over the loss of a job we loved, the loss of a marriage, the loss of personal rejection, the loss of our possessions, and the loss of our health.  It seems like daily we hear of natural disasters.  Many grieve the loss of  homes and family in earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and wild fires.

The good news for us is that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted.  “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. In Matthew 11:4-5, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”   Jesus has come to bind up the brokenhearted. The good news is that if you are in a season of mourning, you are being blessed by the one who came to bind up your broken heart. If you are sad, wait. The mighty One is coming to comfort you. 

I had breakfast with a friend of mine recently. She is a widow. She has been in a season of grieving. As we talked, she said, “I don’t know what happened but God took away that deep, deep sorrow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still sad but that deep sorrow that cut to the deepest part of me–is not there anymore. God took that away.” I’m beginning to see that when we grieve, the Holy Spirit comes and comforts us in a way we cannot explain. My friend received a binding up of a part of her broken heart. Happy are those who mourn, for they are comforted. Maybe it should read, “Happy are those who mourn who know Christ for in their sorrow, the Holy Spirit will bring unexplainable, beyond our understanding, comfort.” I’ve watched as this woman has mourned. It is heart breaking. I’ve prayed. Many others have prayed. Many months have gone by and I often left feeling sad. Today, today I left thanking God for taking away my friend’s sharpest, deepest, cut-to-the-bone sorrow.

In Psalm 30, King David dedicated the temple saying, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” (Psalm 30:5; 11-12)  Our mourning may linger for a night, but joy is promised to come in the morning.  What a wonderful promise. The Lord will turn our mourning into dancing! Psalm 30 is another promise we can stand on. In time, in God’s time, our sackcloth is removed and we are clothed with joy–and our soul praises God!

Are you brokenhearted today?  Are you trapped in a dungeon of despair?  Have the crises and calamities of life wrapped you up and held you captive?  Are you overwhelmed?  Are you oppressed?  Are you overcome with doubts, fears and worries? Hear the Good News of Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn — happy are the sad — for they will be comforted.”

THE BLESSEDNESS OF COMFORT
Now that we’ve looked at the Greek “pentheo” for mourn, let’s look at the Greek word used for “comfort”–“parakleo.”  Do you recognize this word? It is a compound word in the Greek made up of two other words–“para” meaning “near or alongside” and “kaleo” means “I call”. Parakleo is the same word used for the Holy Spirit, called the “paraclete”, the “comforter” or “helper.”  The Holy Spirit is the one who is called alongside us to comfort us, and to help us grow. Even in the midst of our grief, we can take comfort that the Holy Spirit walks alongside us.

Right after I became a Christian, my wife signed us up for a small group in our church.  The group was called  a “Growth Group.”  I wasn’t too hep on the idea but Jac wanted to go, so I did. Every night after our Growth Group met, I got in the car and told my wife, “If Doug ever calls me, and asks me to share, I’m telling him, ‘No.'” Of course, about the fourth week in, the group was studying II Corinthians 1:3-7. “Blessed be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”  Our fearless leader, Doug, read the passage to the group and he started to work the room. He asked each person if they would like to share. And they did.  He came to me and asked me if I would like to share on how God has comforted me and how I could comfort others.  I sat there and flatly answered, “NO!”

Little did I know that God has a great sense of humor!

That night after growth group I was angry. I was angry that Doug called on me. I was angry that Jac had drug me to some stupid group. After about an hour, Jac looked at me and said, “Dave, I think you might need to pray about this verse.  Maybe through the death of your brother, God has helped you to understand true sorrow so that through his death you can truly understand others when they mourn. I think that God wants you to pray about this.” When we went back the next week, I shared.  I think I’ve been sharing ever since.  That was the night that God broke open the hard, sealed shell I had built around my heart. I still talk with Doug, and we laugh a whole lot over God’s sense of humor.  The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort led me out of my darkness so I would learn how to comfort others. I know that this comfort isn’t anything I can package up and deliver but I can pray and I can wait for the Holy Spirit to walk alongside those who grieve. I can pray and I can wait while Jesus binds up their broken, broken hearts.

So What?
There’s a little more to the story about my friend. After we had breakfast, I drove her home.  Jac was with me.  She and Jac got busy talking while I was out checking her car’s engine, she and Jac disappeared upstairs. She had given us her husband’s dresser, which fits perfectly in our bedroom. Our friend showed Jac the print she had put up over her antique dresser. She said, “I wanted to show you what I look at the first thing every morning.”  The sign read, “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. Do not be afraid. I am with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Jac hugged our friend. Our friend has the Holy Spirit inside her and the Holy Spirit has been walking alongside her since her husband passed. Jac said she simply looked into our friend’s eyes. No words were spoken.  They just hugged. She had been comforted.

The “so what?” for today isn’t easy, it’s complicated. Blessed are those who mourn…for they will be comforted. In God’s time, the Holy Spirit will comfort you. My brother had been gone for over ten years. I had a heart that was broken. God used my friend to introduce a bible verse to me.  II Corinthians 1:3, “Blessed be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  I still miss my oldest brother. We were a tag team, brothers 1 and 3 against brothers 2 and 4. That night after Growth Group, I stayed up and asked God to comfort me so that I could learn how to bring comfort to others who were troubled. A few years later, God called me into full-time ministry. I now lead GROWTH GROUPS!

May the God of all comfort walk alongside you as you mourn. May the Holy Spirit give you a verse that you can hold onto. May the words on the pages of Scripture become LIVING WORDS OF COMFORT, HOPE and LIFE.

“Thank you, Father, that when we mourn, you promise to comfort us. Right now, we pray for those who need YOUR comfort: those with prodigal children, those with health issues, those who have pain, we pray for those who are addicted, we pray for those who have lost someone they love, we pray for the mentally ill. Lord, we are going to hold onto your promise that you will comfort those who mourn. Help us to pray. Amen.”

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

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 10/26/18

Seed of Faith – Happy are the Humble   By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

As always, greetings in the love and forgiveness of Christ. It is my hope and prayer that you will be blessed –fully happy–as you seek and serve the Lord!

Last week we began our journey through the Beatitudes.  We learned the word “blessed” can be substituted with the word “happy”.  The Greek word “makarios” is translated “blessed” and incorporates the meaning of wholeness, joy, well-being, and a holistic peace that is expressed by the Hebrew word “shalom.” (Listen to the word “blessed” in the Amplified version of the Bible: “happy, to be envied, spiritually prosperous, with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation regardless of outward conditions.  ” Wow! I want to feel this kind of blessed.) If you want to know this kind of blessed–peace, the kind that passes our own understanding, the kind of happy that makes you feel totally complete and whole, then this series is for you! No one is too broken to be blessed by the living words of Christ found in Matthew.

Jesus said something very preposterous on the mountainside that day.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” With these words, Jesus then launched into the greatest sermon ever preached. Jesus BROUGHT IT! He laid it down right there on the mountainside. The Sermon on the Mount (mountain) is stunningly brilliant and captivatingly fresh. Jesus quotes no rabbis, religious authorities, or ancient authors. In this sermon, Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter with amazing authority as he tells his us all how to get into the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew presents Jesus as the teacher, and the scholars present the Gospel of Matthew as the Teaching Gospel.  Here we have the ultimate teacher teaching us how to become ultimately blessed—whole, happy, joyful.  I encourage you to sit down and read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) over the next seven weeks. Allow the teaching words of Jesus, the teacher, to honestly and unabashedly teach you how to be truly happy—the kind of happy that brings a whole, complete and joyful way INTO your life.

What Does it mean to be Poor In Spirit?
Have you noticed that when Jesus began His teaching, He does not begin with curses but with blessings?  I have been thinking all week about verse three of Matthew five, “Blessed are the poor in spirit—the kingdom belongs to them.”
This statement is like saying that the General Admission tickets for the World Series this week at Dodger Stadium equal the best, box, private seats in the stadium. That’s ridiculous!   The world says, “Blessed are the season ticket holders, those with the reserved seats. Happy are the Skybox executives with the full buffet. Blessed are the Press and media giants who get onto the field and inside the post-game locker room. Happy are the celebrity fans who are shown on camera. Blessed are the players who have access to all that fame and money!” That’s who we would say are blessed.  Certainly not those in the upper rows at the top of stadium; yet, this is what Jesus is telling us.  It’s not the outside condition that matters most to Jesus, it’s our inside condition. Blessed are the fans in the worst seats in the stadium—because the kingdom of heaven can belong to them–no matter what the outward conditions of your life are.
What Jesus is saying at the beginning of this sermon is that in order to be truly happy, we must learn how to be “poor in spirit.”  Jesus is not talking about being physically poor. When studying the Be Attitudes, we need a theological perspective to understand this kind of poverty.

In today’s world, we are taught: “Stand on your own two feet.” “Reach for the top.” “Make something of yourself.” “Plan your work and work your plan.” “Be assertive.” “Look out for number one.”  We are advised to spike our resumes with action verbs and finesse the facts of our lives. We turn “trash man” into “Sanitation Engineer,” and “short-order cook” into “Culinary Chef”. We list initials before and behind our names, we display our degrees on the wall, and we keep our credentials hanging on the wall. Worldly wisdom dictates that we should make ourselves large in stature. This is not at all what Christ is sharing with us from the mountainside.

To be “poor in Spirit” is to be at odds with the world.  To be “poor in Spirit” is the exact opposite of “haughty, self-assertive, self-sufficient, self -concerned, self-reliant, self-supporting, self-contained, independent.” Jesus is going after words like “insignificant, grieving, meek, mild, patient, long-suffering, upright, merciful, pure in heart, peaceful, persecuted, reviled. Quite a contrast in these two lists. Think about it.  Pray about what Jesus is telling us in Matthew 5. What words in list one can you begin to delete from your Spiritual Resume? What words can you add from list two? 

Last week, in Jesus class, Miss Jac taught the young children through the object lesson of SLIME that selfishness is the lack of consideration of others. She had the kids name their favorite color and then she paired them with someone who had a different favorite color. They then had to make SLIME together. The kids had to work out what color they would pick.  Then the children made slime together. They had to figure out who measured, who stirred, who kneaded, and who added what color to what. At the end of their project, they divided their slime—each taking half home. Miss Jac asked the class if they would share an example of people being selfish. One child said, “I would…but I don’t want to make that person look bad.” Miss Jac then shared a video about our two dogs, Journey and Jonah.  Jonah is way more selfish than Journey! Jonah crowds Journey out of the treats.  Jonah jumps on Journey and pesters him in order to get the full attention. For Jonah, there is never a time when he’s laid back. He’s the ME FIRST dog.  He’s the IT’S ALL ABOUT ME dog! The kids laughed and laughed at the video. One of the kids said, “Jonah needs to go back in the belly of the whale and learn some stuff.” Miss Jac ended the lesson by telling the kids that she was really proud of them for not wanting to make someone else look bad.
Here’s where I take that lesson and tell you: THAT child is poor in spirit! That child is not selfish and did not lack consideration!That child is blessed.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom.”

Mother Teresa said, “The poor can see better. The poor stand a better chance of being saved by God because they know the truth:  without God, they don’t stand a chance at all.” Being poor in spirit is to be spiritually bankrupt before God.  Those who know they are spiritually poor are humble.  Humility means being “low-minded.” In essence, Jesus is saying,  “Blessed are the low-minded, the humble, the poor in spirit, the spiritually bankrupt, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
SO WHAT
The “so what” question for us today is: “How do I become low-minded– poor in spirit?”  The answer is “We must empty our lives of the none-essential STUFF–in order to be filled with God.”  I read a great illustration on this: There was a person who went in to speak to the pastor.  She told him she was leaving the church because it was filled with hypocrites. She said she knows a person who cusses all the time, she knows a person who cheats on their taxes, she knows another person who lies. The pastor asked the woman if she would do an experiment before she decided to leave the church.  He filled a coffee cup with coffee–it was filled to the brim.  He set it on a saucer.  Then he told the lady to go into the fellowship and to walk around the hall in a full circle and come back.  The hall was filled with people laughing and talking and enjoying cookies and coffee.  The woman went out and did as the pastor asked.  She came back, coffee cup and saucer in tow.  The pastor asked her if she heard anyone telling lies or cussing? The woman answered, “NO.” The pastor asked her why not.  “Because I was so concerned about spilling the coffee.” The pastor replied, “Each one of us is the coffee cup. If only we would concentrate on what’s in our cup instead of what’s inside of everyone else’s.” The woman got the point. I always say, “When I point a finger at someone else, I need to remember that there are three fingers that point back to me.” Being a good Trinitarian, I know that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are telling me to worry more about me than the one I’m pointing at.

The woman portray us. Whatever it is that we are full of—is what is going to spill out of us when we stumble and fall or when someone else stumbles into us.  If we are filling ourselves up with the words of Jesus, we stand a much better chance of spilling out the good stuff like humility, happiness, joy, grace, love, mercy and blessedness.

The other day we were driving home from our grandson’s all-star baseball game. Sometimes Grammy feels deeply about her grandchildren and the fairness they don’t receive–in her humble opinion. She was upset with the coach who, in her opinion, did not pitch the best pitcher, her grandson. We lost. Now, this wasn’t just any game. This was a Little League GO TO STATE game. Our team was one of the final six teams in the competition. The coach pitched his son. Left him in the entire game. We lost.  Jac was really grumbling as we got back into our car for the long drive home. Then she looked at the sign she has printed and taped to the dash of the car: “WIMITY. WILL IT MATTER IN TEN YEARS?”  I pointed to the sign and she said, “You know, I should make a bunch of these. I could sell them wherever I go. I could probably sell 5 a day at $1 each.”  Will it matter in ten years about the game? No. What are you grumbling about? WIMITY. Matter of fact, Miss Jac gave that message to the children the next Sunday. She actually had people ask her for a copy of her sign! One woman said, “I need that in my car for driving in the traffic.” One man said, “I need that at work on my desk. Will it matter in ten years?” WIMITY. (On your email, you can right click on the X –that enables you to see the pictures.  There’s one of WIMITY at the bottom of this message.)

Your homework for the week is to try to keep emptying yourself of your negativity…and read the words of Jesus in Matthew 5-7. Let’s try to fill our hearts and minds with the beatitudes. Let’s start with the first one: Blessed are the poor in spirit…for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

You want to be truly happy?  You want to be truly whole and complete? A few weeks ago, the St. Louis Cardinals played the Dodgers in L.A. We went online and bought 7 tickets and brought the family to the game. They weren’t bleacher seats but the next ones up.  We were out in left field by the FAIR pole.  Matter of fact, the pole was directly in my way! I had to sit forward in my seat so I could see the game! It was a terrific game that went into extra innings–14! What do I remember from that game? Do I remember how bad my seat was or do I remember the amazing pitching by Buehler? Do I remember making friends with those sitting around us–because I was wearing RED and they were wearing blue? The Cards ended up sweeping LA that series. As we walked out, one of the guys cleaning the stadium shouted out to me, “Hey, come get this broom! YOU SWEPT US!” WIMITY. I won’t remember in ten years about the pole being in my way. I will remember the camaraderie of that night with my family–three dressed in Dodger blue and four in STL red. I will remember taking a family picture from the bleacher’s end and I will remember the broom! You know, somehow, we have to figure out how to be happy when we’re sitting in the bleachers of life.

It’s one of the keys to HAPPINESS.  It’s one of the keys to FEELING BLESSED.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom.”

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

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 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.

A Child Is Born

Seed of Faith – A Child Is Born   By Pastor Dave  

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isiah 9:6

Dear Friends, Family and Faithful Seed Sowers:
Merry Christmas! Happy Advent Season, too! I apologize for not getting the Seed of Faith out.  A loving brother-in-Christ/friend called the other day and busted my chops for not getting the SEED OF FAITH out sooner.  He said, “What are you doing?  I need a midweek shot of faith in the arm.  I can’t wait until Friday or Saturday. That is way too close to Sunday!”  I love my brothers in the faith who are called to take me to task! (Once a wrestler, always a wrestler?) To be honest with you, when I started writing this devotionals many years ago, I titled them “Mid-Week Seeds of Faith.”  It really is my plan to get them out by the middle of the week.

Many of you know that for the past two years my wife and I have been battling lead poisoning. The four years before that I was battling a painful, mysterious rash which have come to understand is part of the way my body handled the lead poisoning. All I can say is that we mean well.  We mean to get the SEED OF FAITH out weekly, it’s just that life gets in the way.  Both Jac and I have done two rounds of chelation. Chelation is a medical process that helps to remove the heavy metals in your body.  This process takes a toll on your body, and mind. In October, my wife and I went back to the doctor to be tested again for our lead numbers. Our lead numbers went up instead of down!  We were surprised and very disappointed.  The doctor thinks that once you begin the process of pulling the lead from your bones–it’s an ongoing one and that our numbers are going to reflect the process. The bad news is that we both have to do another round of chelation. This means three days of taking the DMSA pills every twelve hours and then we let them work in our body for the next eleven days. It’s a two-week process and must be repeated for five cycles (10 weeks, 70 days).  As each round progresses, your body wears down and you feel worse as time goes on. It also takes months for the body to finish the “shed the lead” stage. When Jac was asked to begin her third cycle last January, she said, “I just can’t.” Our doctor is really amazing. She shifted to “How about the fall?” I’m happy to report that Jac is in her 5th week! Only five more weeks to go. I am waiting until after the holidays.  Please keep us in prayer. This week’s Seed of faith is late!  I am sorry! (This is Jac. I am Dave’s “grammar queen.” I want you to know that he has had his SEED of FAITH ready. I’m the one who has fallen behind on the job. He’s too sweet to tell you the truth.) Let’s get to the devotional:

One of the most often read Scriptures at Christmas time is Isaiah 9:6 ,For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah tells us that this child will be born to us!  This child will be given to us!  In the actual Hebrew Bible it translates, “For a child to us is born, to us is given a Son.”  Isaiah made it personal.  This child that will be born will be born to YOU.  This child that is given is going to be given to YOU. It’s personal.  This isn’t some wild and crazy “out there” concept.  This is a “within you” concept!  Isaiah goes on to say that this Child who will be born to us…is really special:  the dominion, rule, and the authority of all the world will be on his shoulders.  All of this given to us is by God TO us…personally.

Are you worried and troubled about the government?  Are you worried and troubled about this world?  Are you worried and troubled about the authority of world rulers?  Isaiah is a prophet at a time when the Jewish nation was defeated and captured. Isn’t it just like God that God has Isaiah preaching GOOD NEWS in the midst of their darkness? I remember our seminary Christmases. They were thin and they were dark. One year, someone gave us $600 dollars on December 23rd. Jac and I were recovering from the flu. But we didn’t have any presents for the 3 kids. Zippo.  Zero. Nada. Nothing. We forced ourselves to drive 30 miles to the nearest mall. We had fevers. We were delirious.  We actually had to lay down on a bench and sleep. When we woke up, I remember Jac saying, “Someday this is going to be funny.”  Kind of like the Holy Spirit telling the defeated, captured Israelites that God won’t always be silent; there is GOOD NEWS ahead.

What a powerful promise was given:  all authority will be on the shoulders of God’s Son; a Son who will be freely given…to you…to each one of us… for generations and generations!!! His name will be called “Wonderful Counselor.”  (Are you in need of any advice or counsel?   Isaiah is prophesying that Jesus is the one who gives the best advice and counsel.  Need some wonderful counseling?  Read your Word.)

Next Isaiah says that Jesus will be called “Mighty God.”  Here’s the Hebrew translation: the Child given to you, and you, and you—will be your MIGHTY GOD  who is unstoppable and will never, ever, be defeated.  (We serve a MIGHTY GOD, friends. No matter what you are facing, our MIGHTY God is unstoppable.)

This Child will be called “Everlasting Father” which literally translated means, “Father from Eternity.”  This Child will be kind, compassionate, caring and loving from the beginning of time to the end of time—and beyond all time.  (Do you need a kind, compassionate, caring, loving Father?)

This Child will be the “Prince of Peace — Sar-shalom!” And in this child… that is given to us…we will find wholeness, completeness, safety, satisfaction and peace!  This child, this Son that is given to us will bring light into the very darkness of our world. (We don’t need to worry about what’s going on: GOD’S GOT THIS!)

Fast forward 750 years! The Apostle John writes an account of what he knows regarding the prophesies about the actual coming of the Messiah. Open your bible to John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

In January of 2007, Joshua Bell emerged from the Metro and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript—a youngish, white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money and began to play. For the next 45 minutes, in the D.C. Metro on January 12, 2007, Bell played Mozart and Schubert as over 1,000 people streamed by, most hardly taking notice. If they had paid attention, they might have recognized the young man for the world-renowned violinist he is. They also might have noted the violin he played—a rare Stradivarius worth over $3 million. This idea was all part of a project arranged by The Washington Post—”an experiment in context, perception, and priorities—as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste. In a banal setting, at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” (GREAT QUESTION.) Just three days earlier, Joshua Bell had sold out Boston Symphony Hall, the ordinary seats went for $100. In the subway, Bell garnered about $32 from the 27 people who stopped long enough to give a donation.[i]For forty-five minutes, over a thousand people passed by Joshua and they never even noticed him or stopped to acknowledge him.

How often has the same thing happened with Christ’s entrance into our world?

So What?
Friends, I don’t know all that you are going through right now, only God does.  God knows where you have been and God knows where you are now and God knows where you are going. God knows your finances.  God knows your relationships. God knows your health concerns. God knows your brokenness, your hurt, your pain, your fears, your hopes, your dreams and joys. God knows your sorrow, your loss and your grief. Around 2,000 years ago, the light of the world was born of a virgin in a cave near Bethlehem, just like the prophet Isaiah had predicted.

Have we passed by the manger? Are we like those who were too busy to notice a $3 million violin and a world reknown violinist? Do we toss Jesus our chump change? Come on, $32 from 27 people? Here’s the real deal: a child has been born to YOU. That child, whose birth we will celebrate on December 25th, isn’t just some newborn child. That child is our mighty Counselor, our mighty God, our everlasting Father, and our prince of peace.

The Washington Post’s experiment was an experiment “in context, perception, and priorities—as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste. In a banal setting, at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” If we had walked by, we really wouldn’t have missed all that much. What I can tell you is that if you walk by THE CHILD BORN TO YOU that Isaiah prophesied about, you could lose your very life.

During this season of Advent, dust off your bible. Read a chapter. Jac is doing what she calls her “assignment from God.” Reading a chapter from the Gospel of Luke each day. There are 24 chapters.  She started December 1st.  She’s determined to be faithful through the 24th. She writes down her interpretation of each chapter and posts it on facebook. She told me today she’s had about 5 people leave a comment. “I’m just doing what God impressed upon my heart. I have no clue what those seeds of faith will grow.”

As I close out today’s SEED, that’s good news for me. I’m going to really try to get my SEED of FAITH out by Wednesday. So my really good, jaw-busting brother in Christ can have a mid-week meal, shot in the arm of faith.

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 12/1/18

Seed of Faith – Home For Christmas   By Pastor Dave  

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us.’”   Matthew 1:22-23

Dear Faithful Friends:

Can you believe it?  The season of Advent begins this Sunday which means that Christmas will be only 25 days away!  Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming.” It follows, then, that Advent is the season to prepare our hearts and our homes for the coming of Christ. The word “Advent” has two common associations:  the birth of Christ and also the second Coming of Christ–called the Paroursia.  Yes!  Not only are we to prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas on December 25, we are also to prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s return!   Last week, the church calendar marked the end of the calendar year with CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY. Now we begin the new church calendar year–with Advent. Advent is always celebrated the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The theme of this Advent SEED OF FAITH is “Home for Christmas.”

When you hear the word “home” what comes to your mind?  For many of us, the word “home” brings to mind memories of love and laughter, family, fun and food, security and safety… a place to belong, a place to grow into the person you were created by God to become.

Home is a shelter, a house, a residence or birthplace. Or is that all it is?  Could it be more than just a shelter, a residence or a birthplace?

Many of you know the birth story of Jesus.  Joseph and Mary are expecting.  Caesar Augustus, the ruler of Rome, has ordered a census that commands all people to be counted.  Everyone who was a part of the Roman Empire had to travel to the place of their birth in order to be counted in the Roman census.  Joseph was born in Bethlehem, he and Mary left Nazareth and traveled 80 miles south.  In those days 80 miles was a 4-day walk (20 miles a day) but since Mary was very pregnant—it most likely took them a week to make the trip.  It is during this time of the census that Jesus was born in Bethlehem—a town of 200 people.  Bethlehem is a mountainous region that sits 2,600 feet above the Mediterranean Sea.

Listen to these powerful words that God had given to Micah, the prophet, to proclaim to the people of Israel, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  I looked up the original Hebrew on this verse, “whose origins are from old, from ancient times” and it is translated “from the beginning of eternity.”  The message God had given Micah was for him to tell the people that though Bethlehem was small among the clans of Judah (Southern Israel) that ever since the beginning of time they had been given a powerful destiny:  the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  The Jewish people had been given the place.  They knew where to look for the Messiah–Bethlehem. Amazing, isn’t it?

Seven hundred years now pass Micah’s prophecy.  God then fulfills this promise by having Caesar Augustus call for a census.  Who would have ever thought that God would use a foreign ruler to bring into action the plan designed from the beginning of eternity?  Wouldn’t you think you would be looking at Bethlehem until the Messiah was born? I know I would have been keeping my eye on this tiny, obscure town of 200.

Do you believe God is sovereign over time?  Do you believe God is sovereign over your lifetime?  Do you believe God knows the plans that God has for you and that those plans include calling you to this very place at this very time?

Home for Jesus was Bethlehem.  Bethlehem! What do we know about Bethlehem?  Why did God choose Bethlehem?

Bethlehem was a small town six miles southwest of Jerusalem.  The first time it is mentioned in the Bible is in relation to Jacob and Rachel.  (Abraham, Isaac, then Jacob and Esau. Jacob married Rachel.)  Jacob had twelve sons and this is where we get the 12 tribes of Israel.  Jacob had several wives but Rachel was the love of his life.  Rachel was the mother of Joseph (coat of many colors) and Benjamin.  Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin.  “So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).  Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.” (Genesis 35:19-20)

Jacob buried Rachel near Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. This all takes place 2,000 years before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  The next time Bethlehem is mentioned in the Bible is in the Book of Ruth.  We are told about the famine in the land and how Naomi and her husband leave Bethlehem and go to Moab.  Listen to how it is written in Ruth 1:1-2 — In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.”

Naomi, their sons and her husband leave Bethlehem and head across the Jordan River to live in a foreign land.  Their sons take wives from Moab. Husband Elimelech dies, as do both of his two sons.  Naomi is now a widow and decides to head back home to Bethlehem.  Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, a Moabite, insists on returning back the Bethlehem with Naomi.  From Ruth 1:16-17, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth is a very short book; you can read it in one sitting.  In Ruth you will find the story of Ruth and Boaz.  Boaz is a relative of Naomi and the kinsman-redeemer who ends up marrying Ruth and providing for Naomi.  They have a son and name him Obed.  Obed has a son and names him Jesse, and Jesse has a son and names him David—as in the second king of Israel.  This makes Ruth, the foreigner and a Moabite woman without Jewish blood, the great-grandmother of King David.  This is powerful testimony when you consider that prophecy declares the Messiah will come from the line of David and will be born in Bethlehem!  Boaz was not just Ruth’s kinsmen redeemer…his blood made Jesus come from the line of David, house of Judah!  This is why Bethlehem is called the City of David.  All of these people (except Ruth) were born in the little, farming town six miles south of Jerusalem, the town called Bethlehem.

Think of the timeline like this:

1. God was preparing a place for the coming of the Messiah.  Around 2000 B.C., Rachel was buried near Bethlehem with a pillar set up to mark her place.

2. Seven to nine hundred years later (1375-1050 B.C.), God calls a foreigner by the name of Ruth into the story.   Ruth, a foreigner, an outcast and outsider, makes her home with Naomi in Bethlehem.  Boaz marries Ruth.  Obed, Jesse, and King David are born from this bloodline.

3. Three to four hundred years (742-687 B.C) go by and here we are:  God sends the prophet Micah to tell the people that out of Bethlehem–will come the Messiah.

4. 700 B.C. Micah prophesies the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.

Yet, all of this time God had been working.

In the Hebrew language Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”  Bethlehem was located in a fertile area in Judah and produced great crops of figs and wheat. I fascinating that here in Bethlehem, the “house of bread,” the true Bread of Life is delivered from heaven to earth?

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

The Scriptures record the journey of the Jewish nation–God working out the ultimate purpose of having the Messiah born in Bethlehem, the house of bread, before the beginning of time or place.  God is SOVEREIGN over time and place!

SO WHAT?
The theme for this Advent message is “Home for Christmas.”  Bing Crosby made the song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” a hit in 1943 when it was first recorded.  It has been a favorite Christmas song ever since.  “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written with the idea of a World War II soldier singing about being home for Christmas–even if it was  only in his dreams.

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

In 1999 Jac and I moved to serve a church in Upland, California. Everyone kept telling us that we needed to go see Disneyland–especially at Christmas. We decided to make the trip shortly after Jodi had returned to college after Thanksgiving break. We’d been instructed to go early and stay late. We fell in love with the park–there were families everywhere, laughing and enjoying their time. We were up by the castle when the evening “show” began. All of our favorite Christmas songs were played and then–the snow started falling and the song, “I’ll be home for Christmas” came over the loud speakers. It’s a kind of unspoken fact that pastors don’t go home for Christmas; they have a church that they serve. The church wants their pastor there for those big days like Christmas and Easter–go figure! Jodi had just flown back to Missoui, Brian and Jennifer were married and not living anywhere near California. Jac and I cried like babies right there in the middle of Disneyland. Yes, home is a place, a shelter, a residence but home is also where your heart is. Our hearts were back in St. Louis and Rochelle.

It is my prayer that as we journey through these four weeks of Advent, we will come to realize that we are home.  It is not a dream!  You are home and you are loved in God’s grace and love.  Ever since the beginning of time, it has been God’s plan to place us right where we are into God’s story.  Wherever you are, you are home. We are home! We are not lost—Immanuel is here, “God is with us.”  God has been with us from the beginning of time right up to today.  God has been working out His plan to bring us home for Christmas since Jacob and Rachael, Ruth and Boaz, David and Bathsheba, Mary and Joseph—and Jesus!  If we are with God this Advent Season—we are not lost at all. God will help us to prepare our hearts and our homes as we await Christ’s birth and His second coming.

The “So what?” for us today?   God is sovereign over time and place. God is the Authority with supreme rank and power over all of time.  God is working even when we don’t see or understand.  God is sovereign over where we are this very second!  And the same God who spoke to Micah, who spoke to Ruth and Boaz, who spoke to King David and to Joseph and Mary—this marvelous God has called us here–to this place and this time–so we will find our hearts’ true home in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus–the bread of life!

As I prayed about what I could possibly put together for an Advent message, I found myself singing, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” over and over. As Jac and I started to walk down Main Street that late November night, the snow was falling silently. We both learned that night that home is where our hearts are.

Here is what I heard as I prayed and studied and sweated over “the plan” for this Christmas:
“Dave, tell my people I have a plan.  I’ve had a plan all along—since the beginning of time.  Tell them about Micah, Ruth, Boaz, David, Zechariah, Isaiah, Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary.  Tell them the story again—about shepherds and angels and wise men.  I want my church to come home for Christmas—home at the manger…home in Bethlehem…home where my one and only Son was born.  We don’t need all the bells and whistles.  Keep it simple.  I want my children home for Christmas.”  “Home” means a shelter, a house, a residence or birthplace.  This Christmas I believe with all of my heart that God wants our lives, our hearts and our homes to be a shelter and a residence for the Christ Child—and THAT is the real “so what?” for us this first week of Advent!  As long as God is the ONE who is writing HIS STORY, we are not lost!

No matter where you travel to for the holidays, my prayer for you is that you are HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!

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

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 11/23/18

Seed of Faith – Happy are the Hungry   By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Today we turn to the fourth Beatitude in our series, “Blessed and Broken”.  Today’s beatitude is, “Happy are the hungry!” Don’t you find it funny that THIS is the SEED OF FAITH for the day after Thanksgiving? I hope your day was blessed. I saw this post on facebook and thought it was great:
THANKSGIVING = Day of THANKS + Day of GIVING. I hope yours was both a day of thanks and a day of giving.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

The truth is that many of us today do not know what it’s like to be hungry or thirsty. When we are thirsty in 2018, we go the faucet and out pours water that is drinkable, clean and pure.  This is not true for many other people in our world. The world still needs clean water for all people.  When we are hungry, we can stop at any of hundreds of fast food places and pick up something.  Again, this is not true for many people in different parts of the world. We need to pray for those who go to bed hungry, and if we know anyone who needs food–I pray you help them fill that need. Go to your local church, I am sure they will help.

We need to put ourselves into the context of this passage.  Put yourself on that mountaintop. When Jesus gathered those who were following him on that mount, Jesus knew that they knew first hand what it was like to be hungry and thirsty.  A working man’s wage was one denarius, this was not a wage on which anyone ever got fat or full. Back in the days of Christ, a working man in Palestine ate meat only once a week.  It is a fact that the working man and the day laborer were never far from the borderline of real hunger and actual starvation.

Think for a moment of being a traveler on a journey, in the area around Jerusalem around 33 AD.  In the middle of our journey through the arid desert, a hot wind could stir up a sandstorm.  Recently, we were down in Palm Desert for the memorial service for of the father of one of our members.  The temperature that day was blistering 112 degrees outside — (Thank God for air conditioning!)  The sign leading out of town said, “Beware of blowing sand.”  As we were driving out of town that day, I thought of what it would be like to be back in Jesus’ time, walking through the desert to hear him preach.  The temperature would be above 100 degrees, the hot the wind would be blowing yet we would be walking to hear Jesus!!! Can you imagine yourself doing this? If we were walking through the desert areas of Jerusalem, and the wind picked up, there would be nothing for us to do but wrap ourselves up, cover our head in our hooded cloak, turn our back to the blowing wind, and wait while the swirling sand filled our nostrils and our throats until we felt  like we could suffocate. We would be parched with an overpowering thirst.

Can you imagine being so hungry and so poor that you are only able to eat meat once a week? Can you imagine the wind blowing sand into your face until your throat was so parched?

I can’t imagine that!  The closest I’ve ever came to know what it is like to be hungry and thirsty was when I wrestled in college and I had to get down to my wrestling weight. Each season I went from my normal 180 pounds to 142 pounds!  I lived on ice cubes for days. I even “flavored” them with unsweetened Kool-Aid! I wanted to quench my thirst without adding any extra weight. When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled,” He is teaching us that the ways of this world and the things of this world will never ever fill us.

The Greek words used for “hunger and thirst” are present-active verbs meaning that the action is a continuous and ongoing action. A more accurate way to translate these words is “those who are hungering and always hungering and those who thirst and are always thirsting will be filled.” Another interesting point I learned in my study this week is that we will be filled—not with a bite, not with a morsel…but we are going to be filled with the entire enchilada! We aren’t just going to stop into McDonalds and grab a Big Mac to go…we are going to get that Big Mac combo supersized. There’s going to be more than enough for us to be filled with. Can you imagine that?  Oh, I forgot. Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day! Right now in my frig sits ham, turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberries, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, creamed cauliflower, mac n cheese casserole, pumpkin pie, strawberry delight, and cranberry pudding. Can you imagine feeling this way every day? This is exactly what Jesus is talking about. We are going to be filled.

SO WHAT?  So What — exactly what are we to be hungering and thirsting for?

Jesus says that we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness!  Righteousness is a lifestyle or a living that aligns itself with God’s ways.  The actual Hebrew words means “to walk in the right path”.  An easy way to think of righteousness is to word it: right living!

How do we hunger and thirst after righteousness? How do we hunger and thirst after right living?

I think of the opening lines of Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”  (Psalm 42:1-2)

One on my favorite stories of Jesus’ miracles is when he feeds the five thousand men with a few loaves and two fish in John 6. Jesus fed all those who were gathered—5,000 men—then the women, and children—and the crowd could have easily been 10,000 people. The Scriptures teach us that this whole crowd that was gathered there was satisfied.  Then Jesus told his disciples to gather up the crumbs so that nothing was wasted. What a powerful thought — Jesus says that nothing will be wasted!  Then Jesus gives one of His Great “I Am” statements as he declares, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

So What is it that you pant after?  So what is it that you long for?  What are you hungry for?  What are you thirsty for? Jesus is saying that if we come to Him, we will never be hungry, and if we believe in Him, we will never be thirsty. In today’s Beatitude Jesus is telling us that if we hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS, right living, we will be filled. Look again at Peterson’s version: “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” He’s food and drink in the best Thanksgiving meal you’ll ever eat!

In 1987 I made a grace weekend where I was challenged to read my bible for 15 minutes a day. Shortly after the weekend, Jac and I read about Billy Graham and Pat Robertson and how they each read 5 Psalms and a book of Proverbs a day. After the weekend, I started reading my bible and I even wrote my thoughts down right there in my bible. Then I started journaling about what I read. And then I started buying other books that would help me to understand my Bible reading. Thirty-one years later, I’m still reading my Bible. Jesus words are true to me. The more I hunger and thirst for right living, I find the answers to my life right here in my Bible. Remember that grace retreat I went on in 1987, well a few weeks later, my wife went on the weekend. She was so excited because she had decided to read her bible for an hour a day! It didn’t take too many days for her to realize that maybe she should start small and build up! She started with five minutes. (It’s taken her 30 years to be able to say she reads her Bible for an hour!)

Your “SO WHAT?” that I’m after is for you to ask yourself this question: WHAT IS IT THAT I HUNGER AND THIRST FOR? Does it satisfy me? Do I hunger and thirst for more…food, money, clothes, fame, fortune, power, cars, homes, trinkets? Do these things satisfy?

I heard someone say that within the human heart is a Jesus-shaped hole that will never be filled with THINGS…that this Jesus shaped-hole needs words of life in order to be filled and satisfied. If you don’t read your bible, start small. Read a Psalm. Or read a chapter in a Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.)

Today’s Beatitude is simple: Turn to God and hunger and thirst after Him.  You will be filled! Not a morsel, not a bite, but you will be filled with the entire enchilada of the living words of life.

Thanksgiving is over. Soon the leftovers will be over, too. And I will still get hungry. I want you to know that I am living proof of someone who used to hunger and thirst for many things that the world offered but I found out that Jesus Christ is the only one who will truly ever satisfy my soul, my heart, my mind and my life. I would walk through a blinding sand storm to hear Him speak. How about you?

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 11/16/18

Seed of Faith – Happy Are The Meek   By Pastor Dave  

King David said, “But the meek shall inherit the land, and enjoy great peace.”  Psalm 37:11

Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed Sowers:

It is always such a joy and blessing to sit down and write. I think the SEED OF FAITH goes out to around 500 people.  Always know that you have my permission to forward any and all SEEDS OF FAITH. I live to proclaim the living WORD of life and nothing would bless me more than to know that you share my same passion!

As we approach the holidays, may I ask us to begin and end each day with a prayer for those who are struggling with the holidays this year? God knows who they are, and they need to be covered in prayer as they face the holidays. Many have lost loved ones this year. Many are struggling with cancer, diabetes, and other serious health issues. For so many, the holidays contain heartache. Let us promise to lift them up in prayer and if you can give them a call, a text, a card to say you are thinking of them, please do. This is when the BODY of CHRIST puts on arms and legs, hands and feet–as we pray. God bless us as we answer the Holy Spirit’s leading.

These past few weeks, we have been working our way through Jesus’ teaching in Matthew called the Beatitudes.  I have entitled this series — Blessed and Broken!  We are blessed when hear these wonderful words of life.  We are broken when we try to live these words out in our lives.  Hence, we are blessed and broken when we hear and receive these words from Matthew.

There are 3 bullet points for today: the meaning of meekness, the manifestation of meekness, and the ministry of meekness.

1. THE MEANING OF MEEKNESS

The Greek word for “meek” is “praos,” which means “mild, soft or gentle.”  Meekness does not mean weakness.  Meekness means power under control. Meekness is not cowardice. Meekness is not a lack of conviction, it’s not mere human niceness.  Meekness is courage, and meekness is conviction.  This courage and conviction comes from trusting in God, and not from trusting in ourselves–or in anything else other than GOD.  The spirit of meekness comes from Jesus. The Holy Spirit wants to help us grow TODAY as we read about meekness (just in time for the holidays.) Paul writes in Philippians these powerful words:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.  Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  (Philippians 2:3-11)

Do you see the meaning of meekness?  Can you put this picture in your mind when you hear the word? Paul said, “don’t be conceited or selfish — consider others better than yourselves.”  This is a great “so what?” for us today. Go ahead, ask yourself, “Do I consider others better than I consider myself?” 

Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped but instead He humbled Himself and took on the form of a slave. I think this is the epitome of meekness: serving. Another great “so what?’ question here, am I servant of others? Do I expect others to serve me or am I able to find a way to serve God by serving others?

How do you respond when people treat you like a servant?  The Scriptures teach us that we are to be slaves of Christ and servants of all. I think this is really hard for us. It’s easy to resent being treated like a servant. Maybe the problem begins when we aren’t aware that we are to be slaves of Jesus Christ because once you’ve conquered that mountain, being a servant comes a little easier.

Point #1:  Meekness is not weakness!  Meekness is power under control. Meekness is courage, and conviction.  This courage and conviction comes from trusting in God, not from trusting in ourselves.  “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

2.  THE MANIFESTATION OF MEEKNESS

The Bible is full of wonderful stories about meekness.  Just think for a moment of
some of the meek people of the Bible.  There is Abraham in the story told in Genesis 13 when he allows Lot to choose first.  They were going to divide up the land.  Abraham gave up the right to have the best land, the most productive land, the best view in the country, and the best seat in the house–for the sake of harmony between the households.  Abraham had the right and the power to do as he pleased, but in meekness he gladly waived his rights and set aside his power. He let his nephew choose first. Imagine this happening today here in Southern California or wherever you live. There’s two properties up for grabs. You and your nephew are going to battle it out but, no, you decide to let your nephew choose first.  WOW!

How about the story of Joseph when he is sold into slavery by his own brothers, and put in prison by Pharaoh’s wife? This guy was innocent yet he went to prison. How in the world did Joseph  become second in command of Pharaoh’s land?  I think his meekness went a long way. Nope, not weakness but a strength and gentleness under control. Joseph’s brothers them travel and visit Egypt  There is a famine in their land and they need food.  Where do they go to ask for help? Egypt. They don’t know it but they are standing in front of their brother, Joseph! The kid brother they threw in a well and then sold into the slave trade. Joseph recognized them but they didn’t recognize Joseph. He could have easily refused to help them. He could have put them into the same slavery that they had put him into. Meekness.  Power under control. Joseph carried forgiveness and love for his brothers.  Put this scene into your memory.  When Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, “he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it and the household of Pharaoh heard it.” (Genesis 45:2) And at this very moment, Joseph tells his brothers, Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.” (Genesis 50:19-20) In meekness Joseph understood that it was God who was in control, not him, and it would be God who would be the judge of each of them.  Joseph forgives his brothers and then moves to help them.  Meekness– power under control!

Do you know who the meekest man in the bible is? “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3) Yes.  You read that right.  Moses. Isn’t he the one who killed the Egyptian? Didn’t Moses stand before Pharaoh and demand, “Let my people go?” Didn’t ten plagues follow? Wasn’t it Moses who got angry at the Israelites as they wandered in the desert for 40 years?  Didn’t Moses break the stone tablets from God when he saw the golden calf being worshiped? And yet, here in the book of Numbers, chapter 12, we are told that Moses is the meekest man who ever lived.  The context of the story-line is that Miriam and Aaron (Moses’ sister and brother) were busy slandering Moses because he had taken a Cushite for a wife after his first wife died.  A Cushite woman would have been from Africa.  Miriam and Aaron now try to start a rebellion over the prejudices that they hold.  Moses did not fight back or defend himself.  Moses allowed God to defend him. Meekness: power under control. God then turned the skin of Miriam into a white, leprous color. She was shunned and put outside of the camp. Did Moses stand tall and say, “Well, Miriam. How does that feel? That should teach you to mess with Moses.” No. Not even close. Moses prays for her to be healed.  This is quite a fascinating story of the manifestation of meekness.  I encourage you the read the story in Numbers 12 this week. I wonder if anyone reading this has a similar problem? Someone did you wrong.  They deserve whatever comes their way. You even have a few things in mind. Let me tell you what Moses would do. Moses would pray for your offender. Another “so what?” moment here.  Can you pray for your offender? (I can hear you screaming all the way from here!) Joseph wept but then he did the right thing.  Moses stomped and struck rocks and threw tablets, but then he did the right thing.  I’m thinking, “Jesus, this book is way smarter than me.  Show me what to do.  Show me how to respond. Help me to pray.”

Point #2: The Bible is full of the stories of meekness: Abraham and Lot, Joseph and his brothers, Moses and his sister.  These are just a few. The next time you go reading a bible story, look for meekness.  I bet it’s there. Meekness: Courage and conviction from trusting God—not ourselves. When we are meek, we are promised to inherit the earth! One of the definitions of “inherit” is: to come into possession of what belonged to someone else. Is this all beginning to make a little more sense? By letting go, somehow our hearts are filled.

3.  THE MINISTRY OF MEEKNESS
The ministry of meekness begins in the heart.  In Psalm 37, King David gives us powerful words to live by:  Trust in the Lord. Delight yourself in the Lord. Commit your way to the Lord.Be still before the Lord.  King David, the psalmist, tells us that if we trust, delight, commit, and be still we will be given the desires of our hearts. Did you hear that? What is the desire of your heart?  Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse — who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The other day I was reading the Sermon on the Mount, chapters five through seven, in the Gospel of Matthew.  I study around 30 hours a week (at least) so that I am prepared to proclaim the word rightly. On this day, I was stopped in my tracks by Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I want you to think about this verse. Ask yourself,  “What is my treasure?” I want you to know that this is where your heart is.

You may, or may not, know that I’ve served on all kinds of retreat weekends: Credo, Walk to Emmaus, Tres Dias, Camino, Via de Cristo, Cursillo, the ROCK, Chrysalis. Of all the grace weekends that I’ve help with, the very first talk is about this very question.  Where is your treasure? What do you treasure? The answer is found by looking at these questions:  Where do I spend my money?  Where do I spend my time? What do I talk about the most? What do I think about the most? I encourage you to ponder these questions this week. You may not like some of the answers. I know the very first time I attended my Cursillo weekend, I was faced with making some major changes in my life. My life’s work isn’t really about where I work. My life’s work is really my wife, our kids, our grandchildren, our family and our friends.  My wife still tells the story about when I returned from my weekend.  I asked her, “Would you like to take the kids for a walk to the park?” She’d asked me for years to take walks with her. I started showing up for dinner and every night we took a walk somewhere with the kids. One night before she made her weekend, she asked me, “Okay. What have you done with my husband?” Once she got away, and had time to think about the answers to these questions, she knew where her treasure was. It wasn’t in Wal-Mart, or Target, or shopping. It wasn’t in the kids’ activities and if they succeeded or not. We realized that our family is our treasure. We started making Sunday, “FAMILY FUN DAY.” I’m praying for you as you read this SEED. May the Holy Spirit be gentle and may you see a new area of where your treasures really are.

Point 3: My treasure really is Christ.  Christ in me. From there, Christ will help me to serve and love others.

SO WHAT?

Are you ready to take the SEED OF FAITH grace and meekness test?

Where do I spend my money?
Where do I spend my time?
What do I talk about the most?
What do I think about the most?

I hope to God that you pass with flying meekness.

“But the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” Psalm 37:11
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

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

Seed of Faith – HAPPY ARE THE SAD
By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”   Matthew 5:4

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed Sower:

First of all, please look and read the scripture above in red ink. Write it down in your heart.  Keep it posted on the lamp post of your mind. You can count on this verse. I minister with so many who mourn. The ministry is so often included with people who mourn; and this is a verse for the ages. The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. This is my prayer as you open this SEED of FAITH: “Lord, whomever is mourning, comfort them. Bring peace and comfort beyond our understanding into the very heart of all who mourn.”

Today, we look at the second of the eight Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  The Beatitudes are found in the beginning of Jesus’ most famous teaching called “The Sermon on the Mount” found in Chapter 5 of Matthew.  Last week, I encouraged you to read through chapters five, six and seven of the Gospel of Matthew.  As you read these chapters, pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you, comfort you, guide you and challenge you to grow deeper roots into the heart of God.

This beatitude has me thinking. Blessed are the sad? Why wouldn’t Jesus say that? “Blessed are the happy!” That makes perfect sense in my world. I would be all over that saying, “Yeah! I am happy to be alive!  I’m happy to be a Christian!  I’m happy in my marriage!  Happy that I get a chance to do all the things I want to do.” But never once does Jesus say, “Blessed are the Happy.”  In fact, He says quite the opposite, “Happy are the sad!”

When I read this, there is a part of me that wants to say, “Time-out!  What do you mean, ‘Blessed are those who mourn?’  ‘Happy are the sad!?’” In our world today, there is a cultural acceptance that the way to happiness is having everything you want and having everything go your way.  The world we live in tells us that pleasure brings happiness, money brings happiness, entertainment brings happiness, fame and praise bring happiness, and self-expression brings happiness. On the flip side of that principle: avoiding pain, trouble, disappointments, frustration, hardships and other problems will also bring us happiness.  Throughout history a basic axiom of the world has been that favorable things will bring happiness, and unfavorable things will bring unhappiness.  Yet Jesus is teaching, “Happy are the sad!”

For a few minutes, let’s look at what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  Let’s look at the idea of Biblical mourning and comforting.  We will try to understand the blessedness of mourning, and the blessedness of comfort.

THE BLESSEDNESS OF MOURNING
The Greek word used for “mourn” is “pentheo,”  Pentheo is strongest word used for mourning in the Greek language.  Pentheo is the word used for mourning for the dead, for the passionate lament for the one who was loved.  There are several ways we can translate this passage. William Barclay’s commentary says, “Blessed is the one who has endured the bitterest sorrow that life can bring.”  The Arabs have a proverb, “All sunshine makes a desert.[i]

We all grieve. Grief is not just a one time event. We all grieve more than once in our lives. Perhaps you have grieved over the death of a parent, a grandparent, a child, a brother or sister, a spouse, or a  good friend.  We grieve over the loss of a job we loved, the loss of a marriage, the loss of personal rejection, the loss of our possessions, and the loss of our health.  It seems like daily we hear of natural disasters.  Many grieve the loss of  homes and family in earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and wild fires.

The good news for us is that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted.  “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. In Matthew 11:4-5, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”   Jesus has come to bind up the brokenhearted. The good news is that if you are in a season of mourning, you are being blessed by the one who came to bind up your broken heart. If you are sad, wait. The mighty One is coming to comfort you. 

I had breakfast with a friend of mine recently. She is a widow. She has been in a season of grieving. As we talked, she said, “I don’t know what happened but God took away that deep, deep sorrow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still sad but that deep sorrow that cut to the deepest part of me–is not there anymore. God took that away.” I’m beginning to see that when we grieve, the Holy Spirit comes and comforts us in a way we cannot explain. My friend received a binding up of a part of her broken heart. Happy are those who mourn, for they are comforted. Maybe it should read, “Happy are those who mourn who know Christ for in their sorrow, the Holy Spirit will bring unexplainable, beyond our understanding, comfort.” I’ve watched as this woman has mourned. It is heart breaking. I’ve prayed. Many others have prayed. Many months have gone by and I often left feeling sad. Today, today I left thanking God for taking away my friend’s sharpest, deepest, cut-to-the-bone sorrow.

In Psalm 30, King David dedicated the temple saying, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” (Psalm 30:5; 11-12)  Our mourning may linger for a night, but joy is promised to come in the morning.  What a wonderful promise. The Lord will turn our mourning into dancing! Psalm 30 is another promise we can stand on. In time, in God’s time, our sackcloth is removed and we are clothed with joy–and our soul praises God!

Are you brokenhearted today?  Are you trapped in a dungeon of despair?  Have the crises and calamities of life wrapped you up and held you captive?  Are you overwhelmed?  Are you oppressed?  Are you overcome with doubts, fears and worries? Hear the Good News of Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn — happy are the sad — for they will be comforted.”

THE BLESSEDNESS OF COMFORT
Now that we’ve looked at the Greek “pentheo” for mourn, let’s look at the Greek word used for “comfort”–“parakleo.”  Do you recognize this word? It is a compound word in the Greek made up of two other words–“para” meaning “near or alongside” and “kaleo” means “I call”. Parakleo is the same word used for the Holy Spirit, called the “paraclete”, the “comforter” or “helper.”  The Holy Spirit is the one who is called alongside us to comfort us, and to help us grow. Even in the midst of our grief, we can take comfort that the Holy Spirit walks alongside us.

Right after I became a Christian, my wife signed us up for a small group in our church.  The group was called  a “Growth Group.”  I wasn’t too hep on the idea but Jac wanted to go, so I did. Every night after our Growth Group met, I got in the car and told my wife, “If Doug ever calls me, and asks me to share, I’m telling him, ‘No.'” Of course, about the fourth week in, the group was studying II Corinthians 1:3-7. “Blessed be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”  Our fearless leader, Doug, read the passage to the group and he started to work the room. He asked each person if they would like to share. And they did.  He came to me and asked me if I would like to share on how God has comforted me and how I could comfort others.  I sat there and flatly answered, “NO!”

Little did I know that God has a great sense of humor!

That night after growth group I was angry. I was angry that Doug called on me. I was angry that Jac had drug me to some stupid group. After about an hour, Jac looked at me and said, “Dave, I think you might need to pray about this verse.  Maybe through the death of your brother, God has helped you to understand true sorrow so that through his death you can truly understand others when they mourn. I think that God wants you to pray about this.” When we went back the next week, I shared.  I think I’ve been sharing ever since.  That was the night that God broke open the hard, sealed shell I had built around my heart. I still talk with Doug, and we laugh a whole lot over God’s sense of humor.  The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort led me out of my darkness so I would learn how to comfort others. I know that this comfort isn’t anything I can package up and deliver but I can pray and I can wait for the Holy Spirit to walk alongside those who grieve. I can pray and I can wait while Jesus binds up their broken, broken hearts.

So What?
There’s a little more to the story about my friend. After we had breakfast, I drove her home.  Jac was with me.  She and Jac got busy talking while I was out checking her car’s engine, she and Jac disappeared upstairs. She had given us her husband’s dresser, which fits perfectly in our bedroom. Our friend showed Jac the print she had put up over her antique dresser. She said, “I wanted to show you what I look at the first thing every morning.”  The sign read, “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. Do not be afraid. I am with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Jac hugged our friend. Our friend has the Holy Spirit inside her and the Holy Spirit has been walking alongside her since her husband passed. Jac said she simply looked into our friend’s eyes. No words were spoken.  They just hugged. She had been comforted.

The “so what?” for today isn’t easy, it’s complicated. Blessed are those who mourn…for they will be comforted. In God’s time, the Holy Spirit will comfort you. My brother had been gone for over ten years. I had a heart that was broken. God used my friend to introduce a bible verse to me.  II Corinthians 1:3, “Blessed be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  I still miss my oldest brother. We were a tag team, brothers 1 and 3 against brothers 2 and 4. That night after Growth Group, I stayed up and asked God to comfort me so that I could learn how to bring comfort to others who were troubled. A few years later, God called me into full-time ministry. I now lead GROWTH GROUPS!

May the God of all comfort walk alongside you as you mourn. May the Holy Spirit give you a verse that you can hold onto. May the words on the pages of Scripture become LIVING WORDS OF COMFORT, HOPE and LIFE.

“Thank you, Father, that when we mourn, you promise to comfort us. Right now, we pray for those who need YOUR comfort: those with prodigal children, those with health issues, those who have pain, we pray for those who are addicted, we pray for those who have lost someone they love, we pray for the mentally ill. Lord, we are going to hold onto your promise that you will comfort those who mourn. Help us to pray. Amen.”

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

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 10/26/18

Seed of Faith – Happy are the Humble   By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

As always, greetings in the love and forgiveness of Christ. It is my hope and prayer that you will be blessed –fully happy–as you seek and serve the Lord!

Last week we began our journey through the Beatitudes.  We learned the word “blessed” can be substituted with the word “happy”.  The Greek word “makarios” is translated “blessed” and incorporates the meaning of wholeness, joy, well-being, and a holistic peace that is expressed by the Hebrew word “shalom.” (Listen to the word “blessed” in the Amplified version of the Bible: “happy, to be envied, spiritually prosperous, with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation regardless of outward conditions.  ” Wow! I want to feel this kind of blessed.) If you want to know this kind of blessed–peace, the kind that passes our own understanding, the kind of happy that makes you feel totally complete and whole, then this series is for you! No one is too broken to be blessed by the living words of Christ found in Matthew.

Jesus said something very preposterous on the mountainside that day.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” With these words, Jesus then launched into the greatest sermon ever preached. Jesus BROUGHT IT! He laid it down right there on the mountainside. The Sermon on the Mount (mountain) is stunningly brilliant and captivatingly fresh. Jesus quotes no rabbis, religious authorities, or ancient authors. In this sermon, Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter with amazing authority as he tells his us all how to get into the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew presents Jesus as the teacher, and the scholars present the Gospel of Matthew as the Teaching Gospel.  Here we have the ultimate teacher teaching us how to become ultimately blessed—whole, happy, joyful.  I encourage you to sit down and read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) over the next seven weeks. Allow the teaching words of Jesus, the teacher, to honestly and unabashedly teach you how to be truly happy—the kind of happy that brings a whole, complete and joyful way INTO your life.

What Does it mean to be Poor In Spirit?
Have you noticed that when Jesus began His teaching, He does not begin with curses but with blessings?  I have been thinking all week about verse three of Matthew five, “Blessed are the poor in spirit—the kingdom belongs to them.”
This statement is like saying that the General Admission tickets for the World Series this week at Dodger Stadium equal the best, box, private seats in the stadium. That’s ridiculous!   The world says, “Blessed are the season ticket holders, those with the reserved seats. Happy are the Skybox executives with the full buffet. Blessed are the Press and media giants who get onto the field and inside the post-game locker room. Happy are the celebrity fans who are shown on camera. Blessed are the players who have access to all that fame and money!” That’s who we would say are blessed.  Certainly not those in the upper rows at the top of stadium; yet, this is what Jesus is telling us.  It’s not the outside condition that matters most to Jesus, it’s our inside condition. Blessed are the fans in the worst seats in the stadium—because the kingdom of heaven can belong to them–no matter what the outward conditions of your life are.
What Jesus is saying at the beginning of this sermon is that in order to be truly happy, we must learn how to be “poor in spirit.”  Jesus is not talking about being physically poor. When studying the Be Attitudes, we need a theological perspective to understand this kind of poverty.

In today’s world, we are taught: “Stand on your own two feet.” “Reach for the top.” “Make something of yourself.” “Plan your work and work your plan.” “Be assertive.” “Look out for number one.”  We are advised to spike our resumes with action verbs and finesse the facts of our lives. We turn “trash man” into “Sanitation Engineer,” and “short-order cook” into “Culinary Chef”. We list initials before and behind our names, we display our degrees on the wall, and we keep our credentials hanging on the wall. Worldly wisdom dictates that we should make ourselves large in stature. This is not at all what Christ is sharing with us from the mountainside.

To be “poor in Spirit” is to be at odds with the world.  To be “poor in Spirit” is the exact opposite of “haughty, self-assertive, self-sufficient, self -concerned, self-reliant, self-supporting, self-contained, independent.” Jesus is going after words like “insignificant, grieving, meek, mild, patient, long-suffering, upright, merciful, pure in heart, peaceful, persecuted, reviled. Quite a contrast in these two lists. Think about it.  Pray about what Jesus is telling us in Matthew 5. What words in list one can you begin to delete from your Spiritual Resume? What words can you add from list two? 

Last week, in Jesus class, Miss Jac taught the young children through the object lesson of SLIME that selfishness is the lack of consideration of others. She had the kids name their favorite color and then she paired them with someone who had a different favorite color. They then had to make SLIME together. The kids had to work out what color they would pick.  Then the children made slime together. They had to figure out who measured, who stirred, who kneaded, and who added what color to what. At the end of their project, they divided their slime—each taking half home. Miss Jac asked the class if they would share an example of people being selfish. One child said, “I would…but I don’t want to make that person look bad.” Miss Jac then shared a video about our two dogs, Journey and Jonah.  Jonah is way more selfish than Journey! Jonah crowds Journey out of the treats.  Jonah jumps on Journey and pesters him in order to get the full attention. For Jonah, there is never a time when he’s laid back. He’s the ME FIRST dog.  He’s the IT’S ALL ABOUT ME dog! The kids laughed and laughed at the video. One of the kids said, “Jonah needs to go back in the belly of the whale and learn some stuff.” Miss Jac ended the lesson by telling the kids that she was really proud of them for not wanting to make someone else look bad.
Here’s where I take that lesson and tell you: THAT child is poor in spirit! That child is not selfish and did not lack consideration!That child is blessed.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom.”

Mother Teresa said, “The poor can see better. The poor stand a better chance of being saved by God because they know the truth:  without God, they don’t stand a chance at all.” Being poor in spirit is to be spiritually bankrupt before God.  Those who know they are spiritually poor are humble.  Humility means being “low-minded.” In essence, Jesus is saying,  “Blessed are the low-minded, the humble, the poor in spirit, the spiritually bankrupt, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
SO WHAT
The “so what” question for us today is: “How do I become low-minded– poor in spirit?”  The answer is “We must empty our lives of the none-essential STUFF–in order to be filled with God.”  I read a great illustration on this: There was a person who went in to speak to the pastor.  She told him she was leaving the church because it was filled with hypocrites. She said she knows a person who cusses all the time, she knows a person who cheats on their taxes, she knows another person who lies. The pastor asked the woman if she would do an experiment before she decided to leave the church.  He filled a coffee cup with coffee–it was filled to the brim.  He set it on a saucer.  Then he told the lady to go into the fellowship and to walk around the hall in a full circle and come back.  The hall was filled with people laughing and talking and enjoying cookies and coffee.  The woman went out and did as the pastor asked.  She came back, coffee cup and saucer in tow.  The pastor asked her if she heard anyone telling lies or cussing? The woman answered, “NO.” The pastor asked her why not.  “Because I was so concerned about spilling the coffee.” The pastor replied, “Each one of us is the coffee cup. If only we would concentrate on what’s in our cup instead of what’s inside of everyone else’s.” The woman got the point. I always say, “When I point a finger at someone else, I need to remember that there are three fingers that point back to me.” Being a good Trinitarian, I know that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are telling me to worry more about me than the one I’m pointing at.

The woman portray us. Whatever it is that we are full of—is what is going to spill out of us when we stumble and fall or when someone else stumbles into us.  If we are filling ourselves up with the words of Jesus, we stand a much better chance of spilling out the good stuff like humility, happiness, joy, grace, love, mercy and blessedness.

The other day we were driving home from our grandson’s all-star baseball game. Sometimes Grammy feels deeply about her grandchildren and the fairness they don’t receive–in her humble opinion. She was upset with the coach who, in her opinion, did not pitch the best pitcher, her grandson. We lost. Now, this wasn’t just any game. This was a Little League GO TO STATE game. Our team was one of the final six teams in the competition. The coach pitched his son. Left him in the entire game. We lost.  Jac was really grumbling as we got back into our car for the long drive home. Then she looked at the sign she has printed and taped to the dash of the car: “WIMITY. WILL IT MATTER IN TEN YEARS?”  I pointed to the sign and she said, “You know, I should make a bunch of these. I could sell them wherever I go. I could probably sell 5 a day at $1 each.”  Will it matter in ten years about the game? No. What are you grumbling about? WIMITY. Matter of fact, Miss Jac gave that message to the children the next Sunday. She actually had people ask her for a copy of her sign! One woman said, “I need that in my car for driving in the traffic.” One man said, “I need that at work on my desk. Will it matter in ten years?” WIMITY. (On your email, you can right click on the X –that enables you to see the pictures.  There’s one of WIMITY at the bottom of this message.)

Your homework for the week is to try to keep emptying yourself of your negativity…and read the words of Jesus in Matthew 5-7. Let’s try to fill our hearts and minds with the beatitudes. Let’s start with the first one: Blessed are the poor in spirit…for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

You want to be truly happy?  You want to be truly whole and complete? A few weeks ago, the St. Louis Cardinals played the Dodgers in L.A. We went online and bought 7 tickets and brought the family to the game. They weren’t bleacher seats but the next ones up.  We were out in left field by the FAIR pole.  Matter of fact, the pole was directly in my way! I had to sit forward in my seat so I could see the game! It was a terrific game that went into extra innings–14! What do I remember from that game? Do I remember how bad my seat was or do I remember the amazing pitching by Buehler? Do I remember making friends with those sitting around us–because I was wearing RED and they were wearing blue? The Cards ended up sweeping LA that series. As we walked out, one of the guys cleaning the stadium shouted out to me, “Hey, come get this broom! YOU SWEPT US!” WIMITY. I won’t remember in ten years about the pole being in my way. I will remember the camaraderie of that night with my family–three dressed in Dodger blue and four in STL red. I will remember taking a family picture from the bleacher’s end and I will remember the broom! You know, somehow, we have to figure out how to be happy when we’re sitting in the bleachers of life.

It’s one of the keys to HAPPINESS.  It’s one of the keys to FEELING BLESSED.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom.”

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

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 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.