Seed Of Faith

Weekly Seed of Faith 2/15/19

Seed of Faith – Remembering Hope  By Pastor Dave  

Isaiah 41:10 “… do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Dear Friends:
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY OF LOVE to YOU! I have great news for you: Our God is with us–whether you have a huge family or whether your family is small. Jesus has promised to be with us ALWAYS–to the very end of the age!

I hope and pray you are well and are walking in faith with the Lord.  Last week’s Seed of Faith reflected upon the fact that God is with us.  Those four words in the middle of the sentence stopped me in my thoughts: I am with you.”  As I was praying about those four, little words, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart to look in the Scriptures for those four, little words: “I am with you.”  During my quick reference, I found 19 times where these words are spoken. Here are a few of these powerful passages.

Genesis 26:24 “And that very night the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you and make your offspring numerous for my servant Abraham’s sake.’”   God speaks these words to Isaac to fill him with hope and courage!

Genesis 28:15 “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” God speaks these words to Jacob to encourage him wherever he may go!

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” Joshua hears these powerful words from Moses as Moses is passing the baton of leadership to him!

Joshua 1:9 “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua gives these words to the people of Israel as they prepare to enter into the Promised land!

Isaiah 41:10 “… do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” God uses the prophet Isaiah to deliver a message of hope to the people of Israel who have been taken into captivity!

Isaiah 43:5 “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.” The prophet Isaiah speaks these words of promise to fill the hearts of those held in darkness and despair!

Jeremiah 1:8 “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”  (see the following verses: 1:19; 15:20; 30:11; 42:11; 46:28) — The prophet Jeremiah heard these four, little words often; his message was not accepted. He was rejected, thrown in a well and left for dead.  He was sent into slavery in Egypt and more. Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet,” yet he was filled with hope, courage, and the strength to have the endurance needed to finish the task he was called to do! (I am sure Paul felt a strong kinship with Jeremiah.)

Haggai 1:13; 2:4 “Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, saying, I am with you,’ says the Lord.” (1:13) Haggai gives these words to the people to strengthen them and to encourage them to continue to rebuild the temple!

Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” One of the most famous readings of these four, little words comes from our Risen and Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as he prepared to ascend into heaven to be with His Father!  The promise Jesus leaves with His followers?  I am with you!

As I was reading over these passages and reflecting on these four, little words, my heart was strangely warmed.  I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit speak to me and say, “Dave, why are you so afraid?  I am with you, always, even to the end of the age.”  As I studied the original Greek, I was overwhelmed. The Greek words are “ego eimi meta sou…”  and here is how that breaks down:

Ego eimi— is an EMPHATIC “I…I AM.” It’s like God is saying something twice, He’s doubling up, compounding the emphasis of the personal pronoun… “I…myself…no one else — it’s me…I…I AM…” “Do you hear me loud and clear? I…GOD..I…myself…am with you.”

Meta sou—means with you, among you, after you, accompany you, amid you, before you, behind you, on you, in you. In essence, what God is saying, and what Christ is promising us, is that He…God..is with us, in us, on us, around us, among us, after us, before us, amid us and He will accompany us—always, to the end of the age.  Wow. The promise isn’t just for the day you read it.  The promise isn’t for the few days you remember this SEED OF FAITH.  This promise is until the end of the age. Forever. And ever. Amen.

So What?
Where are you in your relationship with God?  Are you thinking God has forgotten you?  Are financial pressures overwhelming you?  Has that broken relationship made you think you are too broken?  Has someone you love passed away?  Have you lost your job?  Perhaps your health has you worried, or maybe it’s the health of someone you love.  Maybe a child has you worrying yourself sick.  The “so what” for us today is for you to put your faith right now in these four, little words:  ego eimi meta sou.  These four, little words are found 19 times throughout the Holy Scripture.  The are the same words that people like Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Haggai and the disciples heard!  Stop right now and put your name in front of these four, little words: “__________________, this is me…God…I AM…GOD MYSELF…ME…GOD…I am with you…I am in you…I am among you…I am beside you…I am before you…I am behind you…I am above you…I am under you…I am all around you and I will accompany you…ALWAYS…forever and ever….even to the end of the age.”

No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve gone–we have at least 19 promises in Scripture that GOD IS WITH US…until the very end.

Say it with me, “Be sure of this, (your full name,) I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS…even to the end of the age.”

What a great promise for us to think about on Valentine’s Day. There is no other love like our God’s love. You are not alone. No matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been, no matter how far gone you think you are–God is WITH you, in you, around you, above you, beside you, among you, before you, behind you, above you, and under you. Count on it; not just for today but forever–til the very end.

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

P.S. I hope you know that when you receive this email, you can right click onto the very top and then click on “download picture”–I always try to include some thought-provoking pictures.  I love the top picture of the beach.I also love the ones on the bottom. Friends, you are loved–just because YOU are GOD’S very own creation.

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 2/9/19

Seed of Faith – God Is With You By Pastor Dave  

“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:
It feels really good to be back HOME. I’m glad to back behind my computer keys. I’m excited to preach after 3 weeks off! I’m studying and praying and I’m back in the saddle. It’s great to go on vacation but it’s also great to return HOME. In a very real way, you are my family! Our trip away showed me yet again the deep and lasting bond that we carry because we are believers. Christ is the foundational building block for us and I value our community in and through Christ. We are, indeed, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Have you ever read the story when Moses summoned Joshua to anoint him as the new leader of the Israelites? After 40 years of leading his people in and through the desert, Moses was now ready to turn over the reigns to a man who had more than proven his trustworthiness, Joshua. I encourage you to go make some time and read Deuteronomy 31:1-8.  Let’s enter into this story:  The people of Israel had wandered in the wilderness and had witnessed miracle after miracle for forty years.  It’s time to cross the Jordan River! Moses is ready to turn over his leadership to Joshua.  Today we are going to focus on verses seven and eight.

Be strong and courageous!  These are very powerful words!  The very first thing that God tells the people is for them to be strong and courageous; and then issues these very same words to Joshua personally!

It is one thing to hear these words for someone else. (People of the Seed: be strong and courageous!)  But when these words are given to you personally, doesn’t it make a difference? (Jim, be strong and courageous! Sharon, be strong and courageous! Al, be strong and courageous! Ruth, be strong and courageous! Mike be strong and courageous! Ryan, be strong and courageous! Debby, be strong and courageous! Brenda, be strong and courageous! Norm, be strong and courageous! Diego, be strong and courageous! Yvonne, be strong and courageous! Sue, be strong and courageous! Clyde, be strong and courageous! Lourdes, be strong and courageous! Please pause right now and put your name in the blank ” __________________, be strong and courageous!”) It makes a BIG difference to hear YOUR NAME being commanded to be strong and courageous!

Be strong and courageous! I have been thinking a lot about being courageous. What does that look like? Courage comes in many ways. I think of little toddlers taking their lumps while learning to walk; I think of senior citizens living alone; paraplegics in wheelchairs. I think of astronauts walking on the moon; I think of those who are living with family tragedies; I think of single parents coping with children and jobs; I think of students who are facing challenges of going to school; I think of my unemployed friends who are desperately seeking work. I think of people living in recovery. I think of all of the people who report for chemotherapy and physical therapy each day.  I think of our police, fire, and medical personnel. I think of our soldiers, our judges, and even our government officials. Courage comes in many forms. But there is one form of courage that stands alone: the form of Jesus struggling uphill to Calvary–carrying a wood cross on his beaten and bleeding back; a man who dies for my sins. That, my friends, is a courage that stands apart.

I want to break down verse eight:The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Have you ever thought about this? That God is with you; that God promises to never leave nor forsake you?  I love the first part of this verse: “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you.” What a comfort. No matter what we are facing today, the Lord has gone before you. Have you ever felt His presence? Have you ever sensed that the Lord is with you?  Hear the verse in this translation: “I–myself —no one else — it’s me—the Lord–I personally go before you!”  Think about this for a few seconds. God Himself has promised to go with you, and not only with you, but before you. The One who spoke the universe into creation, yes, that GOD–promises to go before us, to go with us, and to never, ever leave nor forsake us.  So WHAT? The answer is found in the next sentence: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. No matter what you are facing, put God into the situation. “God, please be with me. Please go before me. Please don’t leave me.  God, please don’t forsake me. God, help be to be strong and courageous. Help me not to be afraid and help me not to be discouraged.” (Can I get an AMEN on that?)

On our way home from Florida, we stopped to attend our nephew’s wedding in Houston. I was asked to do a part of the wedding.  At the rehearsal dinner, Jac and I sat with Deacon Don and his wife. It was a Catholic wedding and Deacon Don was giving the message.  At the rehearsal dinner, I was doing some of the “get to know you questions” I carry in my mind. I asked Sherry what she did for a living. Sherry mentioned that she was a Spiritual Director. I said, “My wife is too!” As we talked back and forth, I found out that Sherry had gone to the same Benedictine monastery that my wife had attended in Pecos, New Mexico. Immediately, the four of us became best friends and had lots to talk about.  Jac and Sherry spent a few hours sharing stories of their time at the monastery, and talked about many of the people that they knew in common. When Sherry heard about our lead poisoning, she brought us into a separate room and brought along with her, her husband and the grandmother of the bride. They wanted to pray for us. Sherry then anointed us with Holy Water. The Holy Water had been given to her from Father Sam from the monastery in Pecos. Sherry and Jac found more common ground and related some of the hair-raising stories they had heard from Father Sam. Father Sam was over 85 years old when Jac went to the monastery in 2008.  You need to know that Father Sam was the head exorcist for the Southwest portion of the United States for the Catholic Church. Father Sam was a legend and an icon at this monastery! The two women shared back and forth about how Father Sam wore a cross around his neck that held a sliver of the cross of Christ inside of it. Father Sam would hold sessions where he taught the group about Spiritual Direction. He would take out that sliver from under the glass dome of his cross and tell the attendees (who were there for over a month) that spiritual direction is no walk in the park. In a future SEED OF FAITH, I will share about the Blessed Salt that Father Sam gave to Jac. But for today, let’s just say that when Sherry and Deacon Don anointed us with that holy water, we knew that Christ was present with us. We knew that God had gone before us and was with us.

Are you following this story? We traveled 5,600 miles on this trip. Around the 4,500 mile marker of the trip,  we meet a couple at a wedding in Houston. They are unknown to us but as we share our lives, GOD appeared and was with us. God had gone before us all.  At the end of the prayer time, Jac asked Sherry and Don if  God ever gives them “a word from the Holy Spirit” regarding us–don’t hold back, tell us! The next day we did the wedding and went to dinner at a really fancy ranch outside of Sugarland. Sherry and Don came over and got us up from the table with our grandson and made us dance in the Grand March. At the end of the wedding, Sherry came up to me in a hurry and sat down.  She grabbed my hand and held it in hers.  She said, “I DO have a word from the Lord for you.” She looked me in the eyes and said, “God will never leave you, Dave. He will never forsake you. Many in your life have but God wants you to know for 100% certainty that He will never leave you nor will God ever forsake you.”  She told Jac, “God’s word for you, ‘Pull up a chair and watch me work!'”

So What?
Have you been feeling like God has forgotten you?  Are the pressures of life overwhelming you?  Have you experienced a broken relationship?  Has someone you love passed away?  Have you lost your job?  Perhaps your health has you worried or maybe it’s the health of someone you love.  Maybe a child has you worrying yourself sick. Guess what? I HAVE A WORD FOR YOU! Every week I ask the Lord for your heart, I ask for the message that you need to hear. Today the word I have for you is the very same word that Spiritual Director from Sugarland, Texas, gave to us:    “God will never leave you. He will never forsake you. Many in your life have but God wants you to know for 100% certainty that GOD HIMSELF will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I’m willing to pull up a chair and watch God go before us. I’m willing to pull up a chair and help us to become strong and courageous.  ARE YOU?!!!

God Loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

 

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

Seed of Faith 2/2/2019

Seed of Faith – One Thing   By Pastor Dave  

“One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Dear Faithful Friends!

It has been a month since I last sat down to write. After Christmas, Jac and I spent three weeks driving from Rancho Cucamonga, California to The Villages, Florida. Jac cannot fly due to her heavy metals poisoning and it had been 18 months since her last trip to visit her aging parents who are 87 and 85. Jac talks with them on the phone several times a week but wanted to see for herself that her parents are doing okay.  We had a nephew getting married in Houston on January 19th–so we made plans to drive to Florida after Christmas and to make the wedding on our way back home. Jac was ending her 70 days of her third chelation; she was really sick.  Any plans I had for spending relaxing hours reading and writing simply vanished as caring for my wife took center stage. We made the trip and spent time with family; from December 20 through January 20, we visited with 40 family members! We were able to see our parents, all three of our children, their spouses, and all 12 of our grandchildren! We were so very blessed. Jac’s curiousity regarding her parents was eased–any health care professional would give them a passing grade for living on their own.  Jac’s heart was satisfied and we had a great time visiting our family. Now that we’re safely home, it’s time for me to get back to my normal routine. I hope you enjoy 2019’s first SEED OF FAITH!

Each New Year at The Seed we begin with a reflection and a challenge. What is the “ONE WORD” of intention that God is giving you to grow into, or work on, this year?  My word is “Vision”. Jac’s word is “BRAVE.” What is the one word of intention that will help to change your life for good this year? (You can even google “words of intention”–there are many sites to peruse!)

Each New Year we also offer our members to draw a new name to grow into and to allow the Holy Spirit to shape them.  The first Sunday of the year was Epiphany. Where the wise men found the infant Jesus as they followed the mysterious star. The next week in the church calendar is the “Baptism of Jesus”. This is when John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the Jordan and the voice of the Father is heard saying, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” I love to have baskets of names up front and have the people come forward to draw a new name for them to work on during 2019. My new name is “Fearless Warrior”! (If you would like a new name drawn from our basket — please let me know.) I usually have to big vases of water up by the names, symbolizing the baptism of Jesus and also that when we are baptized, we are buried with Christ in our sin and risen from the dead with Christ. This year I came across a great video online of “The Domino Effect”. This year I had baskets of dominoes by the baskets of names.   I had our congregation watch the video on the “Domino Effect.”  Here is a link to YouTube, if you would like to view it — https://youtu.be/5JCm5FY-dEY. It’s quite impressive. One little domino can create quite a mighty change for good. The dominoes the people drew are to remind them of how their life can positively affect another’s. Make that call, visit that person in the hospital. Send that card. Make that meal. We never know how our obedience to God will affect someone’s life. Let’s put THE DOMINO EFFECT into our lives in 2019.

So What?  What will be the domino effect of your life this year?  What domino effect will you have on others?  What domino effect will you have on this world this year?    A second “so what” is: What is the “ONE WORD” that God has given you to work on this year?  What is the “ONE THING” that you are looking for this year?

Do you know that there are several passages in the Bible with the words “ONE THING?”

What is the “One Thing” that you have heard from the Lord?
King David wrote many of the Psalms.  Psalm 62 is a song of trust in God alone.  Towards the end of the Psalm, verse 11 and 12, David finally affirms that he can rest peacefully since he has heard that all the power belongs to God and that the steadfast love of the Lord lasts forever.  One thing God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.” Psalm 62:11-12

What is the “One Thing” that you are asking of the Lord?
David, the shepherd boy who wrote Psalm 23, wrote in Psalm 27 the “one thing” that he asked for was to live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 27:4-5 — One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”  The one thing the shepherd boy asked of the Lord was to live in the house of the Lord forever!  One thing King David was going to seek after — was to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord!

What is the “One Thing” that you need?
In the Gospel of Luke, we are told of the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus comes to visit and Martha is busy, busy, busy — working, cleaning, preparing, planning, cooking and setting up for the occasion; so much so that she misses the most important one thing!  Listen to the closing of this story — Luke 10:40-42 “But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha missed the “one thing!”  Her intentions were good but she ended up missing the forest for the trees. It is my prayer that we learn from Martha and do not miss the “one thing”!

What is the “One Thing” that you are doing?
Paul was sitting in a prison in Rome waiting for his own death by execution. He writes a letter to the church in Philippi called Philippians.  In chapter three he writes — I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;  but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved,  I do not consider that I have made it my own;  but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:10-14)

Can you picture the scene?  Paul is sitting in prison saying — I want to know Christ!  I want to know the power of His resurrection!  I want to have a death like His — so I can have a life like His!  I haven’t made it! I haven’t reached the goal — but the “one thing” — the “one thing” that I will do is forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead!   Paul was at the end of his life, and Paul understood that knowing Christ, that living in the power of the resurrection was the ONE THING that would bring him life.

What is the “One Thing” you lack?
The story of the rich man in Mark 10 — is a powerful story of the call to follow Christ.  I believe Christ is calling us to follow him and to not be so concerned with what we do — but with what God can do through us!  As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’  He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’” Luke 10:17-27

Here’s your final “So What?” What is the “One Thing” God is asking of you today?

What is the “One Word” that God is giving you this year? 

What is the “One Thing” that you will do that will change your life and the lives of those around you?  Will you be a domino that changes the world for good?

In case  you don’t know it, JESUS IS THE ONE THING! I’m praying that you will open your heart wide to Christ this year. I’m praying that you will seek to read the living words of life found in the Scriptures. Happy 2019! May this be your best year ever.

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

“One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Dear Faithful Friends!

It has been a month since I last sat down to write. After Christmas, Jac and I spent three weeks driving from Rancho Cucamonga, California to The Villages, Florida. Jac cannot fly due to her heavy metals poisoning and it had been 18 months since her last trip to visit her aging parents who are 87 and 85. Jac talks with them on the phone several times a week but wanted to see for herself that her parents are doing okay.  We had a nephew getting married in Houston on January 19th–so we made plans to drive to Florida after Christmas and to make the wedding on our way back home. Jac was ending her 70 days of her third chelation; she was really sick.  Any plans I had for spending relaxing hours reading and writing simply vanished as caring for my wife took center stage. We made the trip and spent time with family; from December 20 through January 20, we visited with 40 family members! We were able to see our parents, all three of our children, their spouses, and all 12 of our grandchildren! We were so very blessed. Jac’s curiousity regarding her parents was eased–any health care professional would give them a passing grade for living on their own.  Jac’s heart was satisfied and we had a great time visiting our family. Now that we’re safely home, it’s time for me to get back to my normal routine. I hope you enjoy 2019’s first SEED OF FAITH!

Each New Year at The Seed we begin with a reflection and a challenge. What is the “ONE WORD” of intention that God is giving you to grow into, or work on, this year?  My word is “Vision”. Jac’s word is “BRAVE.” What is the one word of intention that will help to change your life for good this year? (You can even google “words of intention”–there are many sites to peruse!)

Each New Year we also offer our members to draw a new name to grow into and to allow the Holy Spirit to shape them.  The first Sunday of the year was Epiphany. Where the wise men found the infant Jesus as they followed the mysterious star. The next week in the church calendar is the “Baptism of Jesus”. This is when John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the Jordan and the voice of the Father is heard saying, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” I love to have baskets of names up front and have the people come forward to draw a new name for them to work on during 2019. My new name is “Fearless Warrior”! (If you would like a new name drawn from our basket — please let me know.) I usually have to big vases of water up by the names, symbolizing the baptism of Jesus and also that when we are baptized, we are buried with Christ in our sin and risen from the dead with Christ. This year I came across a great video online of “The Domino Effect”. This year I had baskets of dominoes by the baskets of names.   I had our congregation watch the video on the “Domino Effect.”  Here is a link to YouTube, if you would like to view it — https://youtu.be/5JCm5FY-dEY. It’s quite impressive. One little domino can create quite a mighty change for good. The dominoes the people drew are to remind them of how their life can positively affect another’s. Make that call, visit that person in the hospital. Send that card. Make that meal. We never know how our obedience to God will affect someone’s life. Let’s put THE DOMINO EFFECT into our lives in 2019.

So What?  What will be the domino effect of your life this year?  What domino effect will you have on others?  What domino effect will you have on this world this year?    A second “so what” is: What is the “ONE WORD” that God has given you to work on this year?  What is the “ONE THING” that you are looking for this year?

Do you know that there are several passages in the Bible with the words “ONE THING?”

What is the “One Thing” that you have heard from the Lord?
King David wrote many of the Psalms.  Psalm 62 is a song of trust in God alone.  Towards the end of the Psalm, verse 11 and 12, David finally affirms that he can rest peacefully since he has heard that all the power belongs to God and that the steadfast love of the Lord lasts forever.  One thing God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.” Psalm 62:11-12

What is the “One Thing” that you are asking of the Lord?
David, the shepherd boy who wrote Psalm 23, wrote in Psalm 27 the “one thing” that he asked for was to live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 27:4-5 — One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”  The one thing the shepherd boy asked of the Lord was to live in the house of the Lord forever!  One thing King David was going to seek after — was to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord!

What is the “One Thing” that you need?
In the Gospel of Luke, we are told of the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus comes to visit and Martha is busy, busy, busy — working, cleaning, preparing, planning, cooking and setting up for the occasion; so much so that she misses the most important one thing!  Listen to the closing of this story — Luke 10:40-42 “But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha missed the “one thing!”  Her intentions were good but she ended up missing the forest for the trees. It is my prayer that we learn from Martha and do not miss the “one thing”!

What is the “One Thing” that you are doing?
Paul was sitting in a prison in Rome waiting for his own death by execution. He writes a letter to the church in Philippi called Philippians.  In chapter three he writes — I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;  but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved,  I do not consider that I have made it my own;  but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:10-14)

Can you picture the scene?  Paul is sitting in prison saying — I want to know Christ!  I want to know the power of His resurrection!  I want to have a death like His — so I can have a life like His!  I haven’t made it! I haven’t reached the goal — but the “one thing” — the “one thing” that I will do is forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead!   Paul was at the end of his life, and Paul understood that knowing Christ, that living in the power of the resurrection was the ONE THING that would bring him life.

What is the “One Thing” you lack?
The story of the rich man in Mark 10 — is a powerful story of the call to follow Christ.  I believe Christ is calling us to follow him and to not be so concerned with what we do — but with what God can do through us!  As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’  He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’” Luke 10:17-27

Here’s your final “So What?” What is the “One Thing” God is asking of you today?

What is the “One Word” that God is giving you this year? 

What is the “One Thing” that you will do that will change your life and the lives of those around you?  Will you be a domino that changes the world for good?

In case  you don’t know it, JESUS IS THE ONE THING! I’m praying that you will open your heart wide to Christ this year. I’m praying that you will seek to read the living words of life found in the Scriptures. Happy 2019! May this be your best year ever.

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.

Weekly Seed of Faith 12-22-18

Seed of Faith – Living Out & Watching Out   By Pastor Dave  

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” Luke 2:8

Dear Friends and Saintly Seed Sowers:
The final countdown for Christmas is here! Depending on when you read this — you will have less than 7 days to make the final preparations for your home and your heart for Christmas. Why not take a few moments in the next few days to read Luke 2:8-20? Reflect on the announcement of Jesus’ birth.  How has this announcement changed your life? Just think, if the Savior had not been born, December 25 would be a regular Tuesday this year. No holiday parties to attend, no kids’ Christmas plays or concerts, either. No extreme shopping–online or in the stores. Perhaps the big buzz would be New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I seriously want you to sit down and think about this? What if Jesus had never come to earth? What if Jesus had never been born?

Just about every spare minute I have this month, I am studying; looking over my Scripture passages for this week’s final Advent message on love. I keep getting stopped by the fact that there were shepherds … who lived out in the fields…doing what shepherds do:  keeping watch over their flocks.  It made me think,  “How do I apply that to me today?” These shepherds were just doing what shepherds do.  Kind of like you and me.  We go to work.  We come home.  We all have some sort of routine and rhythm to our days just like these shepherds. You have to bet that this day, this night was very ordinary in their very ordinary lives and, then, in one split second, everything changed completely and forever!  In the darkness of the night, an angel of the Lord appeared—all shiny and glowing!  It made me think of this question,  “Am I watching out for God to break into my daily routine?  Would I even notice if He moved into my neighborhood?” 

Let’s get busy dissecting the Greek. The Greek word for “keeping” is a present-active verb–meaning the action of “watching” is a constant, ongoing, day-in and day-out, hour in and hour out, minute by minute, second by second action.   The shepherds were constantly watching their flocks–by day and by night. It never stopped. Those shepherds were always watching over their flocks.  This then made me think of another question and as the Holy Spirit prompted me, I now prompt you:

What is it that you are keeping watch over–by day and by night? Be honest.  What is it that consumes your life? What eats up your time, your money, your thoughts?

Back to the shepherds who are out in the thick darkness of night watching sheep.  To them it was an ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And SUDDENLY,  God broke into their ordinary story.   You know this God of ours, the God Almighty who loves to hook the word “extra” onto the front of ordinary—extraordinary!? That’s where the shepherds were.   A night starting out just like every other night: watch the flock settle down for their night’s sleep; tomorrow will come soon enough. Try now to imagine being out there as a shepherd. Maybe you’re cooking stew over the make-shift fire? Maybe you are unrolling your sleeping bag and setting up under a tree? Maybe you and a few other shepherds are swapping funny, sheepish stories? It’s all quiet. It’s time for settling down. And then the greatest news in the history of the world is announced! An angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds — in the fields, in the outskirts of town,  and the shepherds are terrified.  I need to translate this part of the passage  because it’s important:  they were terrified, terrified greatly. Have you ever been greatly terrified? The night has a light of its own. It’s not twinkle, twinkle little star. It’s an angel. Lighting up the night sky.

Has God ever interrupted your nice, quiet, ordinary life?  Surely the shepherds’ ordinary night has now turned into an extraordinary night!

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Immediately, the shepherds had to think, “Isaiah!  The Prophet Isaiah foretold us of this very thing, 750 years ago.  Holy stinking smokes!” and then the entire night sky is not filled with just one angel but it is filled with a whole heavenly host of angels…all praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth…peace!”  Come on, think about being there. The entire skies are filled with angels and they are all singing. What would you do or say? What we do know is that when the angels were gone, those ordinary shepherds high-tailed it to find that baby; the baby who would be wrapped in cloths…and lying in a manger—an animal’s feeding trough.  These were lowly shepherds but they knew exactly where to find a manger. And when they found the manger,  there they found the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths!

So What?
Well, it’s here.  The last week before Christmas!  We sit on the edge of our own ordinary Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Eve, people everywhere throughout the world will gather together.  Many will gather in homes, surrounded by family.  Others will gather in churches.  All around the globe, ordinary people just like you and me, will gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord.  It’s really no ordinary night and we are no longer ordinary people.

God came down to earth in the form of a baby. God wants to live in our hearts and our homes.  Immanuel—God with us!  This was the cry of those ordinary shepherds on that ordinary night in their ordinary lives. God broke into their darkness of their night.  Angels!  Terrified!  More angels!  Singing! Glory and Praise to God!  Go find the Baby in a manger! Those shepherds went and they found the baby. They were no longer ordinary.  They were now glorifying-and-praising-God-extraordinary!  This is my prayer for you as you read this SEED OF FAITH. May the Holy Spirit break into your ordinary, routine life and may you sense the presence of heavenly angels this last week of Advent. When you gather with your family, or with your church, may you, too, sing just like those angels and those shepherds.

Christmas is the PROMISE that GOD IS WITH US. May there be a song in your heart as you run to find the baby lying in the manger. You’re not ordinary if you know the King of Kings!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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

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

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   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 2/15/19

Seed of Faith – Remembering Hope  By Pastor Dave  

Isaiah 41:10 “… do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Dear Friends:
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY OF LOVE to YOU! I have great news for you: Our God is with us–whether you have a huge family or whether your family is small. Jesus has promised to be with us ALWAYS–to the very end of the age!

I hope and pray you are well and are walking in faith with the Lord.  Last week’s Seed of Faith reflected upon the fact that God is with us.  Those four words in the middle of the sentence stopped me in my thoughts: I am with you.”  As I was praying about those four, little words, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart to look in the Scriptures for those four, little words: “I am with you.”  During my quick reference, I found 19 times where these words are spoken. Here are a few of these powerful passages.

Genesis 26:24 “And that very night the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you and make your offspring numerous for my servant Abraham’s sake.’”   God speaks these words to Isaac to fill him with hope and courage!

Genesis 28:15 “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” God speaks these words to Jacob to encourage him wherever he may go!

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” Joshua hears these powerful words from Moses as Moses is passing the baton of leadership to him!

Joshua 1:9 “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua gives these words to the people of Israel as they prepare to enter into the Promised land!

Isaiah 41:10 “… do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” God uses the prophet Isaiah to deliver a message of hope to the people of Israel who have been taken into captivity!

Isaiah 43:5 “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.” The prophet Isaiah speaks these words of promise to fill the hearts of those held in darkness and despair!

Jeremiah 1:8 “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”  (see the following verses: 1:19; 15:20; 30:11; 42:11; 46:28) — The prophet Jeremiah heard these four, little words often; his message was not accepted. He was rejected, thrown in a well and left for dead.  He was sent into slavery in Egypt and more. Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet,” yet he was filled with hope, courage, and the strength to have the endurance needed to finish the task he was called to do! (I am sure Paul felt a strong kinship with Jeremiah.)

Haggai 1:13; 2:4 “Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, saying, I am with you,’ says the Lord.” (1:13) Haggai gives these words to the people to strengthen them and to encourage them to continue to rebuild the temple!

Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” One of the most famous readings of these four, little words comes from our Risen and Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as he prepared to ascend into heaven to be with His Father!  The promise Jesus leaves with His followers?  I am with you!

As I was reading over these passages and reflecting on these four, little words, my heart was strangely warmed.  I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit speak to me and say, “Dave, why are you so afraid?  I am with you, always, even to the end of the age.”  As I studied the original Greek, I was overwhelmed. The Greek words are “ego eimi meta sou…”  and here is how that breaks down:

Ego eimi— is an EMPHATIC “I…I AM.” It’s like God is saying something twice, He’s doubling up, compounding the emphasis of the personal pronoun… “I…myself…no one else — it’s me…I…I AM…” “Do you hear me loud and clear? I…GOD..I…myself…am with you.”

Meta sou—means with you, among you, after you, accompany you, amid you, before you, behind you, on you, in you. In essence, what God is saying, and what Christ is promising us, is that He…God..is with us, in us, on us, around us, among us, after us, before us, amid us and He will accompany us—always, to the end of the age.  Wow. The promise isn’t just for the day you read it.  The promise isn’t for the few days you remember this SEED OF FAITH.  This promise is until the end of the age. Forever. And ever. Amen.

So What?
Where are you in your relationship with God?  Are you thinking God has forgotten you?  Are financial pressures overwhelming you?  Has that broken relationship made you think you are too broken?  Has someone you love passed away?  Have you lost your job?  Perhaps your health has you worried, or maybe it’s the health of someone you love.  Maybe a child has you worrying yourself sick.  The “so what” for us today is for you to put your faith right now in these four, little words:  ego eimi meta sou.  These four, little words are found 19 times throughout the Holy Scripture.  The are the same words that people like Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Haggai and the disciples heard!  Stop right now and put your name in front of these four, little words: “__________________, this is me…God…I AM…GOD MYSELF…ME…GOD…I am with you…I am in you…I am among you…I am beside you…I am before you…I am behind you…I am above you…I am under you…I am all around you and I will accompany you…ALWAYS…forever and ever….even to the end of the age.”

No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve gone–we have at least 19 promises in Scripture that GOD IS WITH US…until the very end.

Say it with me, “Be sure of this, (your full name,) I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS…even to the end of the age.”

What a great promise for us to think about on Valentine’s Day. There is no other love like our God’s love. You are not alone. No matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been, no matter how far gone you think you are–God is WITH you, in you, around you, above you, beside you, among you, before you, behind you, above you, and under you. Count on it; not just for today but forever–til the very end.

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

P.S. I hope you know that when you receive this email, you can right click onto the very top and then click on “download picture”–I always try to include some thought-provoking pictures.  I love the top picture of the beach.I also love the ones on the bottom. Friends, you are loved–just because YOU are GOD’S very own creation.

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 2/9/19

Seed of Faith – God Is With You By Pastor Dave  

“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:
It feels really good to be back HOME. I’m glad to back behind my computer keys. I’m excited to preach after 3 weeks off! I’m studying and praying and I’m back in the saddle. It’s great to go on vacation but it’s also great to return HOME. In a very real way, you are my family! Our trip away showed me yet again the deep and lasting bond that we carry because we are believers. Christ is the foundational building block for us and I value our community in and through Christ. We are, indeed, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Have you ever read the story when Moses summoned Joshua to anoint him as the new leader of the Israelites? After 40 years of leading his people in and through the desert, Moses was now ready to turn over the reigns to a man who had more than proven his trustworthiness, Joshua. I encourage you to go make some time and read Deuteronomy 31:1-8.  Let’s enter into this story:  The people of Israel had wandered in the wilderness and had witnessed miracle after miracle for forty years.  It’s time to cross the Jordan River! Moses is ready to turn over his leadership to Joshua.  Today we are going to focus on verses seven and eight.

Be strong and courageous!  These are very powerful words!  The very first thing that God tells the people is for them to be strong and courageous; and then issues these very same words to Joshua personally!

It is one thing to hear these words for someone else. (People of the Seed: be strong and courageous!)  But when these words are given to you personally, doesn’t it make a difference? (Jim, be strong and courageous! Sharon, be strong and courageous! Al, be strong and courageous! Ruth, be strong and courageous! Mike be strong and courageous! Ryan, be strong and courageous! Debby, be strong and courageous! Brenda, be strong and courageous! Norm, be strong and courageous! Diego, be strong and courageous! Yvonne, be strong and courageous! Sue, be strong and courageous! Clyde, be strong and courageous! Lourdes, be strong and courageous! Please pause right now and put your name in the blank ” __________________, be strong and courageous!”) It makes a BIG difference to hear YOUR NAME being commanded to be strong and courageous!

Be strong and courageous! I have been thinking a lot about being courageous. What does that look like? Courage comes in many ways. I think of little toddlers taking their lumps while learning to walk; I think of senior citizens living alone; paraplegics in wheelchairs. I think of astronauts walking on the moon; I think of those who are living with family tragedies; I think of single parents coping with children and jobs; I think of students who are facing challenges of going to school; I think of my unemployed friends who are desperately seeking work. I think of people living in recovery. I think of all of the people who report for chemotherapy and physical therapy each day.  I think of our police, fire, and medical personnel. I think of our soldiers, our judges, and even our government officials. Courage comes in many forms. But there is one form of courage that stands alone: the form of Jesus struggling uphill to Calvary–carrying a wood cross on his beaten and bleeding back; a man who dies for my sins. That, my friends, is a courage that stands apart.

I want to break down verse eight:The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Have you ever thought about this? That God is with you; that God promises to never leave nor forsake you?  I love the first part of this verse: “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you.” What a comfort. No matter what we are facing today, the Lord has gone before you. Have you ever felt His presence? Have you ever sensed that the Lord is with you?  Hear the verse in this translation: “I–myself —no one else — it’s me—the Lord–I personally go before you!”  Think about this for a few seconds. God Himself has promised to go with you, and not only with you, but before you. The One who spoke the universe into creation, yes, that GOD–promises to go before us, to go with us, and to never, ever leave nor forsake us.  So WHAT? The answer is found in the next sentence: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. No matter what you are facing, put God into the situation. “God, please be with me. Please go before me. Please don’t leave me.  God, please don’t forsake me. God, help be to be strong and courageous. Help me not to be afraid and help me not to be discouraged.” (Can I get an AMEN on that?)

On our way home from Florida, we stopped to attend our nephew’s wedding in Houston. I was asked to do a part of the wedding.  At the rehearsal dinner, Jac and I sat with Deacon Don and his wife. It was a Catholic wedding and Deacon Don was giving the message.  At the rehearsal dinner, I was doing some of the “get to know you questions” I carry in my mind. I asked Sherry what she did for a living. Sherry mentioned that she was a Spiritual Director. I said, “My wife is too!” As we talked back and forth, I found out that Sherry had gone to the same Benedictine monastery that my wife had attended in Pecos, New Mexico. Immediately, the four of us became best friends and had lots to talk about.  Jac and Sherry spent a few hours sharing stories of their time at the monastery, and talked about many of the people that they knew in common. When Sherry heard about our lead poisoning, she brought us into a separate room and brought along with her, her husband and the grandmother of the bride. They wanted to pray for us. Sherry then anointed us with Holy Water. The Holy Water had been given to her from Father Sam from the monastery in Pecos. Sherry and Jac found more common ground and related some of the hair-raising stories they had heard from Father Sam. Father Sam was over 85 years old when Jac went to the monastery in 2008.  You need to know that Father Sam was the head exorcist for the Southwest portion of the United States for the Catholic Church. Father Sam was a legend and an icon at this monastery! The two women shared back and forth about how Father Sam wore a cross around his neck that held a sliver of the cross of Christ inside of it. Father Sam would hold sessions where he taught the group about Spiritual Direction. He would take out that sliver from under the glass dome of his cross and tell the attendees (who were there for over a month) that spiritual direction is no walk in the park. In a future SEED OF FAITH, I will share about the Blessed Salt that Father Sam gave to Jac. But for today, let’s just say that when Sherry and Deacon Don anointed us with that holy water, we knew that Christ was present with us. We knew that God had gone before us and was with us.

Are you following this story? We traveled 5,600 miles on this trip. Around the 4,500 mile marker of the trip,  we meet a couple at a wedding in Houston. They are unknown to us but as we share our lives, GOD appeared and was with us. God had gone before us all.  At the end of the prayer time, Jac asked Sherry and Don if  God ever gives them “a word from the Holy Spirit” regarding us–don’t hold back, tell us! The next day we did the wedding and went to dinner at a really fancy ranch outside of Sugarland. Sherry and Don came over and got us up from the table with our grandson and made us dance in the Grand March. At the end of the wedding, Sherry came up to me in a hurry and sat down.  She grabbed my hand and held it in hers.  She said, “I DO have a word from the Lord for you.” She looked me in the eyes and said, “God will never leave you, Dave. He will never forsake you. Many in your life have but God wants you to know for 100% certainty that He will never leave you nor will God ever forsake you.”  She told Jac, “God’s word for you, ‘Pull up a chair and watch me work!'”

So What?
Have you been feeling like God has forgotten you?  Are the pressures of life overwhelming you?  Have you experienced a broken relationship?  Has someone you love passed away?  Have you lost your job?  Perhaps your health has you worried or maybe it’s the health of someone you love.  Maybe a child has you worrying yourself sick. Guess what? I HAVE A WORD FOR YOU! Every week I ask the Lord for your heart, I ask for the message that you need to hear. Today the word I have for you is the very same word that Spiritual Director from Sugarland, Texas, gave to us:    “God will never leave you. He will never forsake you. Many in your life have but God wants you to know for 100% certainty that GOD HIMSELF will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I’m willing to pull up a chair and watch God go before us. I’m willing to pull up a chair and help us to become strong and courageous.  ARE YOU?!!!

God Loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

 

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

Seed of Faith 2/2/2019

Seed of Faith – One Thing   By Pastor Dave  

“One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Dear Faithful Friends!

It has been a month since I last sat down to write. After Christmas, Jac and I spent three weeks driving from Rancho Cucamonga, California to The Villages, Florida. Jac cannot fly due to her heavy metals poisoning and it had been 18 months since her last trip to visit her aging parents who are 87 and 85. Jac talks with them on the phone several times a week but wanted to see for herself that her parents are doing okay.  We had a nephew getting married in Houston on January 19th–so we made plans to drive to Florida after Christmas and to make the wedding on our way back home. Jac was ending her 70 days of her third chelation; she was really sick.  Any plans I had for spending relaxing hours reading and writing simply vanished as caring for my wife took center stage. We made the trip and spent time with family; from December 20 through January 20, we visited with 40 family members! We were able to see our parents, all three of our children, their spouses, and all 12 of our grandchildren! We were so very blessed. Jac’s curiousity regarding her parents was eased–any health care professional would give them a passing grade for living on their own.  Jac’s heart was satisfied and we had a great time visiting our family. Now that we’re safely home, it’s time for me to get back to my normal routine. I hope you enjoy 2019’s first SEED OF FAITH!

Each New Year at The Seed we begin with a reflection and a challenge. What is the “ONE WORD” of intention that God is giving you to grow into, or work on, this year?  My word is “Vision”. Jac’s word is “BRAVE.” What is the one word of intention that will help to change your life for good this year? (You can even google “words of intention”–there are many sites to peruse!)

Each New Year we also offer our members to draw a new name to grow into and to allow the Holy Spirit to shape them.  The first Sunday of the year was Epiphany. Where the wise men found the infant Jesus as they followed the mysterious star. The next week in the church calendar is the “Baptism of Jesus”. This is when John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the Jordan and the voice of the Father is heard saying, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” I love to have baskets of names up front and have the people come forward to draw a new name for them to work on during 2019. My new name is “Fearless Warrior”! (If you would like a new name drawn from our basket — please let me know.) I usually have to big vases of water up by the names, symbolizing the baptism of Jesus and also that when we are baptized, we are buried with Christ in our sin and risen from the dead with Christ. This year I came across a great video online of “The Domino Effect”. This year I had baskets of dominoes by the baskets of names.   I had our congregation watch the video on the “Domino Effect.”  Here is a link to YouTube, if you would like to view it — https://youtu.be/5JCm5FY-dEY. It’s quite impressive. One little domino can create quite a mighty change for good. The dominoes the people drew are to remind them of how their life can positively affect another’s. Make that call, visit that person in the hospital. Send that card. Make that meal. We never know how our obedience to God will affect someone’s life. Let’s put THE DOMINO EFFECT into our lives in 2019.

So What?  What will be the domino effect of your life this year?  What domino effect will you have on others?  What domino effect will you have on this world this year?    A second “so what” is: What is the “ONE WORD” that God has given you to work on this year?  What is the “ONE THING” that you are looking for this year?

Do you know that there are several passages in the Bible with the words “ONE THING?”

What is the “One Thing” that you have heard from the Lord?
King David wrote many of the Psalms.  Psalm 62 is a song of trust in God alone.  Towards the end of the Psalm, verse 11 and 12, David finally affirms that he can rest peacefully since he has heard that all the power belongs to God and that the steadfast love of the Lord lasts forever.  One thing God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.” Psalm 62:11-12

What is the “One Thing” that you are asking of the Lord?
David, the shepherd boy who wrote Psalm 23, wrote in Psalm 27 the “one thing” that he asked for was to live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 27:4-5 — One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”  The one thing the shepherd boy asked of the Lord was to live in the house of the Lord forever!  One thing King David was going to seek after — was to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord!

What is the “One Thing” that you need?
In the Gospel of Luke, we are told of the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus comes to visit and Martha is busy, busy, busy — working, cleaning, preparing, planning, cooking and setting up for the occasion; so much so that she misses the most important one thing!  Listen to the closing of this story — Luke 10:40-42 “But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha missed the “one thing!”  Her intentions were good but she ended up missing the forest for the trees. It is my prayer that we learn from Martha and do not miss the “one thing”!

What is the “One Thing” that you are doing?
Paul was sitting in a prison in Rome waiting for his own death by execution. He writes a letter to the church in Philippi called Philippians.  In chapter three he writes — I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;  but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved,  I do not consider that I have made it my own;  but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:10-14)

Can you picture the scene?  Paul is sitting in prison saying — I want to know Christ!  I want to know the power of His resurrection!  I want to have a death like His — so I can have a life like His!  I haven’t made it! I haven’t reached the goal — but the “one thing” — the “one thing” that I will do is forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead!   Paul was at the end of his life, and Paul understood that knowing Christ, that living in the power of the resurrection was the ONE THING that would bring him life.

What is the “One Thing” you lack?
The story of the rich man in Mark 10 — is a powerful story of the call to follow Christ.  I believe Christ is calling us to follow him and to not be so concerned with what we do — but with what God can do through us!  As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’  He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’” Luke 10:17-27

Here’s your final “So What?” What is the “One Thing” God is asking of you today?

What is the “One Word” that God is giving you this year? 

What is the “One Thing” that you will do that will change your life and the lives of those around you?  Will you be a domino that changes the world for good?

In case  you don’t know it, JESUS IS THE ONE THING! I’m praying that you will open your heart wide to Christ this year. I’m praying that you will seek to read the living words of life found in the Scriptures. Happy 2019! May this be your best year ever.

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

“One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Dear Faithful Friends!

It has been a month since I last sat down to write. After Christmas, Jac and I spent three weeks driving from Rancho Cucamonga, California to The Villages, Florida. Jac cannot fly due to her heavy metals poisoning and it had been 18 months since her last trip to visit her aging parents who are 87 and 85. Jac talks with them on the phone several times a week but wanted to see for herself that her parents are doing okay.  We had a nephew getting married in Houston on January 19th–so we made plans to drive to Florida after Christmas and to make the wedding on our way back home. Jac was ending her 70 days of her third chelation; she was really sick.  Any plans I had for spending relaxing hours reading and writing simply vanished as caring for my wife took center stage. We made the trip and spent time with family; from December 20 through January 20, we visited with 40 family members! We were able to see our parents, all three of our children, their spouses, and all 12 of our grandchildren! We were so very blessed. Jac’s curiousity regarding her parents was eased–any health care professional would give them a passing grade for living on their own.  Jac’s heart was satisfied and we had a great time visiting our family. Now that we’re safely home, it’s time for me to get back to my normal routine. I hope you enjoy 2019’s first SEED OF FAITH!

Each New Year at The Seed we begin with a reflection and a challenge. What is the “ONE WORD” of intention that God is giving you to grow into, or work on, this year?  My word is “Vision”. Jac’s word is “BRAVE.” What is the one word of intention that will help to change your life for good this year? (You can even google “words of intention”–there are many sites to peruse!)

Each New Year we also offer our members to draw a new name to grow into and to allow the Holy Spirit to shape them.  The first Sunday of the year was Epiphany. Where the wise men found the infant Jesus as they followed the mysterious star. The next week in the church calendar is the “Baptism of Jesus”. This is when John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the Jordan and the voice of the Father is heard saying, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” I love to have baskets of names up front and have the people come forward to draw a new name for them to work on during 2019. My new name is “Fearless Warrior”! (If you would like a new name drawn from our basket — please let me know.) I usually have to big vases of water up by the names, symbolizing the baptism of Jesus and also that when we are baptized, we are buried with Christ in our sin and risen from the dead with Christ. This year I came across a great video online of “The Domino Effect”. This year I had baskets of dominoes by the baskets of names.   I had our congregation watch the video on the “Domino Effect.”  Here is a link to YouTube, if you would like to view it — https://youtu.be/5JCm5FY-dEY. It’s quite impressive. One little domino can create quite a mighty change for good. The dominoes the people drew are to remind them of how their life can positively affect another’s. Make that call, visit that person in the hospital. Send that card. Make that meal. We never know how our obedience to God will affect someone’s life. Let’s put THE DOMINO EFFECT into our lives in 2019.

So What?  What will be the domino effect of your life this year?  What domino effect will you have on others?  What domino effect will you have on this world this year?    A second “so what” is: What is the “ONE WORD” that God has given you to work on this year?  What is the “ONE THING” that you are looking for this year?

Do you know that there are several passages in the Bible with the words “ONE THING?”

What is the “One Thing” that you have heard from the Lord?
King David wrote many of the Psalms.  Psalm 62 is a song of trust in God alone.  Towards the end of the Psalm, verse 11 and 12, David finally affirms that he can rest peacefully since he has heard that all the power belongs to God and that the steadfast love of the Lord lasts forever.  One thing God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.” Psalm 62:11-12

What is the “One Thing” that you are asking of the Lord?
David, the shepherd boy who wrote Psalm 23, wrote in Psalm 27 the “one thing” that he asked for was to live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 27:4-5 — One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”  The one thing the shepherd boy asked of the Lord was to live in the house of the Lord forever!  One thing King David was going to seek after — was to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord!

What is the “One Thing” that you need?
In the Gospel of Luke, we are told of the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus comes to visit and Martha is busy, busy, busy — working, cleaning, preparing, planning, cooking and setting up for the occasion; so much so that she misses the most important one thing!  Listen to the closing of this story — Luke 10:40-42 “But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha missed the “one thing!”  Her intentions were good but she ended up missing the forest for the trees. It is my prayer that we learn from Martha and do not miss the “one thing”!

What is the “One Thing” that you are doing?
Paul was sitting in a prison in Rome waiting for his own death by execution. He writes a letter to the church in Philippi called Philippians.  In chapter three he writes — I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;  but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved,  I do not consider that I have made it my own;  but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:10-14)

Can you picture the scene?  Paul is sitting in prison saying — I want to know Christ!  I want to know the power of His resurrection!  I want to have a death like His — so I can have a life like His!  I haven’t made it! I haven’t reached the goal — but the “one thing” — the “one thing” that I will do is forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead!   Paul was at the end of his life, and Paul understood that knowing Christ, that living in the power of the resurrection was the ONE THING that would bring him life.

What is the “One Thing” you lack?
The story of the rich man in Mark 10 — is a powerful story of the call to follow Christ.  I believe Christ is calling us to follow him and to not be so concerned with what we do — but with what God can do through us!  As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’  He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’” Luke 10:17-27

Here’s your final “So What?” What is the “One Thing” God is asking of you today?

What is the “One Word” that God is giving you this year? 

What is the “One Thing” that you will do that will change your life and the lives of those around you?  Will you be a domino that changes the world for good?

In case  you don’t know it, JESUS IS THE ONE THING! I’m praying that you will open your heart wide to Christ this year. I’m praying that you will seek to read the living words of life found in the Scriptures. Happy 2019! May this be your best year ever.

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.

Weekly Seed of Faith 12-22-18

Seed of Faith – Living Out & Watching Out   By Pastor Dave  

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” Luke 2:8

Dear Friends and Saintly Seed Sowers:
The final countdown for Christmas is here! Depending on when you read this — you will have less than 7 days to make the final preparations for your home and your heart for Christmas. Why not take a few moments in the next few days to read Luke 2:8-20? Reflect on the announcement of Jesus’ birth.  How has this announcement changed your life? Just think, if the Savior had not been born, December 25 would be a regular Tuesday this year. No holiday parties to attend, no kids’ Christmas plays or concerts, either. No extreme shopping–online or in the stores. Perhaps the big buzz would be New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I seriously want you to sit down and think about this? What if Jesus had never come to earth? What if Jesus had never been born?

Just about every spare minute I have this month, I am studying; looking over my Scripture passages for this week’s final Advent message on love. I keep getting stopped by the fact that there were shepherds … who lived out in the fields…doing what shepherds do:  keeping watch over their flocks.  It made me think,  “How do I apply that to me today?” These shepherds were just doing what shepherds do.  Kind of like you and me.  We go to work.  We come home.  We all have some sort of routine and rhythm to our days just like these shepherds. You have to bet that this day, this night was very ordinary in their very ordinary lives and, then, in one split second, everything changed completely and forever!  In the darkness of the night, an angel of the Lord appeared—all shiny and glowing!  It made me think of this question,  “Am I watching out for God to break into my daily routine?  Would I even notice if He moved into my neighborhood?” 

Let’s get busy dissecting the Greek. The Greek word for “keeping” is a present-active verb–meaning the action of “watching” is a constant, ongoing, day-in and day-out, hour in and hour out, minute by minute, second by second action.   The shepherds were constantly watching their flocks–by day and by night. It never stopped. Those shepherds were always watching over their flocks.  This then made me think of another question and as the Holy Spirit prompted me, I now prompt you:

What is it that you are keeping watch over–by day and by night? Be honest.  What is it that consumes your life? What eats up your time, your money, your thoughts?

Back to the shepherds who are out in the thick darkness of night watching sheep.  To them it was an ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And SUDDENLY,  God broke into their ordinary story.   You know this God of ours, the God Almighty who loves to hook the word “extra” onto the front of ordinary—extraordinary!? That’s where the shepherds were.   A night starting out just like every other night: watch the flock settle down for their night’s sleep; tomorrow will come soon enough. Try now to imagine being out there as a shepherd. Maybe you’re cooking stew over the make-shift fire? Maybe you are unrolling your sleeping bag and setting up under a tree? Maybe you and a few other shepherds are swapping funny, sheepish stories? It’s all quiet. It’s time for settling down. And then the greatest news in the history of the world is announced! An angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds — in the fields, in the outskirts of town,  and the shepherds are terrified.  I need to translate this part of the passage  because it’s important:  they were terrified, terrified greatly. Have you ever been greatly terrified? The night has a light of its own. It’s not twinkle, twinkle little star. It’s an angel. Lighting up the night sky.

Has God ever interrupted your nice, quiet, ordinary life?  Surely the shepherds’ ordinary night has now turned into an extraordinary night!

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Immediately, the shepherds had to think, “Isaiah!  The Prophet Isaiah foretold us of this very thing, 750 years ago.  Holy stinking smokes!” and then the entire night sky is not filled with just one angel but it is filled with a whole heavenly host of angels…all praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth…peace!”  Come on, think about being there. The entire skies are filled with angels and they are all singing. What would you do or say? What we do know is that when the angels were gone, those ordinary shepherds high-tailed it to find that baby; the baby who would be wrapped in cloths…and lying in a manger—an animal’s feeding trough.  These were lowly shepherds but they knew exactly where to find a manger. And when they found the manger,  there they found the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths!

So What?
Well, it’s here.  The last week before Christmas!  We sit on the edge of our own ordinary Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Eve, people everywhere throughout the world will gather together.  Many will gather in homes, surrounded by family.  Others will gather in churches.  All around the globe, ordinary people just like you and me, will gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord.  It’s really no ordinary night and we are no longer ordinary people.

God came down to earth in the form of a baby. God wants to live in our hearts and our homes.  Immanuel—God with us!  This was the cry of those ordinary shepherds on that ordinary night in their ordinary lives. God broke into their darkness of their night.  Angels!  Terrified!  More angels!  Singing! Glory and Praise to God!  Go find the Baby in a manger! Those shepherds went and they found the baby. They were no longer ordinary.  They were now glorifying-and-praising-God-extraordinary!  This is my prayer for you as you read this SEED OF FAITH. May the Holy Spirit break into your ordinary, routine life and may you sense the presence of heavenly angels this last week of Advent. When you gather with your family, or with your church, may you, too, sing just like those angels and those shepherds.

Christmas is the PROMISE that GOD IS WITH US. May there be a song in your heart as you run to find the baby lying in the manger. You’re not ordinary if you know the King of Kings!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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

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

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   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 2/15/19

Seed of Faith – Remembering Hope  By Pastor Dave  

Isaiah 41:10 “… do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Dear Friends:
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY OF LOVE to YOU! I have great news for you: Our God is with us–whether you have a huge family or whether your family is small. Jesus has promised to be with us ALWAYS–to the very end of the age!

I hope and pray you are well and are walking in faith with the Lord.  Last week’s Seed of Faith reflected upon the fact that God is with us.  Those four words in the middle of the sentence stopped me in my thoughts: I am with you.”  As I was praying about those four, little words, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart to look in the Scriptures for those four, little words: “I am with you.”  During my quick reference, I found 19 times where these words are spoken. Here are a few of these powerful passages.

Genesis 26:24 “And that very night the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you and make your offspring numerous for my servant Abraham’s sake.’”   God speaks these words to Isaac to fill him with hope and courage!

Genesis 28:15 “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” God speaks these words to Jacob to encourage him wherever he may go!

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” Joshua hears these powerful words from Moses as Moses is passing the baton of leadership to him!

Joshua 1:9 “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua gives these words to the people of Israel as they prepare to enter into the Promised land!

Isaiah 41:10 “… do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” God uses the prophet Isaiah to deliver a message of hope to the people of Israel who have been taken into captivity!

Isaiah 43:5 “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.” The prophet Isaiah speaks these words of promise to fill the hearts of those held in darkness and despair!

Jeremiah 1:8 “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”  (see the following verses: 1:19; 15:20; 30:11; 42:11; 46:28) — The prophet Jeremiah heard these four, little words often; his message was not accepted. He was rejected, thrown in a well and left for dead.  He was sent into slavery in Egypt and more. Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet,” yet he was filled with hope, courage, and the strength to have the endurance needed to finish the task he was called to do! (I am sure Paul felt a strong kinship with Jeremiah.)

Haggai 1:13; 2:4 “Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, saying, I am with you,’ says the Lord.” (1:13) Haggai gives these words to the people to strengthen them and to encourage them to continue to rebuild the temple!

Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” One of the most famous readings of these four, little words comes from our Risen and Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as he prepared to ascend into heaven to be with His Father!  The promise Jesus leaves with His followers?  I am with you!

As I was reading over these passages and reflecting on these four, little words, my heart was strangely warmed.  I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit speak to me and say, “Dave, why are you so afraid?  I am with you, always, even to the end of the age.”  As I studied the original Greek, I was overwhelmed. The Greek words are “ego eimi meta sou…”  and here is how that breaks down:

Ego eimi— is an EMPHATIC “I…I AM.” It’s like God is saying something twice, He’s doubling up, compounding the emphasis of the personal pronoun… “I…myself…no one else — it’s me…I…I AM…” “Do you hear me loud and clear? I…GOD..I…myself…am with you.”

Meta sou—means with you, among you, after you, accompany you, amid you, before you, behind you, on you, in you. In essence, what God is saying, and what Christ is promising us, is that He…God..is with us, in us, on us, around us, among us, after us, before us, amid us and He will accompany us—always, to the end of the age.  Wow. The promise isn’t just for the day you read it.  The promise isn’t for the few days you remember this SEED OF FAITH.  This promise is until the end of the age. Forever. And ever. Amen.

So What?
Where are you in your relationship with God?  Are you thinking God has forgotten you?  Are financial pressures overwhelming you?  Has that broken relationship made you think you are too broken?  Has someone you love passed away?  Have you lost your job?  Perhaps your health has you worried, or maybe it’s the health of someone you love.  Maybe a child has you worrying yourself sick.  The “so what” for us today is for you to put your faith right now in these four, little words:  ego eimi meta sou.  These four, little words are found 19 times throughout the Holy Scripture.  The are the same words that people like Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Haggai and the disciples heard!  Stop right now and put your name in front of these four, little words: “__________________, this is me…God…I AM…GOD MYSELF…ME…GOD…I am with you…I am in you…I am among you…I am beside you…I am before you…I am behind you…I am above you…I am under you…I am all around you and I will accompany you…ALWAYS…forever and ever….even to the end of the age.”

No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve gone–we have at least 19 promises in Scripture that GOD IS WITH US…until the very end.

Say it with me, “Be sure of this, (your full name,) I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS…even to the end of the age.”

What a great promise for us to think about on Valentine’s Day. There is no other love like our God’s love. You are not alone. No matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been, no matter how far gone you think you are–God is WITH you, in you, around you, above you, beside you, among you, before you, behind you, above you, and under you. Count on it; not just for today but forever–til the very end.

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

P.S. I hope you know that when you receive this email, you can right click onto the very top and then click on “download picture”–I always try to include some thought-provoking pictures.  I love the top picture of the beach.I also love the ones on the bottom. Friends, you are loved–just because YOU are GOD’S very own creation.

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 2/9/19

Seed of Faith – God Is With You By Pastor Dave  

“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:
It feels really good to be back HOME. I’m glad to back behind my computer keys. I’m excited to preach after 3 weeks off! I’m studying and praying and I’m back in the saddle. It’s great to go on vacation but it’s also great to return HOME. In a very real way, you are my family! Our trip away showed me yet again the deep and lasting bond that we carry because we are believers. Christ is the foundational building block for us and I value our community in and through Christ. We are, indeed, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Have you ever read the story when Moses summoned Joshua to anoint him as the new leader of the Israelites? After 40 years of leading his people in and through the desert, Moses was now ready to turn over the reigns to a man who had more than proven his trustworthiness, Joshua. I encourage you to go make some time and read Deuteronomy 31:1-8.  Let’s enter into this story:  The people of Israel had wandered in the wilderness and had witnessed miracle after miracle for forty years.  It’s time to cross the Jordan River! Moses is ready to turn over his leadership to Joshua.  Today we are going to focus on verses seven and eight.

Be strong and courageous!  These are very powerful words!  The very first thing that God tells the people is for them to be strong and courageous; and then issues these very same words to Joshua personally!

It is one thing to hear these words for someone else. (People of the Seed: be strong and courageous!)  But when these words are given to you personally, doesn’t it make a difference? (Jim, be strong and courageous! Sharon, be strong and courageous! Al, be strong and courageous! Ruth, be strong and courageous! Mike be strong and courageous! Ryan, be strong and courageous! Debby, be strong and courageous! Brenda, be strong and courageous! Norm, be strong and courageous! Diego, be strong and courageous! Yvonne, be strong and courageous! Sue, be strong and courageous! Clyde, be strong and courageous! Lourdes, be strong and courageous! Please pause right now and put your name in the blank ” __________________, be strong and courageous!”) It makes a BIG difference to hear YOUR NAME being commanded to be strong and courageous!

Be strong and courageous! I have been thinking a lot about being courageous. What does that look like? Courage comes in many ways. I think of little toddlers taking their lumps while learning to walk; I think of senior citizens living alone; paraplegics in wheelchairs. I think of astronauts walking on the moon; I think of those who are living with family tragedies; I think of single parents coping with children and jobs; I think of students who are facing challenges of going to school; I think of my unemployed friends who are desperately seeking work. I think of people living in recovery. I think of all of the people who report for chemotherapy and physical therapy each day.  I think of our police, fire, and medical personnel. I think of our soldiers, our judges, and even our government officials. Courage comes in many forms. But there is one form of courage that stands alone: the form of Jesus struggling uphill to Calvary–carrying a wood cross on his beaten and bleeding back; a man who dies for my sins. That, my friends, is a courage that stands apart.

I want to break down verse eight:The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Have you ever thought about this? That God is with you; that God promises to never leave nor forsake you?  I love the first part of this verse: “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you.” What a comfort. No matter what we are facing today, the Lord has gone before you. Have you ever felt His presence? Have you ever sensed that the Lord is with you?  Hear the verse in this translation: “I–myself —no one else — it’s me—the Lord–I personally go before you!”  Think about this for a few seconds. God Himself has promised to go with you, and not only with you, but before you. The One who spoke the universe into creation, yes, that GOD–promises to go before us, to go with us, and to never, ever leave nor forsake us.  So WHAT? The answer is found in the next sentence: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. No matter what you are facing, put God into the situation. “God, please be with me. Please go before me. Please don’t leave me.  God, please don’t forsake me. God, help be to be strong and courageous. Help me not to be afraid and help me not to be discouraged.” (Can I get an AMEN on that?)

On our way home from Florida, we stopped to attend our nephew’s wedding in Houston. I was asked to do a part of the wedding.  At the rehearsal dinner, Jac and I sat with Deacon Don and his wife. It was a Catholic wedding and Deacon Don was giving the message.  At the rehearsal dinner, I was doing some of the “get to know you questions” I carry in my mind. I asked Sherry what she did for a living. Sherry mentioned that she was a Spiritual Director. I said, “My wife is too!” As we talked back and forth, I found out that Sherry had gone to the same Benedictine monastery that my wife had attended in Pecos, New Mexico. Immediately, the four of us became best friends and had lots to talk about.  Jac and Sherry spent a few hours sharing stories of their time at the monastery, and talked about many of the people that they knew in common. When Sherry heard about our lead poisoning, she brought us into a separate room and brought along with her, her husband and the grandmother of the bride. They wanted to pray for us. Sherry then anointed us with Holy Water. The Holy Water had been given to her from Father Sam from the monastery in Pecos. Sherry and Jac found more common ground and related some of the hair-raising stories they had heard from Father Sam. Father Sam was over 85 years old when Jac went to the monastery in 2008.  You need to know that Father Sam was the head exorcist for the Southwest portion of the United States for the Catholic Church. Father Sam was a legend and an icon at this monastery! The two women shared back and forth about how Father Sam wore a cross around his neck that held a sliver of the cross of Christ inside of it. Father Sam would hold sessions where he taught the group about Spiritual Direction. He would take out that sliver from under the glass dome of his cross and tell the attendees (who were there for over a month) that spiritual direction is no walk in the park. In a future SEED OF FAITH, I will share about the Blessed Salt that Father Sam gave to Jac. But for today, let’s just say that when Sherry and Deacon Don anointed us with that holy water, we knew that Christ was present with us. We knew that God had gone before us and was with us.

Are you following this story? We traveled 5,600 miles on this trip. Around the 4,500 mile marker of the trip,  we meet a couple at a wedding in Houston. They are unknown to us but as we share our lives, GOD appeared and was with us. God had gone before us all.  At the end of the prayer time, Jac asked Sherry and Don if  God ever gives them “a word from the Holy Spirit” regarding us–don’t hold back, tell us! The next day we did the wedding and went to dinner at a really fancy ranch outside of Sugarland. Sherry and Don came over and got us up from the table with our grandson and made us dance in the Grand March. At the end of the wedding, Sherry came up to me in a hurry and sat down.  She grabbed my hand and held it in hers.  She said, “I DO have a word from the Lord for you.” She looked me in the eyes and said, “God will never leave you, Dave. He will never forsake you. Many in your life have but God wants you to know for 100% certainty that He will never leave you nor will God ever forsake you.”  She told Jac, “God’s word for you, ‘Pull up a chair and watch me work!'”

So What?
Have you been feeling like God has forgotten you?  Are the pressures of life overwhelming you?  Have you experienced a broken relationship?  Has someone you love passed away?  Have you lost your job?  Perhaps your health has you worried or maybe it’s the health of someone you love.  Maybe a child has you worrying yourself sick. Guess what? I HAVE A WORD FOR YOU! Every week I ask the Lord for your heart, I ask for the message that you need to hear. Today the word I have for you is the very same word that Spiritual Director from Sugarland, Texas, gave to us:    “God will never leave you. He will never forsake you. Many in your life have but God wants you to know for 100% certainty that GOD HIMSELF will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I’m willing to pull up a chair and watch God go before us. I’m willing to pull up a chair and help us to become strong and courageous.  ARE YOU?!!!

God Loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

 

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

Seed of Faith 2/2/2019

Seed of Faith – One Thing   By Pastor Dave  

“One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Dear Faithful Friends!

It has been a month since I last sat down to write. After Christmas, Jac and I spent three weeks driving from Rancho Cucamonga, California to The Villages, Florida. Jac cannot fly due to her heavy metals poisoning and it had been 18 months since her last trip to visit her aging parents who are 87 and 85. Jac talks with them on the phone several times a week but wanted to see for herself that her parents are doing okay.  We had a nephew getting married in Houston on January 19th–so we made plans to drive to Florida after Christmas and to make the wedding on our way back home. Jac was ending her 70 days of her third chelation; she was really sick.  Any plans I had for spending relaxing hours reading and writing simply vanished as caring for my wife took center stage. We made the trip and spent time with family; from December 20 through January 20, we visited with 40 family members! We were able to see our parents, all three of our children, their spouses, and all 12 of our grandchildren! We were so very blessed. Jac’s curiousity regarding her parents was eased–any health care professional would give them a passing grade for living on their own.  Jac’s heart was satisfied and we had a great time visiting our family. Now that we’re safely home, it’s time for me to get back to my normal routine. I hope you enjoy 2019’s first SEED OF FAITH!

Each New Year at The Seed we begin with a reflection and a challenge. What is the “ONE WORD” of intention that God is giving you to grow into, or work on, this year?  My word is “Vision”. Jac’s word is “BRAVE.” What is the one word of intention that will help to change your life for good this year? (You can even google “words of intention”–there are many sites to peruse!)

Each New Year we also offer our members to draw a new name to grow into and to allow the Holy Spirit to shape them.  The first Sunday of the year was Epiphany. Where the wise men found the infant Jesus as they followed the mysterious star. The next week in the church calendar is the “Baptism of Jesus”. This is when John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the Jordan and the voice of the Father is heard saying, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” I love to have baskets of names up front and have the people come forward to draw a new name for them to work on during 2019. My new name is “Fearless Warrior”! (If you would like a new name drawn from our basket — please let me know.) I usually have to big vases of water up by the names, symbolizing the baptism of Jesus and also that when we are baptized, we are buried with Christ in our sin and risen from the dead with Christ. This year I came across a great video online of “The Domino Effect”. This year I had baskets of dominoes by the baskets of names.   I had our congregation watch the video on the “Domino Effect.”  Here is a link to YouTube, if you would like to view it — https://youtu.be/5JCm5FY-dEY. It’s quite impressive. One little domino can create quite a mighty change for good. The dominoes the people drew are to remind them of how their life can positively affect another’s. Make that call, visit that person in the hospital. Send that card. Make that meal. We never know how our obedience to God will affect someone’s life. Let’s put THE DOMINO EFFECT into our lives in 2019.

So What?  What will be the domino effect of your life this year?  What domino effect will you have on others?  What domino effect will you have on this world this year?    A second “so what” is: What is the “ONE WORD” that God has given you to work on this year?  What is the “ONE THING” that you are looking for this year?

Do you know that there are several passages in the Bible with the words “ONE THING?”

What is the “One Thing” that you have heard from the Lord?
King David wrote many of the Psalms.  Psalm 62 is a song of trust in God alone.  Towards the end of the Psalm, verse 11 and 12, David finally affirms that he can rest peacefully since he has heard that all the power belongs to God and that the steadfast love of the Lord lasts forever.  One thing God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.” Psalm 62:11-12

What is the “One Thing” that you are asking of the Lord?
David, the shepherd boy who wrote Psalm 23, wrote in Psalm 27 the “one thing” that he asked for was to live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 27:4-5 — One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”  The one thing the shepherd boy asked of the Lord was to live in the house of the Lord forever!  One thing King David was going to seek after — was to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord!

What is the “One Thing” that you need?
In the Gospel of Luke, we are told of the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus comes to visit and Martha is busy, busy, busy — working, cleaning, preparing, planning, cooking and setting up for the occasion; so much so that she misses the most important one thing!  Listen to the closing of this story — Luke 10:40-42 “But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha missed the “one thing!”  Her intentions were good but she ended up missing the forest for the trees. It is my prayer that we learn from Martha and do not miss the “one thing”!

What is the “One Thing” that you are doing?
Paul was sitting in a prison in Rome waiting for his own death by execution. He writes a letter to the church in Philippi called Philippians.  In chapter three he writes — I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;  but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved,  I do not consider that I have made it my own;  but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:10-14)

Can you picture the scene?  Paul is sitting in prison saying — I want to know Christ!  I want to know the power of His resurrection!  I want to have a death like His — so I can have a life like His!  I haven’t made it! I haven’t reached the goal — but the “one thing” — the “one thing” that I will do is forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead!   Paul was at the end of his life, and Paul understood that knowing Christ, that living in the power of the resurrection was the ONE THING that would bring him life.

What is the “One Thing” you lack?
The story of the rich man in Mark 10 — is a powerful story of the call to follow Christ.  I believe Christ is calling us to follow him and to not be so concerned with what we do — but with what God can do through us!  As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’  He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’” Luke 10:17-27

Here’s your final “So What?” What is the “One Thing” God is asking of you today?

What is the “One Word” that God is giving you this year? 

What is the “One Thing” that you will do that will change your life and the lives of those around you?  Will you be a domino that changes the world for good?

In case  you don’t know it, JESUS IS THE ONE THING! I’m praying that you will open your heart wide to Christ this year. I’m praying that you will seek to read the living words of life found in the Scriptures. Happy 2019! May this be your best year ever.

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

“One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Dear Faithful Friends!

It has been a month since I last sat down to write. After Christmas, Jac and I spent three weeks driving from Rancho Cucamonga, California to The Villages, Florida. Jac cannot fly due to her heavy metals poisoning and it had been 18 months since her last trip to visit her aging parents who are 87 and 85. Jac talks with them on the phone several times a week but wanted to see for herself that her parents are doing okay.  We had a nephew getting married in Houston on January 19th–so we made plans to drive to Florida after Christmas and to make the wedding on our way back home. Jac was ending her 70 days of her third chelation; she was really sick.  Any plans I had for spending relaxing hours reading and writing simply vanished as caring for my wife took center stage. We made the trip and spent time with family; from December 20 through January 20, we visited with 40 family members! We were able to see our parents, all three of our children, their spouses, and all 12 of our grandchildren! We were so very blessed. Jac’s curiousity regarding her parents was eased–any health care professional would give them a passing grade for living on their own.  Jac’s heart was satisfied and we had a great time visiting our family. Now that we’re safely home, it’s time for me to get back to my normal routine. I hope you enjoy 2019’s first SEED OF FAITH!

Each New Year at The Seed we begin with a reflection and a challenge. What is the “ONE WORD” of intention that God is giving you to grow into, or work on, this year?  My word is “Vision”. Jac’s word is “BRAVE.” What is the one word of intention that will help to change your life for good this year? (You can even google “words of intention”–there are many sites to peruse!)

Each New Year we also offer our members to draw a new name to grow into and to allow the Holy Spirit to shape them.  The first Sunday of the year was Epiphany. Where the wise men found the infant Jesus as they followed the mysterious star. The next week in the church calendar is the “Baptism of Jesus”. This is when John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the Jordan and the voice of the Father is heard saying, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” I love to have baskets of names up front and have the people come forward to draw a new name for them to work on during 2019. My new name is “Fearless Warrior”! (If you would like a new name drawn from our basket — please let me know.) I usually have to big vases of water up by the names, symbolizing the baptism of Jesus and also that when we are baptized, we are buried with Christ in our sin and risen from the dead with Christ. This year I came across a great video online of “The Domino Effect”. This year I had baskets of dominoes by the baskets of names.   I had our congregation watch the video on the “Domino Effect.”  Here is a link to YouTube, if you would like to view it — https://youtu.be/5JCm5FY-dEY. It’s quite impressive. One little domino can create quite a mighty change for good. The dominoes the people drew are to remind them of how their life can positively affect another’s. Make that call, visit that person in the hospital. Send that card. Make that meal. We never know how our obedience to God will affect someone’s life. Let’s put THE DOMINO EFFECT into our lives in 2019.

So What?  What will be the domino effect of your life this year?  What domino effect will you have on others?  What domino effect will you have on this world this year?    A second “so what” is: What is the “ONE WORD” that God has given you to work on this year?  What is the “ONE THING” that you are looking for this year?

Do you know that there are several passages in the Bible with the words “ONE THING?”

What is the “One Thing” that you have heard from the Lord?
King David wrote many of the Psalms.  Psalm 62 is a song of trust in God alone.  Towards the end of the Psalm, verse 11 and 12, David finally affirms that he can rest peacefully since he has heard that all the power belongs to God and that the steadfast love of the Lord lasts forever.  One thing God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.” Psalm 62:11-12

What is the “One Thing” that you are asking of the Lord?
David, the shepherd boy who wrote Psalm 23, wrote in Psalm 27 the “one thing” that he asked for was to live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 27:4-5 — One thing I asked of the Lord this is what I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”  The one thing the shepherd boy asked of the Lord was to live in the house of the Lord forever!  One thing King David was going to seek after — was to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord!

What is the “One Thing” that you need?
In the Gospel of Luke, we are told of the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus comes to visit and Martha is busy, busy, busy — working, cleaning, preparing, planning, cooking and setting up for the occasion; so much so that she misses the most important one thing!  Listen to the closing of this story — Luke 10:40-42 “But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha missed the “one thing!”  Her intentions were good but she ended up missing the forest for the trees. It is my prayer that we learn from Martha and do not miss the “one thing”!

What is the “One Thing” that you are doing?
Paul was sitting in a prison in Rome waiting for his own death by execution. He writes a letter to the church in Philippi called Philippians.  In chapter three he writes — I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;  but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved,  I do not consider that I have made it my own;  but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:10-14)

Can you picture the scene?  Paul is sitting in prison saying — I want to know Christ!  I want to know the power of His resurrection!  I want to have a death like His — so I can have a life like His!  I haven’t made it! I haven’t reached the goal — but the “one thing” — the “one thing” that I will do is forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead!   Paul was at the end of his life, and Paul understood that knowing Christ, that living in the power of the resurrection was the ONE THING that would bring him life.

What is the “One Thing” you lack?
The story of the rich man in Mark 10 — is a powerful story of the call to follow Christ.  I believe Christ is calling us to follow him and to not be so concerned with what we do — but with what God can do through us!  As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’  He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’” Luke 10:17-27

Here’s your final “So What?” What is the “One Thing” God is asking of you today?

What is the “One Word” that God is giving you this year? 

What is the “One Thing” that you will do that will change your life and the lives of those around you?  Will you be a domino that changes the world for good?

In case  you don’t know it, JESUS IS THE ONE THING! I’m praying that you will open your heart wide to Christ this year. I’m praying that you will seek to read the living words of life found in the Scriptures. Happy 2019! May this be your best year ever.

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.

Weekly Seed of Faith 12-22-18

Seed of Faith – Living Out & Watching Out   By Pastor Dave  

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” Luke 2:8

Dear Friends and Saintly Seed Sowers:
The final countdown for Christmas is here! Depending on when you read this — you will have less than 7 days to make the final preparations for your home and your heart for Christmas. Why not take a few moments in the next few days to read Luke 2:8-20? Reflect on the announcement of Jesus’ birth.  How has this announcement changed your life? Just think, if the Savior had not been born, December 25 would be a regular Tuesday this year. No holiday parties to attend, no kids’ Christmas plays or concerts, either. No extreme shopping–online or in the stores. Perhaps the big buzz would be New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I seriously want you to sit down and think about this? What if Jesus had never come to earth? What if Jesus had never been born?

Just about every spare minute I have this month, I am studying; looking over my Scripture passages for this week’s final Advent message on love. I keep getting stopped by the fact that there were shepherds … who lived out in the fields…doing what shepherds do:  keeping watch over their flocks.  It made me think,  “How do I apply that to me today?” These shepherds were just doing what shepherds do.  Kind of like you and me.  We go to work.  We come home.  We all have some sort of routine and rhythm to our days just like these shepherds. You have to bet that this day, this night was very ordinary in their very ordinary lives and, then, in one split second, everything changed completely and forever!  In the darkness of the night, an angel of the Lord appeared—all shiny and glowing!  It made me think of this question,  “Am I watching out for God to break into my daily routine?  Would I even notice if He moved into my neighborhood?” 

Let’s get busy dissecting the Greek. The Greek word for “keeping” is a present-active verb–meaning the action of “watching” is a constant, ongoing, day-in and day-out, hour in and hour out, minute by minute, second by second action.   The shepherds were constantly watching their flocks–by day and by night. It never stopped. Those shepherds were always watching over their flocks.  This then made me think of another question and as the Holy Spirit prompted me, I now prompt you:

What is it that you are keeping watch over–by day and by night? Be honest.  What is it that consumes your life? What eats up your time, your money, your thoughts?

Back to the shepherds who are out in the thick darkness of night watching sheep.  To them it was an ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And SUDDENLY,  God broke into their ordinary story.   You know this God of ours, the God Almighty who loves to hook the word “extra” onto the front of ordinary—extraordinary!? That’s where the shepherds were.   A night starting out just like every other night: watch the flock settle down for their night’s sleep; tomorrow will come soon enough. Try now to imagine being out there as a shepherd. Maybe you’re cooking stew over the make-shift fire? Maybe you are unrolling your sleeping bag and setting up under a tree? Maybe you and a few other shepherds are swapping funny, sheepish stories? It’s all quiet. It’s time for settling down. And then the greatest news in the history of the world is announced! An angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds — in the fields, in the outskirts of town,  and the shepherds are terrified.  I need to translate this part of the passage  because it’s important:  they were terrified, terrified greatly. Have you ever been greatly terrified? The night has a light of its own. It’s not twinkle, twinkle little star. It’s an angel. Lighting up the night sky.

Has God ever interrupted your nice, quiet, ordinary life?  Surely the shepherds’ ordinary night has now turned into an extraordinary night!

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Immediately, the shepherds had to think, “Isaiah!  The Prophet Isaiah foretold us of this very thing, 750 years ago.  Holy stinking smokes!” and then the entire night sky is not filled with just one angel but it is filled with a whole heavenly host of angels…all praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth…peace!”  Come on, think about being there. The entire skies are filled with angels and they are all singing. What would you do or say? What we do know is that when the angels were gone, those ordinary shepherds high-tailed it to find that baby; the baby who would be wrapped in cloths…and lying in a manger—an animal’s feeding trough.  These were lowly shepherds but they knew exactly where to find a manger. And when they found the manger,  there they found the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths!

So What?
Well, it’s here.  The last week before Christmas!  We sit on the edge of our own ordinary Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Eve, people everywhere throughout the world will gather together.  Many will gather in homes, surrounded by family.  Others will gather in churches.  All around the globe, ordinary people just like you and me, will gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord.  It’s really no ordinary night and we are no longer ordinary people.

God came down to earth in the form of a baby. God wants to live in our hearts and our homes.  Immanuel—God with us!  This was the cry of those ordinary shepherds on that ordinary night in their ordinary lives. God broke into their darkness of their night.  Angels!  Terrified!  More angels!  Singing! Glory and Praise to God!  Go find the Baby in a manger! Those shepherds went and they found the baby. They were no longer ordinary.  They were now glorifying-and-praising-God-extraordinary!  This is my prayer for you as you read this SEED OF FAITH. May the Holy Spirit break into your ordinary, routine life and may you sense the presence of heavenly angels this last week of Advent. When you gather with your family, or with your church, may you, too, sing just like those angels and those shepherds.

Christmas is the PROMISE that GOD IS WITH US. May there be a song in your heart as you run to find the baby lying in the manger. You’re not ordinary if you know the King of Kings!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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

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

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   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

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