“The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God (Psalm 84: 2-3).”
Ever feel like you need a safe, quiet place to go and be still; a place of safety; a place where you can hit the pause button on all the activity of the busy world? The Psalmist describes a scene on the outside of the sanctuary in the Temple. The birds have literally found a safe place to make a home and raise their young. The Psalmist goes on to say, “Happy are they who dwell in your house…Happy are the people whose strength is in you!” People, it seems, find safety and strength in God’s presence in God’s sanctuary.
I know at Lakeside that we worship in a multi-purpose room that we have made our place of worship. We still hope that you and anyone in Sanford or Lake Mary will find it to be a place that feels like home and a place where people find their strength in God. The designs for Lakeside’s new facilities include a sanctuary that is set apart as a place of worship where people experience the presence, healing and strength of God.
Next time you find yourself overwhelmed by the juggling act of life or in need of direction and strength to make difficult decisions, I invite you to drop by our sanctuary. Certainly God is everywhere, but I also believe that God sets aside special places like sanctuaries in which to meet us time and time again.
Peace of Jesus,
WHEN I LOOK at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
I love the word “question!” It contains its own meaning. To go on a great journey to discover or do something extraordinary is to go on a quest! It’s a big word, full of possibility and wonder. It’s also a great word for our faith. We are full of questions about God, humanity, and about the purpose of life. Our faith is a quest to discover who God is, who we are, and what our lives are about.
Psalm 139:7 captures a great question about the depth of God’s love for us. Consider Jesus’ question to his disciples as they joined him on his quest to bring salvation to humankind, “But who do you say that I am?” Or consider the rich young leader who asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Each of these questions reveals an intense search to understand God, people, and life. So go ahead, ask your questions of God in prayer, search the Scriptures for God’s answers to your questions, and live your life fully on this quest to know God and the depth of God’s love.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Luke 10:27)…”
“He’s so one track minded!” a woman might say of her husband who doesn’t see the dirty laundry on the floor as he passes by for the third time, lost in his thoughts or his own goals. “Imagine how many hours of practice went into that performance. That girl must eat, drink, and sleep classical music!” we might say of a cellist after an astounding performance. Sometimes we admire people who are so focused. Other times we may be annoyed by their narrow vision because we want them to see the bigger picture. Concentration on one activity can bring tremendous achievement or narrow mindedness and sometimes both.
When it comes to a life of faith, it’s true Jesus wants our full attention on his presence as we go through every portion of our lives. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3: 17).” It just seems that our focus on God in daily life is supposed to be more like how we experience being enamored when we are in love than it is a rigid discipline. When we are in love, the world seems bigger and brighter. Sweet things taste sweeter. Difficulties feel less significant. Life, though not fully perfect, is perceived to be richer, more vibrant, more dynamic because we share it with the one we love.
The Bible often envisions our relationship to God as the relationship between husband in wife. In Hosea, we are the unfaithful, wandering wife while God is the ever faithful husband. One of the few reasons the whole book of the Song of Songs made it into the Bible is because people saw in the sensual romance of covenant love between husband and wife a deep connection to the pleasure and attachment between God and his people. Finally, when Jesus returns to make the world right again in Revelation, he is the groom, ready to reclaim his bride, the Church!
Jesus does not invite us to focus our lives on him only because he saves us from sin and hell and death, though that is certainly a worthy reason! He invites us to love God fully with “all our heart, mind, soul and strength.” Then, instead of growing more narrow, the world becomes a more beautiful and amazing place, and life becomes a fuller experience.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3: 5-6).”
For a period of time in my early twenties, I would drive to St. Pete College and listen to Christian radio. Frequently I would here Christians share how powerful it was for them to memorize verses of scripture. “Whenever I needed them most, God would bring the verses to mind!” For a while I would write scriptures on pieces of paper and tape them to my dashboard or my mirror at home and commit them to memory. I have to say that, though I am not a good word for word memorizer, God has used these memory verses to speak to me when I really needed to hear it.
The Proverbs verse above has been one of my favorite memory verses. When we go through periods of change as individuals and as a whole church family, especially as we plan to relocate and rebuild Lakeside by August 2017, these verses are a powerful reminder that, trusting in God’s guidance is far more important than trusting in our own feelings and thoughts. We are the ant, looking at how high our ant mound is, while God sees how the entire universe works together by the direction of his hands! We see the small picture as it relates to us, and God sees the big picture as it relates to the universe.
These verses also remind us the importance of submitting our desires and understandings regarding our present circumstances to God’s directions for us. Whenever there is a conflict between our way and God’s way we must trust and obey our loving heavenly Father. As the old hymn reminds us, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
May we encourage one another to trust the Lord with our whole heart! Drop me a line and let me know how to pray for you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace and Joy,
“…but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die (Genesis 3: 3).'”
Read Genesis 3. We equate knowledge with power and with life. Think of all the lives that have been saved by the scientific knowledge practiced now in the medical professions! How can it be that knowledge ever leads to death? Yet knowledge is power, and power, in human hands, sometimes yields good results and sometimes yields destruction. List the crimes, wars, and terrorism you read about today in the news or the most destructive conflicts in history and think of the technical knowledge and the struggle for power behind them. Then it is not hard to imagine how knowledge, in the twisted and broken hands of humans, can lead to death.
Knowledge is our hunger and thirst. We crave it like a castaway cries out through cracked lips for a rain drop! The moment we humans gain some partial knowledge, some new control over part of life, we, like Adam and Eve in the garden, are immediately tempted to believe we can control everything. Because we aren’t God and we only have partial knowledge, we make a mess of things! Knowledge, like wealth, is not evil in and of itself. It is our desire to be in control of everything, to rule all, to have our way above all other ways, to be God, that is the root sin and the cause of all evil in the world.
So where is our hope for humanity, or the world? It is not purely in knowledge. We find our hope and salvation in Jesus Christ who alone can heal the human heart and mind. His way is to use power to serve, to give life to others, to share power with those he loves while never relinquishing his ultimate Lordship over all things. As followers of Jesus’ way of life, we too, are to use what power we’ve been given to serve and give life to others.
Lord Jesus, thank you for cleaning up the messes we make when we abuse the powers you give. Free us from our sin sickness to trust you fully, and to live fully as agents of your loving service for the life of the world. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen.
Peace of Jesus,
Jesus replied (to Nicodemus), “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again (John 3:3).”
All of my Christian life I have been told how important it is to “get into the Word.” For much of my early Christian years I got the message that it was vital to following Jesus, but I wasn’t clear why. Now that I’m a bit further along in my life with Jesus, I have come to understand that practices like prayer, Bible study, worship, Christian conversation, service, and others are life giving because in them we learn to recognize God in our lives. If you follow the metaphor Jesus uses comparing spiritual eyes to physical eyes, these practices help us develop eyes to “see” or recognize God who has been working in our hearts and in our world all along. We often do not experience God because we do not know God well enough to recognize him! Thus, knowing Jesus through the presence of his Holy Spirit AND through regular study of the Bible helps us recognize Jesus working in and around our lives!
Now, I know that in these days of mobility and constant activity, it is a challenge to set aside time to read and pray. However, neither you nor I will grow in our love for and service to Jesus without making it a priority. So, Lakeside is here to help you!
- Get the Lakeside for weekly devotions, sermon podcasts, and more: http://apps.appmachine.com/lakesidefellowshipumc Or go to your Apple, Android or Windows app store and download the Lakeside Fellowship UMC app. You many also scan this QR code with your phone.
- Use a daily Bible reading plan like this one:
- Join one of our small groups:
Lord, give us the grace to commit ourselves to knowing and loving you more through the study of the scriptures in 2016. May you open our spiritual eyes to see your love and work in and around us this year! Amen!