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Tuesday
Aug212012

August 2012

Back to School

In just a couple of weeks, it’ll be “Back to School!”  Parents will celebrate.  Kids will be in shock:  “What!  Summer’s over already?!?”  And while school years come and go, we are continually encouraged to teach our children spiritual lessons every day of their lives.  In fact, the Bible is very clear in this regard:

You shall teach them diligently to your children, . . .

                                                Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESV)

The obvious question is, “Teach what?”  The short answer would be, a love and devotion to God and the things that please Him.  God’s people were going to the Promised Land – a land of many idols and selfish living (not the USA in this setting).  Not only are they called to love the one true God, but they are challenged to pass along their faith to their children.

There’s a powerful word picture regarding diligently.  It refers to the repetition used to sharpen something.  The continual exposure to the things of God would serve to “sharpen” the spiritual lives of the succeeding generations.  And this was to be an extensive practice.  The latter part of verse 7 employs language that suggests the teaching is an all day affair (when you sit…walk…lie down…rise).

I think of the incredible opportunity and responsibility we have at Shreveport First.  The Nursery is “bursting at the seams!”  A new generation is ready to walk in the steps of those who have gone before.  So, my brothers and sisters, let’s help them walk down the right road.  Let’s diligently teach our children to have a love and devotion to God.  In every way and as the opportunity presents itself, let’s encourage them and bless them and help them grow into powerful men and women of faith!

~ Pastor John

Thursday
Jul052012

July 2012

Freedom

I’m guilty.  I grew up in the Sixties, so my mind tends to wander down that road at times.  As we near July 4th, and thinking of Independence Day, a song popped into my head:  People Got to Be Free (The Rascals, 1968).  Back then, freedom was more of a social and moral issue; an upheaval against government laws and cultural norms.  But freedom is a dynamic spiritual truth as well!

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.

 Psalm 118:5 (ESV)

Don’t these words strike a chord deep in our hearts?  Who hasn’t experienced distress?  Or maybe you’re in the midst of distress.  Either way, we’re uncomfortably familiar with distress.  There’s a beautiful word picture here.  Distress literally means “narrow straits.”  And the ending phrase set me free has the sense of a “large place.”  Do you see the picture?  The Psalmist is saying, “Life has hemmed me in,” but the Lord rips apart the binding!  “Circumstances are confining me,” but the Lord liberates me!  And while things seem to be “closing in” – God comes and life “opens up” through His steadfast love and mighty power.

The simplicity of this verse is striking.  Are we in trouble?  Call on (pray to) the Lord!  He will answer and set us free.  We’re all acquainted with distress/trouble; but how many of us take the time to call on the Lord?  We think we can handle the situation.  We assume we can find the answer.  We can make a way.  If we’re honest, the outcome we devise may work for a while; it might get us by – but it really isn’t the best answer for us.  Passionately calling on the Lord will involve the King of the Universe in our lives.  God answers and sets [us] free!

 ~ Pastor John

Friday
Jun152012

June 2012

Can these bones live?

Do you have a favorite Old Testament story?  I know, I know – there are just too many to choose from!  However, one that really captures our imagination is found in Ezekiel 37.  It’s the valley of dry bones.  Not only is the imagery vivid, but the challenge is unmistakable.

And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

                                                                Ezekiel 37:3 (ESV)

I like the way Ezekiel answers:  “O Lord God, you know.” These few words contain a powerful confession of faith.  You and I would have looked on the scene, staggered and overwhelmed.  But the words of the prophet have a settled certainty about them, a faith that rests firmly in the Lord.  The next time we find ourselves in a stark setting, facing an impossible situation, may we confidently turn to God and confess our faith in Him.

What happens next?  God gives Ezekiel specific directions:  say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  As Ezekiel preached – and I like this part – there was a rattling as the bones came together!  The word of the Lord speaks to our disjointed lives, and out of the scattered mess comes the framework for right living.  Let’s allow God to speak His word over our fragmented situations.  He can bring the pieces of our lives back together in a powerful way.

We’ve gone from bones to bodies – what’s missing?  The breath of life!  God instructs Ezekiel to preach to the four winds saying, “breathe on these . . . , that they may live.”  Without God’s Spirit, life is an uninspired collection of random moments.  The presence of God’s Spirit enlivens His people:  and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army (v. 10).  We need His power and purpose to fill us and guide us as we contend for the faith in an ungodly world today!

Faith, the Word, and the Spirit of God bring His people to life.  Lord, breathe on Your people once again!

~ Pastor John

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