Youth Pastor Jonathan Dawson (July 7, 2021)
Often, we know the “how’s” and the “what’s” when we speak on forming a good habit on becoming like Christ.
We create a long list of ways to cultivate good habits. We listen to motivational speakers to receive encouragement. Nonetheless, have you reflected on “why” we need to do things for God? “Why” we need to reflect our behavior according to God’s will?
We acknowledge that if we build good habits, our habits become our character – it becomes who we are. Thus, we shape our character according to God’s character.
So here are a few “why’s” – reasons we should observe and build our character in God’s character to enter the Kingdom.
Patience – in Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Faith – In Hebrews 11:1-39, in this full chapter everyone in the OT who practiced their faith in God from Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Moses, and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, etc. all received God’s promised.
Kindness and Forgiveness – In Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgive you.”
Serving Others – In Matthew 20:28 “Even as Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Love Others – 1 John 4:19 & 21 “We love because He first loved us.” “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
The Bible directs us and answer all the “why’s” that we have. There is no need to reinvent what was written and commanded. We just need to trust and follow in reverence with His will, the rest is in God’s time.
As it is written in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
© fm1 7.9.21
That day, they killed my body, they destroyed my mind but not my spirit.
For my spirit is the center of my being. It is where my heart lies…
And it lies with God.
It is in my heart that lies the foundation of truth.
The truth that separates me from my enemies.
The truth that reminds me that I am a child of the one true God.
The maker of the heavens and the earth.
Justice belongs to the hands of the Almighty God, certainly not in man.
Through Him and only in Him lies salvation.
Man can destroy but can never defeat one’s spirit.
Man can bring condemnation but to Thee, thy God brings redemption.
For man is created from dust, and dust shall he return.
For whatever they have taken, only the Father of the heavens can affirm.
For our spirit belongs to the one who created us.
And our temporal bodies are just a vessel.
Without the mercy of the Father, it remains empty.
Through Thee, thy spirit shall be sanctified.
In the Bible, King David, Apostle Paul, Peter, James, Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, Timothy, Barnabas …… are the cloud of witnesses who showed us how they face the “giants” in their lives.
Giants, let us think about that for a moment. Giant represents something colossal. It is what oftentimes appears to be so enormous in front of us that we could not move forward in our lives. How do we overcome it?
We live in a society that everything seems enormous nowadays. From dealing with the responsibilities within the circle in our families, our jobs, our neighbors, and even in our church community. We feel that all things around us are pulling us away from our own time. We never really have the chance to just sit down and watch it from the outside. It seems that we constantly find ourselves inside this ball of the day-to-day conundrum of life.
In our Life Group, we were asked this question “how do you live in a chaotic world as a child of God?” I had to pause on this question and evaluate how do I overcome and face these “giants” in my life?
During my younger years, it was a struggle to have that self-discipline in my nature. The level of my maturity could not handle the constant changes and revolving duties that life demands.
Through spiritual growth and maturity, I began to find my strength by practicing and staying mindful of these virtues:
Humility – accepting the circumstances in my life knowing that I cannot do everything on my own. That I will need to present my worries to God and trust Him (Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”) That I will need the support of my family and my church community to pray with me to overcome my struggle (Romans 12:5 “so in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others.”).
Prayer – reviving my relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer (Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”). Setting a time to meet with God every day praising Him and thanking Him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.). Lastly, praying for others for healing (James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”).
Forgiveness – I ask God to release me from the bondage of pain and bitterness that others inflicted upon me, I pray to forgive me from my iniquities, and to teach me to forgive myself and accept that I am not perfect. (Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”)
Selfless Love – It is easy to think of what is good for us and satisfy ourselves with what we want but we find it difficult to open ourselves to others even to those who are in our inner circles because we normally set boundaries on how much time we want to extend ourselves to others caused by the busyness of our lives. But God’s Agape love is selfless. (1 John 4:16-21 “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”)
Finally, Patience – this is the most difficult to practice when you are short-tempered, always aiming for immediate results. and lack of understanding of the importance of waiting. There must be over 100 verses in the Bible that tell us to wait on the Lord. Why do you think there are so many? God is wise and He obviously, knows that our human heart always lacks the patience that He desires for us. Throughout the Bible, we see people creating their little gods because they could not wait, the sense of self-gratification is one of the sins of mankind. So, let me leave you with this simple and inspiring verse and know that God encourages us to endure and wait on Him (Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”).
© fm1 6.16.21
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
~ Lamentations 3:25-26 ~
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. ”
We have two members in our Life Group who are still suffering from cancer. Our group has been stricken with cancer one by one. It started in 2018 when the first one in our group was diagnosed with lung cancer when he felt a lump on his back, in 2019 the other one (a cardiologist) was diagnosed with kidney cancer, in 2020 March I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the same year in May, my best friend of 22 years collapsed one day on the floor and was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery on the same month.
We are thirteen in our group, the largest Life Group in our church from the time it was formed in 2014. We shared a lot of ministries, activities, and personal testimonies throughout the seven years. We take care of one another in prayer and inspired each other in our spiritual growth.
When one by one we began to be stricken with the deadly disease, one lady from our group asked, “what is happening to our group?” No one can comprehend “why us?” I must admit, in solitude, I struggled with the same question. And despite the fact we strived with that question and found ourselves in disbelief, we continued with our walk-in Christ and persevered.
During the pandemic last year, we decided to continue to meet every Friday night via Zoom to praise God, to pray for one another and we kept vigilant. In despair, we found the opportunity to praise God.
We continue to meet weekly to share stories of our medical treatments and update one another on our MRI, CT scans, and blood test results. We share Worship music from our favorite Christian Artists from YouTube, share jokes, share our family struggles – our highs and lows. Our Friday Zoom evenings gave us strength and hope. This became our life together.
This year two of us were given the good news of being “cancer-free” and the other two are still undergoing treatment but are stable. Every day we pray that God will continue to perform His miracles on our two brothers in Christ to restore their health and to extend their lives just as He added fifteen years in Hezekiah’s life (2Kings 20:1-6).
I believe in God’s miracles. I believe in His mercy and love. I believe that He is the healer of all healers. I also believe that even we if lose our life in this world if we have Him and believe that Christ is our Savior that we will celebrate everlasting life with Him one day.
Hope is anticipating that something good will happen. Faith is believing that we already have the “Grace” in our life even if it seems impossible.
© fm1 6.11.21
“Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessing of life. Encourage us oh Lord so that we may always find the strength to endure in times of adversity. May we always use the challenges that come our way as our opportunity to praise and give you thanks for the many blessings you provide us. Even when we find it difficult to understand why unpleasant things happen in our lives, please help us to cope and remain faithful to thee. To learn how to wait on you. Just as your beloved son Jesus carried the cross of our sins, please help our simple minds recognize that amid the storm, you are here with us carrying us through. Thank you, Father God, and in Jesus’s name I pray – Amen.”
I was watching this two-hour documentary of one of my favorite film directors over the weekend.
I always find it interesting when people are asked to say something about the person. How they describe their experiences working with the person, living with them, or who they are as an individual, and how they perceive stories that they hear about them.
What interesting stories do you think people would say about you? I am sure that there will be people who will share their life experiences and will mention some funny, dramatic stories, and even intimate details about you depending on their experiences with you. There will be some fragments of truth in their stories or exaggerated details based on their perspective.
I wonder how many people truly know me. I wonder how accurate the stories they would tell. The truth is – no matter how people think they know you or how much transparency they think they have seen, there is always something that is locked in your life that is sacred.
I have always said, at the end of the day – it is between me and God. For He knows who I am even before I was born. He knows my life story, my secrets, my joy, my pain. He knew which path I would take in this life.
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” ~ Luke 12:7
That, I would fail many times, and many times He will need to rescue me and reroute me to His path. Just like a little child, I will need a constant reminder to trust Him.
I have imagined myself in front of the Triune God and would hear Him say how I did in my life with the living. His words and His description of who I am will be concise from the time I was born through the end of my life. Scary? Definitely! Do I still have time to prepare? Absolutely! In 2 Peter 3:1-18, Apostle Peter wrote that there is time for all of us to rewrite our paths in accordance with the Law of God. That time is now Matthew 25:13
The truth is, only one thing that truly matters that I hope to hear….
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
© fm 5.13.21
“Lord, you have known me all my life, even before I was conceived. You made me through your image and likeness and love me all my life. Even those times that I have forgotten you, you stayed with me and did not let me go. What an amazing God you are! You are still here after all these years. You have held my hand from the time I was born and still holding my hand like a good shepherd never wanting any of your sheep to go astray. Heavenly Father, I consecrate my life to you. Thank you for the life you have given me – the blessings of family, friends, job, and most importantly – the opportunity to serve others when they needed it most. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.”
Have you thought about why we depend on our intelligence and not the Wisdom that comes from above? Why we cling on to our selfish pride when there is an easy way to just dial in to connect with God?
Often, we stay with our old habits and rely on our skills. We think if we can only master and learn to navigate through life everything will be smooth sailing. We network with people who we think would bring us to success, we read all these self-help books to boost our confidence and we keep ourselves busy to heighten our self-importance. We are all guilty of this one way or another.
We mistakenly think that solitude is a bad thing. We enjoy the constant noise around us. We feel that if we are not a part of what is out there that we do not exist. That we do not belong, and our solitude turns into isolation which turns to depression. We forget that sometimes solitude can be a gift. A time for us to dial in to connect with God.
I used to enjoy doing all these Conference Planning in my previous job. I hate to admit it, but I enjoyed the stress and the busyness. In my arrogance, I felt so important and needed all the time. I used to think that people around me cannot function without me. I know that I had the skillsets that very few people have. At one point, I was on top of my game. Have you experienced that? Have you felt so “cool” that you know that the show will not go on without your expertise?
It is great to feel needed, don’t you? It feeds into our ego. We feel so in control of everything around us. But are we?
In 2020, the pandemic brought us all into realization. It came to us so unexpected, it left us all bewildered – what was happening we asked? For a moment not just one person but all mankind was forced to stop when locked down was reinforced. I saw a video on YouTube showing popular tourist cities’ streets deserted – nothing is open, and no one is around.
Some people took this event as isolation that turned into depression. Some people started reassessing their lives, their priorities and even got the chance to look inside themselves and truly see who they are (I was one of them). What they want to change and how they will move forward in life. Wow! It is amazing how one event can change us – can change our lives. As we see events unfolding on news and in social media, we witnessed where people found their escape – here you can fill in the blanks.
I am blessed to be surrounded by good people in my life. I found my escape by reading A.W. Tozer, Dallas Willard, C.S. Lewis, and The Bible (my personal favorite is Proverbs). I am even fortunate to work in an environment that focuses on helping the Elderly. The pandemic taught me to set aside my arrogance, it gave me a perspective that we cannot plan everything in life because in a blink of an eye – life can change. I learned to love and put God first in my life. That each morning that I wake up is a blessing. That I am completely nothing without Him. At the end of the day, I thanked Him that He was with me helping me with my choices, with my work, and knowing that every skill and every wisdom that I have comes from Him.
Do you know the definition of intelligence? “It is the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding.”
What about Wisdom? “It is the knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment, or insights.”
And do you know that you can be intelligent and lack wisdom? For Wisdom only comes from God and from Him alone.
Proverbs 2:1-22 ~
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.
Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.
Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.
Surely her house leads down to death
and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
None who go to her return
or attain the paths of life.
Thus, you will walk in the ways of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
For the upright will live in the land,
and the blameless will remain in it;
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the unfaithful will be torn from it.
Heavenly Father, we ask for your forgiveness to all our iniquities. Help us to rely on your provisions with patience and humility. Guide us in our thoughts, our desires, our words, and in our deeds so that everything that flows out from us brings glory and honor to Your name.
May the Holy Spirit grant us the wisdom to guide us so we shall not put judgment on others but to bring God’s Agape love to whom we meet even to those who inflict pain in our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7
“There is freedom to choose which side we shall be on but no freedom to negotiate the results of the choice once it is made. By the mercy of God, we may repent a wrong choice and alter the consequences by making a new and right choice. Beyond that we cannot go.” ~ A.W. Tozer
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” ~ 1 Peter 1:1-5
“He promised there will be a new Heaven and Earth”
“Resurrection Life is permanent”
“Salvation is a gift. It is black and white…are you in or out?”
“Tend with your friendship in Christ”
~ Pastor Seth McCoy, Church of Emmanuel