Monday, July 6, 2020


Last week we talked about Darkness and Light, including Matthew 5:16 that says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”  Since the light that shines forth from us comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, it occurred to me that the fruit of the Spirit is like a rainbow of colors that all work together to produce pure white light.   At the risk of mixing metaphors too badly, let’s use the prism of Scripture to think how the various fruits of the Spirit work together to make up the light we are to shine.  As the world seems to get more and more contentious, we have been presented with an opportunity to shine light into the darkness.


Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 



Things to think about:

·      The natural state of things is darkness (Genesis 1) but light requires energy.  The light we are to shine is not self-generated but comes from the Holy Spirit inside of us (if you’re a believer). Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing and also that He would send us a Helper.

·      Paul says earlier in Galatians 5 that we are to be led by the Spirit (Light) and not by our own natural desires (Darkness). 

·      The current times we live in cry out for light. So if we are to be led by the Spirit and shine light, let’s get more practical about what light actually looks like.


·      Love

o   1 John 3:16-18 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

§  How do we show love to others?

·      Joy

o   Psalm 16:11 - You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

o   It is said that the difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is dependent on external circumstances but joy is more foundational and not swayed by externalities.

o   Joy is rooted in hope. Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

§  How can we share our joy with others?

·      Peace

o   John 16:33 - “I have told you these things, so that in me You may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

o   Philippians 4:4-7 – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  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.”

§  We all know verses 6 and 7 but it’s interesting that verses 4 and 5 mention two other fruits of the Spirit – Joy and Gentleness

§  How can we share peace with others?

·      Patience

o   Ephesians 4:2 - Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 

§  Here are four fruits in one verse!

§  My mother-in-law used to say, “Never pray for patience.  You don’t want to go through the training course!”

§  How can we show patience to others?

·      Kindness

o   Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

o   It seems that kindness and compassion go together, that we are to treat others as we would want to be treated.

§  How can we show kindness to others?

·      Goodness

o   In Greek, the word goodness, “agathosune,” means “an uprightness of heart and life” (Thayer & Strong, 1995).

§  It seems to me this is closely related to holiness and righteousness.

o   Jesus says about Himself in John 10:11 – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”


o   It is both an attitude and a lifestyle. 

§  How can we show goodness to others?

·      Faithfulness

o   Faithfulness is Belief + Action + Perseverance

§  Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7 - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

o   Hebrews 11 is the Hall of Faith chapter in the Bible.

o   These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 

o   By faith Abraham obeyed

o   By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark

o   By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau 

o   By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,

o   By faith they passed through the Red Sea

§  How can we show faithfulness to others?

·      Gentleness

o   Proverbs 15:1 - A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.

o   Also expressed as humility or meekness.  Meekness is not weakness!  It is strength under control.

§  How can we show gentleness to others?

·      Self-control

o   Proverbs 25:28 – “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”

§  You can have the edifice but not the evidence.

o   James 1:19-20 – “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

§  How can we show self-control to others?


Monday, June 29, 2020

Darkness and Light

We live in dark times.  The COVID-19 global pandemic, racism, Godzilla clouds from the Sahara – there’s just no end to the intensity and pervasiveness of the darkness that envelops the world.  And yet in one sense, this is nothing new.  Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, people have been in an epic struggle between dark and light, evil and good.  If all we had at our disposal were newspapers and politicians, it would be pretty hopeless.  But thanks be to God, this isn’t the case.  Today, let’s consider Light and Dark and our individual and collective responsibilities as Christians.

Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Things to think about:
The World lives in Darkness
·      John 3:19b – “but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
·      Acts 26:18 (Jesus speaking to Paul) – “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
·      Why does sin shroud Man in darkness?

God is Light
·      1 John 1:5 – “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
·      In John 1:4-5, the apostle tells us, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

We have been brought into the Light
·      In John 8, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
·      Colossians 1:13 – “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves”

We are the Light of the world
·      Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
·      1 John 1:6-7 – “If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Our Response
·      Thinking about your family, how do we let our light shine before others?
·      Thinking about your neighbors, how do we let our light shine before others?
·      Thinking about our society, how do we let our light shine before others?
·      Thinking about our world, how do we let our light shine before others?

Monday, June 8, 2020

Do Something

Matthew West - Do Something - YouTube

Last week, we talked about how God is looking for people who will stand up and be counted, especially in the face of injustice.  We read in Isaiah 59:16  “He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene.”  I ended our note with Be Somebody. But be somebody to do what?  Whether big or small, God calls us to not just talk about, even agree on things that aren’t right, but He also commands us to Do Something.  We’re going to look at one of the most familiar verses, found in James 2 that clearly communicates that the walk has to match the talk.


James 2:14-17

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?   In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.



Things to think about:

·      Given the protests that have gone on for over a week now, clearly there are a lot people who are motivated to “do something”

o   We can agree that the violence and looting isn’t helpful

o   What constructive actions have you seen people take?

o   Hopefully we can also agree that the Church needs to stand up and be involved

o   What have you seen the Church or Christians do to make a positive difference?

o   What do you think the church’s response should be?


§  What Scripture or Christian principle would you use to support that view?

·      Our verse is about seeing the needs of the local community (a brother or sister) and meeting them. 

o   Seeing the needs of the community can come in Small, Medium, and Large sizes

§  Small – one person you know (or know of) where you can meet their needs

§  Medium – a group, area, or other trait that addresses the needs of a larger group of folks.

§  Large – getting involved at the city, state, or national level to affect change for the better

·      Do you find yourself sufficiently motivated to Do Something to bring justice where God has given you the sight to see its absence?

o   What does that look like for you?

§  If not, James 1:5 - If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

o   Have you already begun to put your faith into action?

o   Do you need an extra dose of courage to overcome any fear or reluctance to act?

§  Psalm 56:3-4 - When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise— in God, I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

My prayer for each of us that we will find our role in addressing injustice in whatever form God has called us to intervene.



Monday, June 1, 2020

Race and Christianity

Remembering George Floyd: Devoted father, 'gentle giant' | USA ...

First of all, please know this is a very strange blog for me to write.  I'm afraid that even in the writing of it I may be offending some.  If that's the case, please accept my apologies. But I'm more afraid of being a coward and not addressing a topic I feel needs to be addressed. Ephesians 4:15 implores us to  "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ."

The George Floyd tragedy and the COVID death disparity are the two most recent examples that the world Africa-Americans and other people of color live in and the world whites live in are very different.  James 2:1-9 is about the forbidding of favoritism and it seems to me that racism is an ugly form of favoritism.

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 

Things to think about:
  • Speaking the truth in love - Love without truth is mush.  Truth without love is harsh.
  • I believe God is the Artist who loves color would have us celebrate the variety in His creation. I don't believe in color blindness because that tries to ignore the beauty of the quilt God has made.  I am richer when I embrace others from different backgrounds who don't necessarily look or sound like me.
    • Why should you see color?
  • Full transparency about the current climate (How do you really feel about it?)
  • What you (don’t/want) to understand about race, police violence, etc.? What is the lingering question you’ve always wanted to ask?
  • Advocating in your respective circles for your brothers (When topics of race surface do you stand in the gap, tend to agree or remain silent?)
  • What can we as a group do to help? Heal? Change for the better? 
Isaiah 59: 1-9
So Justice is driven back,
    and Righteousness stands at a distance;
Truth has stumbled in the streets,
    Honesty cannot enter.
Truth is nowhere to be found,
    and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The Lord looked and was displeased
    that there was no Justice.
 He saw that there was no one,
    he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

so His own arm achieved Salvation for him,
    and His own Righteousness sustained him.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Jesus - The Source, The Structure and The Salvation

There are so many facets of the Christian faith to explore that are good and of God and deserving of our time and attention.   In verses 15-23 of the first chapter of Colossians, Paul brings us back to the True North of our faith, Jesus.   As I re-read this passage in The Message version of the Bible, I was struck by three aspects of Jesus: He is the Source, He is the Structure, and He is the Salvation. Let’s explore each of these and in doing so, bring back into focus the elemental Truth of our faith.

Colossians 1:16 - For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.

Things to think about:
The Source
·      Col. 1:15-18  -  We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

o   Jesus is the representation of God
o   Everything got its start in Jesus
o   Everything finds its purpose in Jesus
o   What is the Holy Spirit illuminating for you as you consider Jesus as The Source of everything?

The Structure
·       Col. 1:18-20 -  He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, …

o   Jesus is eternal
o   Jesus is supreme
o   Jesus provides a home and healing for all creation
o   What is the Holy Spirit illuminating for you as you consider Jesus as The Structure of the universe?
The Salvation
·      Col. 1:20-22 - …all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.

o   Jesus’ sacrifice
o   Jesus carried us to God’s side
o   Jesus put our lives together
o   Jesus makes us acceptable before God
o   What is the Holy Spirit illuminating for you as you consider Jesus as The Salvation of your soul?
Our response
·      Col. 1:23 - You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. 
·      What characteristics of Jesus feel new or renewed to you as you think through our lesson?
o   What are things we can do today to keep ourselves grounded and steady?
o   How does our study encourage you to avoid being distracted and diverted?