Translate

Friday, December 8, 2017

Advent: Week 1—The Candle of Hope (or The Prophet’s Candle)


For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.  And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. 
 (Isaiah 60:2-3 KJV)

Note:  This is a re-post from the last two years with some editing.  I am currently in the process of discerning about writing some additional posts looking at Jesus’ birth prophesied in the Old Testament, so there may be a few additional posts in the coming weeks.  Moreover, I am pondering sharing some Advent sermons I developed ten years ago; however, most of them have not been shared publicly.  If technology will cooperate, the sermons may be audio or video (for something a bit different).

*A special time of year is upon us—the season of Advent.  On December 3, 2017, we marked the first Sunday of Advent; this post takes a look at the first candle—the Candle of Hope (or the Prophet’s Candle).  In conducting a quick internet search, I discovered multiple terms for the candles, so what I am presenting is one option.  To read the first post in my Advent series please see: Advent.


Banner at Trinity United Methodist Church, Albia, IA.  Photo Credit: D. Wright


The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  ….  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:2, 6 KJV)

The dictionary defines hope simply, as: “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true”.[1]

The biblical definition of hope differs from the secular view of hope.  Seen from the eyes of faith, hope is: “…a confident expectation…regardless of temperament or circumstances, where there is a belief in the living God who intervenes in human life and who can be trusted to keep…promises…Hope is therefore inseparable from faith…”[2]



Banner at Trinity United Methodist Church--Albia, IA. Photo Credit: D. Wright


This is the type of Hope we celebrate at Christmas.  A Hope that is solid and lasting—it never fails.  The Hope I am referring to is Jesus. 

Which type of hope do you experience in your daily life?
               
On the first Sunday of Advent are reminded that Christ is our Hope.   

Jesus is our Hope; without Him, we are lost and destined for an eternity that no one should desire.  {Click to Tweet}

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.  
(Psalm 42:5 KJV)


Poinsettias at Trinity United Methodist Church--Albia, IA.  Photo Credit:  D. Wright 


On the first Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Hope (or in some traditions it is the Prophet’s Candle).  The Old Testament is full of prophecies about the Messiah—giving details about both comings—sometimes both comings are seen in the same chapter or verse.  Keep in mind these prophecies were given hundreds of years in advance.  The prophets likely did not realize there were two comings of the promised Messiah, thus the confusion when Jesus came as Savior (setting up the Kingdom of God in hearts, rather than as a conquering King (giving victory over Rome).

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.  
(Jeremiah 33:14-16 KJV)

Hope came to our world—dark with sin—in the form of a tiny, vulnerable baby.  This child grew and developed like a normal human child; yet He lived a sinless life.  Eventually, He suffered, bled, died, and rose again to save us from our sins.

As Christians, we are indeed blessed with Hope—hope that the world does not have and does not understand.  To have hope, means that we can see more than what is right in front of us.  This hope gives us great confidence—confidence that strengthens and encourages us.  It is also something that the world cannot understand.  This hope allows us to praise God in the darkest times of life.  {Click to Tweet}    

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 
(Hebrews 11:1 KJV)



Banner Trinity United Methodist Church--Albia, IA.  Photo Credit: D. Wright


How have you experienced this type of hope?  How have you seen this in the lives of others?

What will your response be this year to Jesus?  He stands ready to come into your heart; He has already said yes to you.  What is your response? 

Take some time this week to consider the following questions: 

What does it mean to have hope? 

Where does your hope lie—in Jesus or in something or someone that cannot save? 

Therefore, as we commence this season of Advent let us prepare our hearts to welcome in Jesus our Savior and Lord!  Jesus the One who is our Hope! 

Please do not forget your single friends, family, neighbors, or those in your church who will be alone on Christmas Day—consider inviting them to join with your family (no matter how simple and informal the gathering is)—the blessings will flow both ways!  Whatever you do, please do not tell them, “Oh, God is with you…” and then walk off, ignoring their hurting heart and heart-felt desire to fellowship with others on Christmas Day.  Do not assume they want to spend the day alone.  Your family may be the only family they will get to experience…EVER. 
 
Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the sure hope we have through Jesus Christ—our Lord Immanuel—God with us.  Help us to remember that Hope; particularly as we wait in expectation for Christ’s coming.  Guide our thoughts when we struggle to find Hope in the various situations and challenges of life.  We are encouraged through Your Hope; direct us in sharing that Hope with others.  Empower us to be encouraging and loving to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling in so many ways as this year winds down—may we be the hands and feet of Jesus for them and for others.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,

Kim

The next candle we will be considering is The Candle of Peace.




[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hope
[2] New Concise Bible Dictionary, “hope”, pp. 226-227, Ed. Derek Williams, Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1989).

Friday, December 1, 2017

Advent 2017



The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. 
(Isaiah 40:3-5)

Note: This is a re-post from the last two years with some editing.  I am currently discerning how to approach Advent this year; hopefully, there will be a bit more new content—perhaps looking at how Jesus’ birth was prophesied in the Old Testament.  Please stay tuned.

*A special time of year is upon us—the season of Advent.  This week’s post will serve as an introduction to my series on Advent.  Be watching for an additional post on Christmas Day (unless the Lord leads me differently).



Banner Trinity UMC, Albia, IA--photo credit D.Wright


Advent (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-advent) is considered the beginning of the church year.  In churches that are more liturgical—following the Revised Common Lectionary—Advent is the start of a new cycle of worship and reading the Word.  “The word Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’.  The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his [sic] First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his [sic] Second Advent.”[1]

This year (2017) Advent starts on Sunday, December 3, and concludes four weeks later on Christmas Eve.  It is at this time of year that we celebrate Jesus’ first coming while looking forward to His second coming.  It is a time of preparation and expectation.  It is a time to quiet ourselves and to ponder exactly what it was that Jesus did for us.  (Realize that Jesus did not have to come but He did!)  



Banner Trinity UMC, Albia, IA--Photo Credit:  D. Wright


While you are making preparations for Christmas, remember who and what you are really celebrating.  Remember the Reason for the Season!  If Jesus had not come to earth—to live and walk among us, to die a horrendous criminals’ death on the cross, and to rise again—the world would be a much different place.  I certainly would not be at my computer composing posts like this!  Life would be even more out of control!

God sent His Son into this suffering and evil world as an innocent infant, to grow up and live a completely sinless life.  And though He was not guilty of any wrongdoing, He died the death of a common criminal.  The reason for all of this was so Jesus could take upon Himself the punishment you and I deserve for our sins by dying in our place.  He did this because He loved us, sinful though we are.  But Jesus’ story doesn’t end at the grave.  He rose from the dead and rules in Heaven today.

And now, He reaches out to you, offering new life and hope.  Right now, you can accept those gifts.  You can invite Him to come into your life and your heart.  His love can bring you a new life of peace and joy.  All you must do is confess your sins to God, receive His forgiveness and by faith accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord.  That’s the true meaning of Christmas—a miracle of God’s love given to the world 2,000 years ago.  Why not receive that gift of love for yourself today?  It is the best gift you will ever receive.[2]

As we prepare to welcome the Christ child again, spend some time reflecting on what Christ’s birth means to you. 

What does Christ’s birth mean to you?  How are you preparing to celebrate His birth?

Consider reaching out to those who are spending their first Christmas without a loved one.  It will be a sad, difficult time.  Simply being a quiet presence—ready and available to listen—will be a blessing for many people. 

Please do not forget your single friends, family, neighbors, or those in your church who will be alone on Christmas Day—consider inviting them to join with your family (no matter how simple and informal the gathering is)—the blessings will flow both ways!  Whatever you do, please do not tell them, “Oh, God is with you…” and then walk off, ignoring their hurting heart and heart-felt desire to fellowship with others on Christmas Day.  Your family may be the only family they will get to experience…EVER.  Christmas Day is about Jesus, pure and simple; it is not about family!   

Please join me in prayer:

Dear Father, reveal Yourself to us as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the first coming of Your Son, so long ago.  May we be the voice in our wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord.  Thank You for the gift of Your Son.  As we welcome Him; we also eagerly anticipate His second coming.  Remind us to focus on the real reason for the Season.  Help us to not miss You and those around us who are in need in our busyness and our focus on our family or on ourselves.  We pray for Your comfort to surround those grieving the loss of loved ones during this season, as well as for those who are walking a difficult journey due to illness, job loss, and more; may they truly feel your presence in a special way.  Show us where we need to be Your love with skin on.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,

Kim



[1] From http://www.crivoice.org/cyadvent.html article on Advent by Dennis Bratcher
[2] From December 2005 church newsletter (Knoxville First UMC), written by Pastor Neil Montz

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving


“Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;”
(Ephesians 1:15-16 KJV)

Note:  This is a revised post from November 2015 and 2016.  After an absence of a few weeks, I thought I should let my readers know that I am still alive.  



Personal Photo



It is currently Thanksgiving Day in the United States—a day where some people gather to enjoy each other, eat a lot of food, and for some—watch football games.  However, not everyone has this type of story.  In fact, it is a difficult season for many; please pray for those who do not have family or friends to fellowship with during this season, as well as those who have challenging relationships with family members.

During my graduate school years, I presented a variety of programs in my residence hall and at the Wesley Foundation, one of my favorite programs to present on was the topic of thankfulness—at one point I had several versions.  I attempted to present this program around Thanksgiving or shortly before finals—a very busy and stressful time for students!  A time when it is hard to be thankful!  However, I did not do this during finals week, none of us had time for programs of any type (other that “de-stress” programs, such as cuddling a puppy or kitty!). 

The programs were not elaborate or even all that time consuming; they were focused on being thankful (thinking about things, places, and people we were thankful for).  Due to the hectic and stressful nature of being a college student it was easy to lose focus on what really mattered and to be thankful for the important things and people (no matter how small) in life.  Even those of us who are not students can lose focus on what really matters; therefore, it is a good idea to mindfully practice thanksgiving each day. 

Life continues to be hectic, even after college and graduate school; it is so easy to get distracted by unimportant things and lose sight of what—and especially—who really matters.  For many of us, we are blessed beyond measure and have so much more than most of the world, yet it is easy to forget that in the workaday world.


Personal Photo



Personal Photo


Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 
(Psalm 100:4 KJV)

Those of us, who have Jesus as Savior and Lord, should be among the most thankful people in the world.  In Jesus, we have been forgiven of our sins and have a multitude of blessings.  Yet, sometimes, we forget just how much the Lord has given us and has done for us.    

 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.  (Psalm 116:17 KJV)

Consider taking some time during this busy holiday season (and every day of the year) to reflect on what and who you are thankful for—you may even want to let people who you are thankful for know it! 

Have fun with it!  I imagine that your perspective on life will change, if you are persistent about doing this. 

Try listing at least three things you are thankful for each day until the end of the year.  It is fine to be thankful for the simplest of things in your life.  Then read back through them and rejoice.  In 2015 I wrote down three things each day that I was thankful for; this year I have been writing down at least five I am thankful for each day (and some times more).  It is an interesting exercise.

What are you thankful for today?

Please join with me in prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank You for all the things and people in our lives.  In Your Word we learn that we are to be thankful in all things but not for all things.  Help us to change our perspective so that we realize just how much we do have to be thankful for; we have so much in abundance compared to many places throughout the world.  Remind us that all we have is from You.  Help us to remember to count our blessings daily and particularly when we are busy or under a lot of stress.  In our busy lives remind us to not take people or You for granted; encourage us to place others ahead of ourselves, serving them in the name of Jesus.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,

Kim

Dear Readers, I would like to wish you and your families a blessed Thanksgiving.  Enjoy and celebrate all of God’s richest blessings during this season of thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Friday, November 3, 2017

Christian Persecution and International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 2017



Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.  (Hebrews 13:3 KJV)

*Note: This post is a compilation of two posts that I have shared in past years on the topic of Christian persecution.  Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer in ways that are simply heartbreaking.*

Twenty-one years ago the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church started—it is generally the focus of the first Sunday of November (and occasionally the second Sunday as well).  For additional information on this day, please click here: International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Since the reality of Christian persecution is a daily reality in many parts of the world and needs to be publicized; I simply cannot ignore it. 

If you are interested in watching a short video (a little over six minutes), I invite you to view this year’s Voice of the Martyrs’ video Solitary Prayer.  It is about Voice of the Martyrs’ founder Richard Wurmbrand’s experiences of persecution in Communist Romania.  While it is not easy to watch videos of this nature; I believe it is vital for us to understand what is going on all around us in other parts of the world.

For some news on Christian persecution from earlier this year, please watch this a video that can be found at  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/14/christian-persecution-how-many-are-being-killed-where-are-being-killed.html.


Personal Photo


Currently throughout the world there are many countries where to be a Christian is a death sentence or at least a guarantee to lose home, employment, family, and so much more.  In the face of all this—men, women, and children demonstrate great faith in their Savior—Jesus Christ—not denying Him despite the overwhelming horror and violence.

At this point, in America we have it fairly easy—we can worship freely and without fear.  How has that affected our faith?  How strong is our faith—is it strong enough to sustain us, even if that freedom was taken away?  Some day, we may find ourselves in a very similar situation to our brothers and sisters in Christ in places such as North Korea, China, and the Middle East.

American Christians seem to be hiding their heads in the sand regarding the persecution of their brothers and sisters in Jesus, disregarding the reality of so many; thereby, refusing to even want to consider the possibility that one day they may face the exact same reality.  Persecution purifies and strengthens (or it can) Christians to live for Jesus.  The remnant that withstands persecution is stronger than before—the Scriptures are clear—persecution strengthens and grows the Church rather than killing it.

I strongly believe we can learn much from our Christian bothers and sisters in the persecuted church.  They know what it means to rejoice in the face of things what are not joyful.  Learn about them and from them.  Remember to pray for those who are suffering all because they refuse to turn from Jesus. 

As we pray for our family in chains (Hebrews 13:3), let us prepare ourselves to face the unthinkable.  While persecution is not pleasant to read or think about or even consider, denying its reality is not wise either.

Hopefully, we will never face persecution.  However, I am feeling nudged about getting prepared now, “just in case”.  After all, those of us who live in the Midwest tend to stock up on food and supplies in preparation for winter, not to mention the occasional blizzard or ice storm.

How can you prepare yourself for difficult days ahead?  Where have you placed your allegiance?

*No matter what happens in this life can you say “it is well with my soul”?*  I encourage you to listen to the following worship video from Bethel Music: 




 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 
(Philippians 3:7-8 KJV)


Personal Photo


Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.  
(1 Peter 4:12-19 KJV)


Please join with me in prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the testimonies and tenacious faith of our brothers and sisters in Jesus; their stories are difficult to read, watch, or hear, yet they inspire us to live more fully sold out for You.  For those who are in prison for their faith, strengthen and encourage them with Your felt presence.  Bolster their faith and witness as they face torture and unspeakable cruelty.  Illuminate their light—the light of Jesus—in the darkest of places, showing their captors Jesus.  Let them know we are standing with them and are praying for them.  Comfort and protect their families who are suffering far more than we can grasp.  Teach us through their witness how we are to live for You and even suffer and die for You.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Kim

Special Note: Faith Journey with Kim: Growing in Christ Jesus is on  Facebook.  To get to the site, please click on the grayish text above or here.  There is also a link on the right side bar.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Clergy Appreciation Month: Continuing Our Appreciation


“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy…”  (Philippians 1:3-4 KJV)

October is here a time set aside for appreciating our pastors and all they and their families do—the sacrifices they make to care for the people in their charge.  Of course, we should appreciate them the other eleven months of the year!  October is Clergy Appreciation Month, with this in mind, I will be sharing (with some editing) what I posted the last two Octobers.

To read the previous posts in this series, please see:  Clergy Appreciation Month, Clergy Appreciation Month:  Pastor Appreciation Sunday, Clergy Appreciation Month:  Laity Serving, and Clergy Appreciation Month: Encouragement.

As we come to the end of this month set aside to honor pastors, let us not forget to honor and encourage our pastor and their families the other eleven months of year!  We all need to be encouraged and spurred on as we live in this world.  The same is true for our pastors, and perhaps it is even more so.  Pastors seem to incur more than their fair share of criticism; therefore, words of encouragement are precious as diamonds.    

In the New Testament, we can read how Paul frequently encouraged Timothy (see 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy), in his ministry. 

While Timothy was a young pastor, lacking in self-confidence, needing encouragement to fulfill his calling; the same is true for those responding to their call today—no matter how long they have been pastoring.  Ministry is not an easy road to walk—burn out rates are incredibly high. 

In today’s world, being a pastor is a rewarding, challenging call—sadly, it also sometimes is a thankless job.  You will likely never fully know how much your words of encouragement and support means to your pastor. 

Use your imagination in honoring your pastor and his or her family.  Just be sure to let them know how much you care.  Share a word or two of praise…be creative…it only needs to be heartfelt. 


Personal Photo of  a former pastor and me.



What have you done personally (or what has your church done) to show appreciation to your pastor(s) during this month?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Lord, as we come to the end of this special month, honoring pastors, help us to remember to encourage and affirm them and their families throughout the year.  Give us nudges through the Holy Spirit to encourage our pastor when needed.  We thank you for our shepherd and family that you have sent us.  Protect them from the attacks of Satan and encourage them.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Kim

Special Note: Faith Journey with Kim: Growing in Christ Jesus has a Facebook page.  To get to the site, please click on the grayish text above or here.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Clergy Appreciation Month 2017: Encouragement


“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another:  and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV)

October is here a time set aside for appreciating our pastors and all they and their families do—the sacrifices they make to care for the people in their charge.  Of course, we should appreciate them the other eleven months of the year!  October is Clergy Appreciation Month, with this in mind, I will be sharing (with some editing) what I posted the last two Octobers.

To read previous posts in this series, please see:  Clergy Appreciation Month, Clergy Appreciation Month:  Pastor Appreciation Sunday, and Clergy Appreciation Month:Laity Serving.

We are told in the Bible to encourage each other daily, while we still can (see Hebrews 3:13), this includes our pastor.  How are we doing in following the counsel of the writer of Hebrews?  

One area where we can encourage our pastor is in dreaming and or visioning for the church, one of the many parts of a pastor’s job description.  It is here that our pastors seek the Lord, ideally, for direction in leading the church.  For example, it is here that new ministries are born or new formatting for worship is realized.

Dreaming or visioning is simply planning, setting goals for the future.  Without goals churches, like people, tend to aimlessly drift through life.  Dreams or visions help get things accomplished.

Be supportive of those dreams—handling them with care because they are delicate—like soap bubbles.  Many times, those dreams are inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Dreams can be costly in terms of time, effort, and even money.  Yet Holy Spirit inspired dreams can change the direction of churches and of lives.  Holy Spirit dreams can (and have) set the world on fire!  Holy Spirit dreams are still setting the world on fire and making a huge difference in the lives of countless people. 



Personal Photo



What dream(s) is the Holy Spirit giving you?

When the temptation arises to criticize the dreaming and or visioning of your pastor (or anyone else!), recall how it felt to have your dreams destroyed by someone who simply did not understand or simply refused to understand.  How did you feel?  What happened to those dreams?  Please encourage others to not criticize as well.

Encourage your pastor to keep dreaming!  Ask good questions and seek to understand your pastor’s ideas.  In so doing, I believe that you will learn more about the heart of your pastor.  Learning more about your pastor’s heart is priceless!  Deeply consider and pray about how you can help him or her in implementing those dreams, by using your gifts and talents.  

What dreams and/or visions has your pastor shared with you and/or your church?  How can you support him or her in those dreams and/or  visions?

Please join me in prayer:

Dear Lord, we pray that our pastor will find the freedom and courage to dream godly dreams and have the courage and strength from You to follow them.  Bless our pastor in planning for the future ministry of our church.  Help us to support and encourage our pastor to pursue the dreams and visions and not get in the way; encouraging others to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.  Open us to the ways we can assist our pastor in dreaming and visioning for the church and in pursuing those by the use of the gifts You have graciously given us.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.   

From My Heart to Yours,

Kim


Special Note: Faith Journey with Kim: Growing in Christ Jesus has a Facebook page.  To get to the site, please click on the grayish text above or here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Clergy Appreciation Month: Laity Serving



“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethern, I would not have you ignorant.  ….  Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-5 KJV)

October is here a time set aside for appreciating our pastors and all they and their families do—the sacrifices they make to care for the people in their charge.  Of course, we should appreciate them the other eleven months of the year!  October is Clergy Appreciation Month, with this in mind, I will be sharing (with some editing) what I posted last two Octobers.

To read the first and second posts in this series, please see:  Clergy Appreciation Month and Clergy Appreciation Month:  Pastor Appreciation Sunday.

In the United Methodist Church the third Sunday in October is designated as Laity Sunday, this year the special day falls on October 15. This is a Sunday in which the ministry of the laity is celebrated.  As Christians—as members of God’s family—we are to be exercising the gifts God has so graciously given us.


Personal Photo


Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift and sometimes a gift mix—a gift that God expects us to use for His glory and the benefit of His people.  Have you taken the time to discover your spiritual gifts?  If you have not done so, please consider doing it soon. 

If you know your spiritual gifts, it is your responsibility to use them.  By using your gifts, you will bless your pastor (and others) more than you will ever know.  One of the greatest gifts you could give your pastor is the voluntary use of your gifts.  You just might make his or her day (and year!), by going to him or her with an idea about how you could help and/or serve.


Image from Pixabay


A couple years ago a pastor stated this regarding the ministry of the laity: “Pastors are always delighted to see laity that takes ownership of areas of ministry.  A good example is leading children and youth ministries and teaching the Bible.”

Remember, there are no bad gifts (see Romans 12:6), just different ones.  Spend some time thinking and praying about how you can serve others as a lay person—lay ministry is not just reserved for specially trained lay leaders or lay speakers of the church.  All laity are to be in some form of ministry within and without the church.

If you know your spiritual gift(s), what gift(s) do you have and how are you using them?

Where do you feel that God is calling to get involved?

What ways are you already serving—giving of your time, talents, energy?    

Remember, the Lord expects us to be salt and light in the world (see Matthew 5:13-14).  The people around us should see something different about how we live our lives and how we interact with and treat others!

Who can you share Jesus with today?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Lord, inspire us to use our skills and our gifts to be a blessing to others.  We desire to serve You humbly, along with our pastor.  Remind us that all gifts are important within the church and Your kingdom; encourage us to use them to glorify You.  Persuade us to not only encourage our pastor but others, as well, in using their gifts for Your glory.  May we all use our gifts for Your glory not ours.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.   

From My Heart to Yours,

Kim

Special Note: Faith Journey with Kim: Growing in Christ Jesus has a Facebook page.  To get to the site, please click on the grayish text above or here.


Labels