Just Go Have Faith

Matt 14 28

Today has been a long day. Actually, this whole week has been pretty busy. There is a part of me that actually likes staying busy though because it forces me to stay focused on my next task. I have this sense of constantly forgetting something so I keep checking and finding something else I need to do. I think the main reason why I like staying busy is it helps me focus on Jesus. Hear me out.

I feel like the story in Matthew 14:28-33 always gets the attention where Peter is saved by Jesus because of his lack of faith. I think that it’s amazing that Jesus didn’t need to save Peter until he was almost underwater because he had great faith. I think that some of us aren’t seeing any improvement in our faith because we are unwilling to step out in faith. I don’t do it very often but I do best when I am most challenged. Not because of my own skill or talent, but because it forces me to rely on Jesus more.

So when your day feels a little busy or challenging just rely on Jesus. If your day feels boring, slow, unproductive, or lazy maybe its time to hop off Netflix or Facebook to go challenge your faith by showing love to someone. Maybe go start a local mission, donate extra clothes, go visit an elderly person in your church, help your pastor with church stuff or maybe just pray for your enemies. Whatever you decide to do remember do it until it makes you uncomfortable enough to rely on Jesus to save you.

 What can you do to step out in faith like Peter?
-Jesse Allen

Building Others Up

1 Thess 5 11

1 Thessalonians 5:11

We are social beings. We were created by God to interact both with other humans and God himself. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not we need each other to keep living healthy stable lives.

 But in the Church, the most important part of interacting with one another is that we are able to build each other up. Being a part of the church does not mean you passively sit in a pew or chair 1 or 2 days a week waiting for the preacher to tell you how to live your life. It means building relationships and getting to know each other and helping with each person’s needs.
I know if I did not have my friends and family and other church members that I would be lost. I wouldn’t be as successful or as well taken care of as I am today. I am so grateful for the people in my life who have taken the time to get to know me and to share life with me. But it hasn’t always been the same people.
This Sunday, don’t just sit next to the same people you always sit with. Try to move around and change it up. Get to know new people and ask what they need help with, maybe even pray WITH them. Just go and be social with your Christian Family.
-Jesse Allen

You Need a Person

They Need One Too.

Phil 2 3,4
I often found myself quiet and alone in class during grade school. I always wanted to talk to people and fit in but never quite knew how. I hoped that one day maybe someone would just start being my friend and start talking to me. Well, it happened in 7th grade. All because of one kid who sat next to me in my fourth-hour history class. His name was Joel and till this day we are best friends. I had always been shy and didn’t talk much before I started to hang out with him. He started to show me how to be more confident and assertive. He even showed me how to have fun in school. I would have never made it through school if he hadn’t been there.
Philippians 2:3-4 says that we should count others more significant than ourselves. And often times that can be difficult especially when we don’t feel very appreciated. But let me tell you there is someone out there that needs you to reach out to them just like my friend Joel did for me. They need a person in their life to show them who Christ is through action. Are you willing to be who they need?
Who is the person God is calling you to reach out to?
-Jesse Allen

Illumination, Illumination!!!!!!!!! 

John 8 12 (1)

Have you ever had to walk in the dark before? It can be both a challenge and sometimes a bit scary especially if you are alone. I used to walk from my house to my grandma’s when I was younger. Now it was only about 100 yards away which isn’t much of a walk in daylight but in the dark it felt like it was 10 miles long.  There wasn’t much light to see and what little light there was didn’t reach past either porch. I could hear coyotes off in the distance and other weird noises from the trees swaying. And it always made me nervous. But I would sometimes bring a flashlight and that made the whole experience much faster and less scary.

In John 8:12 Jesus tells us he is the light of the world and whoever has him has the light of life. When we are going through our everyday life and we feel the darkness closing in or the dread of the world all around us just remember to “shine” the light of Jesus in your own life to make it less scary

What darkness are you facing?  Ask yourself, “How can I use the light of Jesus to help in this situation?”

-Jesse Allen

How to Avoid Unpleasant Consequences

Prov 1 8

 

When I was in high school I remember my friend and I sneaking out of his house to go hang out with some friends. We left his house about 11:30pm and didn’t get back in until 5:45am  which was 15 minutes before his alarm would go off for school that morning. We were tired and exhausted and couldn’t really function at school. Staying up and sneaking out all night left us at a great disadvantage the next day.
I have made many bad decisions in my life. Many like this story could have been avoided if I had listened to the advice others had given me.  They say you need at least 8 hours of sleep as a teenager.  Well, I got about 15 minutes and it was not enough. 
Proverbs 1:8-16 talks about how fools and sinners bear the fruit of there own actions. I definitely deserved a hard day at school for not listening to the wisdom that was set in front of me.  
 
What wisdom has been told to you that you might need to listen to more carefully? Remember, the consequences may not be worth it.
-Jesse Allen

Begging for Help

Acts 3 1,2

Happy late Thanksgiving everyone! #thankgivingisthebestholiday Although the day of turkey has passed I hope we can all be thankful for what we have considering many do not have anything at all. Recently in Saint Louis, I encountered a man named Ron who was homeless and had nothing to his name except his torn up bag and the clothes on his back. Ron, like many you may encounter in your lives, asked me for money. There are at least two easy ways to handle this situation. First, we could give them the money they were asking us about. Or second, we lie and walk away feeling like we did that person well by not giving them money that could possibly enable their bad habits.

I would say Peter and John have a more effective way of serving these people. In Acts 3:1-10 Peter and John encounter a man who can’t walk and is begging for money in front of the temple gates (a common practice in that day, which could be compared to those at the stoplights we see). Instead of giving him money, they give him prayer and healing. Something we all can afford and is always at the ready. Next time you encounter someone like this it might be appropriate to pray with them about their situation and see if something big happens.

-Jesse Allen

You Died

Col 3 3

Colossians 3:1-3

3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

I wonder how those believers in Jesus understood those words when Paul first penned that letter to them. “you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”. He told them that they died. What would it have meant to them to hear that they had died? Obviously they were still physically alive and breathing. They were not zombies or vampires or other popular dead, but not fully dead creatures. What part of them was dead.

Sometimes today we speak metaphorically about death. “I’m brain dead” means that I did something without thinking it through, it was silly or stupid. “I’m dead tired” means that I need some sleep.

I think that Paul was telling the believers in Christ at Colossi that when they were baptized into Jesus Christ, that part of their nature that was under the control of “the flesh” or their brokenness and alienation from God had died. Apart from Christ, that which drives us or controls us is sin living within us. When we come to Christ, that part that controls us is put to death. Our focus is no longer to satisfy our sinful desires. We live by the spirit of God, our life is now found in God. It has not yet been fully revealed. We are still living under the influence of sin, and the new nature has not yet been fully realized in our daily living. That process, known as sanctification, is ongoing. It requires, as Paul goes on to say, a daily putting to death of things like “immorality, evil desires, greed, rage, malice, slander”.

We’re baptized into Christ, then you died, and rose again. Your new nature has not yet been fully revealed and won’t be until the coming of Jesus, but as you live as a follower of Jesus in this present age, you die to your old self a little more each day as you live by the spirit of God in practical ways.

-Jeff Fletcher

Labor Pains

1 Thess 5 3 (1)

I Thessalonians 5:1-3

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

While I’ve never been a pregnant woman, I’ve been married to one who gave birth eleven times… so I’m pretty well acquainted with the whole “sudden labor pains” phenomena. Fun fact… my youngest son, James, came so quickly that I acted as his midwife. We were at home… no midwife in sight…. And she said “I need to push”…and I tried to persuade her to wait. (Don’t ever tell a woman in labor about to push a baby out to wait, if you know what’s good for you). She did NOT wait. She had reached the point of no return.

Paul uses this analogy to help us understand both the suddenness and inevitability of the return of Jesus. His return will happen suddenly.

It’s been a nearly 2000 year long labor… but it’s getting close. Jesus is coming soon. Are you ready?

-Jeff Fletcher

God’s Party

Luke 15 32

Thursday, November 22, 2018  Thanksgiving USA

Luke 15:32

“But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Some people envision God to be somber or angry and punishing. I love this story Jesus told. We often refer to it as the Prodigal Son, with the focus on the bad boy who turned his life around. But I think it has more to do with showing us how much our Father Loves us, and how much joy it brings to him to be in relationship with us. Jesus came to show those whose view of God was somber and dutiful that God is first and foremost about relationship.

God throws a party when we respond to his offer of relationship. Shouldn’t we?

-Jeff Fletcher

To Encourage One Another

1 thess 4 16

I Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The first Christians lived in anticipation of the near return of Jesus from heaven. He left by rising up into the clouds…. He said he would come back in the same way to bring their reward, the fullness of the Kingdom of God. They hoped that he would come in their lifetime. As his coming, or parousia, took longer than they anticipated, some of the believers began to die. This left those still living concerned. What’s going to happen to those who died before Jesus returned, would they miss out on his Kingdom when he returns?

Paul writes this letter out of a pastoral concern to give encouragement to these grieving (and scared) believers. He clearly tells them what will happen. Those who are still alive when Jesus comes will not have any advantage over those who died. In fact, when Jesus returns the trumpet will sound and those who have died will actually be the first to rise-they will come up from out of their graves to meet Jesus in the air. After they have risen, the living believers will rise up to join them and meet Jesus in the air together with those who died.

He then gives the assurance that we will be with the Lord forever. This is the fulfillment of our hope… life in the coming Age. The present, evil age will come to an end, and the kingdom of God, beginning with Jesus’ reign over all the earth will begin.

Paul concludes his letter by encouraging the church to comfort each other with these words. It was intended to offer comfort and hope to grieving believers whose loved ones had died before the coming of Jesus.

Today, as we wait for the return of Jesus, just as in the first century, believers die while waiting for Jesus. While nothing can take away the grief of losing someone we love, we can still receive, and give comfort to one another with the knowledge that when Christ returns, the dead in Christ will rise first, we will rise up to meet them with Jesus, and then, we will be with them and with the lord forever.

Personally, I’ve got several people that I can’t wait to see again. I’m sure you do too.

-Jeff Fletcher