Readings: Proverbs 21:21-24, 28-29, James 3:3-12, Matthew 5:10-20
Pray from the Depths of my Heart
Pastor Jon will speak to us this Sunday about “reforming the tongue.” Proverbs 21:22 tells us, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” We know that our words can speak life and truth, or not. Our tongues need constant direction from our minds and from our hearts. Martin Luther said, “Grant that I may not pray alone with the mouth; help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart.” Even when our words are right, they need the backing of the heart and the Spirit’s push from the mind in order to be a spring of living water to a thirsty soul. James is so bold to say, the tongue “corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” Whoa! We need to be sure if our tongues are on fire, it’s the Holy Spirit’s fire! Dear Lord, help us guard our mouths and please guide our minds to speak from a heart that is right and filled with You. Teach us to pray from the depths of our heart and remind us You hear every word. Thank you, Lord Jesus, amen.
Readings: Genesis 37:14b-28, Colossians 3:18-4:1, John 15:12-17
When I was 17, I thought I made this life-changing decision to give my whole heart to Christ. I had been searching the Bible and investigating various denominations, so I could be sure to make an informed decision about faith in Jesus Christ. I sat in our family room alone, Bible in hand, so excited to share the big news with the Lord - I choose You! I popped my Bible open and my eyes fell on one of today’s Scripture verses, John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last.” I crumpled to the floor, crying with joy, amazement and humility. You did not choose me, but I chose you. I’ve spent my life bearing fruit for the One who chose a quiet teenager that sought the Master of the Universe with her whole heart. The Lord reminded me of how bearing fruit works as I drove to work down Shea Boulevard. I saw a hawk on a light pole, then a smaller bird on the next pole, then an even smaller bird on the very next pole. “Getting smaller as I go down Shea,” I said to myself. Yes, the Lord said to my heart, you get smaller on your way to work and I get bigger. That’s the way it should be. May the Lord continuously transform us and become larger as we shrink and serve and bear fruit for Him! Blessings, Tracy
Readings: Jeremiah 7:1-11, Colossians 3:12-17, Matthew 5:1-12
I was working on my Bible study homework, then decided to start some housework. I was vacuuming with our special pet hair vacuum (thank you, Naughty Cat), and it stopped working. I tried another plug, cleaned out the filter (gross), let it cool down, nothing worked. I got the old Dustbuster to finish up, and it ran weakly about 15 seconds before dying. Kevin came in from the backyard, and I had to confess I had killed both vacuums. He said, “Just stay away from electronics, and go back to doing your Bible study. You have a higher calling!” Nice! A higher calling means I don’t have to do housework anymore! Well, that’s just not true. We all have a higher calling, and we all have work to do in our homes: spiritual work, emotional work and physical work. The reading from Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This verse comes under the subheading “Rules for Holy Living” and Paul talks prior to this verse about how Christians should deal with each other. We are asked to do everything with a thankful heart, and do it all in the name of Jesus. Do everything in His Name at worship, at Bible study, with fellow Christians, but does it mean we should clean house in His Name? I read a book once on doing everything in His Name, even scrubbing floors and changing diapers. Dedicating everything we do to the Lord and keeping a thankful heart is transformative. If you are in need of some transformation and reformation, give it a try. Even if you kill a vacuum, remember your calling and Who called you, and keep working with a thankful heart. (P.S. Kevin found a second filter on the vacuum and cleaned it out - the vacuum was healed!) Doing all in His Holy Name, Tracy
Readings: Joshua 24:14-18, Ephesians 5:15-20, Matthew 10:37-42
The Shea Campus sermon topic this weekend will be “Reforming Our Priorities.” So much goes into setting priorities. As we all know, we may set the priorities and start on the path, but God might have another idea. Martin Luther said, “I know not the way God leads me, but well do I know my Guide.” That’s so true for those of us who walk in the Spirit…we know our Guide and walk in faith, even when we can only see the very next step ahead of us. We read in Job 14:16, “Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin.” Wow, we don’t even need a Fitbit or an Apple watch - God will count our steps! That’s a relief, and a challenge, isn’t it? Praying we can keep setting priorities His way, and remain faithful even if He sets us out on another path. We will stay in the Word and get to know our Guide better each day. Happy first day of Autumn! Cool weather is on the way and now we can step out with our Guide physically and spiritually! Blessings, Tracy
Readings: Jeremiah 24:1-7, Romans 12:1-2, Matthew 22:34-40
Psst, I have secrets to tell you! Can you imagine how many things we have to keep confidential in a church office? I just can’t stand it today though, I need to share some questions I’ve heard this week, each from a different faithful person. “Can I be baptized?” (Yes, oh yes!) “Who knows what God has in store for us?” (Miracles maybe!) “Do you think it’s a true miracle?” (Absolutely!) “He’s a good Christian man and he makes her happy. What more can we ask?” (Nothing but God’s abundant blessings!) “Who knew God would bless me with such inspiration at my age?!” (God knew and delights to delight us!) “Did you know your school has been the perfect fit for our children?” (Great news!) “Do you have any idea how excited I am that my children are going to become members at Shepherd?” (Oh, I have a good idea, my friend.) “Thank you for sharing…I often asked myself, Did I make an impact on anyone at Shepherd for all those years?” (Yes you did, sweet Althea; the Thursday Morning Bible Study ladies recall your wisdom and faith-building love so often.) And I heard this from staff members and church members alike in response to various situations, “How can we help?” Martin Luther said, "Oh faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, so that it is impossible for it not to be constantly doing what is good.” Well said, Martin. Faith is living, busy, active and so mighty here among our members and friends at Shepherd. I’m thanking the Lord for stirring your faith to ‘be constantly doing what is good.’ It’s not a secret, faith is a mighty thing! God bless you with even more active and mighty faith as you serve Him.