Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Love Song

It had been awhile since God had spoken to me through nature. In my discouragement I wondered if I had somehow lost touch with Him. While sitting in our den thinking about this, God responded to my prayer. I heard outside my window a bird singing. However, more than singing it was calling my name! Over and over again it kept repeating, "Sheree, Sheree, Sheree.." This isn't the first time I have had such an experience. Many would doubt and say I was influenced by my own needs and heard what I wanted to hear. It is their right to feel that way but one of my favorite verses that I have shared in a previous blog is from Zephaniah chapter 3. In the opening two chapters, Zephaniah pronounces God's coming judgment upon Israel. It is dark and not very hopeful. However, towards the end of chapter 3, He calls the people to rejoice because God has taken away their punishment (3:14-16) The prophet then states in verse 17, "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." (italics mine) Yes, God does sing over His people and being God He can choose whatever messenger He desires to deliver that song, for He is Lord of all creation. Out of that special moment spent with the Lord came a poem that I share in closing. For I am grateful that God loves me enough that it moves Him to sing.
In His Love,
Pastor Sheree

Messenger of Love
What is this sound that resonates as ringing in my ear?
With tones so sweet that cover me in my deep despair.
It is a gift that calls my name, he knows it very well,
It carries forth the Father’s word that bids it go and tell.
The greatness of the Savior’s love, it’s faithful and it’s true,
That even in the darkest place, the Lord sings over you.
No flashing lights, no miracles, no wonders from above,
Just a sweet and simple song from this messenger of love.
(Sheree A. Harrington, March 21, 2011)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Be Fearless!

I was meditating this morning on a passage from Ephesians chapter 6. Ephesians 6 is the chapter Christians recognize as the place where Paul talks about the armor of God. But what caught my attention was what Paul says after his description of the armor. He states,"Pray also for me that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20) Notice how Paul uses the word fearlessly twice in those two verses. That prompted me to ask the question, how many times do I get tripped up by fear in declaring the gospel? What do I really have to be afraid of? Then I was reminded of the Lord's words to Joshua as the Israelites were about to enter the promised land. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) The Lord gave Joshua a command followed by a promise. Likewise when Jesus sent His disciples out to minister in His name, giving them His authority, He warned them that they would be questioned by governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. However, Jesus reassured them,"But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:19-20) italics mine. In the passage in Joshua and Matthew, God has declared that we don't need to be fearful but fearless because He is the power that enables us to declare His glory, to proclaim His gospel. I think Paul sums it up best in Romans, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16) italics mine. May the desire of Paul's heart be the prayer of my heart and of yours also, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. For I am Christ's ambassador. (2 Corinthians 5:20) Pray, therefore that I may declare the gospel fearlessly as I should.
In His grace,
Pastor Sheree

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Journey

All of us at some time or other like to go on trips. One of the exciting things about leaving one place and arriving at the next is finally arriving at our destination. Most of the time we have control over the planning which includes how long we will be away from home, where we will stop along the way and what sights we plan to see. We hope and pray that we don't run into any unexpected "detours" like car trouble, getting lost, or getting sick. This past few weeks I have been meditating on a passage from Deuteronomy, prompted by a reading from the devotional booklet, "Our Daily Bread." Deuteronomy is Moses' "swan song", wherein he reminds the Israelites of everything the Lord has done for them and commands them to remain faithful to the one true God. They are about to enter the promised land after wandering in the desert for 40 years. I can imagine how frustrating it must have been wandering around for what seemed like forever. Besides, they had already been in slavery for 400 years! Perhaps they were expecting to go waltzing into the promised land in a timely fashion. However, because of their rebellion God detoured them. He had them wander in the desert to redirect their hearts, souls, and minds towards obedience to the Lord. Unfortunately a whole generation had to die before the people could enter in. Moses tells this new generation, "The Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart..." (Deuteronomy 8:2) The author of the meditation in "Our Daily Bread" goes on to say, "In life, it sometimes seems as if we are wandering in circles. We feel lost. We want to ask God, "Are we there yet? How much longer?" At such times, it helps to remember that the journey, not the destination, is important to God. He uses it to humble us, test us, and show us what is in our hearts." (italics mine) I resonate with the passage and the author's message. I want to be settled and get on with serving God's people in pastoral ministry. I feel somewhat justified in my attitude after the pain of moving on from my former church. But the Lord is reminding me that like the Israelites I need to wander for awhile in the desert as He prepares the way for what is yet to come. I need to be humbled so pride does not get in the way, tested to see if I will be faithful in trusting Him, and having the Lord show me what is in my heart. In moments like these we need to ask ourselves, are we willing to wait for God's timing? Are we willing to allow God to go before us and clear the way for what we will be doing? Are we willing to allow His Spirit to deal with what is in our hearts so we can be ready to move when He asks us to and follow Him? I need to remember it is in the journey where I learn, grow, and wait with expectation for what God will reveal. The journey will be as long or as short as it needs to be so I will be, like the Israelites, ready to enter in to the place God has prepared for me.
Pastor Sheree

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

In The Hands of Jesus

I have been meditating this week on a very familiar passage from John 6:4-14. This passage was featured in the devotional booklet, "Our Daily Bread." It is John's telling of the story where Jesus feeds the five thousand and it is the one miracle, apart from the resurrection, found in all four Gospels. My interest follows on the heels of an e-mail forward from a woman in my former church. The forward was entitled "Hands" and it spoke of how different things can be accomplished depending on whose hands its in. The forward ends by challenging us to place all our hopes, fears, dreams, family, and relationships in God's hands because it depends whose hands it's in. This brings me to the story in John's gospel. What captured my attention was the difference in response between Philip and Andrew when Jesus asked the disciples to buy bread for the multitude that he had just finished teaching. Philip chose to focus on what he didn't have, not enough food nor enough money to feed the people. On the other hand, Andrew knowing the same circumstances as Philip, decides to focus on the possibilities. He could have easily dismissed the boy with the five small barley loaves (which by the way was considered cheap bread, the food of the poor) and two small fish. Instead Andrew took his concern to the right place---to Jesus. On some level Andrew had the faith enough to know that in Jesus' hands something miraculous could happen. The "food for thought" regarding this passage at the end of the "Our Daily Bread" devotional story stated, "God uses small things to accomplish great things for His glory."(italics mine) I at times struggle with feelings of inadequacy and wonder am I really able to make a difference for God? The passage from John reminds me how in Jesus' hands something small and seemingly inadequate became a blessing to so many. All believers in Jesus are in His hands. Jesus Himself tells us this in John chapter 10, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (John 10:27-30) italics mine. In some early manuscripts verse 29 translates, "What my Father has given me is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." I have to use the gifts and talents God has given me because what He has given me is enough. It is enough because I am in the hands of Jesus and He can work through me just like He worked through those loaves and fish. What I consider inadequate about myself, God can use to accomplish great things for His glory because it really does depend on whose hands it's in. My prayer is that God help us not to dismiss the small things that He works in our lives to show how great He truly is.
For His glory!
Pastor Sheree