Sermons/Devotions

They Devoted Themselves to Communion and Communion

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Day by day … they devoted themselves … to fellowship … [and] to the breaking of the bread … – see Acts 2:41-48

If I asked you for another term for the “breaking of the bread,” you’d probably say, “communion.”

If I asked you for another term for “fellowship,” you could also say, “communion”! (In fact, the Greek word “koinonia” is often alternately translated “fellowship” or “communion” in the English version of the Bible.)

In terms of fellowship, who are we communing with? We are communing with one another, with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

In terms of the breaking of the bread, who are we communing with? With God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Through this holy meal, our spirit intersects with God’s presence in a special, sacramental way. A relational way. Through this meal, we’re in “communion” (relationship) with God.

But there’s a second piece to Holy Communion. When you come to Church and process to the altar for communion, the “communion” you partake in is not just between “you and Jesus” (though Jesus surely meets you there). In that moment, you are also – simultaneously – communing with a hundred other brothers and sisters in Christ. Communion involves a community of faith.

This week, we’ll be looking at some of the ways Christian’s commune.

In Christ’s Love,

communion …

community …

communication …

I guess I’m a guy who

is increasingly realizing

that relationship

is important

Wrestling with our Thoughts

Psalm 13.2.

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? But I trust in your unfailing love. – Psalm 13:2,5

Have you ever had a mental wrestling match?

  • Do I take the job or not?
  • Do I call the girl … or am I so nervous that I’m going to hang up again?
  • Or with bad behaviors or addictions: “I know I said I wasn’t going to do ‘it’ again, but it’s really not that bad, is it?” “I can stop any time I want.” “And besides I’m not hurting anybody.”

Yes, have you ever wrestled in your mind about actions, decisions, habits? Faith? Doubt? Despair?

The Psalms are prayers, and so many reveal a mental wrestling match. So many of these prayers start with David and other Psalmists saying, “Life is hard … enemies are persecuting me … I’m being pursued by wannabe captors … and I’m utterly discouraged.” That’s part one of the cry.

But how many of these prayers finish with something like, “Nevertheless, O God, I trust in you!”

In a broken world, your heart and mind will frequently wonder, wrestle, cry, or despair. But health and hope come with this:

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who’s hearing in

his non-wrestling mind

a favorite old song:

“When I am afraid,

I will trust in you”

(Psalm 56:3)

 

 

 

… and a Blanket over her Head

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Jesus said,

when you pray, go into your room, 

close the door and pray to your Father 

who is in secret. Then your Father, 

who sees in secret, will reward you. 

Matthew 6:6

I heard an old story about an old saint. He came from a large family – ten or twelve kids. They lived in a tiny, one-room house. (I think it was Charles Wesley, but don’t quote me on that.)

Mom was a praying woman. (You’d have to be with a dozen kids!) But living in a tiny house, she could never “go into [her] room” – as Jesus suggested – “close the door, and pray to [her] Father … in secret.”

So what did she do?

For a half hour every day, she’d throw a blanket over her head, warn her kids to absolutely not interrupt her, and pray in secret!

In this passage, Jesus is officially talking about not drawing attention to yourself when you pray [or fast or give], but to, rather, pray [fast and give] in secret, promising that the Father who sees in secret will reward you. That’s the official meaning.

But today I want to ask you another question: Most of us have more room than Mrs. Wesley. We could surely carve out a quiet place to pray. But do we? Do you? Why or why not?

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who wants

to be like Linus in

the old Peanuts comics –

I need a bigger blanket

 

 

Do You Approach When You’re Afraid?

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Let us approach

God’s throne of grace

with boldness, so that

we may receive mercy

and find grace to help us

in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

Whenever I hear this favorite verse, I think of the Wizard of Oz.

Remember when Dorothy and her friends first approach The Great and Terrible Oz. Lightning is flashing. Thunder is booming. And the chamber shakes as a deep and ominous voice booms from this disembodied head.

At some point in this first encounter, fear overwhelms them and they turn and run!

In many ways, that’s exactly what should happen to helplessly sinful creatures approach a “jealous God” who is a “consuming fire” (both in Deuteronomy 4:24). Fear should overwhelm us and we should turn and run.

But do you remember how the Wizard was “unmasked.” The little dog, Toto, pulled back the curtain, revealing an ordinary man. Similarly, Jesus pulled back the curtain on God the Father. Coming as an ordinary man, Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father”:

  • Jesus was accessible; thus, God the Father is accessible.
  • Jesus was compassionate; thus, God the Father is compassionate.
  • Jesus was literally dying to save us from our sins; thus, we can be confident that we can “approach God’s throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who doesn’t need

to be a cowardly lion –

so I think I’ll just approach

God boldly in prayer!

 

 

You Do Not Know because You Do Not Ask


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[The Lord said,]

Call to me and I will

answer you and tell you

great and unsearchable

things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3

“You do not have because you do not ask.” (That’s a comment on prayer by the Apostle James, 4:2).

Today’s verse is a corollary: You do not know because you do not ask questions.”

God invites us into a conversation with him. “Call to me,” he says. “I’m yearning to ‘answer you,’” he declares. “I want to ‘tell you great and unsearchable things,’” he proclaims. “But ‘you do not know’ because you do not ask.”

We ask and seek and listen and learn in many ways. The first is through prayer. That’s what this passage deals with. We’re invited to ask. The second is through Scripture. That’s the clearest way to hear God’s Word. But how fully and frequently do we approach God – through prayer and through his Word – with that sense of eagerness and anticipation?

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who ponders how

much richer life could be

… except I do not have and

I do not know because I’m

not fully seeking and asking

 

Fruits of the Spirit … in Prayer

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Be joyful in hope,

patient in affliction,

faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

Joyful. Patient. Faithful. These are three of Scripture’s key calls to the saints!

Now, look at those words again. Do you know where else we find them all in a row? In the Galatians 5! The fruit of the Spirit, right?

The fruit of the Spirit is three sets of three words, and each triplet points to a different type of relationship in our world.

  • Love, JOY, and peace should define our interactions with God.
  • PATIENCE, kindness, and generosity should shape our interactions with others.
  • FAITHFULNESS, gentleness, and self-control should help us marshal our own attitudes.

Isn’t it interesting that there are these same three facets in our verse for today?

  • In our interactions with the God of hope, we should be joyful.
  • In our interactions with a broken world, full of affliction, we should be patient.
  • And in disciplining our own lives, would should be faithful in prayer.

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who needs to

eat (and experience)

more fruits and stay

away from the nuts

 

 

Vigilantly and Thankfully Prayerful

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Devote yourselves to prayer,

being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

Our theme for this past Sunday was prayer. The new believers devoted themselves to several disciplines, including prayer, and awe came upon everyone (see Acts 2:42-43).

In today’s verse, the Apostle Paul tells us two ways in which we can devote ourselves to prayer: being watchful and thankful.

Thankfulness is always a good place to start in prayer. By intentionally calling to mind God’s generous acts of power and provision in the past, we remind ourselves that whatever trials we face today and in the future, our God is able to provide and protect.

Second is watchfulness, and a better word for this is “vigilance.” We are called to be as alert and proactive and prepared as sentries, guarding a great city. Indeed, if we’re constantly praying, we’re not likely to let any need or concern slip by.

In Christ’s Love,

a sometimes sleepy sentry

– I need to be more vigilant