God Has Not Given Us A Spirit Of Fear And Timidity

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Valerie Fay
Written by Valerie Fay

In a time when there is so much chaos and confusion, when nations face complex issues that belie solutions, when it seems that any day we can turn a corner and come face-to-face with trouble – take time to look for the simple things in the beauty of creation all around us. Be still and listen for the sounds of heaven, hear the woodpecker on a distant tree fulfilling the purpose for which he was created. Watch the waves as they crash upon the shoreline. They tell of the boundary line that God ordained long ago. Notice the tinkling of a wind chime at it moves with the breeze and plays its tune. I hear it speak of a fresh wind of God coming to the earth.

And remember, the Lord did not create the earth to be filled with evil and violence …

For thus says the Lord—Who created the heavens, God Himself, Who formed the earth and made it, Who established it and did not create it to be a worthless waste; He formed it to be inhabited—I am the Lord, and there is no one else. I have not spoken in secret, in a corner of the land of darkness; I did not call the descendants of Jacob [to a fruitless service], saying, Seek Me for nothing [but I promised them a just reward]. I, the Lord, speak righteousness (the truth—trustworthy, straightforward correspondence between deeds and words); I declare things that are right. (Isaiah 45:18-19 GW)

In a day when nations topple, when one in authority is removed from office and another takes his place, God’s kingdom stands firm, His promises never fail. He is our only safe place. God is our shield and “as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord will surround His people, both now and forever.” (Psalm 125:2) Think on these words and fan into flame the spiritual gift that God has given you “…God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 11:7)

In the Sermon on the Mount, addressing all who believed in Him, Jesus said, “you are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-14) This is not a day to hide away or shrink back from the rising tide of secularism, but to stand firm in the faith. We are called to be spiritual warriors, but God’s armies are not like the fighters of this age. We do not wield the sword or spear, no axe or gun is in our hand. We do not lay traps for men, nor do we take captives to build up an army of flesh. The Lord’s warriors lift their voices and proclaim His word, they are men and women of valor, trained in righteousness and truth, their weapons are not carnal but mighty through God and designed to pull down strongholds. The weapons we carry are not forged of iron nor are they produced by the power of man. Through faithfulness and perseverance we are trained to use heaven’s instruments of peace and all who are numbered among the redeemed are in His ranks. Our aim is to shine His light, spread the good news, offer mercy and grace to those who are broken, and invite the lost into real life. And always follow the One who goes before us.

Valerie Fay


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

WWGRD?

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Kathy Koenig, KPC Devotional Team Writer
Written by Kathy Koenig, KPC Devotional Team Writer

My first tentative mental step toward depression is usually when I ask myself, “Who needs me? What use am I? Is there any point to my existence?” I review everything that I do and conclude that it is all either in the past, unimportant, or done better by someone else.

About a month ago when I was really tired, I started down that mental path. To reach the truth, one must always check it out with God and (surprisingly) I interrupted myself to ask Him for His feedback. The unexpected answer was, “I DON’T need you!” Now, this is something that I already knew deep down, because I know God’s Word says,

“[God] is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things.” (Acts 17:25)

“Can a person’s actions be of benefit to God?” (Job 22:2)

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” (Psalm 50:12)

But this time, I continued my conversation with God and asked Him, “Then why am I still here? What is my POINT?” And an image entered my mind of a couple that I know that own two golden retrievers. (Before owners of other pets get offended, let me point out that other beloved pets can illustrate this same principle!) I thought about why they got their dogs . . . it certainly wasn’t to help get work done around the house, as I’m sure that they increased the workload. No, the purpose of their beloved retrievers was simply to bring pleasure to their owners. All the work and mess and expense are worth it because my friends enjoy their presence. The dogs were adopted into this family just to have something to love and to be loved in return.

Wow, what a concept! Is that why I was created, to be loved by God and to love in return? I’m really not needed, but I AM dearly wanted? I turned to the Scripture and found

“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people.” (Psalm 149:4)

“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11)

So, in a sense, I do fulfill a need of God’s: His desire to love something and be loved in return. I began imagining how I could fill this need of God’s. In other words, if I were a golden retriever, what would make my Master happy? I created a little poster to remind me when I start asking myself the question, “What is my purpose in life?” It is titled “WWGRD? (What Would a Golden Retriever Do?)” If any of you wonder about your own purpose, I hope that it is meaningful for you. And for those who rightly want Scriptural validation for applying any of the statements to one’s relationship with God, I have included some references. (My appreciation to all of those whose photographs I ripped off the Internet to illustrate my little poster!)

WWGRD

Is excited to see his Master – Job 22:25, 26
Rests in his Master – Psalm 37:7
Shows gratitude for his Master’s gifts – Psalm 9:1
Listens to his Master – Isaiah 51:1, 4, 7
Loves to spend time with his Master – Psalm 27:4
Is faithful to his Master – Matthew 25:21
Is repentant when he disobeys his Master – 1 John 1:8, 9
Obeys his Master, even when he doesn’t understand the purpose – 1 Samuel 15:22

Rest assured, beloved . . . you have a purpose in life. Your purpose is to be loved by God and love Him in return.

Kathy Koenig


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

The Place Between

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Jane Keller, KPC Devotional Team Writer
Written by Jane Keller, KPC Devotional Team Writer

My sister told me once that supposedly you do your best writing in the first few minutes after you wake up in the morning. I guess the idea is that you’re not fully conscious and so your creative thought flows with fewer inhibitions. I can’t be certain, but I think it might be true for me. At least I usually wake up with some profound thoughts rolling around in my head but to be truthful I’m too lazy to get up and write them down so I can’t know for sure.

This morning, after a particularly rough night of sleep, I woke up thinking about the word “communion.” As I opened my eyes there it was, just floating around in my head.

My thoughts turned to an interview I heard just this week given by Norman Lear. Lear is 93 years old and the interviewer asked him what advice he would give to those of us who want to make it to 93 with the same sharpness, clarity, and creativity he still has. This was Lear’s answer; “Two words come to mind: over and next. When something is over, it is over and it is time to move to what is next. And if there is a hammock hanging between those two words then that is what it means to be living in the present moment.”

Communion. Living between over and next.

And, not just living there but if you are in a hammock you are most assuredly reclining back. You are resting.

I love that picture. I wish it was as easy as it sounds. But that space between over and next can often be filled with anxious waiting, worry about the future or sadness for what has ended. Letting go of the past can be painful and scary. Looking forward to what is often an unknown future can be pretty harrowing.

I’ve been in this in-between place so many times. We all have. I’d like to say I am usually hanging out in my hammock, kicking back, and relaxing in the space of the unknown, but that wouldn’t be completely true. Sure, sometimes I can. Sometimes I’m at peace and then there are the other times.

Steve and I have a saying we each other. “Let me have my reaction.” In other words, after 25 years of marriage, we have learned to give each other the space and grace to have our freak outs. But, when it’s over, we gently (well, usually) call each other back to the hammock, back to living in the moment.

Learning to abide in the in-between is truly about resting and trusting. Resting in the security of God’s immeasurable love for us and trusting in the good he has planned for us.

Stay in the hammock. The one he has set up for you in green pastures, beside still waters. It’s the only place to find what we need between over and next.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23 1-2)

Jane Keller


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Change, God, and Gratitude: A Meditation

Monday Marvels Edition – July 25, 2016

chattHOP_logo-smsqLike the Chattanooga House of Prayer, KPC’s desire is to ignite the passion and action of the Body of Christ for “sustained and unified prayer, worship, and outreach.” ChattHOP has enthusiastically agreed to share their weekly blog with us. It is our hope that Monday Marvels will enrich our prayer lives and challenge us, as a family, to expand our borders in worship and outreach. We encourage you to visit the ChattHOP site (here) to discover fresh ways we can bring our KPC vision to Hampton Roads.

Praise is His gracious choice.

It is amazing to me how the seasons of life change, and how they change with God. I’ve often heard people say, “There are only two things that are certain in life: death and taxes!” But I would add “change” and “God” to the list.

Very little remains the same in life. You could say, “Well your relationships stay the same—you have the same wife and kids as you did before.” Yes. Sort of. But even those people change. The kids grow up, and neither my wife nor I are the same people we were when we got married years ago! The storms and the sunshine of life have weathered us and we are different now. So are our needs, wants, hopes, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

God does not change, but the way that He meets our needs in the new seasons of life, through the various changes that we go through, does change. I think it’s important that we are mindful of receiving from God what He has for us through every season that we go through. There is a little bit of keeping up with Him in all of this because we don’t always perceive when our seasons have changed. The provision God was previously giving us might not be how He is providing for us now.

So be it.

Every time a season has changed in my life, it has only spurred my heart on toward deeper worship and greater understanding of Him. I marvel at how He carries me and meets me in different ways, constantly working to bind my heart to His. There’s always some new thing I didn’t know about Him that is revealed. This could be mistaken by my heart and mind as a “whoa, God just totally changed on me there!” But really, I follow a Messiah who is infinite and as He leads me into different life seasons I learn a new aspect of His infinite nature previously unknown to me. Such stretching of my personal tent pegs is simply an expansion of His Kingdom within me and a preparation of my heart for an eternity where “the increase of His government” will know no end. There has always been and always will be a frontier in the Kingdom of Heaven.

As we seek to establish God’s Kingdom on earth, bearing in mind this frontier-less quality of the Kingdom would, I believe, serve us well. Changes in our life thus become calls to prayer. We discern them rightly only if we are rightly connected to God. I’m not saying this means stop everything and sit down and pray (though it could certainly mean that!). It’s more like asking God, “How are you calling me to yourself in this?” through each and every situation we encounter. The whole of our lives, says Paul in Acts 17:26-28, are set up in order that God have our undivided attention.

Recently I was driving in my car listening to some old hymns. (Before I go further, know that I listen to other, totally non-spiritual stuff, so please don’t make a categorical judgment about me by this admission). While I was doing this, a picture flashed in my mind. You can call it a vision, a revelation, an impression on my heart or just a fanciful imagination. Regardless my heart was really touched and provoked to worship by it.

The picture in my head was the state of my soul before my life was turned over to Christ, and it was pitch black. As it popped into my head it was at once horrifying and wonderful to me. Horrifying that it was SO BAD!!! Wonderful because I realized anew how great a salvation had been wrought for me. Sometimes I forget, especially in my emotions, just how bad things were, and this in spite of the fact that I try to, every now and then, celebrate my salvation.

No matter how far we have come or will go with Christ, even as we journey throughout all eternity’s frontiers with Him, there will still be the joy of our salvation with Him who defeated death for our sakes.

In my own devotional life, I have tried to make it a habit to remember that moment of salvation and what it meant to me then, as well as the process whereby God started setting me apart for His own Name’s sake and changed me from within. I have found certain hymn verses to be especially useful for this purpose:

I have light in my soul for which long I had sought since Jesus came into my heart.

Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear, It is not night if Thou be near.

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.

Help of the helpless, o abide with me. (When I first came to Christ I was still so blind and helpless and FULL of sinful habits that I regularly prayed this line. I love the Name of God here, “Help of the helpless.”)

We know we have a long distance to go still with the Lord in our pilgrimage here, but oh what hope we have for our future based of all He has already done for us. Even when we have been set free from all our enemies and been given rest in His eternal Kingdom, we will have a bright, glorious and ever-expanding future—only then it will be in a pure and restful sense; the journey being filled with the goodness and companionship of God who is both our Way and simultaneously, our Destination and Final End.

God, grant us grace to see and enjoy You as our Way.

Adam Whitescarver, ChattHOP Executive Director


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

 

Second Chances, Part 2

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 14

Written by Lynne German
Written by Lynne German

As a child, I could never understand why the Israelites and many people in God’s narrative, the Bible, didn’t take full advantage of the second chances that God gave them.  One such guy is Jonah.  It was easy for me to be critical of him when I was younger, but having lived life a bit, I now see that God put Jonah’s story in His Word because in certain ways, we’ve all behaved just like him.

The interesting thing is, when God called Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, several times He emphasized not Jonah’s disobedience, but the fact that Jonah was running away “from the presence of the Lord.”  (Jonah 1:3 (2 times); 1:10)  Shocking, right?  Why would Jonah do that?  But that’s exactly what we do, every time God speaks, and we don’t say, “Yes, Lord!”  We are walking straight out of God’s presence to go do our own thing.

In Jonah’s defense, God was asking him to do something that had never been done before.  Chronologically, he is listed as the first prophet.  In addition, God had never sent one of His own people to call a heathen city to repentance.  Furthermore, Ninevah was not just any city:  as capital of Syria, its metropolis stretched 20 miles along the Tigris River, with a 60-mile wall surrounding the inner city that was 100 feet high. It had up to 1500 towers that were 200 feet high, so anyone could be seen coming from a long distance away.  The Israelites were at odds with the Ninevites, as were the rest of the people of the known world.  Fierce in battle, Ninevah’s barbaric armies skinned people alive and tortured their captives mercilessly.  God’s call to Jonah could be likened in our day to His calling one of us to go to a large city controlled by ISIS, and asking us to walk 3 days across the metropolis, denouncing their sins and proclaiming that they would be overthrown in 40 days.  How many of us would be on board with that call?

Jonah wasn’t; he embarked on a ship going the opposite direction.  While the pagans called on their gods in the storm, he slept.  Ironically, they woke him up to ask him to pray to his god, and he proclaimed, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  (Jonah 1:9)  At this point, Jonah wanted to die, so he told the men to throw him overboard.  They did.  And then they expressed belief in Jonah’s God, fearing His judgment for harming Jonah:  “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD, and took vows.”  (Jonah 1:16)

God gave Jonah a second chance when He “prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah,”  (1:17), and left him in the fish’s belly for 3 days so he could repent there.  Well, long story short, Jonah did preach to the Ninevites, and they called a fast in the city and accepted God, so that He withheld His judgment over them.  Jonah’s response?   He wanted to die again.  He tells God it was pointless for him to declare judgment over Ninevah, since God already knew they were going to repent.  “I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindess, One who relents form doing harm.  Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”  (4:3)

Painful story.  How are we like Jonah?  Here are just a few ways:

  1. When God gives us a new commission, we often react out of fear and not faith. And when He gives us a second chance, we find ourselves more self-protective and whiny than compassionate.
  2. We’re quick to repent when we need to get ourselves out of a bad situation, but not always so quick to repent of the real selfishness hidden deep within our hearts.
  3. We expect paychecks from God. God gave Jonah a vine to protect him, but when the vine dried up and the sun made him faint, Jonah was finished with God.

God gave Jonah a second chance to live and to complete his commission, resulting in the salvation of perhaps a half million people.  Then God gave him more chances to live, when 3 more times, Jonah asked to die.

Many of us struggle with overwhelming disappointment, because God has called us to a commission we didn’t want or ask for.  He’s given us chances to repent and to find Him at work in the circumstance, influencing people for Christ wherever He plants us.  We have a choice:  will we miss God’s real blessings, like Jonah, or will we, like John Mark, embrace the second chances God grants us?  One day, we’ll realize that our lives were never really about the commission; they were about letting God’s merciful, faithful love change our own hearts deeply and completely.

Through it All, Hillsong

Lynne German


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Be Not Conformed

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 14

Written by Fred Teagle
Written by Fred Teagle

Once I was watching a Christian contemporary music artist being interviewed.  He said something that really resonated with me. He said, “I was reading my Bible, and I saw in I Peter where it said we were a peculiar people, and I knew I was where I belonged.” The ironic humor suited me well. When I came into God’s kingdom I realized immediately that we were different, not like the people of the world. The verse the musician was quoting is, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (I Peter 2:9 KJV) Interestingly, the word translated as peculiar here is peripoiēsis which actually means “preserved” or “a personal possession.”  Peter is saying that we are God’s personal possession; His “pearl of great price” preserved or “hidden” for His purposes.

Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  The first word we need to consider is “conformed.”  The Greek is syschēmatizō which means to be fashioned in the likeness of.

I have a niece who lives in Georgia.  During her high school years, she raised pigs as her 4-H project. So each year for the last several years, we traveled to Perry, Georgia, to attend the Georgia National Hog Show. For an entire weekend each time, we would sit in the judging barn (imagine a high school gym with a dirt floor full of pigs) and watch hours of pig judging.  Think of that gym floor with 20 teenagers trying to control 20 pigs with something equivalent to a car radio antenna. Now add in a lanky Georgia farmer with a thick accent speaking into a microphone about the various qualities and characteristics of each pig. It’s sort of like pinball with 20 balls in play at the same time with running commentary.

Well, the side effect of this procedure, once you plow through the accent, is that you learn a lot about pigs. But the one takeaway I want for you is this, no two pigs are the same. These were show pigs. (Yes, they breed pigs to show.) They were, for the most part, the same Berkshire breed. The producers were doing their best to breed to a show standard. The kids were doing their best to raise, feed, and train to that same standard. But every pig was different. This just confirmed what I had been saying for years, as I have taught this passage, “Every pig’s butt is different, but every canned ham is exactly the same.”

God has gone to a great deal of trouble to make you unique. He fashions every snowflake to a once-in-eternity pattern. Every tree is different. Every branch on every tree is different. Every twig on every branch on every tree is different. And the same is true of every leaf since Adam and Eve walked in the garden. So why would God want His precious children, the jewels of His creation to look, sound, act, or think alike? Conformity is not part of God’s plan. Therefore, if you look across the church and see hundreds of identical salt and pepper shakers, something is wrong.

If we are not to be conformed either to the world or to each other, how are we to change? (For change we must!)  It doesn’t take long dealing with people, either in the church or in the world, to see that we are children of the fall. There are two kinds of people in the world: sinners and sinners saved by grace. Change is mandated. Thankful in this verse, Paul gives us the pattern for change, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” The Greek here is metamorphoō, a compound word made up of “change” and “body or form.”  From it we get the English word metamorphosis. Interestingly, it is the same word used to describe Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Imagine yourself the glowing image of perfection, but not to a standard set by anyone but God Himself.

So how is this achieved?  Paul says it isby the renewing of your mind.”  The first and obvious avenue to renewal is the scripture itself. Soaking oneself in the word of God, as Paul says in Ephesians, gradually replaces the world’s corrupted patterns with God’s. Just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word(Ephesians 5:25b-26) 

Second, pray.  Paul admonishes us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing.”  And again in I Corinthians 14:15 “What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” At every opportunity, in every situation, pray.  Take direct access to the prescience of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Enjoy fellowship with other believers as often as is practical.  “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)  By these practices God has the opportunity to work in us that we might be “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  And remember you are the only one of you that God made.  Treat His creation with care.

Fred Teagle


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.