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Taste and See the Lord is Good

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My three year old grandson, Luke, was here for a visit two weeks ago and I took him to a store for a treat. He requested a sucker! When we got to the store, the choices were plenty and colorful. We stood there in awe by the number of choices. I asked Luke to select the one he wanted. Luke selected the one that caught his eye and we bought it and walked back home.

When we got back home Luke and I opened the sucker which was tightly packaged with great anticipation. As it turned, out it was not a sucker at all! What we had bought was a spray and it was sour! We both tasted it and the spray made us both say “yuk” with the most bitter look on our faces! What a disappointment! We both anticipated a delicious sucker and all we got was sour spray! Well, not to leave you hanging...Luke and I went right back to the store and selected a traditional yellow sucker which made us both very happy!

Life can be like this as well. We may expect to taste the goodness of each day. What happens when we are blindsided with the taste of “bitter spray?” When we experience something terrible, receive bad news, or face adverse circumstances, we have a choice. We can turn bitter or we can “push through” and seek God’s goodness in spite of the bitter taste.

In our lives, we are going to experience a wide range of good, bad, and challenging adventures. When we encounter the sour, we must seek God’s goodness instead of turning bitter. As a disciple of Jesus, we seek to journey through the hard times trusting God and finding the joy on the other side of them.

The Psalmist says it like this: “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8 NLT). In the bitter and sweet of life, the Lord can bring joy through all! Trust in Him!

Shalom,
Philip

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The Church is Imperfect People Seeking to be The People of God

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At Shalimar, in the coming weeks, we will be looking at how God can use imperfect people to do His perfect work in the world. This series will come from the Book of Esther. The Church, also by design, is made up of imperfect people seeking the perfect Will of God. In our quest to be the best church possible at Shalimar UMC, we live within this tension of imperfect people and strive for the perfect Will of God. We should not lose this perspective.

First, we the people of the church are not perfect.
 There are no perfect people, lay persons, pastors, or staff.
 We sometimes let our wants and desires detour us from the vision of God.
 We can be fully human and choose our own egos and pride instead of discipleship.
 We can be hypocritical and say one thing and do another.
 We can be careless with our tongue, hurt other people, and even our witness for Christ.
 We can become focused on the wrong things and miss opportunities to serve Christ and love others.

Second, in spite of our imperfections, there is good news God can use us for.
 The Church is of God. God’s Church will succeed in spite of our imperfections.
 God can transform our imperfections by Christ’s redemption.
 Our worst behavior can be transformed by the power of the Cross.
 God is not finished with His Church. There is still time to be the church and grow in the teachings of Christ.
 There is great opportunity to love others all the more in spite of imperfections and all.
 God can take an authentic and humble person and do mighty things through His Holy Spirit.

In closing, years ago, I came across this article from the McGhee Road Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama entitled “I Believe in the Church.”

“I Believe in the Church”

I believe in the church in spite of its imperfections. The church will never be perfect in this world. It is made up of people struggling to do God’s will – but people who are still human with their weaknesses and sin.

I believe in the church in spite of its limitations and struggles. Sometimes the church is hindered by lack of vision and commitment. But in spite of all of this, the church is the only agency in the world that provides a place where people can gather to worship God

I believe in the church because it is an agent of God’s Spirit – an instrument of the Eternal. It has changed through the years, and it will continue to change. It will make mistakes. But the church is still God’s chosen vessel for carrying on His work of redemption in the world.

May we, at Shalimar UMC, seek to be fully God’s Church! May we offer our imperfections for His perfect purpose in the world!


Shalom,
Philip

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Joy in Jesus and a Joyous Church

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One of my favorite parables is only one sentence long! Jesus shared about the man who became so excited when he found treasure in a field. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44). What a simple yet profound parable. A man gave up all he had for the JOY of the treasure. The joy of the Kingdom of Heaven is like that! When we give all we have to Jesus, we experience unbridled JOY. Such is the Kingdom of God.

The presence of JOY is one of the most endearing qualities of a church. We are inspired in the presence of joy. JOY is contagious. One person’s JOY is quickly caught by another. Joy does not even have to wait until everything is perfectly aligned. In fact, we can know joy even when there is adversity. Dick Wills says “The presence of joy comes from walking with Jesus not circumstances.” The JOY we know in the midst of difficulty is even sweeter. Jesus’ joy can be known in all seasons. Our life and breath as a church is fueled by the JOY of salvation, walking with Christ, and the promise of Paul in Roman’s 8:28 “knowing all things work together for good to them that love the Lord!” JOY is one of the greatest fruits of the Spirit and ignites the Church for fruitful ministry.

This joy of walking with Christ is possible in all circumstances. Shalimar UMC, let us be a church of unbridled joy! When God’s people are joy-ous, their witness draws others in to know the joy of the Lord. May the joy of the Lord be in all of us as we are the church! We are at our best when we walk in the JOY of the Lord. May the JOY of Christ be with you all and in you all!

Shalom, 
Philip

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