On Vines and Branches

This week, as we continue in our series, Plugged In, we’re talking about why staying plugged in matters at all. Knowing that and knowing why are two different things. We’ve talked about some of the thats and the hows, but the whys haven’t been so clear. In this passage, Jesus gives us three reasons staying plugged in matters so much. Check these out and thanks for reading and sharing!

On Vines and Branches

When we first moved into our house almost four years ago, it was a little like clearing a jungle. I’m not sure the bushes or trees or vines around the property had been trimmed and maintained…ever. Noah’s window looks out the second story on the side of the house over the air conditioning units. You couldn’t see out of his window the bushes were so tall. You could see the front of the house a little bit, but not much. And in the back, our property sits next to a great big field, but you wouldn’t have known it standing on the deck. You couldn’t see into the field behind us because the vines and trees were so thick and overgrown. Several of the wonderful folks here at the church came and helped us clean it up. It actually took two different days because there was so much. I believe Jim hauled off 14 total loads of brush from the yard and somebody finally just suggested we burn the rest of it. I think the remaining pile burned for about three days. It was a mess. But, with the help of this wonderful community, we got it cleaned up. Keeping up with it since has rightly fallen to us. 

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Matthew 6:9-13

“Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

This week we have been talking about prayer. As Jesus was teaching His disciples and the crowds about prayer, He started with what not to do. That’s what we covered over the last couple of days. We know that prayer is not a means of self-advancement. We also know that prayer should be simple and focused, not wordy or rooted in a false idea about God. As helpful as it is to know what not to do, though, knowing what to do is even better. So then, how do we pray? Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t leave us hanging there. He moves smoothly on to tell us how to do it. Let’s take a look at the Lord’s Prayer together today.

Read the rest…

Morning Musing: Matthew 6:7-8

“When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

This week we are talking about prayer. Specifically, we are looking at some of Jesus’ thoughts on prayer from the Sermon on the Mount. When He starts talking about prayer in the middle of His sermon, His first comments are focused on what not to do. After that He shifts gears to giving us an example to follow in our own praying. Yesterday we looked at the first example of what not to do. Specifically, we are not to use prayer as a means of self-advancement. Prayer is about building and developing our relationship with Jesus. Anything less and it won’t do us any good. This morning, let’s take a look at His second caution. If His first caution was focused on why we pray, this one focuses more on the how.

Read the rest…

Morning Musing: Matthew 6:5-6

“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There are numerous books out there offering readers an intro on how to pray. I even read one simply called that: How to Pray. A quick Amazon search for “prayer books” turns up more results than you can click through. As you read through the Scriptures, there are lots of examples of prayer to study and emulate. Many of these books examine one or another of these prayers. The reason for all of this interest is pretty straightforward: We want to know how to pray. We want to know that our prayers are meaningful and have some reasonable chance of accomplishing their aim. We want to know that when we speak aloud in an empty room we’re not just talking to ourselves. Well, at the risk of doing little more than dripping a drop of water in an already flooded market, let’s take a second this morning and talk about prayer.

Read the rest…

Morning Musing: Ephesians 6:14-18 (Part 3)

“Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit–which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

For much of the last week now we have been unpacking Paul’s description of the armor of God together. This is the protection afforded us as followers of Jesus in the great spiritual battle we are engaged in with the powers of this world. We first clarified that the battle is not against the people around us. They are never our enemies. We’ve also settled the fact that our primary task is resistance to the enemy’s attacks. Then, for the past couple of days, we have examined each of the pieces of armor themselves. We are covered from head to toe by the various spiritual blessings available to us when we are found in Christ. We even have an offensive tool in God’s Spirit which is accessed through His word. This is all well and good, but if we are in a battle, that implies we are occasionally going to have to do some fighting. We are tasked with advancing God’s kingdom which means moving forward into enemy held territory. The enemy is not going to simply give up the ground it is holding and walk away. The question that has been hanging over the top of all of the conversation we’ve been having is this: How do we actually fight? This morning as we wrap up this short series, I’m going to seek to answer that question for you. Let’s dig into it.

Read the rest…