“How do I know that I love God?”

chicken-or-egg“How do I know that I love God?”

Jesus’ answer is obedient love. He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (John 14:15) and that love is seen in action. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

Which came first love or obedience? Ask Jesus. He’s been doing both forever!

Is it that chicken and egg deal? Okay, which came first?

He would answer, “Both! Let it go! Just love and obey and obey and love!”

Jesus describes obedience as hearing and believing. He explains, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

Receiving and believing in Jesus brings a new life of love. John writes of Jesus, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11–13)

Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) If you are an “anyone” you can invite Jesus into your life. Then love begins in your heart as you personally and spiritually sit at table and “eat” with Jesus.

My mother called John 3:16 God’s telephone number, that “anyone” can dial. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) By faith, substitute your name for the word “whoever” the gift of eternal life is yours and love begins.

Some, who were interested in Jesus’ ways, asked him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”” (John 6:28–29) While we often think in terms of doing something, Jesus wants us to first believe something.

Belief leads the way in obedient love. The man asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The command comes, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved….” (Acts 16:31)

This kind obedient belief promises, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” This promise begins a new obedience of love, “and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” (1 John 5:1–2)

Love and obedience are tied together. Jesus put it this way, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)

John explains it this way, “If anyone obeys God’s word, love for God is truly made complete in them.” (1 John 2:5)

“So, how do I know that I love God?” The answer seems to be, obey Jesus’ call to believe. Then God’s love will be “made complete” in you. God will see to it.

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201


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Want Less Stress? Try Homeostasis!

“All things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28)

In classes for organizations about managing stress, I teach about homeostasis which has the idea of balance, alignment, and peace. I propose the we may be designed to be in homeostasis psychologically and that this can be a great antidote for negative stress

Psychological homeostasis can be understood by referring to our physical bodies. When we cut our finger or bang our head we expect the cut or the bump to heal in good time. So, perhaps, I suggest, we may want to look for ways and means to allow our psyche to similarly heal. Participants (including nurses, doctors and other health workers) are usually very intrigued by this possibility for inner peace.

Lately, I’m also considering that homeostasis may be intended and provided for by God regarding every aspect of our lives—specifically in the area of God’s provision for us. Thus, homeostasis is not just provided physically and psychologically but also regarding work, finances, relationships, events and all other expectations as well.

What if there’s a precise place for each of us in each moment of our life in God’s kingdom? What if all things align and work together to that end?

Our headline verse, “All things work together for good,” sure fits here. The full verse is: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Isaiah 26:3 is also a good life homeostasis verse. It says, “God, you will keep in shalom, shalom (that’s “perfect peace” in English) those whose mind is resting in you because we trust in you.”

Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. Shalom means peace but in a much fuller way than our English language concept of peace, which implies serenity and a lack of trouble. Shalom a lot like spiritual homeostasis. It provides the peace that passes all understanding even in the midst of the whirlwind and the storm.

Jesus had such homeostasis in the midst of a great storm and a seemingly sinking ship. He even took a nap!

“And when Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.

“And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”

“Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”” (Matthew 8:23–27)

What sort of man is this? A peaceful man living within his Heavenly Father’s shalom and believing in his father’s homeostasis that is working all things together for good.

What sort of man is this? The kind of man into whom the Heavenly Father is conforming and shaping us!

Paul recognized homeostasis and shalom as contentment. He writes, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:” (Philippians 4:11)

Let’s also believe for homeostasis, shalom, and contentment, in Jesus’ name!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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The Smell of Fresh Bread! God loves it!

Rainbow bread or Wonder Bread! One of them has a bakery just off Interstate 80 by Arden way in Sacramento—at least they used to. I still recall the smell of fresh bread baking as I drive by—from the freeway no less!

When I “drive by” Romans 8:28 in the Bible I have the same sensation (spiritually, of course) because of a word in the verse that alludes to fresh baked bread.

The verse reads: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Purpose! That’s the fresh bread word. It is from “prosthesis” in the original Greek of the Bible and is defined: “to purpose or plan, a setting forth, presentation, an exposition, determination, plan, or will. It involves purpose, resolve, and design. A placing in view or openly displaying something.”

And, the definition continues to the fresh bread: “…Of food, in a descriptive sense—used for “the bread of the Presence” set out before Jehovah on a table in the sanctuary (Exodus 39:36; Matthew 12:4; Hebrews 9:2).” In the tabernacle and temple times of the Old Covenant, twelve loaves, one for each tribe of Israel, were freshly baked and placed on the Table of the Presence before God in the temple.

Prosthesis in English is about presentation too. A prosthesis is an artificial body part, such as a leg, a heart, or an implant used for presentation!

All this helps us understand that in being “called according to his purpose” we are God’s fresh bread, made specifically for his presentation. He is putting us out there to honor him and bring him fresh baked joy!

Indeed, Paul confirms our fresh baked status and aroma, writing, “God uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.” (2 Corinthians 2:14–16)

Okay, so not everyone thinks Jesus followers smell great, but, hey, others do! God gets our fresh baked aroma of love and faith out there and we live in the confidence that “God works all things together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Arby’s joyously claims, “We’ve got the meats!”

God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit happily declare, “We’ve got the breads!” And I think I hear them saying, “Dear ones, you’re our fresh baked breads! You are the people of our Purpose, Presentation, and Presence before us and in this world! You smell wonderful when we drive by!”

Here’s some great smelling Scriptures about living fresh!

“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!” (Isaiah 43:19 The Message)

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, NLT)

“Now is the time! Today is the day!” (2 Corinthians 6:2)n

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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Train Rolling – Romans 8:26-29

Train_loco_tender_box-car_cabooseAll Things Work together for Good

“All things work together for good!” Have you spoken this Bible phrase in a time of struggle, grief or confusion? Probably. It assures us that something bigger is working everything out, no matter how bad it gets.

This mighty phrase is nestled in a four verse passage in the Bible book of Romans 8:26-29. Picture the verses as a old-timey four car train with a locomotive for pulling, a tender car supplying fuel; a box car full of treasure; and a caboose for living with Jesus.

The train helps us see how and why God is working all things together for good. All aboard, to take our tour!

The Locomotive, verse 26: “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”

Groaning prayers of Holy Spirit power our locomotive. We become more aware of this as our journey continues. We stop striving, let go of human effort and let God work within us to do his good purpose and pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) We chug forward along his holy track, not by human might or power but by God’s Spirit! (Zechariah 4:6)

The Tender, verse 27: “And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

The tender car supplies the fuel for the locomotive. Here the Holy Spirit and the Father are coupled together for our progress. The Spirit lets Father God know what’s ahead and keeps the whole train together.

The Box Car, verse 28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

“All things work together for good.” Good in the original Greek means ethically, intrinsically, and inwardly good. Even when things seems bad God works the good.

Jesus hanging on the cross looks terrible to the natural eye. However, to the eye of the believer, Jesus’ suffering unto blood, is marvelously, mystically, and majestically beautiful. We know the good—we know his horrific crucifixion provides our eternal salvation! Ugly becomes beautiful. Death becomes life!

Therefore, we embrace God’s good and God’s purpose. When evil strikes and bad things occur we know he’s not the cause but the one who is turning all causes back into his good cause! We agree with Joseph words regarding his brothers’ murderous deeds against him, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20) By faith we see bigger.

The Caboose, verse 29: “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

The caboose has a kitchen, tables, sleeping quarters and a viewing deck up above. This is where we live with and become like, Jesus, his Son. It’s not often easy and sometimes exquisitely hard, but we stay on board for we are being changed to be like Jesus. What a ride!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla

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Pancho and Lefty, Merle and Willie

Chowchilla News Pastor’s Commentary by John Parker for Wednesday, April 20, 2016 (late but great)

Django-Jimmie-CoverGOOD FRIENDS

“What do you do if you’re a country music lifer and one of your friends and few equals in the field — one that, in fact, you’re supposed to be sharing the stage with right now — suddenly passes away?

“You gather your family and friends around you, mourn in your own fashion, and carry on.

“That’s what Willie Nelson did Saturday night at the Peabody Opera House, in St. Louis. Merle Haggard died last Wednesday, his 79th birthday. The pair had teamed for the recent album “Django and Jimmie” and booked a tour together.

“The show went on as scheduled.”—above by Daniel Durchholz for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday, April 10, 2016.

It’s important to see and admire good friends like Willie and Merle. Nowadays, I am seeing and admiring God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as the good friends that they are.

They talk with each other about us!  It says, “And the One who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.” (Romans 8:27, NAB) “The One” is the Father and the Spirit is “the Holy Spirit!”

The “holy ones” are the believers. The Greek word in the original Bible for “holy ones” is “hagios.” It is translates as: holy-, set apart-, sanctified-, or consecrated-ones, or simply, saints, as in the song, “When the ‘saints’ go marching in!”

The Holy Spirit talks to God, called here: “the One who searches the hearts.”

Why do they talk? After all, they are both God, so what is there to talk about? Why does God need to talk with God? Doesn’t God already know everything?

But here they are, visiting, like a couple of close friends, like Willie and Merle. Fact is, they care about and love talking about us and our success!

Last week we read that the Spirit prays for us to “the One who searches the hearts” with “groanings beyond words.” (Romans 8:26) The Holy Spirit and God the Father talk in a language that is beyond what we think of as words. “Deep is calling unto deep.” (Psalm 42:7)

Now, we get to hear their deep-to-deep talk in our own spirits. The Bible says, “No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, or imagined anything quite like it…what God has arranged for those who love him.

“But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. God not only knows what he (the Spirit) is thinking, but he lets us in on it.

“God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.” (1 Corinthians 2:9–13, The Message)

We have Eternal Friends! They are praying for us! What a joy and comfort. Enjoy!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla

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No Front Porch? Try this!

couch_dog_porchPorches in small towns and neighborhoods are almost extinct. And knocking on doors to witness for Jesus may not come easily for you.

So consider reaching the world with me up on the PORCH (a Google Plus Open Community). We’ll reach passer-byers (is that a word?) together.

The Lord, knows I need help figuring all this stuff out. I lift up my eyes and see a world of hurting people who would love Jesus if we would just learn how to love them. Please help me with this burden.

If you need help reaching others or can give help to reach others please check the PORCH out,  join it, and contribute anything that may help others want to hangout with Jesus and us.

Action steps:

Join Google Plus  

Find and Join PORCH

Begin sharing and commenting.

Invite others.




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All Groan Up! Beyond words, deep calls to deep!

Groaning beyond Words

waves_crashing_on_rocks-t2“But the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26, New American Bible)

We listened to the Lord today at simple church after asking him this question, “What is the significance of the of the Holy Spirit’s ‘inexpressible groanings’ in prayer for us?”

Before listening for a minute or so, we read a few other versions of the phrase “inexpressible groanings.”  They read: “groans that words cannot express,” and, “groanings too deep for words,” and, “groanings that cannot be expressed in words,” and, “groanings that cannot be uttered.”

After our listening, here are a few of the responses:

1. “Inexpressible groanings, are not polluted by words.”

2. “The fact that the Holy Spirit groans beyond words speaks to me about the Spirit’s deep compassion and empathy for us. When my grandmother who raised me passed away, I felt grief so deep that if I’d tried to say words at her funereal service I would have simply burst into tears.  There are feelings and thoughts beyond words.”

3. “The words of the Spirit are like the mighty waters of a waterfall and the rushing of a mighty wind.”

4. “I hear the vocal sounds of whales when I hear that the Spirit groans beyond words. There are whales like the Blue Whale whose sound are so deep that our best microphones cannot record  them.  “Deep calls to deep” is the Bible phrase the came to me.

Someone added about Pastor Louie Giglio’s, “Mashup of Stars Singing ‘How Great is Our God’” She said it has a prelude of whales and stars and other sounds leading into the popular song.

6. Finally, another sister shared that she took the groaning of the Holy Spirit literally because she sais, “I am a groaner and my niece is a groaner. It’s not negative groaning it’s just what we do at times in our pondering and praying.”

7. Another lady exclaimed, “I know! My husband is a groaner.” He was sitting next to her and said that’s how I pray, “I’ll groan when I don’t have words. The later words will follow.”

I wrapped up by sharing that groaning in the sound of creation and within the heart of the believer in Jesus.

First in the deep to deep passage:  “Deep calls to deep be  at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:7–8, ESV)

Second in the groaning verses of Romans chapter eight. 

So thankfully the Spirit groans to God the Father for us!  “In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26, NAB)

Those who are grown ups in the Spirit may groan as well.

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:22–23) “Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201.

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Don’t know how to pray? Perfect! Way to go! Don’t ever change!

spirit blows where it wishes listeth wills“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought…” (Romans 8:26)

Surely our minister knows “what to pray for as we ought.” She’s very devoted. He spends hours with the Lord. But that little pronoun, “we,” includes us all.

Well then, we protest, certainly books and schools can teach us “what to pray for as we ought.” But again, when the Bible says “we do not know.” This includes “Special Religious People”—those scholars, authors, and teachers we may adore, even the ones on TV, and yes, even those who’ve written books about prayer.

So, if “we do not know what to pray as we ought,” where does that leave us? Surely someone must “know what to pray for as we ought!”

Good news! The Holy Spirit of God “comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26, NAB)

The Greek word (alla) translated “but” in this verse describes a very strong contrast. “We do not know how…but,”—in happy contrast to our prayer’s ignorance and weakness—“the Spirit itself intercedes for us!”

Thus, our prayers are not dependent on how well, long, accurately, or fancily we, or someone else, prays. Jesus warns against religious antics saying, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the assemblies and on street corners so that others may see them.” (Matthew 6:5)

It’s easy, when we get comfortable with religion, to leave the Holy Spirit behind. Jesus tells us that it’s possible to pray beautifully, cast out demons, and do many wonderful works in his name and leave God behind. (Matthew 7:21-23) Imagine going to hell (away from the presence of Jesus) after praying so well!

Recognizing our weakness is the key. “The same Spirit” who helps our “infirmities, weaknesses, and sicknesses” prays on our behalf!

A well-intended believer once asked me how my prayer life was going. I was uncomfortable with the question because I have always felt weak and ineffective when it comes to praying. But I responded, “Great!” Now I think it was a defensive and sassy response. But I also had some sense that my prayer life was fine and, yes, even “Great!” from God’s perspective, since I knew I needed all the help I could get.

And if the Spirit of God is praying on our behalf with groanings beyond words, how can our prayer lives get any better than that? We rest in the work of the Holy Spirit within our prayers and lives.

Perhaps that’s why the Bible calls us to “pray in the Spirit.” There are three verses that directly mention praying “in the Spirit.” From them we can learn that:

1. It is commanded. “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 20)

2. It is for all occasions and through in many prayer styles. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18).

3. It occurs alongside our intellect. “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” (First Corinthians 14:15)

If you are feeling weaker about prayer after reading this, rejoice! When we are weak then we may let go and let God’s wonderful Holy Spirit take the lead!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla

P.S. I avoid referring to the Holy Spirit as him. It is mostly neuter gender in the N.T. and definitely feminine in the O.T.  The N.T. does have masculine pronouns once in a while for the Holy Spirit. I like that the Spirit’s wind “blows where it listeth…” (John 3:9 AV)…lots of creativity there!

P.P.S. Speaking, praying and singing in the spirit in a language we don’t understand can be very helpful to free us up into the mind of the Spirit who seems to pray that way anyway!

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Feeling weak? That’s powerful!

weak strong 2 cor 12 9“The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.” (Romans 8:26)  (First printed in the Chowchilla News)

Are you weak today? Rejoice! The Holy Spirit is helping you!

Help. The original Greek word translated “help” in this Scripture is only used one other place in the Bible.  “But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”” (Luke 10:40)

Jesus made it clear to Martha that her demand would not be met. Mary was already engaged with listening to Jesus. He challenged Martha to seek a new kind of help from God rather than from her sister.

The Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. Martha may never have felt that need. She was a go-getter, taking charge—and unhappy.

Like Martha we can have plans of our own. God pity and protect anyone who gets in our unhappy way.

God is attracted to the person who can recognize their weakness and need for help. He knows that weakness draws us into relationship with him. How often have we tried everything and then, finally, prayed? He likes hearing from us more often then that.

Weakness. The original Greek word translated “weakness” means to be powerless, without strength, infirm, or feeble of body, mind, emotions, or spirit.

Weakness builds our relationships with others in the believers’ assembly. “Is anyone among you sick? Call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise you up. And if you have committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:14–15)

Weakness of children. We sing, “Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong.”

Jesus loves the little children. His very “adult” disciples were blind to the power of children and shooed them away. But Jesus insisted,“Let the little children come unto me,” and “Unless you become as a little child you cannot enter the kingdom.”

Healthy weakness is not manipulative self-pity used as a powerful disguise for control. Healthy weakness lets go of our own way while giving us the opportunity to connect with God.

Removing weaknesses. At first Paul the apostle craved to have his weaknesses removed. But later totally changed his mind.

Paul explains, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8–10)

The Scripture song calls, “And, now, Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’” (Joel 3:10) “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Holy Spirit, thank you for helping us in our weaknesses—every moment of every day!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201.

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From the PORCH


I posted  about Forgiveness on February 29, 2016, on the PORCH, (a public Google Plus Community that I moderate and that you can join).

Here’s my post:

“The Lord encouraged me toward forgiveness this morning. They (Father,  Lord Jesus, and Holy Spirit) smiled and tenderly said to my struggling heart, “Forgive, forgive, forgive. We do that all the time…it’s in our blood!” (and I added) “… the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) And, “…be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

I laughed with joy when the Lord said, “forgiveness…is in our blood!”

But, how quickly can we harden our hearts in unforgiveness and the like? And I remember Jesus’ shock at how quickly his disciples hardened their hearts right after they had helped him feed the 5000. And he asked, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in?” (Mark 8:17)

Do we realize that like them, our hearts can get hard, cold and unforgiving right after a great spiritual victory? That it’s “crouching at the door?” (Genesis 4:7)

Having and keeping a tender heart is a daily battle and opportunity.

Regarding the daily battle—“That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as my people did in the wilderness when they rebelled.” (Hebrews 3:7–8)

Regarding the daily opportunity—The Lord warns, “Be careful then…Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must encourage each other every day, while it is still “Today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.” (Hebrews 3:12–13)

I used to read the “encourage each other every day, while it is still ‘Today’” part and be puzzled. Church was a place I attended once or twice a week but certainly not daily.

I was puzzled about the daily meetings in the early church too.  “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—” (Acts 2:46, NLT) I reasoned that the daily meetings were realistic back then when everyone lived so much closer together, but not practical today.

I was sad and frustrated, because even the church meetings and bible study groups I did attend didn’t lend themselves to inter-actively encouraging “one another.” There were teachings and studies and information but not much mutual encouragement. Some in church even stressed that religion was private and no one else’s business.

Thankfully, the Lord has a work-around. The Bible says, “our spirits are being renewed every day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) “Being renewed” is a passive verb here. It means that God is doing the renewing for us even if we can’t figure out our daily encouraging of one another.

There is a simple, wonderful way to do our daily encouraging of one another. It’s called “Church of Two.” Read about it here!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201.

This article first posted in The Chowchilla News Pastor’s Commentary by John Parker for Tuesday, March 3, 2016  under the title: The DAILY SHOW

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