Thursday, June 25, 2020

One Lord, One Faith

Paul, while in prison writes to the Christians in Ephesus, lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 NLT


The word community identifies a group that shares common interests or beliefs, and in Ephesians the characteristics of unity identify the behaviors of a Christian community. These examples of daily conduct should be visible inside and outside of the community. While differences exist, division should not be the outcome, rather unity with a bond of peace. The definition of 'church' is the body of believers with Christ being the center. Both the individual and collective church should seek God's will and purpose, just as each member of its body. God has designed humanity to be relational, people in relationship with each other, people in relationship with God. The mutual prayers and support of Christian community enhance discernment.

Paul reminds this community (verse 4-5), "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope...one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father...". From the moment of Pentecost, the church of Jesus Christ becomes one body of believers, united in one faith, redeemed by one Grace, loved by one God. Chosen by God, we are His children, called to be representatives of His House, of His Truth, His Kingdom. From accountability to encouragement, from listening to praying, the body of Christ should champion each other in the understanding of God's purpose. The process of discernment needs community, as well as solitude. Called to live a life worthy of God's calling, community becomes the Christian's support system, friends, family, together serving one Lord, one faith in Jesus Christ. Embrace community! ~ dho

Thursday, June 18, 2020

God’s Promise

Hymn of Promise

words/music: Natalie Sleeth, 1986


In the bulb there is a flower;

in the seed, an apple tree;

in cocoons, a hidden promise: 

butterflies will soon be free!

In the cold and snow of winter

there's a spring that waits to be,

unrevealed until its season, 

something God alone can see.


There's a song in every silence,

seeking word and melody;

there's a dawn in every darkness,

bringing hope to you and me.

From the past will come the future;

what it holds, a mystery,

unrevealed until its season, 

something God alone can see.


In our end is our beginning; 

in our time, infinity;

in our doubt there is believing; 

in our life, eternity.

In our death, a resurrection;

at the last, a victory,

unrevealed until its season, 

something God alone can see.



Several years ago, I heard this hymn and love the words! In its simplicity there is great depth and meaning. The theme is repeated at the end of each verse ~ no matter the time, whether a time of beginning, of waiting, of doubting, God's promise to us remains. Through all the uncertainty that life brings, we can be certain of God's goodness. His tender love for us reaches through the joy, through the difficulty, through the unknown. God has a plan for each of His children and desires a relationship with each of us. Even when we cannot see the reason or the answer or the end result, God can. The Holy Spirit is God’s promise to His children, for “He abides with you and will be in you.” We are not alone!



Pray with me... Holy Father, I fall on my knees in Your presence. Illumine my mind when darkness lingers. Protect my heart when doubt threatens. Rescue my soul when uncertainty challenges. When I am weak, You strengthen me. When I stumble, You catch me. When I am weary, You hold me. In countless ways, You bless me! My prayers of praise, insufficient but whole-souled, applaud Your Glory. Still on my knees, I surrender my own desires and offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, for He is my Grace. Amen. -dho

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Long Haul

Colossians 1:1-12 NASB" . . . walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, . . ."



In reading these verses, we learn that Paul and Timothy have been praying these things for the Colossian believers. Paul had not actually visited them but learned about their salvation through fellow believer, Epaphras, who had heard the Gospel from Paul at Ephesus and took this transforming message back to Colosse. Having heard of their faith, Paul writes to encourage them. These are their prayers:
- walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
- please the Lord in all respects
- bear fruit in every good work
- increase knowledge of God
- be strengthened through God's power  
And the "strength to stick it out over the long haul" that comes with serving Christ is well expressed in The Message when it speaks of "Glory-strength", [the] strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.

Have you prayed for someone today? Have you prayed for "Glory-strength", for a Christ-strength that endures the unendurable? Remember everyday brings spiritual battles to those who believe in Christ. The spiritual warfare for believers is often hard and unrelenting. Many circumstances surround each of us, threatening to weary us. Pray for "Glory-strength" to strengthen and renew joy ~ PRAY CHRIST'S GLORY-STRENGTH FOR SOMEONE TODAY! ~dho

Thursday, June 04, 2020

True Idenity

Oh LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me... For You forged my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well...     Psalm 139


Identity marks us, affirms us, singles us out, gives specific details about us. We have many pieces of paper that identify us like driver's license, Social Security number, health insurance cards, military identification, work badges, car registrations, credit cards, business cards; we have official certificates that verify birth, marriage, divorce, and death. We use pictures and numbers and computer chips to create our identity, to track our likes, activity, timeliness, finances, and even our animals. Yet, with all that information floating around, we are "prone to wander" and feel lost.

Despite our vanity and ego-centric nature, humanity is both fragile and broken. Etched deep within our DNA the need to believe in a greater power exists, even if we try deny this. Psalm 139 never gets old. Take a few minutes and read the complete text. Woven into being, created in the likeness of God, intimately known by Him barely begin to describe you and me in Christ. 

"Often in quiet meditation and reflection we discover that we are more than our individual selves and come to realize who we really are. We slowly learn to see, within our very own hearts, the reflection of the One who breathed life into us...who loved us before we were born and before we could love ourselves...We are defined by something deeper and wider..."                    Henri Nouwen, Discernment
God breathes life into our souls, reflects the essence of love, offers each of us grace. He surrounds us, protects us, nourishes us. Without God, our identity is just letters and numbers. Nouwen says, "Our true identity is found in God, who created us in the divine image. We are bearers of God's image and spirit." So, whose are you? Do the people you meet every day know your "real identity" or is that a secret? ~dho