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“But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea….”  Jonah 1:4

“Immediately he arose, took up his bed and went out in the presence of them all so that they were amazed and glorified God……”  Mark 2:12

“..He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm…..and they feared exceedingly and said ‘Who can this be that even the wind and sea obey Him!'”  Mark 39,41

So, have you ever been in a situation where you’re responsible for getting a message across to a group and they are not paying attention?  Now this could be your family, or a business group, or church group, but it is a message of vital importance and when you start to speak to them, they seem oblivious to your presence?  Think of what you’ve done to get their attention.  Maybe, you talked loudly and if that didn’t work raised your volume progressively until you were shouting.  Maybe you tried to make a loud noise to shock them and snap them into listening to you.  Maybe, especially if you were dealing with a younger group, you promised them some treat or present if they paid you some heed.

Now imagine that you’re God and you’re trying to get the attention of your creation.  Jonah tried ignoring God, disregarding Him, running away from speaking with God.  God caused a great tempest to arise to show Jonah, He meant business.

What about Jesus Christ; He is God, was God even when He walked the earth; when He started His ministry it was not as if He was getting much notice or many followers.  Scripture tells us that it wasn’t until people witnessed the miraculous healing He accomplished that His fame spread throughout the land.  Even in witnessing those healings, His disciples didn’t understand the complete totality of His power until they witnessed Him calm a raging sea and wind with just a few simple words.  Without the healing, had their been no storm to calm; how much notice would He have garnered?

What’s my point?  First let me state categorically that I do not know the mind or speak for the acts of God, in any one situation.  That is to say that I make no claim that I know God’s purpose for any cataclysmic event or can definitively explain the rationale for some specific healing or blessing.  I can not!

Yet I have observed this, having gone through some major storms of nature in my life; I find it typical that the reaction; whether before, during or after in general by the public is one of; focus on the storm, a sense of powerlessness concerning the storm and a sense of awe concerning the impact of the storm after it has passed.  Likewise, my wife is a cancer survivor. She has gone past the time when, just decades before, the vast majority of patients didn’t survive.  Both with cancer and other diseases we are hearing phrases like “miracle drug, miracle treatment or miracle cure”, thrown around.

Yet the storms do pass.  If cured, life continues with a sense of new normalcy.  And therein lies the challenge:  Is God in our normal?  Not only “in”, is God at the head, is He the priority of our normal?

You see Dear Sisters and Brothers, God absolutely knows the danger, the devastation, the personal and eternal destruction that comes from a life, attempted to be lived without relying completely on Him.  He knows there is an enemy out there, literally hell-bent on our eternal death and destruction.  The enemy, Satan, could care less if we believe in Satan or not; as long as we don’t care about, give attention to, have any worship for, let alone love, our Creator, Almighty Father, God in Heaven.

Now here’s the thing, I don’t know about you, but I can and do fall into that trap.  It’s not as if I consciously reject or state hatred for God, no; but I get so focused on some aspect of earthly life, vocation, relationship, recreation, economic, that I lose all focus on God and live and make decisions as if I was the person in charge, I was the one ultimately responsible and with ultimate power.  Sometimes this comes in the depth of trials, but also, it can come at prolonged periods of success as well.

I praise God and am so thankful that, at those times, when I neglect Him, living my life without recognition of Him or reliance on Him, that He does not turn His back on me or leave me to travel the pathway to certain doom and destruction.  No, there is many a time that God has reached out in some way and gotten my attention; returned my focus to Him, sometime through a healing or blessing and sometimes through a storm.

So it would behoove us to ask frequently, unceasingly, with humility and utmost honesty, does Our Heavenly Father have our full attention?  Are our thoughts a product of a focus on Him and His teachings?  Do our acts reflect a connection, a relationship of love, first with Him and then with each other?  Are we seeking, knocking and asking?

Again, praise be to God Almighty that He gives us tools to help us focus on Him.  He gives us the ability to communicate and fellowship with Him through prayer.  He has striven to leave us lessons to guide us, that we can live by in His Words of Scripture.  He has blessed us with fellowship gatherings of our peers; where He has promised to with us as we gather in worship services.

Finally, Our Heavenly Father, gave His Only Begotten Son, to die in our place; that we may be able to be in relationship and live with Him, now and forever.  If that’s not enough to get and keep our attention then heaven help us.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father; we declare that You are God alone, the author of our salvation and through You all blessings, peace, joy and especially love come.  Forgive us Most Merciful Father, when we are tempted to live our lives on our own terms, while ignoring Your presence.  We thank You, that You do not abandon us, but take measure to retrieve our attention and bring us back to You.  Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us that through study of Your word and regular prayer, we may keep our focus on You and Your desires for our lives.  That by focusing on You and abiding in Jesus Christ, we would live lives of praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

 

“Now in those days, when the number of disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint….because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.”  Acts 6:1

“….whom we may appoint over this business, but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word.”  Acts 6:3

5,000 new members in a day; WOW, what a membership drive that was.  That is what happened in the early church based on the preaching of Peter.  Thousands were believing in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, being baptized and becoming members of His body.  Again, WOW, what a response, we read in Acts, Chapter 4, that they were selling what they had and giving to each other so that none lacked for anything.

Alas, all that harmony did not completely last.  For even as they were still growing, still excited, still listening to the Word, praising Jesus Name, a dispute arose.  For that group, “the church” started doing things besides just preaching the Word.  First, let me say that it was good for them to do so.  The church saw a need, poor widows who did not have anyone to care for them and the church was meeting that need.  Yet either some were actually or at least seemed to be left out of that distribution.  Understandably, those associated with the widows had a concern with that, which they brought to the Jesus’ Apostles.  Now it was not that the apostles didn’t think this was a matter of some importance, yet they also felt it vital that this dispute should not become a distraction to their praying and ministry of the word.  There answer to the situation was wise, find people filled with the Holy Spirit of good reputation to administer to this need.  Their answer must have worked because the church continued to grow exponentially.  Now also understand that “issues” were not limited to this young church; the Corinthians argued over which spiritual gifts were the most important and the Galatians argued over whose baptism was better.

Why does this matter?  Fast forward to today and church after church, denomination, after denomination seems to be wrestling, some in almost crises mode over what they are supposed to be and what they should be doing?  Some questions they are struggling with; new music versus traditional music, multimedia versus stand in the pulpit preaching, congregation focused versus non-church attendee focused, who can be married, who can preach; these and many more are the weighty issues that churches are dealing with.  Yet seemingly, to me, so many of the questions; what do we do, how do we spend money, how do we get money, how do we worship, where do we worship are fundamentally about the “business” of church.  However, they become the focal point of so many disputes and the focus of so much energy.

To the above questions, I think it is probable that the apostles would have had an opinion.  Yet when you look at Paul’s and Peter’s letters and their “Acts”, it seems clear that the overriding concept, the undeniable truth, the overriding concept that was what really mattered is; as Paul stated to the Corinthians, to preach Christ crucified, Christ the Power of God, Christ the Wisdom of God.  Thus, what should our priorities be?  What should we expect from church, if anything?

As churches are, I believe, vitally important, we should not be considering doing away with churches or their business.  But, is business the primary aim of the church?  Should we be more concerned with the wrapping than what is the Gift?

I claim no wisdom to answer all the business questions, yet it seems to me, first and foremost is the Gospel of Christ proclaimed, the Word of God studied and worshiped, the Love of God received and then reflected to others and the prayers of individuals and the people raised to Our Heavenly Father should be our desire, our expectation.  Should we not have our primary focus on Christ, the Only Begotten Son, Crucified, Died and Rose Again, Jesus Christ the Risen Lord our Savior?  Christ tells us; that , if we abide in Him we produce much fruit.  Perhaps the fruit is where the business resides?  However, most importantly, the fruit only comes once we first, abide in Christ.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, there is much good we can do, there is much peace we can bring, there is much joy that we can have and all of those can be more focused, more fruitful as we do them in fellowship through church.  However, none of those happen in any truth if we are not first in Christ.  Let Christ’s Word and engaging in prayer be our priority of worship.  Let us be humble in putting Christ first and, while we may be diligent in wanting to do the business of the church, let us be more known as disciples of Christ, then business people of Christ.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we humbly and freely admit we complicate what You have made simple.  We strive to put a price on and then pay for that which is priceless, yet You have provided to us for free.  Like Martha, we focus on the doing and mostly disregard the being; being in You.  Forgive Most Merciful Father.  Breath Your Spirit into us that we may only desire the bread of Your Word and the communion of prayer and relationship with You.  Lead us away from the temptation to equate doing with faith and business with worship.  That by abiding in Your Son and reaching up to You through Jesus Christ, we will bear true fruit that really matters and bring praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

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