Saturday, April 30, 2011

Project Love--March--Love is a Verb

Since April is almost over, I guess I should let you know about Project Love for the month of March.  With a theme for this month of "Love is a Verb", we were encouraged to actually DO something specific to serve people in the community.  I suppose I've done that, as I've taken up a project of crocheting a sleepmat to be given to someone who needs it.

Our church-wide project for this month ended up being a service project for a local elementary school that PV has partnered with and built a relationship with over the past couple of years.  We were able to spruce up the school (cleaning, painting, and even pouring a new sidewalk!) while the kids were out on spring break last month.  Personally, I was unable to help with that project the week it was being done, but I hear things went well.  I saw some pictures of a job well done, and I couldn't be prouder to serve with the church family that I've got.

As for the devotional thoughts for this month, a couple of key verses were:

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."--I John 3:18


"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you."--I Thes. 3:12

To answer a few of our study questions:

1.How is "love with words or tongue" different from "actions"?
Love with words or tongue is easy, as it doesn't require much effort to say that you love someone.  However, to love with actions, you are challenged to do something or actually sacrifice for someone in order to help them.  You are challenged to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

2.  How do we have "actions" that are based in "truth"?
It's said that actions speak louder than words.  I believe that our actions demonstrate how we truly feel about something.  With that in mind, if we are going to really, TRULY love someone, our actions MUST accompany our words and demonstrate our love.

3.  What is the correlation between "overflow" and "love in action"?
I interpret this to mean that we should be willing to show someone our love through our actions always, so that there is always an abundance of love for others.

4.  Other than the cross, what is Jesus' greatest act of love in action?
Jesus touched people.  He always showed them love by treating them with respect and giving them what they needed.  He treated each person as though they had value.

5.  What passage int he Bible most inspires you to put your love into action?
For me, the verse that most inspires me to put love into action is one from the book of James, where he is talking about the uselessness of faith without works.  He hits the nail on the head as he writes, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, 'Go; I wish you well; keep warm and well-fed, " but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Prayers of the Bible, Part Three--Moses

Each year, the Singles group at my church takes a retreat to some lovely place an hour or two away from Little Rock, where we can spend some time in a little more rural setting, fellowshiping with each other and worshiping God. We stay up way too late, talk way too much, eat way too much food, and drink way too much coffee! We also manage to squeeze in some time for praise & worship, and for a Bible lesson or two.

A couple of years ago, one night our evening activity, instead of listening to a speaker present a lesson, was to take a personality test. These tests were very detailed, DISC-based personality tests. What was interesting about these tests, though, was that they matched you up w/a couple (or three) people in the Bible that seemed to be of the same personality type as yourself. One of mine was the Apostle John. (Not bad, if I don't say so, myself! Who wouldn't want to be compared to the disciple that Jesus loved, the apostle that himself so often preached love!) Another, minor figure in Scripture that I was compared with was the prophetess Anna, a woman who never left the Temple, but spent all her time there, fasting and praying. However, one of my favorite people in Scripture that I was compared with, was Moses. As we look at the prayers recorded in Scripture in the rest of the Pentateuch, from Exodus through Deuteronomy, we will look mostly at the prayers that Moses prayed. I may have to break up the prayers of Moses into two separate posts, cause there's a lot of material here.

The story of Moses' calling is found in Exodus 3-4. Moses has spent the past 40 years of his life keeping sheep, when one day he goes to investigate this bush that is on fire, yet it doesn't seem to be burning up. When his name is called out from the bush, the first thing Moses says is, "Here I am." Again, three words that desperately need to find their way into my prayer vocabulary. I think it's noteworthy that when Moses was told that He was standing on holy ground, He also hid his face, "because he was afraid to look at God." You have to note that from the very beginning of this exchange, at least Moses seems to know his place. The story of Moses' calling has always been one of the more intriguing stories in Scripture, because I love the interaction we see here between God and man. It's obvious, even to a kid who's learning this story for the first time, that Moses does not want to do what God is asking him to do. He gives every reason or excuse under the sun. He says, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?" He says, "What if they ask Your name?" "What if they don't believe me or listen to me?" "I have never been eloquent...I am slow of speech and tongue." Finally, the truth comes out, as Moses says to the Lord, "Please send someone else."

You know what I'm most intrigued by? God's mercy! Even though, Moses is giving the Lord every reason under the sun as to why he can't do what God is asking him to do, God gives him an answer that he is looking for. When Moses says, "Who am I?", God says, "I will be with you." When the people ask, "What is His name?" God says, "I AM WHO I AM." If they don't listen or believe him, God gave him signs to perform, "that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob--has appeared" to him. When Moses says "I am slow of speech," God says, "Who gave human beings their mouths?...Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." It's only when the truth comes out...that Moses does not want to do God's will...that God's anger burns against him. But even then, in His anger, God is merciful, by agreeing to send Aaron, Moses' brother, to go with him and to speak for him.

After Moses has done what God has asked him to do...after he has led the Lord's people out of Egypt, both Moses and Miriam sing a song of praise to the Lord. It is a beautiful song found in Exodus 15, which speaks of the Lord, "I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted. Both horse and driver He has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation...The Lord is a warrior...Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power; Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you...Who among the gods is like You, Lord? Who is like You--majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?...In Your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling...You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your inheritance--the place, Lord, You made for Your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, Your hands established."

It would be wrong of me to write a post about the prayers of Moses without mentioning the fact that God spoke to Moses in a way unlike the way that He spoke to any of His other prophets. In Numbers 12, God says, "When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord." Moses is the only one of the Lord's prophets about whom it is said that "the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend." What an incredible blessing to have the Lord speak to you as a friend!!!

And yet, Jesus says to His disciples, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." As His disciples, He has made known to us the will of the Father through His life on this earth. He has given up His life for us, who are His friends, if only we do what He commands.