Kingdom Purpose

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NIV)

What does seeking first his kingdom really mean to us today?  Recently while studying in preparation for class, I came across this story of the life of a Sunday School teacher from long ago.  Edward Kimball was a SS teacher in Boston for a class of teenage boys.  He was really convicted over the spiritual condition of the boys in the small group, so he began to visit each one individually to find out if they were believers.  One day he visited a shoe store where one of the boys worked.  This boy was none other than the Dwight L Moody.  That day in the stockroom of that store DL Moody gave his life to the Lord.  He went on to become an international evangelist; preaching and teaching to millions, founder of 3 schools and 2 publishing houses.  Moody shared with millions the power of seeking first his kingdom which led to Chapman being converted, which led to William Sunday being converted, which led to Mordecai Fowler begin converted, which led to Billy Graham accepting Christ.  

Do you see the pattern here?  

If you didn’t know the legacy of these other men in ministry, chances are you do know the legacy of Billy Graham.  Graham, a life lived serving God through the power of the Holy Spirit, led millions of lives to a saving knowledge of Christ through his evangelist work.  Maybe you are a convert from a Billy Graham Crusade.  So as I reflect on the book of Acts and our call as believers to seek first his kingdom in the gospel of Matthew, I am challenged.  Every act of obedience carries with it the potential to mightily impact our world for the Kingdom of God.  Oh to be like Philip, to be willing to submit to the call set before me.  Every act!!! Even the act of seeking, that seems so trivial, has Kingdom results.  Kimball was willing to seek.  We must be obedient today to seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness.  

The ministry of LCA must remain rooted in His kingdom purpose and in our pursuit for His righteousness.  That is our prayer today and every day.  Oh Lord allow us to be rooted in You and You alone.

Written by: Tracie Rothe, US Bible Teacher

Listen

I am one of those people that asks the Lord what my word (focus) for the next year should be.  In the past, He has given me words like obedience, chosen, and known (as in making His name known), but this year I struggled.  As I asked and waited, I wrote lists of the potential word He would choose for me.  One morning as I just sat frustrated because the new year was upon me, and I still didn’t have a word, His Spirit washed over me and said that I hadn’t heard Him.  I was hoping for a word like courage, strength, or believe, but God gave me “listen” as my word for 2017.

           My response at first was, “What?”  But as the year has progressed, I have seen God using the word “obedience” and tying it to the idea of listening.  It is easier to obey if I hear what He is saying.  Making His name known is about listening to the hopes, dreams, and struggles of others and finding the right time to make Him known.  I see how “chosen” plays into my life as I listen to His truth wash over me every day.

           Just like Samuel, I wasn’t sure what God was asking of/telling me.  As you read 1 Samuel 3, you will see that God called Samuel three times before it was understood that God was speaking to him.

And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”
— 1 Samuel 3:10 (ESV)

God wants me listening for His voice the same way He wanted Samuel listening.  It could be a simple nudge to pray with or for someone, it could be He wants me to hold my tongue and really listen to what someone else is saying/sharing, or it could be that He just wants to know that I am waiting to hear from Him before I make a decision.  I want my response to be the same as Samuel’s “Speak, for your servant hears.”

           Prayer isn’t all it could be when we are just talking and not listening, though.  I think this is why He is having me work on this specific skill.  To meditate on His Word, without my opinions or plans getting in the way, is the goal.  I know better His plans for me as I listen.  I think listening has become a lost art in society.  We are filled with sharing what we have to say on our social media accounts, through texting, and just in conversations.  We jump ahead to our response before we “hear” what someone else is saying.

           I can honestly say that I am now excited about my word for 2017 as I have seen God flesh this out a few times for me and the great joy that came from listening to Him.  Try listening during your time of prayer and see how it grows your relationship with the Lord.

 

Written by: Jen Armstrong, MS English Teacher

Larger Than Life

Our precious heavenly Father, we are now embarking on a journey that is over whelming to our small minds and equally frightening to believe that we can handle it, and we can’t. We can only look to you to uplift us to fulfill our obligations to you. As you have told us in Gen 1:25-26, that we must subdue (study and learn) so that we may have dominion over your Creation. This is such an enormous responsibility, yet we cannot shirk from it. We know that you are with us always, ready to guide and ready to provide. However, we cannot simply lean on you without doing our part. However heavy that may be, it is nothing compared to what Jesus has done for us. So we ask for your strength, persistence, patience, and endurance to provide for our next generation to have a place to learn and above all else to glorify you. We know that you will see us through and provide for the needs of this endeavor and we thank you for all that you do each and every day. Forgive us when we forget to acknowledge that and put other things in priority over you. Help us now, each and everyone to submit to you and carry out your intent for our lives. Thank you for all that you do.

Written by: Gary Snow, US Science Teacher & Golf Coach

The Only Way To Lose

In the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30) the master gives each of his three servants a large sum of money to manage while he is away. To the first servant, he gives 5 talents, to the second 2 talents and to the last, 1 talent. (Each of these “talents” was worth between 15 and 20 years of salary.) As the master departs, the first two servants immediately go to invest the money while the third, afraid of losing what was entrusted to him, buries his talent in the ground.

Ground Shaking, Life Changing Prayer

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31 NIV

You see, all this talk about prayer is so much more than erecting a new building on the LCA Campus. All this talk about prayer and a “Prayer Team” goes so far beyond aesthetical improvements. All this talk about prayer is about bringing unity, changing lives, and leaving a legacy.

“What Would I Talk About?”  Part 2

We began this series of blog entries with the request offered up to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  It has already led us to a type of prayer that exists only in quiet, solitary places far from the haste of our chaotic lives.  Jesus teaches here about a prayer life that doesn’t center on long, repetitive prayers, listing our own wants and needs.  We ended the last entry with the question, “If prayer isn’t about me telling God what I and other folks need (as if He doesn’t already know), then “what would I talk about”?

I think that Jesus would respond…”Finally, someone asks the most important question!”  Then he goes on to share what we know as the Lord’s Prayer.  

“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Mat 6:9-13 NIV)

 

Here is the answer to the title question of today’s blog, “What would I talk about”?  Jesus shows us the first words and therefore the priority of each of our prayers is to bring honor, glory and worship to our Heavenly Father!  “Hallowed be your name.”

When the children of a heaven-dwelling Father begin to converse with Him, what could be more appropriate than for them to spend a significant amount of time showing gratitude, expressing appreciation and giving honor to that almighty Being?   What Father more deserves the admiration of His kids? What Daddy has more right to expect to hear His offspring speaking of the awesome things He has done, of the depth of His character and majesty of His person?

I must confess that learning to pray this way doesn’t come easy to the mind that is used to rolling off page-long grocery lists of personal wants and desires.  One suggestion that I uncovered long ago is to make the Psalms your personal resource of reasons and ways to brag on your Father.  I still often begin my prayer times with a Bible in hand that is opened to one of the songs of David.  Read Psalm 23 and stop to thank God for each of the ways He is a shepherd to you.  Read Psalm 51 and rediscover the extent of the forgiveness He has extended your way.

How long should this “love fest” go on?  You tell me.  It depends on how long you want to spend expressing to the God who sacrificed His Son for you, and the Son who died for you and the Holy Spirit who lives within you, just how much you recognize that your life would be aimless, pointless and meaningless without them.  I’m thinking that should give you all you need to talk about for quite a little while.   

Written by: Mike Davis, US Science Teacher