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Can Good Come from Isolation?

conformed to JesusAnd 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.
Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)

Can God bring good from this pandemic?

This sounds insensitive with so many experiencing fear, grief, anxiety, financial distress, loneliness, depression, and even divisiveness.

How can God cause everything to work together for good?

Some already appreciate less rushing around and increased family time, more cooking, and less pollution. We also have new appreciation for health care workers, grocery staff, and teachers.

The Israelites of the Bible saw a trial like our pandemic as a lesson from God. They looked inward and at community behavior often recognizing how far they had drifted away from God. Their suffering presented an opportunity for them to re-prioritize, re-center, and return to God.

We often read today’s verse by itself, without reading the one that follows. But the next verse reveals the good that God will bring about.

For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son.
Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)

If we’ll take time for reflection individually and as a community, God will bring good from this pandemic. He will shape us to be more Christ-like. Let’s ask:

  • When can we find quiet time to pray and seek God’s guidance? (Mark 1:35)
  • Which of our priorities conflict with God’s values? (John 8:28-29)
  • When can we set aside our own desire for someone else’s benefit? (Mark 14:36)
  • How will we use our resources to advance God’s kingdom? (Luke 8:2-3)
  • Who are the vulnerable and marginalized God calls us to protect and care for? (Luke 14:12-14)
  • How can we lift someone else up rather than advance ourselves? (Mark 9:35)

How will we emerge from COVID-19 more like Jesus?

You might enjoy reading about why I feel privileged to serve Jesus.

#SeedsofScripture #COVID19 #lovelikeJesus #transformedbygrace #christlikeliving

Why We Worship While Some Still Doubt?

worship with doubtThen the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Matthew 28:16-17 (NIV)

They all worship; but some still doubt.

This is one of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, but not the first. Think about it. These eleven of Jesus’ travel companions have already experienced the risen Christ at least once.

They all worship; but some still doubt.

Thomas is the famous doubter who insists on seeing the resurrected Jesus before believing. Evidently Thomas is not the only doubter. Even after eating with Jesus, seeing His wounds, and hearing Him explain the Old Testament scriptures, some still doubt.

This doubt tries to make sense of it all; but they worship.

Jesus certainly knows their doubts but doesn’t rebuke them as He has in the past. They have gone to the mountain as He told them and they worship in spite of their doubts. Their faith is certain enough to obey and worship while trying to make sense of it.

We can worship Jesus and doubt at the same time. (click to tweet)

We’re in good company when we don’t have it all figured out. Jesus knows our faith will grow as we follow, worship, and build a relationship with Him. Like the man whose son Jesus healed, we say “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24)

The rest of the story might surprise you. Jesus commissions this uncertain crew with taking His message to the world:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Mt 28:19-20)

We, too, are charged with teaching the world about Jesus in spite of lingering questions. The Holy Spirit empowers us, leads us, and gives us the words to speak. Perhaps, seeing the Spirit in action will be how God overcomes our unbelief.

What are your lingering questions about Jesus?
Where will you turn for answers?

Want to dig deeper? Explore these related topics by clicking the colored text:
What we are supposed to teach as we make disciples?  and
The risen Jesus asks Peter to shepherd believers  

#SeedsofScripture #makedisciples #greatcommission #doubtingfaith #faithquestions

Holy Week – God is Faithful, No Matter What

Holy Week God is FaithfulWe’re stepping away from Jesus’ teachings today to look at an Old Testament tradition for ‘signing’ a contract with His people that seems very strange to us. First, it shows that God is willing to die in order to rescue us from slavery and bring us home. Second, it shows how the entire Bible fits together into one story – God’s love story for His people. Enjoy this video message.

God’s Promise to Keep His Covenant

#SeedsofScripture #HolyWeek #HolyWeek2020 #cross #COVID19

Holy Week – Jesus Commends a Generous Hero

Holy Week Jesus WidowToday’s Holy Week story comes from Mark and Luke. In this video message I share how two of Jesus’ lessons connect to reveal an ironic twist in the familiar tale of the widow’s mite. She is a generous hero for more than one reason.

A Generous Hero

Please share with a friend who might like to learn about Jesus’ last lessons before the cross.

How are we blessing others with our God-given blessings?

#SeedsofScripture #HolyWeek #HolyWeek2020 #cross #COVID19

 

Holy Week – Jesus Avoids the Trap

holy week jesus teachesI hope you had a wonderful Palm Sunday worshiping online. What a time this is! I have another teaching from Jesus that Matthew, Mark, and John all record. Join me in this video message.

Who do you worship?

Please share with a friend who might enjoy Holy Week reflections.

What does worship look like outside the church walls?

#SeedsofScripture #cross #HolyWeek #COVID19 #HolyWeek2020

Two Stops on the Way to Jerusalem

Holy WeekJesus is on His way to Jerusalem knowing He will accomplish His mission by dying. What are His crucial final actions and teachings?

I’m creating videos this Holy Week because we’re in isolation. In this 6 minute message we learn about two stops Jesus made – one for personal reasons and one as part of His mission. Join me, will you?

Holy Week – Last Stops before Jerusalem

#SeedsofScripture #HolyWeek #COVID19

A New Thing (for me)… A Holy Week Video!

Jesus journey to the crossI’m being brave during this isolation.

Being apart during Holy Week makes me sad. There will be no Lenten breakfast on Saturday and services for Holy Week will all be online. But I’m making the most of it by trying something new – making videos. This is my first attempt but I hope to create several during Holy Week.

https://youtu.be/nSCNppTEfhQ

Let’s contemplate the journey to the cross in a new way this year. Please share with others during this most important week in our faith. I encourage you to talk about the messages with your family and friends or with me in the comments.

Jesus purposefully, willingly walked toward the cross. What did He teach as He headed toward Jerusalem? (tweet this)

Will you join me in this journey?

#SeedsofScripture #journeytothecross #HolyWeek #HolyWeekathome

The Cross – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Jesus crucifixionAs for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 6:14a (NLT)

You can’t make this stuff up.

No imagination would portray a god executed by this gruesome, hateful, and dehumanizing method. Even a hero stands bravely before a firing squad or guillotine, head held high. No god hangs from a cross. Never! Gods are powerful, invincible, and victorious. A god worthy of praise rips the nails from his hands and obliterates the enemy! We’d proudly follow that god, right?

Jesus’ crucifixion is a shameful, unimaginable tale, unless it’s true. (tweet this)

Paul boasted about nothing except the cross. A motley crew of fishermen and an ostracized government bully became international ambassadors proclaiming this crucified God. Hundreds of people saw the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes, were changed forever, and told everyone they could.

Shockingly, Jesus absorbed the worst evil humanity could dish out, yet He prayed from the cross saying “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:33-34). Who willingly suffers and dies like that on behalf of others? Who forgives His killers even as they execute Him? Who loves so deeply? Only Jesus. Only God. The cross is something to brag about.

Believe it. No one would make this stuff up.

Unbelievers think the world “can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.” (2 Cor. 4:4, MSG)

In this time of uncertainty, we can be certain of Jesus. (tweet this)

Jesus loves us. He is our confident hope. Jesus is Lord of all. The one who knows suffering is with us during this pandemic. Ask Him to share His strength and endurance. Lean on His promise: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Let’s encourage one another: What gives you hope?

Explore these other posts for reassurance that you are worth dying for and for reassurance that Jesus hears your prayers.

#SeedsofScripture #laydownyourlife #COVID19 #JesusisLord #cantmakethisup #crossofChrist

Taking Up the Coronavirus Cross

Take up your CrossThis is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:16 (NIV)

Jesus did it first. He set aside heaven’s glory to enter our human experience. Jesus never focused on Himself but constantly healed, taught, touched, and served others. He was tired when the crowds pressed in, but still compassionately healed and taught. Ultimately Jesus willingly took up the cross and laid down His life for you and me. But prior to His death on the cross, Jesus called believers to take up their crosses, too.

Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34 NIV)

Our medical professionals are doing it. Grocery store employees are doing it. Those sheltering in place and those producing protective gear are doing it. Our military personnel do it all the time.

Taking up our cross means dying to our ‘self’ on behalf of others, willingly giving up plans, conveniences, freedoms, supplies, money, and time. Your cross might be selflessly staying home. It might also mean eagerly seeking opportunities to wisely but generously give of ourselves – deliver groceries, order take-out, tip generously, and more ideas below:

And pray. Thank God for every person treating or preventing the spread of the virus. Pray for who are ill, grieving, or under financial stress. Plead with God to impress on every heart the importance of obeying the authorities. And listen for His guidance for your response. Let’s do this together.

I’d love to hear your ideas:
How are you taking up your cross in response to the Coronavirus?

If you need encouragement, check this posts about hope.

#SeedsofScripture #takeupyourcross #laydownyourlife #inthistogether

When Social Distancing Makes Space for God

Space for God during LentIn every nation He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel – that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Acts 10:35-36 (NLT)

Perhaps social distancing presents an opportunity for deeper Lenten reflection.

Nearly half way through our 40 days of spiritual preparation for Easter, Covid-19 forces us to reduce our contact with one another. Could this be an opportunity to increase our contact with God?

With hectic schedules halted, we have space for the Spirit. (tweet this)

During Lent, many people give up something they value in order to share in Christ’s self-sacrifice (TV, social media, meat, alcohol, etc). Through sacrifice they draw closer to God in prayer and depend on His strength. Some people sacrifice by adopting new Christ-like habits like serving others, reading Scripture daily, or donating items to charity. They intentionally shift their focus away from themselves and toward loving God and loving others.

This national emergency requires sacrifice from all, both by giving up normal habits and by increasing concern for others. It also provides an unexpected Lenten opportunity for self-reflection.

In this unique world-wide pause let’s ask ourselves:

  • How is my relationship with God?
  • Am I following Jesus’ way or defining my own way?
  • Where do I fall short of the self-giving life God intends for me?
  • Is Jesus the Lord of my life or am I in charge?

Sin is not so much our individual misdeeds as our underlying attitude that we’re in control and we can live without God. We ‘edge God out’ (e.g.o.) by seeking purpose apart from Him.  With self-giving love, Jesus sacrificed everything to make our relationship right with God. We are accepted and loved. Jesus will rescue us from ourselves if only we recognize our need for Him.

Let’s talk about it: What does life look like when Jesus is Lord?

I’ve also written about
How to discover who is lord of your life
How following Jesus is a process

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #JesusisLord #Jesussaves

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Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts.  If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.
Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts. If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.

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