Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email, provide your email address.
People the world over spent an estimated $98.2 billion on chocolate in 2016. The number is staggering, yet at the same time not all that surprising. Chocolate, after all, tastes delicious and we enjoy consuming it. So the world rejoiced collectively when the sweet treat was found to have significant health benefits as well. Chocolate contains flavonoids that help safeguard the body against aging and heart disease. Never has a prescription for health been so well received or heeded (in moderation, of course!).
Solomon suggested there's another "sweet" worthy of our investment: wisdom. He recommended his son eat honey "for it is good" (Proverbs 24:13) and compared its sweetness to wisdom. The person who feeds on God's wisdom in Scripture finds it not only sweet to the soul but beneficial for teaching and training, equipping us for "every good work" we'll need to accomplish in life (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Wisdom is what allows us to make smart choices and understand the world around us. And it's worth investing in and sharing with those we love-as Solomon wished to do for his son. We can feel good about feasting on God's wisdom in the Bible. It's a sweet treat that we can enjoy without limit-in fact, we're encouraged to! God, thank You for the sweetness of Your Scriptures!
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.
This will be my first post of the new year here in 2020. The natural rhythm of our culture is a big celebration and day to recuperate. And in the midst of this lull after Christmas and before the new year, we reflect on the past year and consider the next, perhaps making goals and plans. These plans can be resolutions about matters that are physical, emotional, or even spiritual - plans to eat better, exercise more, or avoid temptations that we have given in to before. Perhaps we make plans to be kinder or avoid toxic people or negative social media, or take on the challenge of learning something new like a language. What about spiritual plans?
Another thing our culture provides us is platitudes, often masquerading as God's wisdom or specific scripture. "God helps those who help themselves," or, "cleanliness is next to Godliness," or, "God has a plan." If you're about to check your Bible, don't bother. You won't find any of those in its pages, even that last one. What you will find is the scripture above. God has plans. This is great news of the Good News variety. God makes plans - plural. What does this mean for us? It means that when we make our plans, choices, split second decisions, we cannot mess up what God has in store for us. Whatever the direction or mistake or alternative, God is there to keep calling us forward, to serve others and be in closer relationship with God. Whether it's a new job, a college, a relationship... when we step out in good faith, God goes with us, helping us, guiding us. God makes plans with us. God helps us fix and heal. So what's next?
God has plans for us. We know that sheep become familiar with the shepherd's voice over time and through trusting relationship, as we come to recognize the voices of our loved ones. We do that with God. As we listen to God in prayer, reading scripture, and gathering with other believers to study the word and serve those in need, we hear God's voice and continue to grow closer. So, if you're making plans this year of a spiritual variety, start there. Could you attend worship more often? Join a small group? Go on your first mission trip... or first in a while? Could you be the hands and feet that join the Connecting Team in setting up and cleaning up an event that welcomes your brothers and sisters and visitors into our doors from stressful work weeks? Could you teach a Sunday school class? Could you rise early on a Sunday morning or stay up all Friday night to serve meals to the homeless? Maybe you're being called to support foster families or become a foster parent. The promise is clear... a future with hope... when we seek God. Say yes to one or more of those plans this year. See what plans God is making for you. Say yes, Lord. Here I am.
Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to make my faith a part of my plans and resolutions. As I spend more time with you, help me to know your voice and follow your call. Amen.
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I Corinthians 13:1-7
I read the following Christmas adaptation of the familiar I Corinthians 13 passage at the Choir Christmas gathering Saturday night. I found it convicting and encouraging. I hope you will too. I'm going to place a copy inside the box of decorations for our tree for next year and a few copies inside our favorite Christmas movies to remind us early next season to linger in love as we celebrate the coming of the Christ child. Merry Christmas...
We pray that you will experience the peace of Christ during this Christmas season.
The office staff will be taking a much needed break, so Reflections and Connections will resume on
Thursday, January 2, 2020.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to prepare for Christmas and to live in Advent in love. Send your spirit to help me prioritize, to be mindful, and to be thankful. Amen.