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.
When he was a young boy, Benjamin West attempted to draw a picture of his sister, but he succeeded only in making a mess. His mother saw his creation, kissed him on the head, and remarked, "Why, it's Sally!" He would later say that it was that kiss that made him an artist-and the great American painter he would become. Encouragement is a powerful thing!
Like a child learning to paint, Paul didn't have much credibility early on in his ministry, but Barnabas affirmed his calling. It was through Barnabas's encouragement that the church accepted Saul as a fellow believer (Acts 9:27). Barnabas would also encourage the fledgling church of Antioch, helping it to become one of the most influential in the book of Acts (11:22-23). And it was through Barnabas's encouragement, as well as Paul's, that the Jerusalem church embraced the gentile believers as Christians (15:19). So, in many ways, the story of the early church is really a story of encouragement.
The same should apply to our own lives. We might think encouragement is merely saying something nice to someone. But if we think that way, we fail to recognize the lasting power it possesses. It's one of the means by which God shapes our individual lives as well as the life of the church.
Let's thank God for the moments we receive encouragement and strive to pass it along to others.
Prayer for Today
Father, help me encourage others as You have encouraged me. Amen.
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Saw a sign outside a church recently: Welcome back to School, Welcome back to Church. Welcome is a wonderful word. But it struck me that the assumption seemed to be that people had chosen to be absent from church for the summer. I hope you haven't been gone from your family of faith this summer, and that when you've traveled, you've found other places to worship or streamed one of the thousands of options to your phone or listened to a service you missed at JCPC recently as you drove down the highway. The boys and I streamed a service a few Sundays ago when we were in NC and it was a lot of fun for them and me. And I'm sure we will have that for JCPC in the years ahead.
However, if you've been gone, welcome back, and I hope you'll join us for the Sunday school breakfast this week and Youth Group Kickoff on Sunday night. I hope you'll come with your kids, but also as parents, like any back to school night, getting your kids excited for something vital to their lives and finding out what you will need to do to help them succeed, signing up to volunteer and committing to their success. Your child will likely have as many as 8 or 10 teachers and administrators and specialists working with and for your child this year, but even they need volunteers. Your children and youth will need the same or more at church, and that's a family commitment.
I sat last week, drinking from my River Trail Middle School coffee mug, feeling appreciated as this was a gift for coming as a volunteer to Career Day for kids I mostly didn't know. I reflected how this event, one of their best and most important required dozens of volunteers and how they sought to honor that. To instill in our young people a love for God, a love and dedication to serving others, and an understanding that God loves them, we will need dozens of volunteers this year, their parents and gifted members of JCPC who have no children, empty nesters, and young adults. If any church is God's house, for our house to follow the Lord, we will all have to do so together. Come join us. And welcome back.
Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to seek where I am needed, gift me with what is needed, and make me generous to show up and help your children. Amen.
See how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in harmony!
- Psalm 133:1
Last Sunday in worship we talked more about our "A Time for Everything" sermon series based on the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The pairs of words mentioned in that Bible passage help us find balance in our lives today. The last two weeks we have looked at some challenging passages like "a time to die" and "a time to kill." Given the recent tragedies in El Paso and Dayton, as people of faith we struggle to see how God is at work in our world.
In talking about that passage Sunday, I shared that I am part of a newly formed inter-faith clergy group from Johns Creek. We are a group of religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations. We usually meet each month for breakfast. We have begun to know and trust each other. We also realize how all of us are experiencing many of the same challenges in our congregations. While we do not agree on everything, we find we agree much more than we disagree. We do not ignore our differences. In fact, this gathering is a great place to explore exactly how we are different.
After the tragic events of the past weeks, we decided to create a statement we could all support. This is something we do agree on. We believe that the kind of violence we have seen recently is wrong and not what God wills for our world. We are also called to do whatever is right to end this. Our statement can be found at the link below.
It was also meant to be a public statement. Perhaps it will model for our community how those who have different religions and even ethnic backgrounds can come together to work for something good. It was also printed in the Johns Creek Herald Monday under "Letters to the Editor." Please continue to pray for God's peace in our world. Also, pray about what God is calling you to do to make a positive difference here and now.
Prayer for Today
God, give us the insight to see what is really going on, the wisdom to know what we are each called to do, and the courage and perseverance to do it. Amen.