No Zoom…but there’s this…

No Zoom…but there’s this…

Happy Tuesday again y’all! (or Wednesday actually…got a bit delayed today)

As I noted Sunday, there’s no Zoom Bible Study this Friday because I’ll be at the CrossLink Annual Gathering…but there are a couple of things to lift up and something to think about over the week and maybe you can share your observations with me Sunday…?

The School Year begins next week. Not only do we need to pay close attention to school zones while we’re driving, we also need to be praying for the teachers & schoolkids among us. Universities are heading back too sooner rather than later…so remember the big kids too. Lots to pray about on any given day.

Our Steering Team meets the 31st. Looking ahead into our 10 year anniversary & that celebration, as well as planning & praying into the next 10 years is on the agenda. I would love to have that conversation with you as well…what is God putting on your heart for the future mission frontier of Living Water? One of the items on our agenda will be our Giving Beyond Ourselves for the coming year. I thank God that we choose to be generous in ways I’ve never seen anywhere else…Christian ministries, secular helping organizations, special appeals, local and international impact…And that’s only just the beginning. So, thank you in advance for your generosity.

Speaking of generosity…As a family we support a missionary who shares the gospel & disciples people in a place I don’t get to go very often. They reminded me that while most of us get something of an automatic cost of living adjustment to our annual salaries, those who raise their own support do not necessarily get that sort of increase…so could we please consider raising our level of support? We’ll certainly do that…but it hit me…how much have we, the Guilfoyle family, raised our level of giving to Living Water? I checked & we did that again this year…I’m glad I checked. I’d invite you to do likewise. We can chat about that too.

I’m having more than a few conversations about life transitions among our senior disciples…about how to make sure we are adequately cared for as our needs shift with advancing age & encroaching infirmity. Those are hard choices sometimes and my experience is we let some go too long before making the essential decisions and then are forced into something we don’t feel ready to accept. I’ve always made a few suggestions:
1. Set up your Will, Power of Attorney, Enduring Guardianship, and Advanced Directives “yesterday.” Don’t put it off until you think you need it…get way out in front. And let your family know what you are thinking and planning and reassure them that you’re listening to their input as part of the process. Downsize as a matter of habit. Give away what you don’t use any longer.
2. Plan your funeral. Yep…don’t leave your family wondering how best to respond to the eventual need. I’m happy to write it down & hold it until after your 100th birthday if necessary, but let’s make sure we all know what your thoughts are.
There’s probably more I could add here…but let’s do that over coffee. 😉

I’ve mentioned my yearly Bible reading plan…actually plans. I’ve combined two different ones that will take me through the Bible at least twice…and then some. I’m looking forward to the challenge & the learning. For instance…

Matthew 20 sees Jesus encounter two different sets of requests…some folks who are blind & want to see & two disciples looking for the best seats at the kingdom banquet. In both cases, Jesus asks a variation of “What would you like me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:21 & 20:32) You could guess, if you aren’t familiar with the narrative, that the blind receive their sight but the disciples receive a lesson on the suffering servanthood that is a necessary part of following Jesus. It reminded me to always check my prayers against the “need or ambition” scale. The blind receive that which is needed so that their lives are drawn to Jesus. The ambition of the disciples is directed downward toward the glory of servanthood. Think on that one for a bit…the work of Christ in my life (or yours) is not a tool to foster & further my ambition but a means to further his will & work here.

Later in Matthew, chapter 22 to be exact, Jesus is confronted by a group of Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection, with a question about a woman who was wife to 7 brothers; each of whom died before he could leave an heir. So of course, “In the ‘resurrection,’ whose wife will she be?” Their arrogance is astounding, but Jesus’ answer more so. “You are mistaken (some translations say ‘wrong’ or ‘deceived’) because you don’t know the Scriptures of the power of God.” The Spirit prompted me to ask myself, “How many catastrophes do we instigate from one or the other of those failures? We live ignorant of or in opposition to the Scriptures OR distrustful or disdainful of God’s power…and the mess that results…” There’s no question that immersing ourselves in Scripture & prayerful attentiveness every day is the only preventative to that self-deception.

One last one…Genesis 28:15…Jacob has tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright as firstborn son & tricked Isaac his father into blessing him as if he was the oldest son. So now he’s on the run because Esau is breathing fire & threats to his life. As he escapes he spends the night at a place called Bethel & has a dream/vision where he sees heaven opened & angels ascending & descending on a staircase. At the top of the staircase the Lord stands & speaks to him and promises to fulfil all the promises God has made to Abraham & Isaac. He is promised all the land on which he sleeps & descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth…and then there’s this: “What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” In essence God says, “I’ve got a hold on your life that I’m not letting go until I have blessed you.”

Having assured Jacob of all the promises of his ancestors, the blessings continue unabated. Years later, this same Jacob would wrestle with an angelic messenger & would say to that angel, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” (Gen 32:26) But God has already promised just such an outcome. Just let that sit with you…God refuses to release his embrace of our lives until every promise is fulfilled…every blessing poured out…every need met & tear dried…

That put me in mind of a few New Testament assurances:
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’” – 2 Corinthians 1:20
“From his fullness we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” (some read “grace upon grace”) – John 1:16

As you move through the rest of this week…remember God’s determination to bless you as his beloved. Remember God’s promises & blessings are to equip you as his servant-messenger here to those not yet trusting him for love or life or anything. Remember that immersing yourself daily in the Scripture is the surest way to discern God’s will in this world & his intention for using you as an agent of his kingdom.

I’ll see you Sunday. I’m always encouraged & uplifted by the CrossLink Gatherings. So many good partners in the gospel are there…so much good teaching & spiritual leadership from the brothers and sisters . I’ll tell you all about it once I’m back.

God keep you in his peace
John

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