Big surprise at church today ... huge ... really, snap ... I was paying attention on a day when the sermon was actually ... riveting.
Sometimes I count the arms on the candelabra style fixtures hanging overhead and I wonder how it is that spiders don't make their way way up there ... is there no food in the sanctuary ... yes that's probably it ... it's probably too hot up there for flying insects ... . Well, you see how it is ... I always look like I am concentrating during church service, but ... sometimes I'm not. I also entertain myself with this little silliness; listen until I hear a word which begins with the letter a then write that word down ... now listen for the letter b then write that word down ... go through the entire alphabet thus. The great thing about this is I actually have to actively listen to a sermon that the guys on the back row are dozing through ... and it appears that I am taking copious notes. We have an interim pastor right now who as already distinguished himself as a tedious speaker ... 'nuff said ... yawn. I took my phone in intending to misbehave/amuse myself with it. Honestly, I personally do not have a problem with someone playing angry birds or some such while they listen ... there are studies which support the idea that many people listen more effectively while they busy their hands. Phone fiddling seems so much more christian to me then twiddling one's thumbs!
As follows, my notes on today's sermon ... What I've been thinking about in a nutshell. (And a note to self to listen more often ... He did the whole process that I've been working on these past several months in about thirty minutes. Genius!)
2 Corinthians 1:1-11
Verse 9 especially
Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally -- not a bad idea since he is the God who raises the dead.
Question: "How do you see God?" ... Maybe as a big mean grandfather ... A guy with a stick waiting for the opportunity to whack you ... Uhhh ... His very words, not mine! In fact, God is called the Father of mercies, and of all comfort. The Holy Spirit aspect of God is an encourager. An encourager is someone who comes along side to help/assist/mentor ... a counselor who offers excellent advice and defends you when you are unable to. Hmmm ... . We all have areas where we really need someone to come along side and help.
He (God) uses people for that.
He (God again) also gives us opportunities to share encouragement from our own lives with people who may benefit.
Encourage may mean to console ... to comfort.
In this story from Corinthians, Paul was burdened beyond measure ... This thing was beyond his strength. I've been there. I know how "beyond my strength feels" ... I couldn't handle it by myself ... I needed it in smaller pieces ... The big piece of IT was too heavy for me. Paul's deal was so much that he even despaired of life ... Uh huh .. .depressing ... energy draining ... BIG mess ... I get it. A mess that was so big, that I could not trust in myself with it ... The circumstances compelled me to move away from my agenda of trusting myself (aka self-reliance) towards God's agenda of reliance on God. Rely on God ... trust God.
this is what the speaker said ... * people are the key, because God uses people (him,her, them, us, you,me) and * prayer matters (the Bible says Jesus is talking to God about us specifically, individually, like all the time) and * personal resources ... the stuff we uniquely bring to the table ... is a gift from God, which He intends for us to use in accomplishing His agendas.
Closing thoughts :
change your perspective of GOD from critical or absent to loving and present.
allow people to encourage you, and you encourage people as well.
see adversity as a place God where can work.
the other speaker yesterday had this to say ... noteworthy I feel ...
Love accomplishes God's agenda