Monday, April 23, 2018

Labor of Love - 1 Thessalonians 1:3

1 Thessalonians 1:3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

                In every church that exists, 20% of the members usually end up doing 80% of the work. Their commitment to Christ and the congregation is a wonderful gift to the faith community. The hours, days, weeks, months, and years of service make a huge difference in the life, ministry, and mission of the entire congregation. Whether it comes from elders or deacons, team leaders or volunteers, their gifts of time, talents, and resources are both essential to the continuing work of the church, as well as being an effective witness of God’s presence, care, and love.

                When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, he wanted to commend them for their faithful, loving, and hopeful service to Christ. They were dedicated to spreading the Gospel and also devoted to the well-being of their people. They supported other churches with their gifts and exemplified what it meant to be a Christian in their own community. Paul’s positive words would have encouraged them to be and do even better for the Lord. His commendations were powerful and have been so effective that the churches still survive in the area after more than nineteen hundred years!

                Every one of us who belongs to a church has both the potential and opportunity to faithfully and effectively serve God through the ministries and missions, projects and programs our congregations undertake. All we have to do is personally volunteer and cheerfully give of ourselves, our time, and our resources to build up the church and make our world a better place.

Point to ponder

Am I willing to give my church more of my time and resources? Am I waiting to be asked or ready to volunteer on my own?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as Christians we are Your hands and feet, hearts and voices in the world today. Help us to see where our gifts and time could be used effectively in our faith communities. Grant us opportunities to serve You through Your body, the Church. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Come and join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 11:00 AM. You will be made most welcome 😊


Today’s image is one of John’s early psalm drawings based on a verse from Psalm 85. If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Psalm 85.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Unforgiven - Colossians 3:13

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)

            Do you know what it feels like to be unforgiven? Is there some past mistake in your life that you regret but can never fix? Are you carrying a whole dose of guilt because someone else still feels wounded? Are you sometimes sad because you were completely misunderstood or unfairly misrepresented and cannot change that misperception? Me, too.

            It’s an awful feeling to be unforgiven and it gnaws away at your soul, especially during times of vulnerability, isolation, and sadness. You revisit events in your mind and a shadow of remorse covers your soul. You can’t do anything to change things, so in order to cope, you just pack it away into a corner of your mind and leave it there until it re-emerges at an unexpected or inopportune time.

            As Christians, we are called to be forgivers. Jesus talked about it constantly and in today’s highlighted verse the apostle Paul echoes Christ’s message by reminding the church folks at Colossae to forgive their grievances against one another in the same manner as Jesus forgave their sins. In other words, it was expected of Christ’s followers to show forgiveness, otherwise their faith was shallow, insincere, and ineffective. However, if the Colossians truly forgave one another, then the church would actually be practicing what Christ required, barriers would be brought down, and wounds would be healed.

Point to ponder

Do I feel unforgiven? How much does it trouble me? Am I willing to forgive those who won’t forgive me?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all make mistakes and sometimes we hurt or disappoint other folks so much that they will not forgive us. Although we cannot change the past, allow us the ability to forgive ourselves and do all that we can to mend broken fences and wounded souls. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Come and join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 11:00 AM. You will be made most welcome 😊


Today’s image is one of John’s latest Pentecost drawing called “Spirit Fest.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Spirit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Deeply Rooted - Colossians 2:6-7

Colossians 2:6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (NIV)

            A couple of years ago, we added a rockery to our church campus through a gracious donation from some church members. It was built on the side of a slope which was forever covered in moss and weeds. The whole area was very unattractive and was right next to our main entrance. One morning, a group of landscapers appeared and transformed the whole area into a beautiful Japanese type of garden. Large boulders were built into place and special shrubs were planted. It was remarkable to see the slope change from being an eyesore into a very picturesque shrubbery.

            As the years have passed, the roots of the plants have grown stronger which means that during summer and fall, we will experience some beautiful colors all over the garden area. And now that we’ve added a special irrigation system, we can look forward to the shrubs and small trees growing and expanding all over the rockery. What was once an unattractive zone has become a place of beauty and pride for our members and visitors.

            Today’s highlighted verses from Paul to the Colossians convey the same type of planting and growth with regard to our faith in Christ. His Spirit works within us to produce thankful hearts and devoted souls to God’s Kingdom. As our faith deepens, our spiritual influence can expand so that we may positively share Christ’s blessings with our families and friends, neighbors and colleagues. In other words, we become living witnesses of the ministry and mission of Jesus in our homes, churches, circles, and communities.

Point to ponder

How thankful am I to know Jesus is my Lord and Savior? Do others see that thankfulness in me?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for planting faith within each of us and for helping us to spiritually grow. Encourage us to deepen our connection to You, so we may become better witnesses of Your ways, words, and works. In Your Holy Name, we gratefully pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Come along and join us for our Sunday worship service at 11:00 AM. You will be made very welcome 😊


Today’s image is one of John’s latest Pentecost images called ‘Spirit 2018.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Spirit.