Thursday, January 21, 2016

Three Simple Rules

As we begin a new year with a new sermon series called “RENOVATE (exploring how to renew our souls for 2016), it’s also a good time to be reminded of ways we can improve our own lives and behavior as Jesus’ disciples. The following article that relates these ways is taken from a weekly email I once received from our North Georgia United Methodist Annual Conference....


“[The founder of Methodism] John Wesley understood that everyone needs help in living the Christian life. His General Rules offered instruction to the early Methodists on practices that would lead to faithfulness to the way of Christ. Wesley’s guidelines for living are still relevant today.
           
Rule One: DO NO HARM. In his book, Three Simple Rules, Reuben Job says, “To do no harm means that I will be on my guard so that all my actions and even my silence will not add injury to another of God’s children or any part of God’s creation.” I was taught if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. How often do we have the opportunity in word and deed, by action or inaction, to do no harm?  However often it is, we should do it.

Rule Two: DO GOOD. Jesus said “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  Jesus and Wesley suggest that doing good is a universal command and is directed at everyone. Doing good is a proactive way of living--an act of the will. I can decide that the common good will be my first thought and what is good for me will become a secondary thought. Jack Stabinsky suffers from multiple sclerosis and needed to relocate from Lawrenceville, GA to a specialized facility in Boston. After Rick Badie wrote about his situation in the local newspaper, strangers anonymously made it possible. Occasions to do good are ever present. Look for them. “Be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, The Message).
     
Rule Three: STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD. The first two rules are important but without this third rule become increasingly impossible. We practice the rules but God sends the power that enables us to keep them. Paul wrote, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:6-7) Wesley suggested that spiritual disciplines including public worship of God, the Lord’s Supper, prayer, Bible study, and fasting were key to maintaining a life of faithfulness to God. They assist us in living our lives in harmony with God. And while staying in love with God includes these practices, it also causes us to share God’s goodness with others.  The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. These “Three Simple Rules” will help us run all the way with the flame of our torch still lit for Jesus.”

[--Taken from Rev. Jamie Jenkins, “Monday Morning In North Georgia,” 
    January 7, 2008 (www.ngumc.org)]

 Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The First Step


“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country…’” (Genesis 12:1)

The following was a devotional from the Upper Room Devotional Guide that I am passing on as a reminder of the importance of letting God guide us in all “new” things in life, whether it be a new year, a new job, new relationship, or something else….

“’Watch that first step!’ my friend cautioned as I approached the stairway.  ‘It’s taller than the rest.’  First steps are often the hardest -- whether it’s starting a new school, tackling an overdue project, or beginning something God nudges us to do.  Fortunately, the Bible is filled with numerous examples of people who stepped out in faith and accomplished great things for God.  Abram walked away from his homeland for a new country and become the father of many nations (Genesis 12:1-4).  Ruth journeyed with Naomi and became an ancestor of the Savior (Ruth 1:16-17).  Jesus traveled a path that led first to death but ultimately to resurrection (Matthew 28:1-7).

What first step are you facing? Is it giving up an old habit?  Looking for a new job?  Finding new friends?  Reconciling with a family member?  Accepting God’s call to serve in the church?  As we approach any first step, we can find courage in remembering that we don’t take it alone.  God strengthens and supports us as we continue the journey, step by step!     
[--Phyllis Wezeman, writing for The Upper Room devotional magazine, Nov. 2, 2002]

As we begin a new year, my prayer is that you will remember the power and presence of God in all the “first steps” you may be taking!  Don't forget to join us for our new series RENOVATE! that can help you take some of those "first steps." And always remember that God loves you and I do, too!