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South Fellowship Church

Visualization Prayer | Numbers 6:22-27

 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

This passage is called the Aaronic Blessing. It is a blessing that God told Aaron the High Priest to speak over the people of Israel. In it is found God’s heart to us. Interestingly, this blessing was given to Moses to teach to Aaron so that he could then use it to bless the people of God. This blessing is meant for us to use for others. In light of our focus on family this week, take a moment to use this blessing to pray for your family.

First, find some time to be still and pray. Ask God to increase your love for your family as you pray. Take each phrase of this ancient blessing and visualize it as you pray. When you pray, “Lord bless _______ and keep ______” visualize the face of the person you are praying for. Maybe visualize what blessing might look like for them. Not necessarily material blessing, but deep soul blessing.

Then pray the next phrase, “Lord, make your face to shine down on ________.” Here visualize God’s face gazing at your family member, what does it look like to for God’s face to shine on them? Perhaps it’s a smile of love and pride.

Then pray the last section, “Lord may you lift your countenance (look with favor) upon _________ and give them peace.” I often visualize God taking a finger and lifting the chin of a person in shame until his loving eyes meet theirs.

By Aaron Bjorklund

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Visualization Prayer | Numbers 6:22-272019-10-31T14:54:04-06:00

Tension with Family | Romans 5:1-7

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

One theme that continues to show up in stand up comedy and comedy TV is the subject of family tension. Most people identify with tense or painful family relationships because they are ubiquitous. Why is that? Cultivating healthy relationships is difficult in general, but relationships within our families can often feel more complicated. There is an insight in the passage above that may help us understand a kingdom perspective when it comes to family.

Paul tells us that hope is the end result of suffering, endurance, and character. Often hope lives on the far side of the challenges of life. Family relationships are unique in that they carry with them more profound commitment. Families have the bonds of covenant and/or blood that generally force us to interact with difficulties beyond our natural tolerance. Think about it, in many relationships, when things become challenging, it is much easier to distance ourselves from those who cause tension. Within a family, our blood or covenant bonds force us to deal with our differences beyond our comfort. It is in the soil of that tension that character and hope grow.

Before I continue, I must say there are circumstances where boundaries must be established, even within families. With that said, we often sell ourselves short of God’s beautiful design in relationships if we run from the inevitable challenge embedded in relationships. The bonds of marriage and blood are designed by God to keep us together long enough to reap the harvest of deeper satisfaction. If we are unwilling to face the tension, we are also unwilling to enjoy the comfort of a relationship that stands the tests of life. The role of a family is not the ease and happiness of all the members, it is the character and lasting joy of all.

Do you have tension in any family relationship? Take a moment to thank God for the training ground that is in that challenge. Ask God to help you see opportunities to grow in and through the pain of your family relationships. Pray for healing in your relationships and ask God to heal the wounds that they have caused in you and in others. This kind of perspective can transform us into being better people for our families and our world.

By Aaron Bjorklund

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Tension with Family | Romans 5:1-72019-10-31T12:05:36-06:00

Gift of Family | 1 John 1:1-4

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:1-4

God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have always been a “family” in relationship with each other. The idea of family wasn’t created, just like God wasn’t created. Family has always existed. Thomas Torrence in his Trinitarian Perspectives states it like this, “God draws near to us in such a way as to draw us near to himself within the circle of his knowing of himself.” God continually invites us into the inner circle of the Trinity. John the beloved disciple exuberantly proclaims the gift of this forever family fellowship.

There is something deep within us that longs for this “family”. God wants family, and we want it too, because we are made in his image. He creates opportunity for family, even if only within the fellowship of the church. We don’t have a choice whether we are born into a Christian family, a God-rejecting family or are orphaned by a family. We don’t have a choice where or when we were born, either. Yet family is a part of our story, part of our walk with Jesus in time.

John says his joy is made complete testifying about the fellowship in God’s family. Our human desire for family and God’s invitation into his family is a gift. For this we can be grateful. May your joy abound today by having a heart full of gratitude for the “family members” (biological or not) God has placed around you. If you have experienced broken family relationships, it might not be easy but ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Paul the apostle has a prayer you can pray for them, or write your own.

May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you rich blessings and peace-filled hearts and minds. Dear brothers, giving thanks to God for you is not only the right thing to do, but it is our duty to God because of the really wonderful way your faith has grown and because of your growing love for each other. We are happy to tell other churches about your patience and complete faith in God, in spite of all the crushing troubles and hardships you are going through. 2 Thessalonians 1:2-4 (TLB)

By Donna Burns

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Gift of Family | 1 John 1:1-42019-10-31T12:02:03-06:00

Heavenly Vocation | Revelation 21:1-4

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

Scripture begins in a garden. Humanity walks with God and works the garden to cultivate it and care for the earth. Scripture also hints that our future is a return to a sort of garden. God intends to renew the earth and the heavens and bring humanity back to what it was like in the garden of Eden. With that comes vocation. Work is not a result of sin. There are hints in the scriptures that we will work in this future heaven and earth.

If work is not evil, and it is not going away, maybe we can learn to think of it differently than we often do. What if you had to do your job for the rest of eternity? How do you feel about that? Take a few moments to imagine what you would like to do if you had to do it forever. An interesting question, isn’t it? What does answering that question do to your perspective on vocation today? Deposited deep in the answer to these questions might be a hint about who God made you to be. After pondering that, ask yourself, “what can I do today to take one step closer to God’s design for me?”

By Aaron Bjorklund

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Heavenly Vocation | Revelation 21:1-42019-10-23T11:30:38-06:00

Personal Calling | John 6:36-38

 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. John 6:35-38

How do you think Jesus knew his personal calling? Often, I think we dismiss the process Jesus went through to discover his personal calling as the Saviour of the World. I’m not of the opinion Jesus knew who he was from birth, nor do I think the Father dropped this information into his subconscious one night in a dream. I believe Jesus went through a human process of discovering the will of God as he learned the way of his Father in Heaven and stepped into his purpose through obedience and empowerment by the Holy Spirit. This is how Jesus shows us the way of finding our personal calling.

With that in mind, reread today’s passage.

Perhaps Jesus discovered his personal calling from the story of his birth and the way his life matched up with all the prophecies in the Old Testament. Perhaps Jesus learned from his mother and father as they told him who he was and as he noticed his unique qualities starting to develop over time. Perhaps Jesus marvelled at the level of love and compassion he gained for every person on the face of the planet. Here, we see Jesus uncovered how his deep purpose was to submit himself to this world and offer his life for the benefit of others like bread.

We, like Jesus, can discover our personal calling by noticing some of the same things. We can map out our story and ponder the nuances that are uniquely characteristic of us. We can explore what makes us angry, breaks our heart, or moves us to action. We can layer our story over our passion over our talents (see yesterday’s Daily post) and we may be able to identify the area God can designed us to engage in for his Kingdom Renewal. Take a few minutes today to look at where your story, passion, and talents overlap by answering these questions:

  1. What have you experienced in your life that has shaped who you are?
  2. What makes you most angry, sad, disheartened about the world at large?
  3. What talents do you have to offer in this area of passion?
  4. How might you step into this space this week?

By Yvonne Biel

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Personal Calling | John 6:36-382019-10-23T11:28:28-06:00

The Unique You | Ephesians 2:9-10

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:8-10 NIV

For 25 years I had one main job, being a mom to our 4 children. Our 4th child, Joshua, was born with moderately severe Cerebral Palsy. While my children were young, caring for all of their needs, teaching them, and helping them grow occupied all of my time. Because of the demands of my young family I couldn’t teach Sunday School or help with VBS. Later, I was unable to serve consistently because only a trusted nurse could take my place caring for Joshua’s many and complicated needs. I had many days with little sleep and my 18 hour day consisted of feeding, changing, repositioning, and assisting Joshua with breathing, with little time for anything else. Often I felt tired and useless in doing Kingdom work.

But, God had actually prepared me for this very important work of caring for Joshua. My mom was a nurse, my dad had worked with disabled adults, I had an elementary teaching degree, I have a stubborn streak that insists on rooting for the underdog, and I had loved and cared for babies and children since I was very young. My parent’s knowledge was invaluable in our journey with Joshua. My education and my personality helped us to advocate for Joshua in school and in life. When I was young, all I had ever wanted was to have babies so I could pour out all my love into their lives. Joshua lived to be 20, but his physical needs were much like a baby’s needs all of his life. God put me together exactly as I needed to be – so I could be the best mama for Joshua and for our other 3 children.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” Eph. 2:10. I did not know we would have a disabled child, but God did. He prepared me, he gave me the best husband and support I could ever have. God showed me, in the midst of caring for Joshua, that my work was valuable, and caring for my family was exactly the Kingdom work God wanted me to be doing at that time. God has made each of us unique, “we are God’s workmanship.” How has God made you unique? What are your strengths, talents, abilities? Evaluate how the “unique you” can be used to serve God and others in your vocation.

By Grace Hunter

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The Unique You | Ephesians 2:9-102019-10-23T11:26:19-06:00

Ambassador for Christ | 1 Corinthians 10:23-31

All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. — 1 Corinthians 10:23-31

Several times, I’ve mentioned that my dad served in the US Navy. I remember times when dad spent weekends at his post, pulling watch duty and working on planes. Many times, my mom would drop my brother and I off at the base, and we’d spend the day with dad.It was always fun and very interesting. Dad let us play in the airplanes or he’d take us to various shops around base. Lunch by the end of the runway was the ultimate thrill as planes came and went.

When touring the hanger and workshops, we’d happen across tools used to repair airplanes or for loading bombs, rockets, and torpedos on planes. Some tools were easily recognizable, others were just too weird to describe. We’d ask dad what it was, he’d explain, and then end with his famous line: “Every tool or instrument has its purpose.” I remember that line even today, and can tell you it makes a huge difference when working on a car or around the house.

For me, I’ve often asked myself questions in relation to the Kingdom of God. What’s my purpose? What’s my role? Where do I fit? Review the scriptures above and I think our purpose is pretty evident: We’re here to glorify God in everything.

Easy to say, a little less easy to do. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” is what we read, and this pretty much means everything! So, to repeat, easy to say, hard to do. How do we glorify God in everything? We tell ourselves things like I work in the secular world. Or, I can’t talk things theological at work. Or, that guy just cut me off and I’m having a terrible day! The list could go on ad nauseum.

God’s created us to his glory. Living in this life can reflect glory towards God if we choose to do it. We’re not robots, we’re created with our own will. Whether we yield it to God is the choice we all make. Once we realize this, and surrender our will, the manifestation of that surrender will overflow into our daily life, causing renewal that will permeate all we are and do. But this begins with a personal choice to release and surrender. As you reflect on the scriptures above, maybe praying through the prayer below, you can begin the process of surrender and renewal.

Lord,

Your will is
My will.

Your desires are
My desires.

Your love is
My love.

Your vision is
My vision.

Your Kingdom is
My Kingdom.

Flood You into
Me.

I surrender
Me to
You.

By Rich Obrecht

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Ambassador for Christ | 1 Corinthians 10:23-312019-10-23T11:24:28-06:00

Beautiful Work | Genesis 2:15; 1:28

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Genesis 2:15 

 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28

Genesis tells us God made men and women to take care of and subdue the earth. God designed people to work with the gifts, talents and passions he gave them. We were given work to bring greater good and renewal of all things. Work is not a consequence of the fall; it is part of God’s plan. Working is not evil; it has its God-ordained reasons. We are God’s beautiful people made to do God’s beautiful work!

Do you believe God’s work is beautiful? Do you like the work you do? We start doing work like chores as kids, then schoolwork, our first paid jobs, taking care of babies, traveling sales, taking care of grandma,etc. Let’s start this week by taking an inventory of what you do. Discovering what you do for work as well as how you regard it will give you valuable insight. Take ten minutes and make a list of everything you do, paid or not. Pick your own work timeframe whether it be a day, a year, your lifetime.

Take the list you made and use it to compose a Psalm (in the format of Psalm 136). After each phrase of what you do for work write, “I’m doing God’s beautiful work.” For example:

This morning I cooked breakfast,
I’m doing God’s beautiful work.
Today I led the Monday morning meeting.
I’m doing God’s beautiful work.
My friend met me for lunch.
I’m doing God’s beautiful work.
I helped a neighbor.
I’m doing God’s beautiful work.

By Donna Burns

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Beautiful Work | Genesis 2:15; 1:282019-10-23T11:21:25-06:00

New View of God

Every person connects a little differently with God. Because relationships are dynamic and no two relationships are the same, when it comes to relating to God we all perceive and interact with him uniquely. However, there seem to be patterns in how human beings relate to God.

Some of us connect more with God as Father. Perhaps because we have a strong (good or bad) relationship with our earthly fathers. Some of us connect more with God as a friend and we emphasize the relationship we have with Jesus. Perhaps because we have strong (good or bad) connections with siblings or close friends. Some of us connect more with God as Spirit. Perhaps because we have a strong (good or bad) bond with our earthly mothers.

It’s possible these earthly relationships are being projected onto our experience with God. This is not necessarily good or bad, but it’s important to name how our earthly relationships affect our view of God to identify if those projections are true and helpful or false and hurting our present experience with God.

Reflect on your relationship with God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How do you relate with each person of the Trinity? Name ways your earthly relationships have helped or hurt in relating to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

By Yvonne Biel

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New View of God2019-10-17T15:39:23-06:00

Loving God | John 17:22-23

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:22-23

What is the meaning of life? It’s a question we may not hear outside of some comedic context, YET it is a question that we all long to answer. Even if we don’t explicitly think in these terms, we want our lives to mean something. We all long to feel like we have value. Every great religion attempts to answer this question, and Christianity is no different. The Westminster Shorter Catechism (an educational tool used to teach Christian theology) answers the question this way; “the chief end of man (humanity) is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” The pastor and author John Piper proposes that “The chief end of man (humanity) is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever.”

The prayer of Jesus in John 17 would seem to support these statements. Jesus’ prayer is that we would be in union with the father “even as” he is one with the father. The point of all Christianity is intimate unity with God. A loving relationship with the father is what our souls long for most. Every longing of the human heart is a subset and beacon pointing us to our deepest longing to be loved and to love God.

We all know relationships take effort. Any deep connection requires that we spend time with the other regularly. It’s no different with our relationship with God. Learning practices that help you connect with God and then planning to use those practices regularly is how deeper relationship forms. Rhythms allow us to more often and more easily sense God throughout our daily lives. Take a moment to write out a typical week and what connection practices you want to use to encounter your relationship with God regularly.

By Aaron Bjorklund

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Loving God | John 17:22-232019-10-17T15:37:53-06:00
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