• Lori Somerville

Last year was a tough one for me. There was a lot of good but in a lot of ways 2019 was a giant test for me………and there were some lessons that I failed miserably and a few where I aced the test. It was a year of facing off with the brokenness inside of me. But 2019 simply led me to where I am today – recognizing my need for God in my life.

Have you ever heard someone say “God will shake all that is shakable so that all you are left with is what is unshakable? Well that sums up this past year.

But what I discovered and what I found I was left with- is Him. Just Him.

And as I face yet another year that’s enough for me.

Other than God – everything else in my life is shakable – jobs (I’ve lost jobs), my marriage, relationships with family, friendships, ministry – it can all disappear in the blink of an eye.

I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself in a place where it felt like God was literally all I had left. And I didn’t like it at first. I wanted security. I wanted comfort. I wanted someone else to tell me I was going to be okay (as though that would make it so).

And what I got instead was more of Him. And it was worth all the pain, all the loneliness, every bit of it.

I’m hoping today to show you why………….to spur something inside of you to want more of what is available to us all as followers of Christ………….

Matthew 13

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

In these parables, some of the shortest parables Jesus taught, he teaches us two things:

1. The Kingdom of Heaven is a priceless treasure that is to be valued above all else.

or bank statement you can tell within a matter of minutes what they value above all else. What does your bank account tell about your value system?

2. People who become a part of God’s heavenly Kingdom must be willing to give up everything that could hinder their relationship with God or prevent them from accomplishing his purposes for them.

How many of us are really ready to sacrifice our pleasures, our comforts for Jesus?

He is teaching us that the Kingdom of Heaven is our treasure & it should become our absolute highest priority. We can’t earn our way in. We have to follow Him.

We aren’t talking about a call to poverty or to reject what we have or to deny our God-given gifts and abilities.

What we are talking about is a call to be devoted to Christ

Placed at his service

And under his grace & guidance

To leave our comfort zones and wade out into the big beautiful crazy messy world and BE JESUS

He tells us that the kind of devotion he is looking for isn’t for everyone. I want us to be a people ALL IN for Jesus. Sold out. Devoted. Willing to walk through the fire to claim the prize……………..

Heaven on earth is possible but you have to be all in. God is in a good mood. He longs to pour out the more over you but you have to take a step forward in faith.

Let’s go after the more.

Let’s not be satisfied with the status quo

Let’s give more of ourselves & trust that God is going to meet us there with more of HIM

I don’t want to play at church anymore – I want to be the church

I want the MORE that God has for me and I am going after it in 2020 - Will you join me?

  • Lori Somerville

I’ve seen people giving up lately.

Giving up on that miracle that they’ve prayed so desperately for.

Giving up on their faith and walking away.

It breaks my heart.

My mother-in-law used to say something all the time “As long as there is breath left in the body, there is hope”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a truer statement.

And what I’m learning is that we all need hope. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. It’s where we find the strength to face another day. It’s where we find the strength to love again even when we’ve been hurt. It’s what keeps us fighting the fight of faith.

We use that word a lot – hope. I hope I get the job. I hope it doesn’t rain (or snow if you live where I do). I hope she gets better. I hope things get easier. I hope, I hope, I hope.

We attach our hope to things we can see. Jobs. Illnesses. The weather. But Hope was never intended to be a natural thing. Hope is supernatural. Hope is supposed to go deeper than the natural. I believe that hope is birthed in the very heart of God. God knew it would not be easy living apart from him. He knew that the Enemy of our soul would seem to work overtime sowing seeds of discouragement in our lives. So God planted deep within each one of us a tiny seed of hope.

Most days we don’t even know it’s there. But in our darkest, most desperate times that tiny seed creates a miracle. A miracle that most of us overlook. It breathes new life into us. Hope calls us higher. Time and time again I’ve seen people who seem to have lost everything find the strength to take one more step, to try one more time. That’s hope. I’ve sat with people who have survived the unimaginable. People who should not be okay because of the experiences they have suffered. Yet they continue to seek the good in this world. That’s hope.

I don’t pretend to know why some prayers get answered and some do not. Why some survive and others die. Why one person gets their miracle and another does not. But I do know this – in the searching for the answers to those questions – I found the source of my hope in God. My hope is not in the natural. In the things of this world. My hope is anchored in the heart of God. I know that God is good. I know that God loves me. I know that even in my present condition I am enough for Him. He is my source of hope.

I’ve been through it. I’ve lost. A lot. I’ve mourned. But just like Job I refuse to let go of the fundamental idea that God is good & He is still on the throne. Perhaps Job is one of the most hope-filled books in the Bible. Not because of what happened to Job but because Job refused to let go of his belief that God was still there and still good, despite his circumstances. Maybe that is the picture of hope we should pass down to our children instead of this idea that God is like Santa Claus – granting wishes to some and giving coal to others – because that is not at all who God is.

Psalm 25:5 - Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

That’s the kind of hope we all need. Hope that is rooted in our Savior. Not in the things of this world. We need our hope to have roots that go deep – way beyond anything we can see or touch or feel. Rooted in the very heart of God. That kind of hope doesn’t come overnight. It takes time – seeking the truth of God, studying the very heart of God until our hearts long for Him and Him alone.

The truth is that life will be unkind at times. We will struggle. Things will be hard. But hope is bigger than all of that. Hope can be found even in the darkest of times. Hope comes with the dawn of each new day. In the smile of a child. In the song of a bird. In the kindness of a stranger. We each carry hope inside us, planted there by God. We can choose to focus on the darkness or to let our hope shine. We can even choose to share our hope with those around us or a stranger that is looking for a reason to live to face another day. Hope is perhaps the most powerful evidence that God does indeed exist. Choose wisely.

Where does your hope come from?

What are you doing to water the seeds of hope planted in your life?

What are you doing to encourage the hope in those around you to spring forth?

  • Lori Somerville

Matthew 17:24-27

The Temple Tax

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

The collectors of the temple tax were, of course, looking for a reason to find fault with Jesus and his followers.

I love the question that Jesus asked Peter "From whom do the Kings of the earth collect duty and taxes - from their own children or from others?" Peter replies "from others". The question asked gets right to the heart of the matter. Are we sons & daughters or are we strangers? Peter was correct in his answer that even earthly rulers would not charge or tax their own children but as parents would give freely to their children all that they have. This is, of course, the heart condition of our father in heaven - to withhold nothing good from his children.

Our "tax" has been paid. Jesus took care of that for all of us. As a result we get to live tax free. As sons and not as strangers.

You hear it said a lot that there are only two certainties in this life - death and taxes. If your existence is solely based on living as an inhabitant of this world, then sadly that may be your reality.

But Jesus overcame death and as a result restored our right relationship with our Father in Heaven. As a result, we become sons and daughters. Exempt from paying the price. And what does exempt mean? FREE.

Free to receive every good thing that God has for each one of us.

So what is it that is preventing us from living out our lives on earth as sons and daughters and not like strangers? If we as parents desire to freely give to our children all that we have - what is stopping us from receiving the freedom to truly live as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father? What are you willing to do to receive the freedom already purchased for you?