Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Walking Along Our Road

Do you remember when you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and entered into a relationship with Him?  It may be a moment you can name and date – a ‘born again’ type of experience.  It may have been a gradual shift from the stories of Noah and Jonah to coming to know and believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins.  In either case, from the point of decision forward, one is never the same person again.

Often this prompts the awareness that we need to change and we begin to try and live more and more for Christ.  At first we notice and work on the ‘big’ and obvious sins in our lives.  These obvious ones usually fall away quickly.  And as we grow in our faith, we begin to see the less obvious sins in our lives.  Ridding ourselves of these sins can be harder – they often have deeper roots and reside within us where others cannot see them as easily and where we can try to keep them tucked away.  Yet there is hope.  For in and through Christ, we can begin to conquer these deeper sins as well.

As we live into Christ, we are drawn to share our joy and also to enter into other’s pain. We grow to risk greater for our Lord and Savior.  As we risk and step out in faith, we move a little further along our journey of faith and a little deeper in our relationship with Christ deepens.  May your walk be good today!!

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The Living Word

As Jesus and the disciples walked along the road to Emmaus, he explained to them how he was reveals and came to fulfill the Old Testament scriptures about the Holy One.  These were scriptures all good Jews would have known and would have studied and heard preached.  Yet on this day the scriptures seemed new to their ears.  The living word was made new again in their hearts.

Sometimes when I read a passage that I have read or even studied before, sometimes something new jumps out at me.  Does that ever happen to you?  The living word is made alive in a new way within us.  It may be a passage I ‘know’ but there is this new nugget.  We are not who we were when we first read it and we are not the same person after discovering our new nugget.  This is why we are on a journey of faith.  We never ‘arrive’.  In the DEVO today the author wrote of their love for geocaching.  It was not in the finding of the cache or in using the technology.  The joy came from noticing all of the details in God’s creation as she carefully looked for the cache – things she would never have noticed and found joy in if she were simply on a hike.  The Bible can be the word of God or it can be the living word of God.  We can read a passage or we can engage a passage.  We can be simply reading or we can be seeking to find new nuggets.  We can think we have ‘arrived’ or we can be on a journey.

And like the two disciples walking along the road with Jesus, once they allowed the living word to change them, they realized that Emmaus was not their destination anymore.  God was leading them somewhere else and they left for Jerusalem.  May we too allow God’s living word to speak freshly into our lives and to be the guide that directs our paths and that brings us new growth on our journey.

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Arriving Sooner

As the two disciples walked towards Emmaus, the loss of Jesus was heavy on their hearts, but the story of Jesus being alive provided some hope.  As I read these verses in Luke 24 I can gear some excitement in their voices as they ponder the possibility.  But there is still a little doubt and confusion because they don’t fully understand that it is all part of God’s plan.

We have all been there – in the midst of some heartache or struggle – questioning why and feeling oh so lost.  And then suddenly He is right there, walking alongside of us, right in the here and now.  And like Jesus walking along the road to Emmaus, He too speaks into our situation and we begin to come out of our sorrow or confusion.  God’s plan starts to come into focus.

We begin to see again that we are part of God’s plan, and we continue to walk on.  But we walk with a new warmth in our heart for that little taste of heaven has put a little bounce in our step.  As we continue on our journey of faith, the taste of heaven becomes a taste for heaven as God becomes a 24/7 part of life instead of a here and there part.  We become a part of helping heaven being a part of this life.  And like the two on the road to Emmaus, we wonder why we didn’t “arrive” sooner!

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He is That Big

Standing on a beach, looking out across the ocean, it seems like you can see forever.  Despite our natural vision ending at the horizon, we  know the ocean goes on.  It extends beyond what we can see yet we know there is more out there.

If one just stays still and looks out across the water, all else seems to disappear.  We loose sense of the breeze and the warm sand and even of the waves landing on the beach.

As we look out into our faith and look out to find God, one begins to sense something like the ocean.  Our faith can be as vast as the ocean.  Our faith can have no visual end.  Our God is that big.

Yet in that vastness we can find God at any point or at any place.  When the waves of life start landing on our shores, we can find God.  When the breezes start to toss us about, we can look into our faith and draw near to God.  When the sand beneath our feet start to shift and seem to be getting unstable, we can seek God out.  Our God is that big.  He is always everywhere and anywhere to uplift, to encourage, to comfort, to heal, to call us forward, to call us out, to cleanse us of our sins, to love us.  Our God is that big.  Thanks be to God!!

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One Things Remains

Do we live a comfortable faith?  Do we live our faith without too many fears?  I think we can.  But we can choose to live a risky and dangerous faith too.

We can choose to play it safe.  Even though we pour ourselves out in Sunday morning worship and are quite devoted in our quiet, personal times with God, we choose not to risk out in public.  We can be a “good” person at work at school, … but not necessarily be a Christian there.  Isn’t it easy?

Should faith be easy?  In 1 Peter 1 we are told that our trials and tests will refine and purify our faith.  Easy doesn’t refine and purify.  Easy coasts.  Easy is comfortable.  Easy is stagnant.  Easy doesn’t lead others to Christ.

May our faith be risky, dangerous, bold.  May our faith be living, exciting, growing.  Because even in the trials one thing remains.  His love never fails.  His love never ends.  His love never gives up on us.  May we not live an easy faith.

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The Word is Enough

In our society there is often a quest for “more”.  People want more money, more prestige, more time off, more friends, more and more.  The quest can be consuming and the goal can become their god.  But Paul found the secret, how to be content in plenty and in want, hether well fed or hungry.  In Philippians 4:13 Paul writes, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Today it seems many cannot be content.

In John 20 it is revealed that there are other words and miracles of Jesus not recorded in his gospel.  Should that spur our natural instinct to want more?  No!  But it does make me wonder.  It makes me wonder, would more stories help more people to believe?  Sadly, I think not.  God led men far wiser than I to make prayerful and divinely inspired decisions about what writings to put in the Bible.  Similarly, God led John to write what John wrote, no more, no less.

Our faith rests upon Jesus as risen Lord.  He died for our sins.  That is really the story we need.  True, we want more.  And there is value in knowing more.  There is much written in the Bible that teaches us how to live a Christ-like life and about the nature and desire of God.  If we delve in and study the Word, it is enough.  We do not need to know more.  God has provided all we need to be content. Continue reading

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From Doubt to Love

Have you ever been a second late to a really funny happening at work or at home?  Have you ever looked away from the game at just the moment the ‘big play’ happens?  The laughter or cheers draws you to the fact that you just missed it.  Then you want ‘instant replay’, right?

Oh doubting Thomas!!  Thomas is the first one to be called to believe in the risen Lord on faith alone – without seeing Jesus.  I don’t think Thomas thought all the others were lying to him, he too wanted to see Jesus for himself.  Can you blame him?

Jesus again appears to the disciples and this time Thomas is there.  And Jesus, ever the same, meets Thomas where he is at and offers him just what he needs.  As always, no judging or condemnation.  Oh loving Jesus!!

We relate to Thomas, often wrestling with doubt, often questioning.  That is natural.  It is good for our faith.  We relate to Jesus too, but if you are like me, could do so more often.  Jesus simply offered what was needed to the one before Him.  He calls us to do the same.

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Breathe In, Breathe Out

As the disciples hid in the room following Jesus’ death, I wonder what the strongest emotion was – fear of the Jews, sorrow and grief over the loss of Jesus, confusion about what to do next, uncertainty about hearing Jesus is alive, shame for abandoning Him?  Each of the disciples was probably feeling a mix of at least a few of these emotions.

Then suddenly, Jesus is standing right there.  Speaking right into all of the emotions that the disciples must have been going through, He offers them His peace and shows them his nail-scarred hands and feet.  He first restores their friendship and then removes any doubt with a physical sign.  Jesus is saying, “It’s OK” and “See, it’s me!”

Jesus then breathes on the disciples the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  He shares with them His power.  The disciples are then charged to go out and offer forgiveness of sins to those who seek forgiveness.  The disciples can go forth and unbind others from the sins that hold them down.  Just as Jesus entered that room and offered the disciples peace and relief from all that was keeping them bound up, the disciples can now too offer that to others.  Like the disciples being able to walk from that room of hiding out into the open, with forgiveness others can walk from darkness into the light.

The Holy Spirit, through Jesus’ power, offers us that same gift.  We can breath in the Holy Spirit, receive forgiveness, and breathe out God’s love.  As His disciples today, we can help others to become unbound from what keeps them hiding in that small, dark room.  We may not be able to forgive their sins, but we can certainly share the One with them who can forgive their sins and restore them.  May we allow the Holy Spirit to be ever-present with us so that we can breath in and breathe out.

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Strength and Refuge

God is often seen as our strength and our refuge.  We sometimes pray most ardently when life has taken a turn for the worse and when we feel we have nowhere else to turn.  And yes, He  hears our prayers.  Psalm 16:2 reads, “You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.”  It is important to remember His blessings as we struggle or wrestle with His answer to our prayer.

At times when all is well in our lives, we can drift away from God and come to rely and trust more in ourselves and our own abilities.  We can also look to other things or people as well.  Whether it is self or medical technology or some other earthly power, we are looking to a false idol.  Verse 4 reads, “The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.”  It is not that God is punishing us for turning to something else for our strength and refuge, it is that we lose that contentment from God being our strength and refuge – during the good and the bad times.  It is just that in the bad times we notice the lacking more.

God is our strength and refuge.  The psalmist assures us that God assigns us our cup and portion and that God keeps us secure.  We are also reminded that in Him we have a ‘delightful inheritance’.  Psalm 20:4 reads, “May God give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”  May the desire of our hearts be to live fully with God as our strength and refuge!

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Jesus is Alive!!

The fact that Jesus was born, walked  the earth, and died is not in much dispute.  The method of his death on the cross is also widely accepted.  Even Islam sees Jesus as a great prophet.  But for many, believing that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, is somewhere they are unwilling to go.  Good man, great teachings, did a few amazing miracles even – but God’s Son, in the flesh?

Without the resurrection, maybe Jesus is just these things.  But for the Christian, the empty tomb is the ‘proves it’ moment.  Because Jesus conquered death and rose to eternal life, the resurrection is our sign that Jesus was indeed God’s Son.  Many in the Bible spoke to and for God.  Many in the Bible performed miraculous signs.  A few were even raised from the dead (although just back to an earthly life).  But Jesus, our Lord and Savior, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God.

Shortly after His death, Jesus appears to several people.  He comforts his closest followers and friends with the fact that he has conquered death, that the grave could not hold him.  What he said about rising again was true!  It was important for the disciples and others to see Jesus, so that as they write the Gospels and went on to spread and grow the early church, they went forth with an unshakable belief.  As Christians, we believe the witness given by Mary, by the disciples, and by others.  As the Bible unfolds past the Gospels, we see the Spirit of Jesus living on, continuing to change and shape lives.  As is living examples today, we too experience the presence of Jesus’ Holy Spirit working in our lives and in our worlds.  Indeed – Jesus is alive!!