Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Good Questions

In the beginning it was Israel that was God’s chosen people.  For the thousands of years before Christ, they were God’s only people.  They are the people of the law, the covenant, the prophets, the temple, the history, and of Jesus’ ancestors.  Yet they are, like us, a broken people.  The law is ever before them as a testament to their inability to make it on their own.  We too cannot walk out our faith on our own.  God sent Jesus to establish a new way, to establish a new covenant with a people who became known as Christians.  We are a people of the Jewish Bible but also a people of the New Testament.

In Romans 9 you can hear Paul’s pain and anguish.  He was a former Jew hurting for his fellow Jews.  Paul offers up his own faith – if Israel would just believe in Jesus Christ.  That’s pretty amazing.  It is very sacrificial.  It is also something that I could see Christ doing.

So it begs the question in me – and hopefully in you too – what am I willing to do to bring a lost soul to Christ?  What would I gladly yield up to save another?  These are good questions to spend some time with today.

Scripture reference: Romans 9: 1-5

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A Work in Progress

How true of a vision of ourselves do we present to others?  In sharing a story, do we fully and honestly tell “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”  or are we more selective?  There are times when we may want to stomp our feet and scream, but we don’t.  Why not?  Because we like to keep the ugly locked away and hidden.

Are we the same way with God?  Do we come before Him with partial truths and incomplete confessions?  Even though we know that He knows all, at times we are not transparent and open.

Do we offer God partials?   All of my heart?  Really?  Can’t I just keep this part here and that part over there?  Isn’t ‘most’ good enough?  Not in the end. Is some better than none?  Certainly!  But God wants to be our “all in all” not just our “some of a bit”.  It is a journey.  The question we need to be asking is do we love Jesus more today than we did yesterday or a week or a year ago?  Is our faith growing?  After all, in reality, we are a work in progress.

Scripture reference: Psalm 17: 1-7 and 15

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At the Name…

Names can often define us.  Names come with attachments.  If the name is something that describes us it often comes with expectations and ideas of what you are like.  And this is a relative thing – our perspective and who we are affects how we see another.  For examples, if one is called an ‘overachiever’, thoughts immediately come to mind.  And depending on how you relate to the given term, your perceptions and thoughts are different than someone who relates differently.  If you are an overachiever, you see  the term in positives.  If you are not, you often see negatives.

The same is true when someone is labeled a “Christian”.  On a basic level, a Christian is known as a follower of Christ.  This name also comes with a lot of connotations and expectations – some good and some bad, depending on your experiences and background.  Don’t you wish the name “Christian” only evoked good thoughts and connotations?

Our own names also carries certain identities to those that know us or know of us.  At the mention of our name people often think certain things.  These thoughts and expectations are developed through their experiences, stories, and interactions with us.

We all want to be thought of well, in good terms.  So does Jesus.  Today, as we live out the name “Christian”, may we bring glory and honor to His name in all we do and say.

Scripture reference: Genesis 32: 27-31

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Hold On Tight

There will be times when we wrestle with or question our faith.  Perhaps you are in one of those times now or maybe you have been through one recently.  In these times of vulnerability and honesty, we are often refined and emerge with a stronger faith and a new outlook on our journey.  Jesus took opportunities to wrestle with God too.  On several occasions he got up early and went to a solitary place by himself or found a quiet pace late at night to wrestle with God.  Jesus found strength wrestling with God.

Jacob has an evening of wrestling with God.  He was alone on one side of the stream, having sent his family and possessions on across already.  He had left home but wasn’t ‘there’ yet.  He was on the journey.  God came and wrestled with him all night long.  Jacob held onto God throughout the struggle.  Because of this, God blessed him.  Jacob emerged as Israel.

At times we find ourselves feeling alone, left only with our faith.  If we are open to t and seek Him out, God will also take hold of us.  He will push and prod and toss us about to force us to consider our faith.  And if we stay in the fight, if we delve deep within, we too will emerge new.  We too become changed by our wrestling with God.  Hold on tight, for “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)  Notice the tense is present, it is not past.  God will continue to complete us until the day of Christ’s return.  None of us are ‘there’ yet.  Wrestle with God.  Hold on tight to your faith.  Like Jacob, God will work within us to help us emerge with a new, stronger faith.

Scripture reference: Genesis 32: 22-31

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Confidence Forward

Have you ever taken the time to look back over your life to see God’s fingerprints on it?  Do you see how He guided you to this job instead of that other one and how you were blessed there?  Or maybe there was a challenge there – see how it forced you to grow and mature?

Can you see all the other decisions and event sin your life were God is there too?  Maybe it is the college you went to, the  major you ended up with, the person you dated or married, or the places you lived.  Maybe it was the college you did not go to, the person you did not date, and so on.  Maybe it is in the birth or a child or in that heart-wrenching loss.  Maybe it is that divorce or breakup, in that firing, or in that addiction.  As you take time to look back over your life, can’t you see that God was in each and every one of these points of your life?

As we look back and see how God led, directed, and loved into our lives, we gain a confidence to move forward.  In this reflection we build a reserve to know that He will be there in our next difficulty, decision, or event.  We know God will continue to be a part of our lives because He loves us so.  “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

Scripture reference: Psalm 105: 1-11 and 45b

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Share Abundantly

If you were asked to sum up God in one word, what would it be?  Got it yet?  I’d venture to say that most of us would say ‘love’ but some might also say hings like mercy, forgiveness, or maybe creator.  To me, love is God’s main and dominant characteristic.  Out of His love, many other things flow.

Once we find that love of God in our lives, we realize we have a great gift.  When we come to know just how much He loves us, we are both very grateful and deeply humbled.  It changes our whole world.  We are grateful and humbled because we come to also realize that we are imperfect and sinful, yet God still loves us.  It amazes me that a gift given so freely can be so valuable.  But it is.

Once we come to fully know the gift of the love of God, then we want to always have it.  As we continue on our journey of faith, love become how we see all of life, how we treat our neighbor, how we seek to serve those in need, and how we seek to share the good news so that others may know this gift of love.  The gift is so great that it makes us want to share it.  May we share abundantly today!

Scripture reference: Matthew 13: 44-52

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Love Always There

We are inseparable from God’s love.  His love is so high and wide and deep that we cannot begin to imagine the vastness of His love.  And God’s love will last forever.  Not a few years, a couple millenia, but forever.  His love will never fail.

Paul lists a wide range of extremes that cannot separate us from God’s love – angels or demons, life or death, present or future – to name a few.  He punctuates is by stating that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Pretty amazing love!

There will be times and circumstances in t his life when we do not sense God’s love or do not choose to walk in that love.  Yet it is still there.  There will be times when we are so crushed or hurting so bad that we cannot begin to feel His love.   Yet it is still there, right there, all around us.  When we open our hearts and minds and eyes to God’s love, His love comes flooding in.  It is not forced upon us, but is always just right there, always surrounding us.  Thanks be to God for His great love!!

Scripture reference: Romans 8: 38-39

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He IS for Us!

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”  This question is really more of a statement, isn’t it?  Although Paul does not write it, it is almost implied that nothing else matters if God is on our side.  In eternal terms it is so true.  To God it is absolutely true.  But in our human terms, it is so hard to believe this absolutely and to live it out continually.

As we are all imperfect, we all fall short of the glory of God at times.  OK, often.  At times we all knowingly sin.  OK, often.  In times of hardship, fear, loss, stress, illness, pain… we can lost sight of our foundation and relationship with God or even question Him.  We can even become angry or resentful toward God.  In our human hearts and minds, we can fail to draw upon the only one who truly matters, our Lord and King.

But then He nudges us.  His Spirit stirs in our hearts or His still, small voice whispers in our ear.  We remember the words etched in our hearts – “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us”.  And we remember that these things are just things – small in comparison to God.  He draws near to us as we draw near to Him.  And again we know that He is for us!

Scripture reference: Romans 8: 31-37

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Faithful and True

We are called to spread God’s word and love.  Jesus compared the discipling of others to seeds and yeast.  In Matthew 13 the small mustard seed grows into a large plant that is home to many birds.  The ‘yeast’ that we work into the ‘dough’ spreads out and causes all of the dough to rise to new heights.  As we spread God to those in our worlds, we help them to grow in their faith.  It is neat to watch another grow in their faith.

But sometimes we have to wait.  The seed does not sprout overnight and the yeast takes time to work.  Sometimes it is hard to wait.  Although we can see and feel other ways God’s kingdom is being built, at times we can hone in on one person or one situation in our life.   It then becomes hard to see big picture that God is painting.

We must learn to wait patiently and to continue in our labors.  We are only the labors – God and the Holy Spirit are what cause the seed to sprout.  We know that the Father is faithful and true.  He is our hope and our strength.  In Hebrews 10 we find encouragement: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur on another on toward love and good deeds”.

Scripture reference: Matthew 13: 31-33

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Love and Intercession

Romans 8:28 reads: “We know that all things work together for goof for those who love God”.  Paul’s words are of great comfort when we are dealing with or living in a difficult situation.  Events full of tragedy, heartache, and stress will come our way.  We will hurt.  But we know that God’s love will be there in our darkest hour, because He is a God who desires good for His children.

Not only that, but in times when we are in such despair that we do not know what to pray for, in these times, the Spirit will intercede for us.  When we are so torn and broken that we cannot even form words, God’s Spirit prays for us.

These two great promises remind us that God is always near, and that because of His great love for each of us, He wants the best for us.  We can go through each and every moment with confidence that God and His Spirit are always near, eager to offer love and intercession for us.  Thanks be to God for this great gift!!

Scripture reference: Romans 8: 26-34