Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Allow His Voice

This morning I hear wave after wave of rain as it lands on the windows, buffeted by the wind.  In the quiet of the early morning, the rain is an audible presence.  A few days ago the sunrise broke over the horizon in a beautiful fashion.  The streaks of light and glow of the sun came forth in the stillness of the morning.  God and all of that creative ability shines forth in so many of the things in nature.  We can connect to God so easily in the beauty and stillness of creation.  To sit alone under a tree listening to the birds sing or to sit on a rock listening to the crash of the waves can renew and refresh our soul.  We can come into tune with God in these moments.

Sometimes though, we struggle with silence or the lack of noise.  We turn on the radio or TV or make small talk to fill the void of sound.  But if we always surround ourselves with noise, it is easy to miss God’s still, small voice.  In daily prayer time, allow God a moment or two.  Give Him a space to speak into your life.  In your time of reading and study, do the same.  God has so much to offer into the silence if we only slow down and seek out His voice.  Allow His voice to speak to you.  It may be to reveal something, to give you guidance, or simply to say, ‘I love you, my child.”

Scripture reference: Psalm 19: 1-6

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Signs, Warnings, and Guidance

God issued the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness.  He was seeking to give the a road map to life as a follower of God.  Some laws pointed them to the only true God (no idols!).  Other laws were warnings against using His name in vain, against stealing, murder, coveting, and so on.  One law even reminded them to take a sabbath rest and to connect to Him on that day.

Thousands of years later these rules still apply and we still struggle with some of them.  Well, maybe we struggle with most of them.  At times we allow idols to rule our lives – the idols of money or power or recognition or gossip.  We can chase after these idols.  At times we may take more than we need or deserve and maybe do not always give 10% of our time or money back to God each day.  We can hold a pretty tight grip on these things.  At other times we may even be jealous of what another has.  We can cast a longing eye at their new boat or their spouse or their musical or athletic ability.

Yet God does not give up on us.  The Holy Spirit continues to place signs, to nudge us, to speak truth into our lives.  As we learn to heed and to listen to these things, God refines us.  Our path gradually becomes more aligned with the path that Jesus walked.  Our footsteps stray and wander less as we grow in our faith and continue to become more and more Christ-like.  The path can be challenging and Satan will always continue to place temptations before us.  Yet God is always there, cheering us on, always pouring His grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness into us.  May we trust and lean into His strength and guidance as we seek to continue on our journey of faith.

Scripture reference: Exodus 20: 1-4, 7-9, and 12-20

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Where Did You See Him?

Stop for a moment and think about where you saw God present yesterday.  Gather a few snapshots in your mind of those scenes.  As I smile over the ones in my mind, is occur sot me that this is a spiritual discipline that we should practice more often.

I saw God yesterday in William’s eyes and heard it in his voice as he shared his story with me, as we took a few minutes to connect.  I saw God yesterday in the children who simply beamed and giggled as the tumbled and slid down the slide in the inflatable.  The joy in their eyes was uplifting.  God was present in our Youth as they lovingly shepherded and helped the kids in line, in the hay, or in the inflatables.  God was present in the volunteer who quickly gave another caramel apple to the child before a tear could form over the apple the child just dropped on the ground.

Where did you see God yesterday?

God is present in the joy, in the laughter, in the smiles and giggles, in the simple kind gestures.  He is present in so many ways and I am so thankful for His presence.  Glory to God!

Scripture reference: Philippians 2: 1-11

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Joining the Mission

In Philippians 2 we read that Jesus was compassionate, comforting, tender, and joyful.  We are to be these things too.  We are also called to be humble and to consider the interests and needs of others over our own.  Christ’s ultimate example of humility came in being obedient to death on the cross – for you and me, for everybody.

In our faith journey we grow more and more into who God called us to be.  As we grow in our relationship with Christ, we become more like Him.  Whereas it used to be easy to say ‘no’ to someone in need, it now becomes harder as we grow to see them as He did – as a fellow child of God.  In light of this, we seek to bring justice, dignity, and compassion to those in need.  We begin to share in the work of He who loved us enough to die for us, joining Christ in His mission to bring all to the Father.

Scripture reference: Philippians 2: 1-13

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Through Reading and Prayer and Action

When we read and pray through the Bible, we are making  choice to spend time with God and Jesus.  We see God’s power, might, love, mercy and sense of justice revealed as we read and pray through the Old Testament.  We also draw closer to our creator and become more in tune with God.  Even Jesus spent time reading and praying through the scriptures in the synagogue.

In the New Testament we encounter Jesus, God made flesh.  In reading and praying through the New Testament we come to know the compassion, forgiveness, grace, and love of neighbor – parts of God that Jesus more fully revealed to us.  Through Jesus Christ we gain a more complete understanding of who God is and who we are called to be as a child of God and as a disciple of Christ.

As we read and pray through the scriptures, the Holy Spirit comes alongside us to help us understand, to gain insights, and to live out our faith.  The Holy Spirit also bring sus the words to teach our faith to our children and as we share our faith with the stranger.  The Spirit guides us as we live out our faith through acts of mercy and compassion, helping us to live out the love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and power we find in God and in Christ Jesus.

As we read and pray through the scriptures, we not only come to know and understand God and Jesus better, but also to sense our own personal call to share our faith with the broken world in which we live.  By sharing our faith, we express both an act of worship to God and an act of thanksgiving for the many ways in which He blesses our lives.  In James 4:8 we read: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”.  May we draw near so that we may draw others near as well!

Scripture reference: Psalm 78: 1-4 and 12-16

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Good Habits and Techniques

When things aren’t going well it is our natural tendency to want to change things.  While this is a good idea for a baseball player whose swing has developed a hitch, it is not a good idea in our faith life.  Mired in a hitting slump, the ball player and his coaches try to figure out what has changes so that they can fix it.  This is a mechanical or physical process that can be studied, analyzed, and corrected.

Like a batter practicing good habits and techniques, or faith life ‘works’ best when we are practicing good habits and techniques in our daily study and prayer life.   In the times that we stay in tune with God, we find pleasure and contentment in His world.  The sunset or sunrise contains a beauty we see as His.  Our interactions with other people is filled with the love of Christ.  Life is good.

But sometimes life brings us a curve ball.  In these cases we must work at not developing a hitch in our spiritual life.  When life brings us the difficult, we must remain faithful and try.  We must resist the temptation to turn to something or someone other than God.  God’s love is eternal and true.  As we remain true in our walk with Him, He will always see us through.

Scripture reference: Exodus 17: 1-7

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He Is Faithful

As the wandered in the wilderness without water, the Israelites began to grumble against God and against Moses.  without this basic necessity for life, they were getting testy.  God heard their cry and responded through Moses, bringing forth water from a rock.

How often do we too feel abandoned or question God’s presence?  How common is it to question whether or not He cares when we are walking through a difficult situation in life?  Sometimes in the depths of the valley it is hard to see God’s light and to remain faithful to Him.  Through it all, though, He is faithful to us.  Through it all, He is always right there.

When we look back on our trials, we can usually see how God was there and how He helped or guided us.  As we reflect on and are thankful for His help, we are strengthened in our faith.  Then He is closer when we walk through the next valley or trial, for we know Him more.  God uses our experiences to draw us closer to himself.  We must remain faithful, for He is always faithful.

Scripture reference: Exodus 17: 1-7

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Learning to Live “Yes”

In Matthew 21 Jesus tells of two sons who are asked to go out to work in their father’s field.  One son says no but ends up going out and working in the field.  The other son says yes but does not go.  Jesus asks the scribes and Pharisees who did the father’s will.  They reply that the one who went is the one who did the will of their father.  It is the one who did the will of his father in the end.

Sometimes we struggle with what God is asking us to do or we hesitate to move in the direction that we can feel He is leading us.  At first we say ‘no’ or we question or we may even try to ignore God, but usually if it is His plan then the nudges, the hints spoken by others, and so on get us moving in His direction.  Often, once we are on the journey or in the midst of ministry, we wonder why we did not say yes right away.

Jesus often ate with sinners, healed people out in the streets, taught out in the open fields.  He broke the ‘rule’ that God is only found in the temple.  Sometimes we like to hold fast that rule too, to say that we will minister to those who need Jesus once they come to church.  But in reality those who need Jesus are not inside our churches.  As we hear and heed God’s call to make disciples, we too must say ‘yes’ and venture forth to seek out the lost.  We too find them in the streets, out at the games, in the restaurants and bars, and so on.  May we come to seek the lost as Jesus did, going to where He went to find those in need of the Good News.

Scripture reference: Matthew 21: 28-32

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Defining Jesus

In Matthew 21, the religious leaders want to know where Jesus gets his authority.  He hasn’t been through the hoops, He isn’t one of them.  But is important to know why they are asking the question.

Just the day before Jesus came into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna!” and the city was full of excitement.  He proceeded to the temple and drove out all the sellers and money changers.  Then the blind and the lame came to Him and He healed them.  Normally to be healed or cleansed of sins – commonly thought to be the reason one was blind, lame and so on – one had to buy sacrifices and bring them to the priests so that they could perform the rituals.  But Jesus had driven out the sellers.  His touch was free.  Not only was Jesus not one of them, He was operating counter to their rules and was disrupting their economic system.  They wanted to trap Him and be rid of Him.

Sometimes we too struggles with these issues.  We question whether or not Jesus leads, for often we want to be the ones in control.  We question whether of not we (or sometimes it is another) are worthy of Jesus’ love or forgiveness or… but we are all worthy because it is a free gift.  We do nothing to earn grace, mercy, love, forgiveness.  Sometimes we try to trap Jesus too, seeking to have our will done instead of His.

May we come to see what the religious leaders could not – that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth.  And may we come to do what they could not – to truly worship Him as Lord and King.

Scripture reference: Matthew 21: 23-27

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Our Call Too

God is a god of hope, love, grace, and generosity.  We each receive these things in abundance.  We are called, in turn, to share these gifts with others – to those we know and to the person we meet for the first time.

In the parable at the start of Matthew 20, Jesus is teaching us to offer these things to all.  The landowner pays all of the workers the same amount.  He begins by paying those who started late what he promised those who started early.  They grumble when they only receive what was promised.

We can relate to their complaint!  They think they deserved more.  We see this two ways.  We too often think that if we have been a follower of Christ for a long time we “deserve” more than one new to their faith.  Wrong.  God loves us all equally.  We all equally deserve God’s blessings.  The other way we see this is in judging who is worthy of our love, our time, our help…  This is equally wrong.  We are called to be like Christ.  He set the standard – He loved all, especially those who we think are hard to love.  This is our call – to love all as Christ loved and loves all.