Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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God’s Living Word

God’s word can be like any other book we read – just words on a page.  Maybe the stories are even interesting and entertaining.  But if there is no application to our life or change made inside our hearts and minds, then the words are just letters on the page.

God’s word, whether read personally or proclaimed aloud, is a living, breathing book.  When we take it in, pray and meditate over it, and search for the meaning that a particular passage has for our life, then we are refined and molded by the Word.

When we open the Bible seeking to find, God will bring life and meaning to His word.  When we knock and open the scriptures, there are answers to unlock our situations and to satisfy our questions, to provide direction for our lives.

God’s word is meant to be lived out.  We live it out in personal ways – in the decisions we make, in the way we conduct ourselves, in the ways we draw close to God, and in the relationships we have with others.  We also live it out in community – in how we treat each other, in how we serve each other, and in how we love one another.

When we read or hear the words on the pages in the Bible and begin to live out what they say and teach, then we are allowing God’s word to live and breathe in us.  May we learn to breath in deeply and to live out boldly all that God has for us.

Scripture reference: 1 Thessalonians 2: 9-13

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Maybe It’ll Grow

Today I read about Benedictine monks.  Each day and week and year is filled with the same pattern – they work and pray and work and pray and work and pray and so on.  Each day is filled with this pattern.  They sleep at night and start the pattern over day after day.  Each prayer time is followed by a period of work.To praythey first center themselves and then they chant Psalms back and forth.  In a month, they pray through the book of Psalms.  Then they start over.

Paul writes often about the same integration of prayer and work.  The idea of regularly stopping our work to pray is found in others.  Daniel, for example, prayed three times a day at his appointed times.  Jesus even went so far as to suggest His disciples pray without ceasing.  But I think Jesus was suggesting we be attuned to praying here and there, whenever we felt led to pray for someone or something.  For the monks, Paul, and Daniel it was spontaneous prayer and also about engaging in formal times of prayer regularly each day.

What would that look like in our lives?  Could we set aside a time to pray upon arriving at work, during morning break, at lunch, during afternoon break, and before departing for the day?  Each prayer time could be specific and focused.  Perhaps this is a great experiment to try for a few days.  Maybe it’ll grow into weeks, months, years…

Scripture reference: 1 Thessalonians 2: 9-13

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Good, Love, Mercies – Praise!

God is good.  His love endures forever.  Praise be to God for His unfailing compassion and mercy.

We sin.  Our faithfulness is prone to wander, to ebb and flow.  We weve in and out of our relationship with God.  We are human; we are imperfect.

But there is nothing we can do to cause God to stop loving us, nothing we can do that  He will not welcome us home.  In the midst of those times when we find ourselves in our own little wilderness, God is always calling, always seeking to redeem us.  Just as Jesus welcomed sinners into His life so that He could minister to them, we too enter God’s presence and find cleansing and healing.

At times we may feel too unworthy or that we are too far away to be found.  Yet there is no depth too deep for God’s love.There is no east or west too far for God’s redemptive power.  He always hears our cries and our prayers.  God is good.  His love endures forever,  His mercies are new every morning.  His compassions never fail.  Praise be to God.

Scripture reference: Psalm 107: 1-7 and 33-37

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We Too Will Be Amazed

In the story of Israel crossing the Jordan, God only works when the priests come to rest in the middle of the raging river.  Once they stop in the middle of the rushing waters and trust in Him to act, then the Lord provides a safe way for the people to cross over to the other side.  Because they rested and trusted, God provided them a way that they could not provide for themselves.

Rest was an important part of Israel’s faith.  For the Hebrews, the Sabbath was strictly observed as a day of rest from work and as a day when they would worship God.  In this time of rest, God goes to work.  As they rest and seek God, He responds by coming to them, by being a presence in their lives.So it must have made sense to the priests to stop and rest in the middle of the river, to wait on God to work.

In our society today, rest seems almost a foreign concept.  We are so busy.  For many, rest is that time at the end of the day when they collapse into bed at the end of another busy day.  We even fill our weekends with all that we did not get done during our busy week.

God still calls for us to rest in Him.  He desires for a personal relationship above all else.  And that requires time.  To connect with God in an intimate way we must carve out time daily where it is just God and us.  We must allow Him time to work in our lives.  When we do these things, we too will be amazed by what God will do in our lives.

Scripture reference: Joshua 3: 7-17

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Memory and Reassurance

As Israel prepares to cross the Jordan River, they must have felt so much emotion.  This moment is like crossing the Red Sea in  some ways.  God is parting the waters and providing a way across.  In both events they can clearly see God’s power and feel His presence with them.  One chosen by God himself leads them.  Yet these crossings are also different.  At the Red Sea they were fleeing their enemy and were about to enter the wilderness.  At the Jordan they were crossing over to face their enemy at Jericho and they were leaving the wilderness.  Joshua had replaced Moses, but God was clearly with Joshua, just as He had been with Moses.

The connection to and memory of what God has done forms the foundation of their faith and also provides reassurances that He will continue to be present with them.  Our history and experience does the same for us.  To remember that difficult situation that God walked us through or to recall that job that He provided reassures us of His love for us and also gives us a basis of hope for our future.

God is always and always will be.  As we remember what He has done for us, hope and faith are built up in us.  We look forward with confidence, knowing God’s steadfast hand will continue to guide and lead us.  Whether facing a wilderness or preparing to enter a promised land, we can step forward knowing the He will never leave us and that He will never forsake us.  A God that always was, will always be, for He is everlasting.

Scripture reference: Joshua 3: 7-17

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The Greatest Gift

Our faith often gets passed from generation to generation.  As parents raising children, we nurture and teach them how to be caring and responsible, and to make good decisions.  As Christians, we add to this list ‘faith’.  Our children best learn by observing and by participating.

Like anything else, faith must be taught.  This happens both in the home and at church.  As we talk about the messages and stories in the Bible with our children we are both preparing them to become a Christian themselves and also to be a teacher of faith some day.

And then there is the indirect teaching.  If our children see us joyously heading off to church or to meet with our small group, that outlook is instilled in them.  If they ride home from church with us or overhear us talking with our spouse about what we learned there, then they too want to become part of the conversation.  If they see us reading our Bible or praying at home, that habit gains a foothold in their lives as well.  If they see us treat the stranger and the outcast with love and mercy, then they come to treat others that way as well.  What do your children see when they observe you?

The greatest gift we can give the next generation is a relationship with and faith in Jesus Christ.  In all ways, may we model what it looks like lived out daily, in the flesh, in this world.  May we teach the children well.

Scripture reference: 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8

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Following Paul’s Example

Paul sets a great example of how we are to evangelize or share the gospel.  He has been rejected and suffered once in Thessalonica yet he returns to this place again.  He enters filled with courage to do the work which God has called him to.  No fear rests in Paul because he knows God is in his corner.  How many times do we allow that first rejection to be our last attempt to share our faith with someone?

Paul comes with pure motives.  He is not seeking to make a name for himself or to become rich.  Paul is there to share the gospel and to bring glory to God alone.  His natural bent as an encourager and nurturer also draws him back.  So often Paul sought to help others along their journey of faith.  How many people do owe know who we could treat as Paul treats the Thessalonians?

Lastly, Paul comes to build relationships.  He seeks to build upon the relationship he established during his first visit.  As the Thessalonians are build up and strengthened by Paul’s time with them, so too is Paul built up and encouraged.  How many people do we have basic relationships with that could be brought to the next level as we share our faith story with them?

May we learn to follow Paul’s example of evangelism – courageously answering our call, responding only in ways that glorify God, and seeking to build lasting relationships that allows for both persons to grow.

Scripture reference: 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8

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All Is Not Lost

Matthew 22 contains several series of questions that the Sadducees and Pharisees ask Jesus.  They are the religious leaders of the day and their queries have two purposes: to prove themselves correct and to trap Jesus, this radical upstart.  Yet with each question Jesus stings these experts in faith by drawing them back to the scriptures and the true meaning of God’s word.  After each encounter the leaders go away bruised and defeated, and probably a little angry too.

We too go away a bit bruised and defeated when we take the time to reflect on how we do honoring the two great commandments Jesus names in verses 34 to 36.  Love God with all of my heart, mind, and soul?  On a good day I might come close part of the day.  But my pride,my judgmental nature, my sense of needing to be in control – they each take their turn leading instead of me allowing God to lead.  Love my neighbor as self?  I could maybe do okay if I got to pick the neighbor.  But my neighbor is everyone I encounter and I struggle daily – with those I know and those I don’t and sometimes avoid.  Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you too are like the Sadducees and Pharisees.

But all is not lost – we are on a journey of faith.  Each time we stumble, Christ helps us back up.  He reassures us of His love for us.  He reminds us to love others as He first loved us.  And He sends us back out each day, to matter and make a difference for His kingdom here on earth.  Each day we meet the world, seeking to meet it as Jesus did – right where it is at.  We seek to offer what we can to whomever we can, to make a difference one person at a time.  And we do.  Thanks be to God.

Scripture reference: Matthew 22: 34-36

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Faithful Obedience to Guidance and Presence

We are called to be at work with God in the world.  It is hard to know how to work ‘with’ God sometimes.  We are so prone to do things on our own that often we work for God, doing things in His name but not with Him.  We can do good in the world and accomplish things that have a positive impact.  But if we are not working with God and involving Him in the work, then we are accomplishing less than we can together with God.

For example, we can serve a meal at the local rescue mission.  We can cook great food and fill stomachs.  We can even smile at the folks as they go through the line.  But if we seek to involve God and allow Him to work through us, them we can fill more than stomachs.  If we seek His guidance and are open to His direction, then we can be led to someone who needs to talk or simply needs to hear our faith story to find encouragement and hope.  Maybe He will lead us to listen and to pray for someone.  Maybe God will even prompt us to add action to prayer.

Jesus told the disciples and tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing.  He is talking about doing kingdom building things here.  It is in the building of he kingdom that we come together to work with God, to accomplish His work in the world.  Through prayer and discernment we invite God’s guidance and direction.  Through faithful obedience to His voice and word, we partner with God to make a heavenly impact in our world.  While it is true that we can do some things on our own, with God we can do so much more and do it for the glory of God when we work with God.

Scripture reference: Psalm 90: 16-17

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Witness to Our Eternity

God is everlasting.  He always was and always will be.  He was before He created the earth.  God will continue to be long after ‘earth’ is gone and the new heaven is here.  God is the one that binds us together – from Adam and Eve on forward.

While on earth, God is our peace and comfort. our strength and shield, our home.  In Him we live and breathe and have our being.  All of this will continue when our earthly body breathes its last.  God is before, now, and after.

As we live daily, we hold onto this promise.  It makes each day easier to get through and provides our ultimate hope – resurrection from the dead.  Until that day, God is steadfast to us.  His mercies are new every morning and His love never fails.  Surely as that day is coming for all of us, we are to live reflecting the fact that we do not fear death.  We live reflecting the hope and love we find in Christ.  But not all are destined for heaven.  It is our call to be a living witness to our eternity, allowing all the opportunity to come to know Him.  By word, action, and deed, we are to share Christ with all we meet.

Scripture reference: Psalm 90: 1-6 and 13-17