Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Reading: Philippians 2: 1-5

Verse Two: Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

If you think back to when you were young, perhaps you can think of someone you wanted to be like.  Maybe it was one if your parents or maybe it was a grandparent.  Maybe it was an older brother or sister.  Maybe it was an older student on the team or in the choir or band.  Whatever the case, you looked up to that person for the qualities you admired in them.  They were qualities you wanted to have or practice as well.  As we mature in life, we often have mentors who help us along at work or in our faith or in our marriages…  They are usually more experienced and are “successful” and are willing to pour into us to make us ‘better’.

In today’s passage, Paul wants us to recall how Jesus brings us encouragement, comfort, compassion, love, tenderness, and fellowship.  He then says, “Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose”.  Paul is asking us to look to the ultimate role model and to emulate Jesus.  Do to others what Jesus does for us.  Jesus set aside selfish ambition and conceit.  Paul says for us to do the same.  Jesus chose humility – looking at others needs before His own.  Paul says for us to do the same.  Delve into the Word, understand what Jesus is really all about.  Get to know Him so well that you can emulate Him well.  But do not do this for just a day or even a week.  Keep reading, keep deepening your connection.  This is a lifetime project.

If we make Jesus Christ our role model, we still need mentors.  The journey of faith is not easy and it does take some experience.  It is far better to have wise counsel than it is to stumble along on our own.  Each Christian should seek out a wiser, more mature Christian as a mentor.  To be able to tap into and to learn from one who has walked where we want to walk is essential to our journey of faith.  May we each reflect on our journey to date and seek God’s direction on how and with whom to continue our path to being one in mind and spirit with Christ.

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Reading: 2 Timothy 3: 14-17

No one wakes up one day and finds themselves to be a fully developed, totally mature Christian.  Our walk of faith is a long journey, one that only ends when we stand before Jesus in eternity.  Who we are today as a believer is not who we will be in a year or in a decade.  Even though we never get “there”, we are all on a ‘journey towards perfection ‘, as John Wesley liked to say.

No one journeys alone.  In our passage today, Paul speaks of Timothy knowing the Scriptures since infancy.  Earlier in 2nd Timothy Paul speaks of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice living out and teaching their faith to him.  Then Paul joins this “great cloud of witness” as he too pours into and mentors Timothy.  To this crowd Paul also adds the Scriptures.  In the Word of God there is much instruction and guidance too.

Over the course of our faith lives we find people who poured into us.  These persons could be a pastor, a boss, a spouse, a friend, a colleague.  People of faith in our lives have taught, mentored, encouraged, corrected, guided, and loved on us as they shared their faith with us so that ours would grow.  For each we are grateful and thankful and always indebted.

As we grow in our faith, at some point, we too become teachers, mentors, guides.  We see the spark of God light up in a new believer and the Holy Spirit leads us to walk alongside this person.  Like Paul, we pour into our friend new to the faith.  Like all those who poured into us, we in turn pour into others.  We too become part of that great cloud of witness.  We are blessed to be part of the family of God.  This pattern of discipleship began with Jesus, when He gathered 12 around Him and began to pour into them.  May we go and do likewise.

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Reading: 2 Timothy 1: 1-8

Paul and Timothy have a special bond.  Paul calls him “my dear son” and Timothy sees Paul as a father figure.  Paul has mentored Timothy and watched him grow in his faith.  Timothy has been poured into by Paul, both in terms of the knowledge of the faith and in how to live out that faith.  Again we read of tears.  Paul recalls Timothy’s tears at their last parting and declares that he longs to see Timothy again.  These tears are partly tears of sorrow but they also testify to the deep, deep connection that Paul and Timothy feel through Christ.

Paul encourages Timothy in these opening verses.  He first reminds him of the “sincere faith” that he sees in Timothy, a faith not only taught but passed down to Timothy.  He exhorts Timothy to “fan into flames the gift of God” which is present in and through the Holy Spirit.  In this section Paul finishes by encouraging Timothy to live out a bold faith, empowered by love and self-discipline.  The mentor is building up the pupil while he is physically distant.

But this is not a one-way street.  Paul also receives from Timothy.  Paul us writing Timothy at a time when he is in custody.  It is a time of suffering for Paul.  As he looks around Paul sees that he is all alone, that all have deserted him.  Paul is a prisoner for Christ and he is reaching out to Timothy, his dear friend.  In his suffering, Paul draws strength from the relationship he has with Timothy.  He also knows that Timothy will pray often for him and will be with him in spirit.

In our walk of faith we will have mentors who help us grow in our faith and at times we too will pour into others.  Our faith is a communal faith, one that is to be lived out together.  It is both a joy to walk alongside a brother or sister growing in Christ as well as to walk alongside them in their times of pain and suffering.  May the Lord bless each of us as we laugh and cry and grow together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Reading: John 14: 25-29

As we go through life, especially when we are younger, we find people that mentor and shape us.  They are people who  see something in us worth investing some of themselves in.  They usually are older and have been through a little bit more of life so they carry wisdom and expertise with them.  They are kind and loving and sacrificial people.  Mentors help us navigate our careers, our families and relationships, our faith.  If we have been mentored we are likely to become a mentor ourselves.

Jesus himself was a mentor.  For the disciples and undoubtedly others who followed Him, Jesus mentored many in their faith and how to live it out.  Indirectly Jesus continues to mentor each of us as we read His Word and apply it to our lives.  But Jesus also knew that the disciples and eventually we would need more than memories or the written recording of them.  He knew we would need an active and alive presence to continue to mold, shape, and guide us.  So Jesus gave mankind the gift of the Holy Spirit.  To all who call on Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Spirit comes and dwells within them.  Once there the Spirit is the constant presence of Jesus, reminding us and teaching us about Jesus and the example He set.

As we think about the people who have poured into our lives, at some point we must also begin to become aware of those around us who could use someone to mentor and shape them.  Other people have poured into us so that one day we too could pour into others.  As we seek this our may we be open to how the Spirit guides and leads us in this as well, always remaining a willing and humble servant.

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Reading: John 12: 1-8

Mary and Martha’s brief season of pain ended when Jesus resurrected their brother.  In today’s story, they are hosting a meal to honor Jesus.  They had been followers since ling before the miracle that brought Lazarus back to life, but experiencing such a thing in person will forever change you.  Now they gather to offer back what they can.

Each sister has been blessed with certain gifts.  Martha’s gift is to cook and serve.  She seems to have become comfortable with this.  Mary’s gift is a little harder to define but perhaps we could define her gift as insight or discernment.  Like in the earlier story in the Bible, Mary chooses to simply be in Jesus’ presence.  But this time the Spirit moves inside of her and leads her to anoint Jesus’ feet with some very expensive perfume.  In a way it is acknowledgement that death will come to Jesus as she begins to prepare Him for burial.

Like Mary and Martha we are each gifted in unique ways to serve Jesus as well.  And like them, we too have impactful and life-changing experiences that shape us.  These events can often eventually become a start to our own personal areas of ministry as we are now intensely more aware of and sensitive to this experience.  Through this we are able to coach or mentor or walk alongside someone else experiencing something similar to what we experienced.  For example, a couple who unexpectedly lost a child may later be able to reach out to another couple now going through that same trial.

Mary was preparing others close to Jesus to begin to consider what His death would mean.  This came from her experience with losing Lazarus.  We too are shaped by our experiences so that we can share them with others.  In those trials we found that God remained close, carried us when needed, and guided us through the trial.  At times, we too will be lead or nudged by the Spirit to take action.  May we first be aware of the opportunities we have to walk alongside others, to offer them our love and support, and to draw them closer to God in their time of trial.