Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Round and Round

Reading: Romans 4: 13-16

Verse Sixteen: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, do that it may be by grace”.

In our culture we generally like to feel we are at least ‘even’ with each other. If someone brings us a plate of cookies, for example, we feel we need to return the favor by bringing them a cake or plate of cookies or treats. If we ask someone to help us move, then we feel obliged to show up when they are moving. If wr have someone over for dinner they drive home contemplating when they can have us over for dinner. We go round and round.

Sometimes I think we feel faith is like this too. We try to do good things to gain or earn God’s favor. We pile on more when we have sinned and feel the guilt or shame. We try and check off all the boxes to meet what we think God and others expect of us to be considered ‘good’ Christians. So we go to church and to that pot luck and to the small group and to the rescue mission to help serve the meal and… We go round and round.

Lent is a good example of this idea. The concept behind a season of preparation for Easter is to be ready spiritually to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. What do we do to get ready? We give something up for Lent, wr join another Bible study, we go to that special Lenten small group, we read an extra devotional, we… Sometimes it feels like we are going round and round instead of connecting more deeply to God. But we can’t quite avoid it either. If I were to just say “Stop!” all this and just get closer to God, I would feel inclined to follow it up with advice to just pray more or to just read your Bible more. And we go round and round.

God knows. He knows. In verse sixteen we read,”Therefore, the promise comes by faith, do that it may be by grace”. We are saved by grace alone. No matter what we do or do not do, no matter what we say or don’t say, God’s grace is always sufficient. This removes our need to check boxes or to give up this or to add in that. This need is within us, in our minds, maybe even in our hearts. God says enough, my grace is enough. If abstaining from chocolate or whatever helps you feel closer to God, then do it. If reading an extra devotional or being in a small group helps you grow closer to God, then by all means enjoy your time. In the end, though, may we all rest upon the promise of salvation by faith alone. In this promise, grace is sufficient. It is all about God. This we know. May it be so.

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In Weakness and in Strength

We all like to accentuate our ‘strengths’ to a degree.  What we and others view as strengths can be physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual.  Everyone has been blessed by God in many ways.  Each of the strengths we have been blessed with are gifts we have been given for building up the kingdom of God.  Many of these gifts are also used in endeavors such as work, athletics, school, and relationships.

We also all have weaknesses.  Most of the time we prefer to keep these hidden away.  We prefer to keep these tucked into a dark corner.  But when we do this, we are limiting the power of Christ in our lives.  Even though we try to keep them hidden away, they are still there.  Even though we pretend they do not exist, our weaknesses still rise up from time to time.  In turning them over to Christ and calling on His power to come along side us in our battles, we can experience His strength in our lives.

One of the best ways to build your strengths and to work on your weaknesses is to be in a small group.  For example, my brothers in Christ have come to know my strengths over time.  They encourage me to use these strengths in helping others grow in their faith.  But they also have come to know the weaknesses in my life.  My brothers in Christ hold me accountable.  They check in with me to see how I am doing in relying on Christ for my strength in these battles.  These men of God pray for me in my struggles.  To them, I offer the same things in return.

God made us just as we are – the good and bad alike.  Like with Paul, these ‘thorns’ we all have keep us humble.  They keep us within the knowledge that we really need God to make it through life.  God desires to use both our strengths and weaknesses to build His kingdom here on earth.  May we all learn to offer both up to God for His glory.

Scripture reference: 2 Corinthians 12: 2-10

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True Fellowship

Our churches provide us with some great opportunities to connect to Jesus, to God, and to each other.  We connect to God and Jesus in corporate worship and individually through the practice of our spiritual disciplines.  Through these experiences we continue to grow and to become more deeply connected to God and Jesus.

We all probably ‘know’ people in our churches and many we count as friends.  But how many of them know the trials and struggles that you face, can pray for you by specific need, can encourage and uplift you, can challenge and hold you accountable?  It is within the connection that can develop in a small group or life group that we find others who can do these things for us and where we find we can offer this to others.   Make no mistake about it, we all need other Christians in our life to fill these roles.

I love my Monday night small group.  We have just begun to be on the journey together.  We are not nearly 100% transparent with each other, but we are heading there.  Yes, there is an inherent scary factor to being transparent and in being in such a group.  Yet it is still my prayer that everyone in our church finds such a group.  It is my prayer for you too.  If you are not in such a group, seek one out. If there are none at your church, pray and be led to others of like mind and heart and start a group.  Seek help from those who work at your church.  You too will be richly blessed.

Scripture reference: Matthew 18: 15-20

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Just One Step Past

What a wonderful image of the early church – gathering daily to hear the Word proclaimed, to worship, to fellowship to break bread.  They gave freely to one anther as there was need.  In Jesus’ name miracles were occurring and each day others were drawn into their community of believers.   When I think about the early church, the word ‘family’ comes to mind.

Then I thought, is this the word we would each use to describe our own church?  Or is it only a ‘church’ – a group that gathers once a week on Sunday mornings? A nice time to worship, to hear the Word proclaimed, to enjoy a little casual fellowship.  Or are there ‘families’ that some are involved in?  Do some dive in and become a part of a small group, a covenant group, a life group, an accountability group?  It is to this small group that an extra commitment is required.  It is one step past Sunday morning.

Yet when one chooses to take that extra step one usually finds the loving support, the personal encouragement, the heartfelt concern, the genuine fellowship, that we all need and crave.  If you haven’t taken that extra step, please do.  I know it is one more thing to fit into your busy schedule.  But it is worth the step.