August 22, 2019

What I read today;

Colossians 4 & 1 Thessalonians 1-2; Luke 11; Isaiah 53; Psalm 19-20; 1 Samuel 4; Exodus 6

The Hebrew Nation was in mourning.  Pharoah had doubled the workload.  Pharoah was having his taskmasters beat the Hebrew foreman.  Life had just gone from bad to worse.  Despair had set in.  No matter what Moses and Aaron said the people would not listen anymore.  Now it was going to take something tangible.  God promised it was coming.  We would see later that God kept his promises.  The people were eventually set free.  They would eventually take the promised land.  But it was in God’s time, not our time.

It’s hard to keep our faith when we’re going through the storm.   Health issues, marital problems, work issues all weigh heavily on us.  Each day is difficult and sometimes we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Two things come to mind here.

The first is that when things are that difficult we need to talk to someone.  Isolation kills.  For the person going through this type of pain the listening ear of a friend can make all the difference in the world.  Not necessarily someone to preach, but someone to be there and listen.  Our presence can be the hydrocortisone that begins the healing process.  Maybe we can offer, money, time, or assist with a repair, then our physical help may also be a healing balm for that person.

Secondly, the person going through the issue should be encouraged to search the scriptures and hold on tight to Jesus Christ.  He didn’t promise to alleviate all our pain on this earth.  But he did promise to walk with us through the pain.

 

 

August 21, 2019

What I read today;

Colossians 1-3; Luke 10; Isaiah 52; Psalm 17-18; 1 Samuel 3

Colossians 3 vs. 12-17 lays out for us the goal of our Christian lives.  This passage gives us our goal in life.

First, it tells us how to treat our neighbors:

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” NRSV

Then vs. 15 shows us that we should let Christ’s peace rule in our hearts.  Often we fight the spirit of Christ.  Here we are shown that it is important to just simply let Christ rule:

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” NRSV

Then Paul tells us to shift our focus away from the world and its worries.  Paul tells us to immerse ourselves in the life of Christ.  He begs us to dig into the word, have fellowship around the word with other believers and sing for joy continually in the name of Christ:

 Let the word of Christ[b] dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” NRSV

Finally, he tells us that our life in Christ isn’t just for those moments we are in the church.  It is to permeate every part of our lives.  Each nook and cranny of where we live.  At work, in our homes, at restaurants, gas stations and wherever else we are standing:

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” NRSV 

Christ wants to fill our lives with everything we need.  Our job is simply to let him and stop fighting.

August 20, 2019

What I read today;

Philippians 2-4; Luke 9; Isaiah 51; Psalm 15-16; 1 Samuel 2; Exodus 4

How difficult it can sometimes be not to simply demand my way and be angry.  We’ve all done it.  We’re in the store and clerk isn’t moving fast enough, or is rude, and we get mad.  We get on the phone with a customer service rep and before you know it we’re screaming at the faceless agent.  By the time we’re done we’re worked up into such a frenzy that we don’t even know what we were made about.

Then I read Philippians 2 vs. 1-4 and realize how foolish I have become.

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” NRSV

I have to keep telling myself that it’s not about me; it’s about Jesus.  It seems today that even Christians have fallen into the shouting trap.  I guess people think that if we yell louder, then we get our point across.  Instead, it turns into a shouting match where everyone loses.

Christians would do well to read and re-read Philippians 2 vs. 1-4 before they speak.  We might drop the decibel levels.

August 19, 2019

What I read today;

Ephesians 5-6 & Philippians 1; Luke 8; Isaiah 50; Psalm 13-14; 1 Samuel 1; Exodus 3

We look for healing in strange places.  Each of us has a black hole inside our soul that we struggle to fill as we walk this earth.

Some of us fill that hole with drugs and alcohol.  We attempt to drown out the pain of life in a drunken haze or a drug-induced coma.  The deeper we go down the rabbit hole, the harder it is to remember how we got there. Eventually, the cure overcomes many, and the search leads to destruction.

Others attempt to fill up on relationships or sexual trists.  While exciting at first, the thrill wears off, leaving the person feeling used and unloved.  Even the most devoted of marriages cannot fill that search for meaning that is greater than ourselves.  Many relationships end in divorce or worse because they become disappointed in the lack of fulfillment.

Then there are the mountain climbers of corporate America.  They seek to climb the corporate ladder.  They fill up on the intoxication of the next promotion and the next pay raise.  Many will tell you that once they reach the top, they are sadly disappointed that it never seemed worth the fight.  Many leave their families, friends, and colleagues in their wake.

There are many other ways in which we seek to fill that hole in our hearts.  The woman in Luke, chapter 8, was seeking healing as well.  She had looked for healing everywhere.  She’d spent all her money and was left empty and distraught.  Finally, she turned to the one place where the cure was possible.  As she quietly reached out for Jesus, he turned back to her.

We were made to worship the creator of the universe.  Jesus beckons each one of us to come to him.  When we’ve run out of places to look, and we turn around, Jesus is standing there with his arms outstretched waiting for us.

It is Jesus who is the one who will fill that hole deep inside our souls.  That emptiness that is making us run from everything and everyone.  That hole that can’t be filled with money, fame, fortune, or sex.  That hole that we can’t make go away with drugs or alcohol.

When we realize we can’t fill it with what the world has to offer, I pray that we turn to Jesus at that moment!  Turn to the only one who can fill our aching desire for something bigger than ourselves.

August 18, 2019

What I read today;

Ephesians 2-4; Luke 7; Isaiah 49; Psalm 11-12; Ruth 4; Exodus 12

God sure doesn’t seem to care much about an individuals background. If you look at Ruth that would definitely seem to apply.

Perez was the son of Judah’s, who was born after Judah thought he slept with a prostitute.  The prostitute turned out to be Tamar his daughter in law.  Ruth was a Moabites.  Born of the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughter.  The union of both bring together the line that would produce King David.

We often fear that we have fallen too far to serve God.  In times like this, we need to review parts of the Bible like Ruth 4.  We need to hear about the ordinary people, with either ordinary pasts or checkered pasts, whom God uses to bring about glory for his people and his kingdom.

God can use even an old sinner like me.  If I’ll let him.

Will you let him?

August 17, 2019

What I read today;

Galatians 5&6 and Ephesians 1; Luke 6; Isaiah 48; Psalm 9-10; Ruth 3; Genesis 49-50

What do our lives say about our faith in Jesus Christ?

Yes, we are saved children of God.  But would anyone know that from how we act?  Galatians 5 reinforces that Jesus did the work of salvation for us.  The entire book rejects the idea that we have to work for our salvation to earn it or to make points towards it.

The question that follows is, how do we respond to the work Jesus did on our behalf?  Do we continue to live as if nothing happened?  Do we chase after the same obsessions of the world as we did before we met Christ?  Do we look like the works of the flesh described in Galatians 5 vs. 16-21;

Live by the Spirit, I say and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.   But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.   Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” NRSV

Or does our life reflect what Paul says in Galatians 5 vs. 22-26;

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.   And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.” NRSV

Each of us is on a path.  As we grow in grace, the question becomes are we becoming more Christlike, or are we staying the same or regressing.  How would you answer the question?

August 16, 2019

What I read today;

Galatians 2-4; Luke 5; Isaiah 47; Psalm 7-8; Ruth 2; Genesis 47-48

You’ve probably heard the statement “Freedom isn’t Free.”  That is usually referring to the sacrifice that service members have made in keeping the United States a free country.  However, the reality is that we are only a few keystrokes away from losing our freedoms.  People will give up their freedoms if they think that they are in danger.  In Genesis 47 we witness the collapse of freedom in Egypt.  Initially, the people gave up all their money, in exchange for food.  Then they gave up all their possessions.  After this, they handed over the deed to their land.  Finally, they sold their very lives.

When faced with danger, economic disaster or natural disaster human beings will give their entire lives for the feeling of security.  That’s how Hitler rose to power in Germany, Stalin took control in the USSR, Mao took power in China.  In Jesus times it was how Greece went from a democracy to being ruled by Alexander and his father before him.  Rome went from a democracy to being ruled by an empire with the threat of war.

Christianity is freedom as well.  Freedom to not live in fear of hell thanks to Jesus sacrifice.  Freedom not to be shackled by tradition in worship.  Freedom to speak the Gospel no matter what the church says about it.

But we are living in a curious day and age.  Churches are fighting about the mundane.  Some have pulled back behind the walls of their churches and are hiding out.  They fear to deal with other Christians and other groups in our society.  So they’d rather hide.  But Christ calls us to freedom!  Freedom from fear and freedom to rejoice.  Freedom to see Jesus death and resurrection as our shield and great reward.

Those churches that are hiding have allowed fear to distract them.  They’ve allowed fear to prevent them from being who they are.

Fear should never stop us!  Our Savior guarantees that no matter what or where he is with us and will never leave us!