Monthly Archives: November 2017
“There’s nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They’ve all taken the wrong turn;
They’ve all wandered down blind alleys.
No one’s living right;
I can’t find a single one.
Their throats are gaping graves,
Their tongues slick as mud slides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
Litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
Don’t know the first thing about living with others.
They never give God the time of day.”
Romans 3:10-26 from The Message
This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says ‘about others’ but ‘to us’ to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting–things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve complied this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
God sacrified Jesus on the altar of the world to clear the world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public-to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but its ‘now’ – this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for me to live in his rightness.
Do we understand this? – Why Jesus is so important? – Why his birth is so extraordinary? – Why should we even care?
Because . . . Jesus is the “new” Adam.
The first Adam disobeyed God and was banished from God’s Kingdom and with his banishment we were all barred from admission to eternal life in God’s Kingdom.
Nothing we could do could ever change that banishment. Only God had the power to correct the course of history. So God did the unthinkable and sent his only son to die . . . as the final sacrifice . . . once for all.
The last Adam (the Alpha and the Omega), Jesus, obeyed God by accepting that he was the final sacrifice for all sin. God deemed him righteous by God’s grace. Jesus was brought back into God’s Kingdom by the Holy Spirit resurrecting Him from the dead – opening a pathway for all those who believe in Jesus to follow Him into eternal life in God’s Kingdom.
Without Jesus, there is no eternal life for human kind. Without Jesus, we only have the Law which none of us can hold up under. Without Jesus, there is no redemption which means God would continue to banish us from eternal life with Him. Without Jesus, we have no hope of conquering death and living forever with God.
So let us remember the reason for this season. Let us slow down. Let us prioritize and realize the importance or lack of importance of traditions of the past. Let us be still and rest in the gift that God has given us.
May your week be filled with the stillness of God’s peace. Amen
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
The mother hung up the phone and moved away from the busyness of the home. She moved away from the hustle and bustle of the children. She moved away from the lights and the commotion. She opened the door and sat on the porch in the darkness. The stars were just coming out; the moon just coming over the horizon. There was a stillness in the air. An expectation. She sat and waited. “Where are you?” she asked. There was no response.
Then the mother cried out to the one she was waiting for “Why has this happened to this child? Why have you allowed her to suffer so? Why Lord, Why?” Tears began to flow and sobs erupted from deep within her soul. As the sobs consumed her, she felt the in flooding of warmth, the feeling of being enveloped by peace. And with that, her sobs subsided. She turned her heart to God and lifted the child to the Throne of the Almighty and her heart poured out her anguish in a silent unintelligible release – God’s Holy Spirit praying for the mother when human words were inadequate.
As the Spirit and the Mother prayed as one, she felt the words form in her heart and transfer to her mouth. She heard herself start to pray for peace to be one with the child, for hope to be restored – for love to be deeply seeded – for God to raise up persons to support and encourage and love the child.
And as she opened her eyes, she gasped as millions of lights lit up the countryside. Lightning bugs swarmed around her and as far as she could see – enveloping her in a cacophony of light. She felt like she was in the midst of angels – and then she knew that God had provided for the child in ways unimaginable to the mother, in ways of protection and guidance, in ways of hope and understanding; in ways of love and peace.
There was no need to worry or fear for God knew and knows all. She knew God had heard and answered her prayers. She knew that the child would be all right. She knew that she knew not how but she trusted in the one who knew. She let go and sat in the wonder of His presence. She thanked Him for sharing His light with her, for confirming His love in such an incredible display.
Then she got up and in the midst of the light moved to the door, turning once again to take in the unimaginable. With a deep sigh, she returned to the noise and activity of her life, once again filled with the joy of knowing God was truly an awesome God.
May God’s joy fill you this week in ways that are unimaginable and inexplicable.
“So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
He was tired. He could not speak anymore – the infection had ravaged his body. They gathered in the ICU around his bed each with their own thoughts and emotions. They were saying good-bye to a good man – a father, a father-in-law and grandfather – a mentor and teacher. There were thoughts of childhoods and others who had gone before – thoughts of life and death – of how each of them must at some point face this moment.
His faith in Jesus was never an issue. It was a strong and personal faith – a faith lived out in life – the kindnesses to neighbors, to those less fortunate – the friendships with the weak – the laughter with outcasts, not at them – a man of the church, of Sunday routine – a teacher of the lessons from scripture. A humble man yet with a rebellious streak – a human with flaws.
He did not shout his faith. He lived it.
His family said good-bye each in their own way. Some stayed. Others left. One, deeply grieved, took his own sons ice fishing as he waited for the phone call.
As the moments ticked down, the family was asked to leave the room so that the man could receive medical care. One returned to sit with him – the one who needed to see the transition from this life to eternity.
The ice fisherman was called to receive an update . . . and then the extraordinary happened. He started shouting . . . “Grab that line . . . Grab that one too . . . there goes another. All the lines were full – full of fish! They had not had one bite and then every single pole in every hole they had drilled had a fish.
At that precise moment, the one who was meant to be with the man walked into the room and reported the news of the man’s passing over into new life. The fisherman was told of his death . . . and he tried to grasp the enormity of what was happening . . . that on his father’s way to The Father, he had paused for a brief moment to pass on the gift to his son and to confirm God’s Spirit in his heart.
Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened! Remember. . . eternity meets us in this moment.
R. H. Loy
Scripture – Colossians 3
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Once we have accepted the gift of salvation, we are thrust into an incredible journey. It is not always “fun”; we are not always “happy”, but we can experience eternity everyday if we actively participate in Holy Living.
What is “active” participation? It means “thinking” and “working” to turn from our old ways and start anew. It means looking at ourselves and shedding what needs to be shed and developing what needs to be developed. We are not alone in this journey! The Holy Spirit is with us guiding us, nudging us, alerting us to what needs to be changed.
So what do we need to be looking for? Before offering a few examples, it must be made clear that each and every person has a different life journey. Although, many of us have similar circumstances, no one experiences the same set of circumstances as someone else. This is important to keep in mind when journeying through life – we can’t compare ourselves to someone else – it will not work. We can learn from one another and apply other’s insights to our own life, but each of us has to figure this out by ourselves through the guidance of the Spirit.
Set your hearts and minds on the “things above”. First thing “to do” is turn your focus from earthly things to Christ. Start small and work your way deeper. Instead of watching t.v. all evening, eliminate a show and crack open your bible or read or listen to a devotion. (check out pray-as-you-go or the Bible Hub). Turn on a Christian radio station like k-love on your way to work. Go for a walk and listen to the Word on your phone (try you version bible app) Join a Bible Study or Christian book club. Go to Church with a friend. In other words, start your training somewhere.
In everyday living, use your mind and heart to identify situations where you are exercising earthly desires contrary to God – sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. Take yourself out of these situations and replace the time previously spent with an activity that focuses on God. It is hard to be specific here because each person has to identify their own “wrong” living and turn from it.
In your daily interactions with others, be mindful of your words and your responses. We all have moments of snarkiness – times when we point out what we perceive as others faults and failures for no good reason except it makes us feel superior. Let us learn to recognize these moments and avoid the comments or apologize for them if they slip out. Remember to include God in this process asking for wisdom to discern what to say in these tough situations, the strength to admit when we have failed, and forgiveness when we respond in our humanness.
Actively choose to respond to situations and people with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. If a friend has lost a parent or child, send them a card, make them a meal, remember them in prayer – practice Holy living. If your spouse has had a particularly tough time at work, make a special meal, or take them to the movies, give them a flower from your garden and write a sweet note. If your child is struggling in some area, “think” with your heart and mind of a way to convey your love for them – a note on their pillow, extra time spent with them, a tutor, or the plain truth delivered in love.
Go forth this day and week in the power of the Holy Spirit – mindful of walking in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And . . . Remember, eternity meets us in this moment!