Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Assurances and Promises

Reading: Genesis 12: 1-4

At the age of 75, God asks Abram to move.  Abram has been living in Haran with his wife Sarai, his father Terah, and with Terah’s grandson Lot.  Over the course of his time there, Abram and his family have established themselves, accumulating land and livestock.  They are comfortable and secure.  In addition, at this time people were not mobile.  Almost everyone was born, lived, and died in a small geographic area.  Labor was manual, many hands were required, and land was passed down from one generation to the next.  It would be very odd and very hard for someone to just pack up and head off to someplace.  For Abram, it would have been a tough concept for him to wrap his head around.

God’s request comes with some promises to Abram.  God will bless Abram and make him into a great nation.  God will bless those who Abram blessed and will curse those he curses.  God will bless all the people of the earth through him.  This is quite a list of promises.  There is much for Abram to ponder.  Perhaps.  Maybe Abram would have gone simply because God asked.  Maybe God did not need to offer the promised.  Maybe Abram’s trust and faith in God was sufficient to follow the request.  Maybe the hope of a better future enabled Abram to follow God’s direction.

If I were Abram, I too would want assurances and promises if God asked me to do something that required so much trust and faith.  I want them each day as I simply journey through life.  When God leads or the Holy Spirit nudges or whispers, there is a moment of choice.  Do I follow and respond or do I deny and refuse?  Often there is an unknown to God’s requests.  But we too have promised to rely on.  We also have experiences where we have trusted God and had faith in His lead, times when we have been blessed because God was at work through us.  These assurances and promises enable us to boldly step forward as God leads and directs.  May it be so today.

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Step Forth Boldly

Reading: Luke 10: 16-20

In a way Naaman and the 72 are opposites.  Naaman loads up the treasure to pay for his healing and heads off to find the man of God.  The 72 go out with nothing, taking the word of God, empowered by Jesus, to give away healing and hope.  In Naaman is healed, he may be drawn near to God.  The 72 are going out to bring the kingdom of God near to all people.  Even to those who reject the Prince of Peace, the disciples proclaim that He is near.  Too many of today’s Christians and too many of our churches today are more like Naaman, seeking to get something from God instead of striving to offer God to others.

Earlier in Luke 10 Jesus stated the reason for sending out the 72: “the harvest is plentiful”.  It is certainly plentiful today as well!  The disciples trusted in Jesus’ power and stepped out boldly to heal the sick and to proclaim that the kingdom of God was drawing near.  At first they must have been way outside their comfort zones.  Naaman too must have wondered a time or two what in the world he was doing as well.  But God rewarded their faithfulness.  Both the 72 and Naaman experienced firsthand the simple power of God to bring healing and to know personally how impactful the kingdom is in their lives.

Jesus calls on us today in the same ways.  Trust in Him and in His power to guide us.  Rely on Jesus alone.  Go forth and trust in the Lord of the Harvest.  May we too boldly step outside of our comfort zones, trusting that God will lead.  Through our simple faith, may we this day bring the kingdom of God near.

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At the Table

Today’s text is a little troubling.  As a fellow pastor said at the lectionary study yesterday, “It makes me uncomfortable.”  In today’s text Jesus calls the woman who has come to beg for her daughter’s healing a “dog”.  It was not likely a racial insult in Jesus’ day.  We are used to Jesus sparring with the Pharisees and calling them ‘hypocrites’ but this seems different.  The loving Jesus who seems to accept all who come to him is trying to rudely dismiss this woman.  This version of Jesus makes me uncomfortable too.

Perhaps it makes me uncomfortable because at times I have thought less of another as well.  This is often a means to justify not helping them or to rationalize not taking the time to be present with them.  In essence I too am calling them a ‘dog’ in my mind and in my analysis of their worth.

Yet in this story I also find hope.  In my sin I come before God seeking healing and forgiveness much like a dog.  Slinking up to Him, head bowed low, I approach knowing I am unworthy to be in His presence.  Like this woman, I do not and cannot argue with my position because in my sin I am lowly.  So like her I approach humbly.  In her the hope I find, though, is also in her boldness.

This woman is bold in asking for her daughter’s healing.  She just asks for a ‘crumb’.  She knows that just a little bit of Jesus’ power is enough to heal her daughter.  And it does.  I too approach boldly.  Although made low in my sin, I too can boldly ask to be healed, to be made new, to be washed by His blood.  And just like that I too find healing and restoration.  And in God’s great love and mercy, I am no longer under the table.  As a child of God I am restored back to the table.  For this, I say thanks be to God!

Scripture reference: Mark 7: 24-30