Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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God Alone

Reading: 1st Corinthians 3: 1-9

Verse 3: “You are still worldly… there is jealousy and quarreling among you”.

Paul is known as the apostle to the Gentiles and as the person who spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the known world. He traveler east and north and west of Palestine, preaching about Jesus and planting churches as he went. Paul helped plant the church in Corinth and he continued to tend to it through letters. In these letters Paul continues to teach them about the faith and he also addresses issues and conflicts that arise. The portion of the letter that we read today addresses a division that has risen up in the church.

Paul begins by addressing the believers as “worldly” and as “infants in Christ”. These terms would have stung a bit and maybe started to bring them to their senses. In essence Paul is calling them to grow up and to act like the mature Christians that they can be. In verse three he identifies the issue: “You are still worldly… there is jealousy and quarreling among you”. Since they are struggling with worldly sins Paul implies that they have lost sight of the main thing: Jesus Christ. Paul himself then demonstrates his own spiritual maturity in the way he advises them. Instead of trying to elevate himself over Apollos he acknowledges that they have both played a role in developing the church. He identifies himself simply as a “worker”. Paul uses the farming analogy saying that he planted and Apollos watered. Then, in verses six and seven, Paul reiterates an important truth: only God can make someone’s faith grow. It is the action of God alone that changes lives. Yes, Paul and Apollos have a function in the process, but the real authority and power rests in God alone.

At times in our churches we can devolve into being small or into being focused on our own agenda. These things only lead to discord and possibly to division. At times a wise and mature Christian will lead the way and peace will be restored. At times the Holy Spirit will nudge and whisper and pull at our hearts, working us towards reconciliation and the restoring of relationships. Just as only God can make faith grow, only God can bring true healing. So in all things may we look to God, being attuned to the Holy Spirit, seeking to walk his path of love. May it be so for all of us.

Prayer: Father God, heal our churches and heal this nation. Heal our hearts and heal our relationship with you and with one another. Amen.

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As One Approved

Reading: 2nd Timothy 2: 8-15

Verse 13: “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful”.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are in tune with the Holy Spirit. The still small voice and the gentle nudge are ever at work is us to draw us closer to Jesus and to lead us to share his love with a world in need. The Holy Spirit is like a skill or a muscle – the more we use it, the better developed in becomes. The reverse is also true. If we ignore or reject the Holy Spirit over and over the voice dims and grows harder and harder to hear.

Paul was one to hear the voice loud and clear. The letter to Timothy that we read today comes from prison. Hence his reference “God’s word is not chained”. Paul has been arrested many times, has been beaten often, and has even been stoned and shipwrecked. Yet his focus has always remained on his calling to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Nothing has deterred him. In verse ten we read “I endure everything for the sake of the elect”. It is all for those who “may obtain salvation that is in Jesus Christ”.

If you are reading this, you are seeking to grow closer to Christ. It is very likely that today we will all have opportunity to share Jesus’ love with another. In some cases it will be easy because it is a natural extension of who we are. It may be showing empathy to a friend or loved one. It may be offering words of encouragement or support to a co-worker. In situations like these, we hear the Holy Spirit very well. But we may also find ourselves in a situation that is hard. Maybe our opportunity involves someone that is very different than us or is someone we dislike. Maybe the opportunity means risking something or stepping into a difficult situation.
Some of the time we feel like what is being asked is too much and we fail to follow the lead and guide of the Spirit. Here we recall verse thirteen: “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful”. God does not ever give up on us. The Holy Spirit continues to be at work. As we strive to grow closer and closer to Jesus Christ, our ability and likelihood to say “yes” to the Holy Spirit grows with us. We too, like Paul and Timothy, are called to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved”. May it be so.

Prayer: Leading God, I fail less than I used to, but I still fail to always be your love in the world. Forgive my failures. Thank you for your unending love. May it ever work within me to make me more and more like your son. Amen.

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The Faith of a Child

Jesus calls us to accept the kingdom of God like a child.  He warns that if we do not, we will not enter it.  As He has children gathered around Him, Jesus says the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Is Jesus calling us to a basic, immature faith?  I do not think so.  For each of us, our faith starts out smaller than it will be and our faith should grow and develop naturally, as a child does.

Much like a child as he or she grows, our faith also becomes more complex as we come to understand God and our relationship with Him better.   We learn to love more easily.  We learn to forgive quicker.  And we come to understand our ‘responsibilities’ as Christ-followers in deeper and more impactful ways.  The call to serve others as Christ did becomes louder as we better learn to put self aside more and more.  The Spirit’s voice becomes clearer as we are refined and come to see ways we can follow closer and be less prone to temptation and sin.

Our faith must also hold onto some characteristics that were strongest in childhood.  As a child we were often fearless and thought we could do anything.  In faith we are called to step out and to do things we never thought we could.  With this kind of faith we step out where God is leading and trust that He can do all things.  Children also do not understand limits.  If one cookie is good, ten are better.  Such should be our understanding of God’s limitless love.  No matter how much we receive from God, there is always more.  And no matter how much we pour out, there is always more to give away.  May we love without hesitation, knowing that God can do anything.

Scripture reference: Mark 10: 13-16

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God > world

Sometimes God picks people we least expect.  God sees in a way that we usually do not.  His vision for all that could be far exceeds our limited vision for the future and for the possibilities that could be.  His practice is also to develop those He selects.  He did not choose David and make him king immediately.  Over time God slowly developed this young shepherd.

Although God does not call you or me to be a great king, He calls us as surely as He called David, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Saul, Peter…  And He will continue to call us.  He will call as many times as it takes.  God has a purpose for our lives.  It may just to affect and witness to one person or it my be to many.  Maybe it is just to our family and a few friends.  We will never know until we faithfully respond to the call and step out in a faith that shows we know God is in control.  In a willing servant, the Holy Spirit can and will do a mighty work.

God also calls groups of people.  This could be a family, a small group, or a church.  The promise is that where two or more are gathered in His name, He will be present.  God has visions and plans for each of the groups we are in and especially for our churches.  While God desires our praise and worship, that is certainly not all that He calls the church to.  If it ends there our churches are just a shell of what they could be.  A faithful response is all the God seeks.  It is all He needs.  Like with David and many others, God will lay the groundwork, raise up and develop the right leaders, and will take us to great new ministries.  Holy Spirit come.  Lead us and our churches.  Come!

Scripture reference: 1 Samuel 16: 8-13