Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Eyes, Ears, Minds

Reading: 1st Corinthians 2: 6-16

Verse 12: “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God”.

Paul and the church today speak a message that is not the wisdom “of this age or of the rulers of this age”. It is a message that the world struggles to understand. Paul says this is why the rulers of the world crucified Jesus. Today many rulers do not understand the message of faith and they continue to persecute Christians. In some places, death comes to the faithful. The things of God remain foolishness to those without eyes to see, without ears to hear, without minds to conceive.

The people who chose to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior do understand God’s wisdom. We join Paul and the early church to proclaim: “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God”. Thanks be to God. The Holy Spirit connects us to God by “expressing spiritual truths”. We are guided and protected, convicted and redirected by the Spirit. By the power of the Holy Spirit we become humble servants, seeking to share God’s love and our blessings with the broken and needy. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are present to the grieving and lonely, offering God’s love and our love. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are voices of power for the weak and mistreated, bringing God’s love and justice to bear on unjust and oppressive situations.

The people and rulers of the world look on such actions and they do not understand what motivates such selfless behaviors. It is foolishness to those we seek to exert power and control, who seek to exploit and oppress. But to those who have “the mind of Christ”, this is the path that Jesus walked and it is the path we seek to follow. It is the path that God “has prepared for those that love him”. Guided by the Holy Spirit, may we reveal the love of God to all we meet today. May our eyes see, may our ears hear, and may our minds conceive the path that the Lord has prepared us to walk today.

Prayer: God of all, may I be open to the needs and hurts of the world around me today. Send the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me to be a humble servant if that is needed, to be a voice of justice if that is needed, to be a spirit of comfort if that is needed. Use me as you will today to help build your kingdom here in this place. Amen.


Eyes of Love

Reading: Mark 15: 21-40

Verses 37-38: “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed His last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”.

In Mark’s gospel we get a pretty abbreviated telling of the crucifixion and events surrounding it. It goes something like this: man carries cross, Jesus crucified, divided clothes, people mocked Him, got dark, Jesus cried out then died, curtain torn, some women watched. Mark’s story does have a few more words and details, but not a whole lot more.

It is odd to read through the crucifixion story a week before it actually happens. On Good Friday we will wrestle with it a whole lot more. Yet it is good to think of this day as we prepare to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend. The children will parade around with palm branches waving, full of excitement, just like the first Palm Sunday crowd. The contrast with these two events is stark and sobering.

When we step back into our own lives, for most folks life is good. We have our routines and the little things that bring us joy. Then one day suffering comes our way. We cling to God and we get through it. After a time, we look back upon said event and we see it differently. We see how God loved and cared for us in the trial. We see what was pain with eyes of love and gratitude.

I think Jesus saw the cross this way – with eyes of love. He knew why He had come. It was to be this sacrifice. He also knew that resurrection was coming. He saw the other side of the suffering so He viewed this difficult and painful experience with eyes of love. “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed His last”. A simple end. Across town, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”. The thing that kept people separated from the Holy of Holies, where they thought God dwelled, was torn wide open. All will now be able to enter God’s presence directly and personally. I suppose that was another reason that Jesus saw this event with eyes of love too.

As we celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, may we also keep an eye on both the crucifixion and the resurrection. As we do so, we see all of the last days of Jesus with eyes of love. May it be so.

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Reading: Deuteronomy 18: 15-20

Verse 18: “I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him”.

God speaks to us in a variety of ways. We can feel God’s presence in nature, in the actions of others, in prayer and worship. This is one way that God ‘speaks’ to us. We can open our Bibles or listen to a sermon and God speaks directly into our lives. God frequently speaks through the voice of the Holy Spirit as He leads, guides, reminds, redirects, … God is in no way silent or distant or hard to hear from, yet not all people are prophets of God.

Over time God has raised up many great prophets – Moses, Elijah, Samuel, Ezekiel, … This line that we can find in the Bible also includes Jesus. Jesus did not just bring the word of God, Jesus is the Word of God in the flesh. As we read and study Jesus in the New Testament, we come to know God more fully and to understand the depths of His love, care, compassion, mercy, and grace. It is through the life, words, and actions of Jesus that God speaks the loudest. In verse 18 today we read, “I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him”. Jesus was the full revelation of this verse. It is by living out Jesus’ words that we grow and live out our faith. To a degree we can do this on our own, but at times we also need help and encouragement.

Just as God has done since the beginning of the faith, God continues to raise up voices to draw us to and deeper into our faith. Our pastors, priests, and teachers continue to bring God’s words and to share His voice. It is through our study and today’s prophets that we grow as individuals and as a community of faith. Today’s prophets are not perfect. Even the great Moses has his moments of anger and frustration. Yet the voice of God worked through Moses and continues to work through His prophets today. I am thankful that God continues to be present to us today, both in the Bible and in the words of men and women past and present who teach and encourage and rebuke and refine us. May the Lord ever speak in and through us.

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Where You Lead

As peace settles in over David and he feels secure, he begins to ponder.  David has returned the ark to Jerusalem and he decides to build a home for God.  God has been ‘living’ in a tent ‘forever’ as far as Israel is concerned and David is in a palace, so building a house for God makes sense.  But not to God.

Through the prophet Nathan, God lets David know.  In a way it is another reality check for David.  It is a “let’s not forget who really is in charge” moment.  Through Nathan, David is reminded who it was that plucked him out of the shepherd’s field and who guided him to be king, leading David every step of the way.

Sometimes I fall into David’s trap too.  On my own I start planning the next great thing for our Youth or begin to write a sermon or whatever.  I don’t always seek God’s guidance through a time of prayer and discernment.  My first instinct is not always to let God lead.  But soon enough I too am reminded.  Soon enough I come to a roadblock or are somehow else stymied and I realize that I am out there alone.  If I could just always start with God and seek His plans and will first, then life would be so much better.

In trusting in God, I give Him control.  In allowing Him to lead, I follow His plan.  In my heart and soul I know He has a plan and that the plan is awesome and amazing and more than I could ever dream up.  Make me humble O Lord, that I may walk each day where You lead and do as Your Spirit directs.

Scripture reference: 2 Samuel 7: 1-14a

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Works of Faith

Sometimes I feel a little like Cornelius.  I sense the need to be closed to God than I am.  Yet on my own I cannot seem to close that gap that I feel.  Like the centurion, I sometimes need someone to explain and guide me so that I can draw closer.  Perhaps at times you feel this too.

At other points in my faith journey I have ‘randomly’ experienced people and events that drew me closer to God and deeper in my faith.  I was not specifically seeking these out, but God blessed me with them.  The times we encounter God can happen at any moment and in any circumstance.  Perhaps you have experienced these too.

God can meet us both in the expected and in the unexpected.  We can find Him in church and in Bible study.  We can find Him in the repair ship and in line at the grocery store.  It is amazing how many ways the Holy Spirit can move and work in  our lives to draw us closer to God.

At times we too can be instruments of God or of the Holy Spirit.  Those promptings to say just the right thing, the nudges to help someone, the feeling to seek another out for a cup of coffee – all can be works of faith.  Being sensitive to these things is the first step.  Being willing to follow is the second step.  Being willing to take action is the third step.  May we all be willing instruments of God’s hand and the Spirit’s lead this day and every day.

Scripture reference: Acts 10: 44-48