Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Reading: Luke 14: 27-33

Verse 33: “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”.

Our passage today begins with the idea of carrying our cross. Like Jesus, we must be willing to surrender our will to God’s will in order to advance the kingdom here on earth. Bearing the cross will challenge us as we are called to suffer with Jesus, loving the unlovable, caring for the outcast, walking with the stranger. In grace and love we are to be Christ to the world.

Jesus then talks about the cost of discipleship. We are advised to consider the cost of following Jesus before we begin to build a life upon him. Like with any project, we must first consider if we are willing to give up family, friends, personal comforts, security… for the sake of serving Jesus. We are also warned in our passage about the coming battle. Satan is relentless in his pursuit of the faithful. Can we, in faith, stand against Satan’s lies and temptations and against the voices of the world? We cannot. If wise, we will go first to the one who has overcome the world and seek Jesus’ peace (and strength and guidance and…) to walk the narrow road that we chose to walk.

The passage today closes with these words: “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”. Jesus wants us to understand that the commitment that he requires is “all in”. It is a 24/7 commitment to be like Jesus. He is not asking for an hour a couple Sundays a month plus a five minute prayer most days of the week and sometimes before meals. Jesus asks us to be willing to give up all for him – “everything” is his word. We must surrender not only our will but our resources, our time, our possessions, our talents, our abilities… In doing so we will serve him well. May it be so.

Prayer: Lord God, you ask a lot. Yet it is far less than Jesus gave on the cross. May I be faithful and true all of my days. Amen.

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Pearls and Treasures

Reading: Matthew 13: 44-52

Verses 44 and 46: Then in his joy… he sold all he had… he sold everything…

In our first two parables today, the ‘man’ in each comes into contact with something of great worth and both joyfully sell all they own to acquire what they have found.  The meaning for us relates to the value of the kingdom of God.  Once we come into contact with God’s kingdom we too are willing to give anything or everything to possess it.  The discovery process can vary.  One man happened upon it while the other was searching.  So it is with our faith journeys.  Some people are born into a family of faith, some happen into faith as God powerfully acts in their lives, and others come to a place in life that leads them to actively seek God.

The third parable today is another reminder of why we should seek the kingdom of God.  At the end of the age we will all be drawn into the symbolic net.  All people will be judged by God.  Some will be deemed ‘good’ and go on to eternal glory in God’s presence.  Others will be deemed ‘bad’ and will be condemned to eternal punishment.  Some will be ‘collected’ and others will be ‘thrown away’.

No matter how or why we come to be a part of God’s kingdom, to be a part of God’s kingdom is of great value.  The value is both temporal and eternal.  In the temporal, as we live in relationship with God and Jesus, we find strength and comfort, peace and joy, contentment and blessing, mercy and forgiveness, and so much more.  In the eternal we have our hope.  When all things are made new then there will be no pain or tears or sadness or need.  We will dwell in God’s new kingdom and live forever in His light and love, realizing the great value of being part of the kingdom of God.

After telling these three parables, Jesus asks them if they have “understood these things”.  After an affirmative answer, Jesus tells them that now they are “like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old”.  Just as the disciples were ‘owners’ so too are we.  These parables and the whole Bible that we can read fill our storehouse.  The parables and teachings in the Bible are the things of great worth.  As we read and reflect on the Word, we continue to ponder the pearls and also to discover the hidden treasures as the living Word continues to speak into our lives.  As we continue on our journey of faith, may we continue to be in the Word so that we may ever grow in the knowledge and love of God.

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Reading: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13

“There is a time for everything…”. Time – we do not always get to choose and must instead trust into God’s timing.  After all, God alone is in control and God alone truly understands the big picture.  Each of our lives is but a small piece of the larger picture.  So we must trust.

Ecclesiastes 3 covers most of what life brings, from the big to the small.  All life begins with birth and ends in death; all life has periods of laughter and times of tears.  We build and we tear down, we plant and we harvest, we rip and we mend.  Life is full of many experiences.  God is present in them all – celebrating with us at times, crying with us at times, always present.

In verses ten and eleven we gain a glimpse of both our reality and of our promise.  In verse ten, we are reminded that toil is part of life.  We must each work at something to find value in ourselves and to provide for our needs.  Work is simply part of life.  But it is just part of the day to day of life.  We begin to get in trouble when we place too much value in or emphasis on our toil.  When our job represents who we are or when it becomes the focus of our life to the exclusion of faith, family, and friends, then our priorities need realigned.

Life will have its ups and downs.  God is our constant.  In verse eleven, we are reminded that “He has made everything beautiful in its time”.  God is present in all things.  The plans He has for us are for our good.  When we have God as our foundation, there is beauty in all that life brings.  Verse eleven goes on: “he has also set eternity in the hearts of men”.  In eternity, we find hope.  In hope, we walk through both the ups and the downs with a different perspective.  We know, as followers of Jesus Christ, that our eternity rests in His hands.  We know this promise.  We find peace, comfort, strength, and hope in this promise.

There is indeed a time for everything.  And in everything, God is present.  As we go through the day to day of life, may we always trust in God, our all in all, our everything.