Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Room to Improve

Reading: Acts 10: 44-48

Verse 45: “The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles”.

Mankind has long had an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. The dividing line can be drawn over many different characteristics and usually is drawn because of some level of ‘better than’ beliefs. Whether it has to do with race or nationality or ethnicity or education or socio-economics or gender or age or religion or… there is an artificial distinction created and an air of superiority floats over it all. There is a natural tendency to do this. To a degree we all like to be the best or at least to see ourselves or the group we belong to as the best.

Peter and the rest of the Jewish Christians thought so. Jews who had accepted Christ were the best, followed next by the regular Jews, and then there were the Gentiles – everyone else. It was ‘us’, ‘almost us’, and ‘them’. We still do this today. We each think this of our church or of our denomination. There is the Methodist Church, other Christian churches, and then non-believers. Each of us would substitute our own church or denomination in the first place. If we did not we would be attending a different church each Sunday morning. But ‘our’ must be universal, not singular and exclusive.

In today’s passage God demonstrates that all people are invited into faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit blows across all barriers and distinctions and includes all people. Verse 45 reads, “The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles”. The words ‘even on’ indicates the early church’s struggle with this new revelation. We too may struggle at first. But if we are open to the work of God in all forms then we too will accept all whom the Spirit calls. Once we get to know another and discover their heart for God, then we will see them as just another brother or sister in Christ. When we see the image of God in others, then we grow to love them as God loves them.

We remain far from being an ideal church. Individually we all have room to improve. In all, love remains the key. Each day may we strive to be more like Jesus Christ, to love more like He did. Today may we be more like Christ. And tomorrow may we love more. And the next day too. Holy Spirit, blow into our lives each day, leading us to love more fully and more completely. Amen.

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Excellent and Consistent

Reading: Galatians 2: 15-21

Whenever we as Christians allow ourselves to be identified with something or someone other than Christ, we have gone astray.  When we are not living fully for Christ, then we are less than God intends us to be.  When we compartmentalize our faith to Sunday mornings and maybe even to a quiet time each day, then we are denying our faith in Christ most of the time.  Our faith must permeate all of our life all of the time.

Think of a famous and successful company.  They are not excellent some of the time.  Not just some of the products or services they offer are high quality.  They do not meet the needs of their customers just some of the time.  Those companies that are successful are always striving to do their very best, to build brand loyalty, and to always improve.  At times they may indeed fail, but then they work doubly hard to correct whatever went wrong to insure that it is not repeated.

As Christians we too must seek to be excellent and consistent.  When we declare that we are a follower of Jesus Christ, then we have set the bar really high.  We are not aligning ourselves with a mediocre product, but with someone who was excellent and consistent with everything he did.  We cannot say we love all people and then turn our backs on some because they are different or simply because they are hard to love.  We cannot say ‘use me God’ and then decide we would just rather watch TV or go to the lake today.  We cannot declare Jesus Lord and Master and then go off and do our own thing, living as if Christ did not exist.

We must love so unconditionally that others are amazed and stop to wonder.  We must say and do things for God that are uncommon and cause others to halt in their tracks and ponder why we are so giving.  We must begin each day in prayer, seeking to discern His guidance and direction for our day and then respond by going where He leads.  May it be so.