Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Rooted, Built Up, Established

Reading: Colossians 2: 6-19

Verse 6: “You therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him”.

In our passage from Colossians, Paul reminds the church that they are to look to Christ for all they need. In the opening verse Paul reminds them that they are “rooted and built up… established in the faith”. After the first of two brief warnings against the philosophies and teachings of the world, Paul goes on to unpack verse 6.

Paul describes what it means to be established in Jesus Christ. He first speaks about a “circumcision made without hands”. This is the process of dying to self, of surrendering one’s own will to God’s will. Paul then reminds them that they are “buried with him in baptism”. This ties into the idea of dying to self, when one is immersed in the water, and also into the idea of being made into a new creation in Christ when one rises from the waters. Just as Christ rose from the grave to new life, so too will the Colossian Christians and so too will we one day triumph over the world.

Paul uses two interesting words to describe a life lived in Jesus Christ. The first is “rooted”. Paul is using a tree analogy here. A tree is only as strong as its roots. A pine tree, for example, has a shallow root system. The roots do not go down very deep into the soil. In the wind, a pine will sway back and forth. In a really strong wind, a pine tree can be uprooted and toppled over. Trees like oaks, on the other hand, have deep root systems. Their branches and leaves sway in the breeze, but the trunks are solidly rooted deep in the soil. They can withstand a much greater wind. Our faith parallels this idea. If we have a shallow faith it sways more easily – it is more easily influenced by the cares and worries of the world. Temptations and trials and sufferings in life can overwhelm our faith if it is not firmly and deeply rooted in Christ.

Paul also uses a building analogy that is equally applicable. A building is only as sure and secure as its foundation. We must build our faith upon a solid foundation. Jesus Christ is the only sure foundation. When all we do and say and think is built upon Jesus’ teachings and example, then we have a solid base to stand upon and to build upon. Then we are able to “hold fast to the head”, Jesus Christ. May our faith be deeply rooted and solidly built upon Christ. May it be so.

Prayer: Lord God, help me today to be rooted and established in Christ. Help me to invest time and energy to sink deep roots into Jesus Christ so that he will always nourish my soul. Make Jesus my firm foundation, my rock. In his name I pray. Amen.

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New Life

Reading: Acts 2: 1-21

Verse Four: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The believers were gathered together in one place.  The city was full of Jews from all over, coming to celebrate Pentecost – the giving of the Law.  When all was just right, God sent a mighty wind to unite these two disparate groups for one purpose: to grow the church.  For each of the believers there is a physical sign of God’s presence: tongues of fire appear and come to rest on each of the believers.  All are to be used in the building of the church.  It is not just the job of the disciples.  It is the commission of all believers to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

Next, all of the believers experience a spiritual sign of God’s new presence in them.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit that now dwells in each of them, they begin to “declare the wonders of God” in many different languages.  Each speaks fluidly in a language they do not know.  Talk about an affirmation that “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”.  Between these two signs there is no doubt that they have been forever changed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  They each have new life through the Spirit.

The process of new life through the profession of Jesus as Lord continues to this day.  Entering into a personal relationship with Jesus begins the process.  It initiates the coming of the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts and it creates in us a new person – born of the Spirit.  We too feel a physical change accompanied by a spiritual change.  We are transformed into a new creation.  It is through this process that each follower of Jesus Christ is joined with the one body, the church universal.  As this body we join together in the commission to share the good news of Jesus Christ to transform the world.  Blessings today as we live out our faith.

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Repent, Prepare

Reading: Matthew 3: 1-4

John the Baptist went out and began preaching in the desert.  He did not set up shop in the temple, but out in the wilderness along the Jordan River.  In spite of his location, John drew droves of people with his message, “repent, the kingdom of heaven is near”.  They came to hear John’s message, to repent of their sins, and to be baptized in the water.  People were drawn to the message of hope and new life.  They were eager for this, even willing to change.  John proclaimed, “prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him”.  John told people they had a role to play.  To receive this kingdom gift, one’s heart must be prepared and ready – we must walk a straight path.

In three weeks many will come seeking.  Many will come to worship services all around the world, seeking to be touched by this same kingdom gift, seeking the hope and new life offered by the babe in the manger.  They come because they sense that the kingdom of God draws especially near in this night.  Just as in John’s day, people are still drawn to the powerful love of God, still drawn to the possibilities of hope and new life.  This is the gift offered by the baby on Christmas Eve.

Are we ourselves prepared to receive the Christ child?  Are we ourselves ready to help others come into God’s presence on this night of celebrating the birth?  Advent, just like Lent, is a time of preparation.  It is a time when we too must live by John’s words: “repent, the kingdom of God is near”.  It is a time when we too must choose to walk a straight path so that we are ready to welcome the Lord Jesus into our own hearts again.  May we hear the voice calling and may we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ child and all who come seeking His gifts of hope and new life.

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One Step

Reading: Luke 19: 6-10

Once again Jesus reaches to an outcast.  Once again Jesus looks past what is a barrier to others and lives one in need.  Zacchaeus certainly was not in need financially because he was a rich man.  Zacchaeus was in need of love and acceptance.  Because of his job, Zacchaeus probably spent life largely alone, without any real friends.  When Jesus calls out to Zacchaeus, many in the crowd grumbled with disapproval.  Zacchaeus’ ill-gotten wealth has drawn much dislike for the crowd.

At times we too act in certain ways and do certain things that cause others to dislike us or to remain at a distance from us.  Sometimes we can be like Zacchaeus, mistreating others for our own gain or purposes.  Sometimes we can fall into sins of other types, causing others to look down on us or to treat us like an outcast.  Sometimes we act in ways that cause people to think, ‘Jesus, don’t go near that one today’ or to think that Jesus could never call out to us.

Yet He does.  No matter what, Jesus always calls out to us.  He continues to call us out of our trees and into relationship with Him.  No matter our sin, Jesus continues to seek us when we are lost.  Like Zacchaeus, we are always just a simple confession away from a righteous relationship with Jesus Christ.  Like Zacchaeus, we are always just one step away from forgiveness and new life in Christ.  For this we say, thanks be to God.

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Living into Reality

Do you remember a radical life change?  Maybe it was after your first job or after your first child.  Maybe it was after s divorce or the loss of a loved one.  For all of us change is inevitable.  It is also hard to change.

When change cones we can embrace it or we can resist it.  When we resist our new identity or reality, it is a struggle.  The resistance takes a toll physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

If we choose instead to embrace our new life, we begin to live into it.  Our new way of life becomes our new DNA.  We begin to become the person God intended us to be.

As we practice our new identity as Christians, we must embrace it.  Our call is 24/7.  Through the practices of prayer, worship, study, and service we grow into who God created us to be.

Scripture reference: Romans 6: 12-23