Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Reading: Matthew 23: 1-12

Verse 11: The greatest among you will be your servant.

Leadership today is usually about having good people skills, making wise decisions, knowing the intricacies of the trade, carefully using ones power, and gaining experience in one’s field.  Society may even overlook some behaviors or actions if the bottom line is healthy enough.  In our world we also see some trying to lead, but they lack some of the necessary qualities and skills to lead well.  Others are following their own agendas and are leading a very small band or a group of one.

Jesus addresses leadership in Luke 23.  He is talking once again about the religious leaders and the Pharisees.  He begins by acknowledging that they sit in the seat of authority.  Therefore, He says they deserve obedience.  But from here, Jesus addresses their woes.  First, they do not practice what they preach.  Second, they use the Law to place heavy burdens on the people but they themselves do nothing to help the people live out the Law.  Third, they love recognition.  They desire to be noticed and recognized for their apparent holiness and esteemed positions.  It is all about them and little about helping others to know God and to live devout and righteous lives.

Jesus then shifts the focus to who we should really be following.  He insists that there is really only one true Father and only one true Teacher.  God alone is to be worshipped and we should follow Jesus alone.  As John the Baptist said, we must become less so that Jesus can become more.  Jesus also speaks of this today, saying, “The greatest among you will be your servant”.  The greatest here on earth will be the servant.  Faith is about loving God and, in turn, loving others.

The humble servant loves and serves and then points to Jesus Christ and His love as the reason why.  This is the task of all Christians: through our lives we are to point others to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  To a degree, we are all called to lead.  By our prayers, our presence, our witness, our service, and our gifts, may we always lead others to Christ.  As we live out our lives and as we love others as humble servants of the Lord our God, may we ever shine the light on Jesus, the author of our faith.

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Reading: Matthew 11: 2-6

Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s question is interesting.  Jesus speaks of the restorations prophesied about in Isaiah 35: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are healed…  All of these things listed are physical limitations.  Make no mistake, throughout the world people are healed every day from physical afflictions, all in the name of Jesus.  The work Jesus began continues through His followers.  Jesus’ response is interesting because the true healing Jesus brought was for our inner healing.  Ultimately Jesus Christ came to free us from the powers of sin and death so that we could one day enter eternal life.

When John preached in the wilderness, h called for people to repent of their sins and to make straight paths for the coming of the Messiah.  John challenged people to be rid of the sin in their lives so that they were ready to welcome the Messiah.  Jesus’ response to John’s question is about change in the physical sense.  John predicted one who would come to bring healing in the spiritual sense.

Jesus speaks of a healing that I think most often must come first.  Before people can hear the good news of Jesus Christ, they must first have their basic needs met.  It may be one of the physical limitations that Jesus speaks of that is a barrier to their spiritual lives.  It may be a physical limitation such as food or shelter or clothing.  Jesus certainly addressed our call to meet these needs as well.  By bringing healing and restoration in the physical realms, we open the way to healing and restoration in the spiritual realms.  This day, through our words, prayers, and actions, may we each bring healing to our broken world, all in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.

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Love Lived Out

Reading: Matthew 24: 36-44

No one knows the day or the hour when Jesus will return.  There will be no mistaking it when He returns.  Our passage today speaks about one being taken and one being left behind.  The rapture will be the first unmistakable sign.  With all this in mind, Jesus urges us to always be ready.  If we are ever seeking to live a life worthy of Jesus’ example, we will always be ready for the moment He returns.

Salvation is something we do not lose once we declare that Jesus is Lord and Savior of our life.  Once we receive Jesus into our heart, we are saved.  This status does not change.  But for many people, they have not chosen to accept Jesus as Lord.  For some, it is an intentional choice.  They are still choosing self even though they fully understand what Jesus offers.  They are not willing to surrender.  For others, they do not know who Jesus is or how Jesus can work in their lives or maybe how to begin a relationship with Jesus.  In all of these scenarios, all are lost and need to enter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

One of our primary roles as followers of Jesus is to share the good news with the world.  We do this in our daily lives.  It is both our words and our actions.  In our words are love, compassion, mercy, grace, understanding, forgiveness…  In our actions we are a servant to all, humbly doing for others.  Another role we play is prayer warrior.  Just as Jesus and the Holy Spirit are interceding for each of us, we too are called to pray for one another.  Sometimes our prayers are general – asking God to help our church reach out or helping us see opportunities that God places before us.  Some prayers are more specific – for a certain person or situation, for God to work in a loved one’s heart, for someone we know is sensing God’s hand at work in their life.

Each and every day may we be God’s love lived out – in our actions, in our words, in our prayers.  May we be love to the world.

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Reading: Psalm 65: 1-8

What a beautiful work we find in Psalm 65.  Read it slowly.  Let the words form meaning in your heart.  It speaks of how we praise our God who hears our prayers and forgives our transgressions.  It speaks of the blessedness of being chosen by God and the way we experience the good things of life with God.  It speaks of the hope we find in God’s righteous deeds and in God’s power.  It speaks of how the morning dawn calls forth songs of joy.

We find salvation, hope, strength, and joy in God alone.  We find all of this through a personal relationship with God.  In our personal relationship with God we find the salvation of our souls.  Through the power and blood of Jesus Christ we are made new every morning as we are washed clean from our transgressions.  In our personal relationship we find a God who hears our prayers, who has plans for our good, not for our harm.  In our personal relationship with God we many blessings.  True, some may be physical, but most are spiritual.  The goods things we experience are peace, comfort, and strength in the trials and joy, contentment, and happiness in the every day.

All if this indeed calls forth our praise!  Today may we praise the Lord our God for the many ways we will experience God in our lives.

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The Tools in Your Toolbox

In the “New Beginnings” series we have looked a lot at the call to share our faith. Peary developed the idea that once we come to know Christ within, then the journey becomes outward as we seek to serve Christ. Keihwan continued the concept with the idea that our call is to make a difference in our world, one person at a time, one moment at a time. Last Sunday we looked at Jesus being our new BFF. The overall idea was that we so grow in our relationship that Jesus is our best friend and that through this we share Him with those in our worlds.
The primary means through which we can share Jesus are prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. All of these are important to have in our ‘toolbox’ of faith. All of these need to be ready to be used. After all, a dull tool will not cut anything very efficiently. Similarly, a jumbled up and rambling story of faith will not be effective. So… which do you need the most practice at? Or, put another way… If you were presented with an opportunity to share Christ with someone desperately in need and I were to randomly draw one of these five out of a hat and you had to go with that means, which would you really hope I did not draw?

If you are like me, and I believe like most people, you were hoping that ‘witness’ was not the one drawn. So that is the one you and I need to work on, to hone into razor sharpness so that when presented with that opportunity, we can nail it.

The natural means through which most of us share our faith is presence. We try to live out our lives as a loving, caring person. We often back this up through our prayers that we follow up a situation with. Many share their faith through their gifts – be that time volunteering at church, through financial support of the church, as so on. And some are natural witnesses. Some are able to naturally work God and their faith into a conversation as easily as some of us talk about the weather!

But to wrap up, again, it is about being prepared to use whatever tool the opportunity requires. If someone is hungry and you have $5 in your pocket, don’t tell them you will pray for them. That’d be like using a screwdriver to cut down a tree! But if someone needs to hear your faith story at that point in their lives, you better be ready to share it. If they just need you to be there to listen, you better pull up a chair. Practice each of these means and be a willing and faithful servant. The world needs Jesus and we are the ones to bring Him to them.