Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Listen, Remember

Reading: Joshua 24: 1-3a

Verse One: “He summoned the elders, leaders, judges, … “This is what the Lord says..”

Joshua gathers up the leaders and officials of the twelve tribes of Israel – all the men in charge of the people.  In this farewell chapter Joshua wants to make clear to them the correct path forward.  Just as it has been for Joshua and for Moses before him, so too must God remain at the center of the lives of these leaders and those they lead.  So Joshua does not begin with his own words of wisdom, but with, “This is what the Lord says…”

God begins by reminding them of the story of Abraham.  It is a story they all surely know well but it is important to return and recall the stories often.  The story begins with “long ago” and connects to one of the most important people in their common history.  As God mentions Abraham, his wife Sarah certainly also comes to mind.  Both heard God’s promise that even at 100 they would have a baby.  The covenant would then be given: Abraham will be the father of a great nation.  Both Abraham and Sarah heard and lived out God’s promise in the covenant.  For the elders, leaders, judges, … the message is clear – listen to God and live out His covenant.

There is also a second message in our passage.  God reminds the people that they have worshiped foreign gods.  God connects not doing so with the promise of a new land.  For Abraham it was Canaan; for them it is the Promised Land.  In this warning against worshiping foreign gods, those gathered would recall the story of the golden calf and its consequences.  They would also recall the commandments brought down the mountain by Moses that told them to have no other gods or idols.  This message is also clear – love the Lord your God and Him alone.

These are both good reminders for us as well.  We live into the new covenant established in Christ Jesus, clinging to its promises as we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  May it be so each and every day.

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God Reality

Reading: Genesis 18:9-15 & 21:1-7

Verses 18:14 and 21:7 – Is anything too hard for the Lord?…. Yet I have born him a son in his old age.

Most of us live a very patterned life.  Sunday morning we go to church.  Wednesday night is youth group or a Bible study.  Monday through Friday morning we go to work.  Third Friday of the month is date night.  Football in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring.  Even within all of our routines are routines.  Worship is in the same order every Sunday.  First thing each morning is prayer time with a cup of coffee on the couch in the living room.

Within all of this we are called to live by faith.  But here too we like patterned or at least predictable.  Sure, we love for God to show up big on Sunday mornings in worship and we hope for His presence in our small group this Wednesday night.  We may even pray “your will be done” but hope it fits within our boxes.  We’d rather not have God show up unexpectedly as a coworker unburdens themselves at lunch.  We’d rather not have the Holy Spirit lead us to engage and love on that person we really don’t like so much.  All in all, even in our faith we prefer to stay well within our comfort zones.

Now we enter Abraham and Sarah’s story.  They are very old.  Her barrenness has caused much hurt and pain.  Years and years ago God promised Abraham descendant as numerous as the stars in the sky.  But it never came to be.  Now, as they near 100 years old, God again appears and says now is the time!  Sarah laughs.  You can’t blame her.  Her laugh is partly an expression of her deep sadness and her unrealized dream of a child.  It is also part honesty – really, a baby at 100?  Funny God, very funny.

God responds with a question: “Is anything too hard for the Lord”?  We all know the answer.  Nothing is impossible with God.  We know this to be true.  Yet most of the time we still prefer God in our boxes.  As Sarah becomes pregnant and begins to live into the reality of God, her mindset shifts.  She is experiencing the almost impossible through God’s power.  She is well outside her box.  You can picture her musing out loud as she asks the “who woulda thought” question.  Our passage closes with the reality, God’s reality: “Yet I have born him a son in his old age”.  Sarah fully understands now that nothing is impossible with God.  She knows this God reality.  May we live it each day as well.

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Trust and Being Faithful

Trust is an interesting concept.  Trust is something we build up over time and we base it upon our experiences with that person.  It is not universal – I may trust a common friend more than a mutual friend does. Once a trust is broken between friends, it is hard to get it fully back.  In our humanity, we struggle with fully giving our trust back to someone who violated it.

How much do you trust God?  How much do I?  Three years ago I entered full-time ministry.  I left teaching after 23 years.  I felt a call to ministry that had gradually built over many years and I finally surrendered to those whispers of God that I felt in my heart.  There was some trust involved – a lot.  But there were also some things that made the decision feel safe – same town and church we had been in for 20 years, tons of family and close friend support…

In Genesis 17 God comes to Abram and Sarai when they were 99 years old.  As they are ready to slide into retirement, God comes along and tells them they are going to start having babies.  He tells them to move to an unknown foreign land.  He tells them that they will be the father and mother of many nations and to change their names, accordingly, to Abraham and Sarah.  And they did.  Trust.  They trusted God completely.

I often wonder where my trust level is.  It is high?  Do I trust God completely?  Or is it low?  One doesn’t really know until put to the test.  God’s call to me was many nudges over a period of time, with a few human voices sprinkled in for good measure.  I never heard God’s voice.  But if a nudge came to move far away, to a distant place, to minister – how much would I trust?  If a nudge came to leave all I know to enter the mission field – where would my trust level be?

I think that if I had a real conversation with God, even if only one-sided, that I would go without question.  But then I wonder…  I hope I am found faithful.  We all do.  Lord God, make me faithful.

Scripture reference: Genesis 17: 1-7 and 15-16