Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Christ’s Love

Reading: John 13: 31-35

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another”.  For Jesus, these were not just words.  He lived them out each and every day with the disciples and the stranger alike.  The love Jesus exhibited was not passive; it sought out engagement and connection.  His love was not just for those that loved Him; it was also for those who opposed and persecuted Him and even for those who betrayed and crucified Him.  Jesus’ love was not given out with the expectation of something in return or with a thought of self-promotion; it was given freely, without any strings attached and with absolutely no consideration of self.

How this seems so against human nature!  In our day and age of ” just do it” and living for pleasure in this moment, Jesus’ love is radical and unexpected.  When we share His love with one who is in need, a common question is ‘Why?’. Another is ‘what do you want from me?’. Both are typical of people living in only the world’s culture and not ever experiencing the love of Christ.  When one explains that we are seeking to love others as Jesus first loved us, it is the beginning of understanding or at least questioning.  It is perhaps the beginning of a journey towards Christ.

In our world so filled with sin and evil, being this example of Christ’s love is so important.  For many, the self-pleasing and instant gratification type of love is all that they know.  It is essential that as followers of Jesus Christ, we abundantly offer self-giving and eternity impacting love.  It is a love that draws others into itself.  This day may we seek ways to offer Christ’s love to our world so in need.

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Offering the Gift

After His resurrection, Jesus entered heaven.  As the unblemished One, He sits at God’s side.  In that role He “appears for us in God’s presence”.  The crucified Son offers His self-giving love on our behalf to bring us forgiveness of our sins.  His death on the cross was a ‘once-for-all’ sacrifice.

God is holy, pure, truth.  Sin is far from God.  God could not even look upon His own Son on the cross as Jesus bore the sins of the world.  And God is love.  Out of His love for Jesus and for us, the crucified Christ was made the risen Christ.  He passed through death and into eternal life, providing a means for us to do the same.  Through this ultimate act of self-giving, sacrificial love, Jesus opened the gates of heaven wide.

In doing this, however, Jesus did not remove sin from this world.  Sin is a part of our human condition.  It must remain so if we are to be able to choose Jesus.  And choose we must.  Believing cannot be forced.  Faith is an act of our free will.  In order to walk the path that Jesus set as our example, we must have the ability to exercise our will and to daily choose this path.  This is necessary to offer ourselves in sacrificial, other-centered service to others.  If it were forced it would not be sacrificial or self-giving.  Just as with Jesus Christ, there is a cost.  We give of ourselves to serve another.

The gift Jesus gave on the cross and as He entered heaven is a great gift.  This day, may I offer what I can of this gift to all I meet, as Christ lives and shines in me.

Scripture reference: Hebrews 9: 24-28

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God Partner

God is a giver.  God is a creator.  God calls us to partner with Him, to work along with Him, and to be faithful to Him in how we give and create.

God, as creator of life, gives us children as a gift and as our heritage.  Within the miracle of birth, we have a role to play.  Together with God we collaborate and cooperate, but it is God alone who plants the divine spark within us.  Then as parents, teachers, mentors, and as fellow Christians, we work together with God to nurture this spark into a life lived for God.

God, as creator of new life, gives us opportunities to be in ministry to those around us.  Again, we do this in collaboration and cooperation with God’s guidance and efforts.  Just as we seek to bring our children up in the faith, we also seek to share our faith with others.  In our work and social circles we are called to respond to the opportunities God provides.  Sometimes this is to bring healing or hope; sometimes to bring encouragement or blessings; sometimes to build up or to help; or, sometimes to simply be present or to listen.

God prompts us through the Holy Spirit to recognize and respond to His activity in our lives and in the world.  When we do so, we partner with God to bring and make His divine love real in the world.  Through us, our colleagues and friends can begin to experience self-giving love – both God’s and ours – as their initial call to faith or as a way to again begin to walk with God in their life.  In this, our role is vital.  Lord, make me willing and obedient to Your call today.

Scripture reference: Psalm 127

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Part of God’s Story

Jeremiah 29:11 promises us that God has plans for each of us, plans for good.  God also allowed free will into the world so we each have the choice to live into God’s plans or to follow our own plans.  For any of us, we seek to live our lives as a child of God but we also venture down our own roads from time to time.  As we mature and grow in our faith, we learn to stay attuned to God’s plans and purposes for our lives more and more of the time.

The Bible, or God’s story, is filled with ordinary people doing small things to remain faithful who are used in extraordinary ways.  Today’s story features two widows and a farmer.  Through their simple acts of self-giving love they become part of the lineage of Jesus.  Another story features a shepherd boy, the youngest in the family, who slays the giant and eventually becomes king.  One of my favorites is about the fishermen, tax collector, .. who become the disciples and come to change the world forever.  Each of these ordinary people became part of God’s story and are a part of our story as well.

God also calls each of us to be a part of His ongoing story.  Each and every day God brings before us opportunities to serve others with self-giving love and to share our story with others.  Sometimes the small things we do or the little pieces of our story that we share make a big difference in another’s life.  Many times we do not know about this affect or impact.  At other times the whisper of the Holy Spirit is harder to hear or we find it easier to ignore.  We must be attuned to the whispers and nudges and must seek to live into the will of God.  We must be open to those whispers and nudges even when our first reaction is to ignore them or to think, ‘Really?’  The Lord requires of us the same things  he did of Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, David, te disciples… – trust and obedience.  We must remember that God has us each in the palm of His hand.  Lord, make us willing and obedient to the call to be your loving servant today.

Scripture reference: Ruth 3: 1-5 and 4:13-17