10/27/21

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭33:6-9‬.

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me. It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.

Jeremiah is known by some scholars as “the weeping prophet” because many of his writings deal with the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity in Babylon. He preached that the children of Israel were bringing this upon themselves because they refused to listen and obey God. He became so strident in his attempts that he was eventually imprisoned by the king and only freed when Babylonian invaders raided the prison.

How often are we unwilling to hear bad news, voices that tell us we are on the wrong path? No one likes to be told we are sinning, but it is part of our call in Christ to share both the warning and the blessing of the Good News. In this life we will always have difficulty to deal with and only through faith and obedience can we do so successfully.

However, Jeremiah tells them (and us) that we are children of a forgiving God, who wants us back and will “pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me” (v. 8). God has plans for His people and for each of us individually. Accept the gift of forgiveness and live in His grace.

Loving Lord, we stumble and fall through our own obstinate disobedience. We ask Your pardon, restore us to full relationship with You to be productive disciples. Amen.

10/26/21

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭28:6-9‬.

Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. The Lord is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed. Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.

This psalm passage teaches many truths in a few verses. The familiar words “The Lord is my strength and shield” remind us God is there to protect us. The psalmist asks Him to “Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever”. It is this image that we apply to Jesus as our Good Shepherd, caring and guiding us.

The phrase “my heart trusts in Him and I am helped” tells us how important this relationship is to our lives. Unless we put our trust in the Lord, we are lost! God wants to be part of everything we do, but it is up to us to choose this connection.

God is always there and always ready to forgive us when we fall, and raise us back to a full relationship with Him. All we need to do is approach Him with repentance and accept the grace He offers us. God has a plan for each one of us, and we become part of the work of the kingdom when we say yes to His call.

Gracious God, we are humbled that You want to include us in Your continuing creation. Bless us to be the heralds of Christ, carrying the Good News everywhere. Amen.

10/25/21

Our scripture this morning is Psalm 119:17-24.

“Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me. My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, Who wander from Your commandments. Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe Your testimonies. Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.”

The psalmist speaks lovingly of God’s word to us, of how important it is to live by the guidance we are given. He feels blessed to have this instruction and so should we. We may think of scripture as God’s word, and it is, but as important as that is, there is much more to it. 

The opening of the Gospel of John tells us  “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). We understand from the next verses that this was Jesus, present at creation and an essential part of the process. John goes on to testify that nothing was made without Him.

God’s word is much more than just instructions to us on how to live. It is an essential part of our being, how we were made. It is how we are connected to God and each other. We can ignore scripture (at our peril) but we cannot deny the very presence of God in us.

Heavenly Father, thank You for choosing us to be part of Your plan for creation. Strengthen us by Your grace and send us into the world to share Your love. Amen.

10/24/21

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:46-52‬.

“Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.”

Today’s post is a little different. It’s part of an exercise at a retreat where we were asked to see ourselves as a character in the scripture and think about our response. This was mine.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know you’ll be really surprised to get a note from me since I haven’t been able to write for the last 10 years, but I have really amazing news – I can see again! Yes, miraculous is the only way to describe it but here’s what happened.  Jesus was coming down the road where I was sitting in my spot. How did I know it was Jesus? I was blind, not deaf! Anyway, I shouted to him, he stopped and asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted to see! Jesus said to me “Go, your faith has healed you” and right then I could see again! I know this is quite a shock, but there’s more – I’m going to Jerusalem with Jesus!  I promise I’ll pick up a new cloak the first chance I get.  You may think regaining my sight must have made me crazy, but I’ll tell you, once Jesus has touched you, you can’t just go back and sit in your spot anymore.

Your loving son, Bartimaeus

Gracious God, thank You for the gift of our Savior Jesus, who touched us all with Your love. Help us to go as He taught us to share the Good News with everyone. Amen.

10/23/21

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:1-5.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”

The first verse of this passage should guide us during the difficult times we are experiencing – “in a spirit of gentleness”, yet it seems as we face trouble we have only become more belligerent toward each other. We grumble about shortages, businesses not having enough help, and a variety of other things, but this is never productive and rarely do we feel better after complaining. This isn’t how God wants us to deal with the situation or our brothers and sisters.

The forces of evil know that by distracting us from the real issue we can be divided and kept from our kingdom work. Temptation is always lurking, and we are warned “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When we speak harshly of each other it gives evil a foothold.

We mustn’t let our anger at a situation make us forget our love for God and each other. When we “lose it” and act out against others we are acting against God’s will for us. Remember the blessings we have and the duty God calls us to fulfill.

Loving Lord, we face hard times and hard things. Help us not to become hard people because of it. Guide us and strengthen us, we pray. Amen.

10/22/21

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:18-21.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Reconciliation is one of those words we don’t use often. The dictionary defines it as “a restoration of friendly relations”, something our world could certainly use right now. Paul tells us that God “reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18), indicating not only are we reconnected to God through Christ but also to one another, and charged to help them reconnect to God as well.

Being reconciled to God through Christ means we have chosen to follow Him and do His will. This brings us a wonderful blessing, but also a responsibility to share the Good News with everyone. We are gifted and called, both as individuals and as the children of God to bring His light and truth to the world.

Paul calls us ambassadors for Christ, charged with the commission He gave to make disciples of all nations. It is not an easy task, but Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would be with us to guide and inspire our work. Remember that God chose us and loved us first; let us respond to this wonderful gift with all that is in us.

Gracious God, we are amazed that You call us to be part of the work of Your kingdom. Help us to connect with others that all the world may be saved through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10/21/21

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7-10.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

Paul explains how a life in Christ demonstrates our endurance against worldly trouble through the blessing we have received. He uses the phrase “treasure in jars of clay” to describe our earthly life. The jars are us, our human form and the treasure is God’s spirit breathed into us from the very beginning.

He goes on to say that the world does not understand or appreciate the gifts of God, wanting selfish things rather than love for Him and each other. There will always be conflict between people of the flesh and the people of God. We should expect opposition from those who do not believe, but it doesn’t change the charge we have to share the Good News.

If we demonstrate our faith through love, “so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (v. 10), others will see how Christ cares for us, even through earthly difficulties. God wants us to be connected to Him by our own choice, even when the way is hard. Our weakness as jars of clay shows the world the power of God.

Gracious God, we are thankful for Your mercy, forgiving us when we fall and lifting us back up to service through Christ our Lord. May we go in Your strength to share this blessing with all our brothers and sisters. Amen.

10/20/21

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-5‬.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

We hear much in scripture about taking up our cross and bearing our burden with Christ, that we will meet conflict and opposition. While this is all true, we sometimes forget that “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (v. 5). The Good News is not all hard times, it is a promise of eternal comfort for those who live their faith.

Our troubled world sometimes leads us to think that we must suffer in order to be good Christians. While Jesus said we would face difficulty, He didn’t say it would always be difficult. God is there for us when we face trials but He is also with us in our joy.

Paul writes that we must be ready to share the comfort God gives with everyone, especially “those who are in any affliction” (v. 4). God has gifted us with the ability to stand with those who suffer and it is our duty to be ready to support each other. The love of God calls us and enables us to comfort one another in difficult times.

Loving Lord, thank You for the gift of comfort, for ourselves and to share with all Your children. Bless us to be a blessing in Your creation. Amen.

10/19/21

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:20-25‬.

“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Paul writes about Abraham, saying “his faith was counted to him as righteousness”, because he believed God’s promise and obeyed. Paul teaches that those who hear God’s call and live accordingly are deemed righteous, not because of any rule set or human judgement. Abraham was faithful and listened to God.

We often think we are “good” because we don’t cause problems and don’t break the rules. However, are we listening for God’s voice in our lives? God wants more for us and from us than to simply “go with the flow” in the world.

Prayer is the way we communicate with God and He wants to hear from us all the time. We must also listen for His response and apply it in our lives. Abraham was called righteous because he listened and did God’s word. May we do the same, hearing and obeying always.

Gracious God, we are often distracted by the noise and chaos we create in our world. Help us to listen calmly, and then go into all the earth to share Your love. Amen.

10/18/21

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:23-27‬.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing. Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.”

This psalm reminds us of God’s blessing and care for us. He has a plan for everyone, and when we follow His way, we become part of His kingdom work. Our own ways will lead us to failure; only by God’s grace can we be saved.

The psalmist recounts a life lived with God and the good things that he has enjoyed by doing so. We sometimes fail to appreciate the blessings we have been given, being wrapped up in our vocations and the ways of the world. God calls us to slow down and remember the goodness of simple living.

Our joy is in the Lord, and only when we “turn from evil and do good” (v. 27), are we truly happy. God wants us to be part of what He is doing in His creation and to share His love with each other. We were made for this purpose.

Gracious God, we are grateful for all Your blessings to us. Help us to walk in Your ways and love one another as You first loved us. Amen.