Life!

Day 297: John 5:19-30

I believe that one of the biggest flaws in human nature is the desire to judge one another.  The reason is because as humans, we like to ‘justify’ our actions.  It’s difficult to admit that we are wrong.  It’s hard to see ourselves as unjustified for the way that we often behave towards others.  Or, it could be because we like to think of ourselves as a little better than others.  However, there is only one judge and that is Jesus Christ.

In John 5:19-30, Jesus tells us that He is the only judge.  The Good News is that we have the opportunity to pass judgment and enter into eternal life.  And, to make it even better, this doesn’t have to wait until we die, but can happen right now!  In this passage, Jesus tells us how we can have this LIFE right now!

Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life.  Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (v.24-25).  In other words, try to remember that for Jesus, death is the same as sin.  This is important because it changes everything! 

If we confess our sin, we have no sin.  Our God who is just and merciful will cleanse us from our sin – wipe it away, which breaks the barrier – tears down the walls between us and Him!  Once that barrier is gone, there is nothing to be judged for!  We receive life!  A life free from judgement!  A life that will never end! 

So you see, for us Christians, the Law – The Ten Commandments, is there to guide us and help lead us in the direction God wants each of us to go; however, it’s not why we have the Law.  The Law is there to convict us.  It convicts us because we fail to have the ability to follow it.  Our confession, our repentance, lands us right into God’s amazing grace! 

Before judging others, I say judge yourself first.  Hear the Word of God to repent.  Eternal life is right here – right now – at your fingertips!

Let us pray…Gracious God, we give you thanks for your Son, Jesus Christ, who made it possible for us to come to you with our confession.  Take our sin and wash it away so that we can have a life in you!  We pray this in your name.  Amen.

A Glimmer of Hope!

The Bible in a Year: Day 296: Psalm 8:1-9

It feels like I have been seeing so much suffering lately.  The homeless walk our streets looking for food, a place to sleep, and even just the desire to be able to get a shower and put some clean clothes on.  I’ve watched our very own lay on their deathbeds, praying for the Lord to take them.  And, what seems to hurt the worst, is to witness the pain of a friend who has lost her dog. 

In Psalm 8:1-9, the Psalmist looks at the world through a different lens.  I am reminded through his words how much God loves us, despite our suffering and all the bad things that happen to us in our lifetime.  The Psalmist states:

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars that you have established,

what are human beings that you are mindful of them,

mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,

and crowned them with glory and honor.  (vv.3-5)

Just think about this for a moment…God can do anything and have everything.  He could have chosen to create us, but then decide that we are just sinful people and do away with us.  But God doesn’t.  Instead, God sends His Son, Jesus Christ, to live among us in the deep and dirty of the world just so we can have a relationship with our God.  If anything fathoms me, that does!  Why in the world would God love me that much?  It’s just too good to be true!  However, it is true and that is what is so amazing! 

There is so much suffering in our world, no doubt.  However, this Psalmist chooses to focus and point out the beauty in the world that God created just for you and me!  I cannot but to wonder if that isn’t what God wants us to do.  God knows our pain.  God knows how much we hurt.  God knows everything about us.  I think what we forget sometimes how great God really is and what is in store for us beyond anything that we can imagine!

In all honesty, if suffering means that I get to experience the life God has waiting for me, then Lord Jesus, bring it on!

Let us pray…Gracious God, we do suffer in so many different ways.  Help us to see, not only your Glory, but also the glory and honor that you bestow upon us because You love so much.  Thank you for Your Son who came to be with us and hang on the cross on our behalf.  Lord, we do love you so much.  Amen.

You Gave Me a Forever!

Bible in a Year: Day 295: Job 14:1-12

Did you know that if you were to live to the age of 75 years old, it calculates that you only have 27,375 days on this earth?  Believe me!  I did the math twice because it just doesn’t seem like much time to be here!  And, of course that is only if we are lucky enough to live to the age 75.  However, there will be those who will have the opportunity to live longer than 75 years.  In any case, when there is a number of days versus a number of years, it becomes a reality that indeed, our days are numbered!

Job, in the Old Testament, was a righteous man and always did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.  The devil is after him and God is very aware of what is going on.  Job’s health, family, livestock, and livelihood have all been taken away from him.  The devil’s goal is to get Job to submit to him and turn away from God.  While Job never does submit to the devil, he is now having a pity party.  I really can’t say that I blame him!  I most likely would also! 

Job talks about how a tree, even though may be dying, but gets water, it stands a chance of surviving and coming back to life.  However, Job then states how that is not so with humans.  He states, “So mortals lie down and do not rise again” (v.12).  What Job doesn’t know is how Jesus Christ came and changed all of that!  That through the waters of our baptism, we have life!  We don’t just lie down and it’s over!  We have a new life with our Lord and Savior – not just when our days are out-numbered here, but also, once and for all in our eternal life! 

Job never turns away from God.  In fact, at every turn, Job finds a way to glorify God.  Can you imagine how Job would have proclaimed Christ, if he had just known?!  And so, for me, I am at the age of 58.  If I am lucky enough to live to the age of 75, I only have 6,205 days left to do the work of the Lord.  Anything over that, I will consider gravy and a blessing.  However, let’s be real here – none of us what tomorrow holds.  Therefore, there is no time to throw a pity party!  Every second counts!

Let us pray…Gracious God, our days are numbered, and You are the only one that knows the beginning and the end that we have to live on this earth.  We know with you that our lives do not ever end, but the time we have to tell others about you is numbered.  Help us and guide us to do your will, to be a good neighbor, and to open our hearts to your word.  We love you so much.  Amen.

Be Blessed!

40-Days of Prayer: Day 18 – June 18, 2019

Matthew 5: The Beatitudes

I think about heaven “A Lot.”  I often ask God if ‘my’ heaven could be made just for me.  I want lots of really fattening deserts – because I won’t have to worry about my health or getting fat; I want all the people I love so much to be with me; and I want every dog and cat I had in my lifetime to be there where I can continue to love on them. 

However, I read the Beatitudes, and I get worried.  Wonder if I don’t get to heaven?  I mean, have I fought for justice like I should?  Am I hungry enough for God’s Word?  Am I even physically hungry?   Do I stand up for Jesus in front of others who put Him down?  Have I even really been persecuted for boldly proclaiming the Word of God as I am called to do?  Jesus’ blessings are for those who are weak, lowly, hungry, and for those who put themselves out there for justice and righteousness for all people!  In all honesty, I feel unworthy of these blessings that Jesus has bestowed upon me!

I wonder then, if that isn’t the point here.  Do any of us deserve the blessings that God gives us?  Not really!?  I have been accused of asking for more in my congregations.  I always say, “We can do more!”  When is it enough, they ask?  “Never,” I say!  We are not done until our day is done!  There is always more work to be done in the name of Jesus Christ!  There are those who are hungry physically and spiritually.  There are those who are heart- broken from the loss of loved ones.  There are those who suffer from terminal illnesses.  There are women and people of color who are treated unfairly and need justice!  The list just goes on and on! 

None of us deserve God’s amazing grace and blessings that He gives us each day.  However, for those of us who are able, are called to reach out to those who need the loving arms of Jesus Christ.  Knowing that our salvation is at hand, do we have the courage to extend God’s blessings to others?  Let us pray for that!

Gracious God, you have blessed us in so many ways.  That is not to say that many of us are suffering, need justice, cry in pain for those we love, and are physically and spiritually hungry.  We are grateful for the blessings that you give us.  In the meantime, please help us to extend your blessings to others.  Give us courage to fight for justice in the midst of persecution.  Help us to feed those who are hungry and ache for your Word.  Send us out into our communities – and take all our fear from us.  Jesus, our Lord and Savior, we love you so much.  Amen.

Only One!

Day Two:  June 2, 2019

Ephesians 4:4-6:  “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

My mom always used to say, “Wouldn’t it be so boring if we all liked to do the same thing and have the same interests?”  It’s true, right!  If we were all made the same, the same gifts and abilities, the same interests, there really would be no desire to be who we are – because everyone else would already being doing it! 

I believe that God made us all different for a very good reason!  It takes every one of us to do the work we are called to do through our Lord.  The church is the place where we come together to use our gifts, talents, and money for the good of the community and the world!  But, to make it even more difficult, Jesus calls us to be One with Him!  How in the world do we do that?

In Ephesians 4:4-6, St. Paul states, “…just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism…”  If you are wondering how in the world can we be ONE – not only with each other, but also with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (who are also only ONE!) then this is your answer in Ephesians 4:4-6! 

I believe that it is our baptism that brings us together!  Our baptism – with water and the Word of God seals the deal!  Our baptism puts us in a whole different category from the rest of the world!  Read the book of Acts.  Thousands were baptized every single day as they became One with the Lord and with each other!  It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit brings us together in such profound and exciting ways! 

Therefore, our prayer today is to pray for those who have been baptized and for those whose hearts are being pulled towards baptism.  We should also always pray for those who will be baptized! 

Let us pray.  Dear Lord Jesus Christ, through our baptism of the Water and The Word – in the name of God the Father, Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, we are UNIFIED!  With each other so closely knit together, show us how to be bold in proclaiming YOU – the Christ Crucified, died, and risen for the sake of the World!  Open our hearts and minds to Your Will – Bring it on!  Show us the Way!  Amen

Courageous in Faith

40-Days of Prayer: Day 17:  June 17, 2019

Matthew 4: “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

One of the best Christmas gifts I ever received from my husband was a membership to the YMCA.  At the time, we had two little boys and I was a “stay-at-home” mom.  Having this membership to the YMCA gave me freedom!  They had a nursery that my boys loved going and playing with the other kids and I loved to attend the aerobics classes that were offered.  For that one hour or so, I got to be with other adults, exercise, and release my stress of being a mom of two little boys.  As it ended up, I loved the aerobics so much that I went to train to become an aerobics instructor.

I remember being petrified as I thought about how in the world was, I going to stand up there in front of others, jump around, and tell them the next steps! 

And so, as I think about Jesus in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights – no food, no water, and no direction – how in the world was, he going to be able to survive and withstand the temptation of food, power, and the ability to save himself that the devil so graciously offered him?  But, notice how Jesus fights the temptations.  He knows His Father and He knows Scripture – God’s Word!  I wonder if each of us, when faced with temptations in our life, would have the relationship with our God and knowledge of God’s Word to pull us through the worst of our tempters? 

As I remember how scared I was to get up in front of others to teach aerobics, the fear subsided when I knew who I was going to be teaching and I had the knowledge and ability to do my job.  Once I had been through training, I had the confidence to teach other’s aerobics! 

Jesus’ trial in the desert are the trials that you and I face every single day!  However, if we do not know God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Word of God, then we cannot successfully get through our day with the success that God calls us to!  I believe that the only way to be courageous in our faith is to have a deep and loving relationship with our Lord and know the Word of God inside and out!  If you want to know what Jesus would do, then know God and God’s Word!  That is how, as Christians, that you and I can stand courageously against the foes and temptations of this world! 

Let us pray…Gracious God, we pray that the revelation of knowing how to be courageous in faith is through knowing you – and knowing the Word of God through Bible Studies, worship on Sunday mornings, and Sunday School classes.  We pray that by deepening our relationship with you, we can have the ability to stand against any temptations that come into lives.  We pray this in your name.  Amen.

On a Jet Plane!

If you don’t know your destination, how can you know your itinerary?

40-Days of Prayer: Day One

Day One:  June 1, 2019

ON A JET PLANE!

John 14:4-5:  And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

A dear friend of my husband, called Bob one day and told him that he had terminal cancer.  His days were numbered.  While he was only in his 50’s, he felt safe and secure in his future with Christ.  He told Bob, “I think it will be like getting on a Jet plane, sitting in first class, with Jesus as the pilot and taking me to the most glorious place I could ever possibly imagine!

Just the other day, I had someone come to me and say, “Thank you for not being so hard on “Doubting Thomas!”  He went on to say that he felt like he was the doubting Thomas!  Well, I give thanks for Thomas also because without him, all of us would be wishing someone was bold enough to ask Jesus the hard questions!

Thomas tells Jesus, “How in the world can we possibly know where you are going?  And, how can we possibly know the way?”  And, Jesus responds, “stick with me!  Hang onto my presence while I am still with you (physically), to my Word, and to my community.  Jesus is committed to giving His disciples – you and me – directions to the most important of all destinations!  I believe it is not just about where we are going, but that who will be there!

My husband’s friend passed away about 6 months ago.  While he knew it would be hard for those he left behind, he was excited about his destination.  God planned out the whole itinerary of his destination.  Indeed, he flew first class!  And, so will we!

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, you know our every thought, every worry, and every fear.  Help us to be confident in our future.  Help us to know where we are going – to be with You!  With our security and growing faith in you, we can know your call for us here in our church, the community and the world!  Lead us and guide us into your will.  Amen.