Don’t Doubt? …But There’s So Many Storms!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Aug 9, 2020; Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Job 38:4-18; Psalm 18:1-9; Romans 10:5-17; Matthew 14: 22-33

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:25-31

Seriously… WHY DO WE DOUBT GOD?

We can see over and over and over again in scripture and in our own lives how God is always present and faithful, so why do we doubt him? We read about the Israelites in the Old Testament and can easily judge them for their lack of faith. Then we see in the above passage how Peter, with Christ right in front of him, begins to doubt due to the storm around him. Peter took his eyes off the Lord and let his surrounding circumstances take precedence over Christ’s ability and faithfulness. Oh, Peter!? Oh, Israelites!? O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

But are we any different? Oh no, don’t fool yourself. No, we are no different, not at all! Do we stand firm with our eyes focused on him when the least bit of a storm enters our life? Or do we see the pain and unknown and danger all around us and begin to sink? Do we feel we need to know all the whys of this sinful world, before we will believe, as if God owes us an explanation? If so, stop! Stop looking around. Look straight into the eyes and heart of Jesus. Go to him. You don’t need to see him for him to be with you. Like the Centurion, all Jesus has to do is give the command and it is accomplished. Do you question why such terrible things are going on in the world, with creation and other precious, innocent souls? You’re not alone. I do too. But these things are unfortunately no surprise, because the depth of sin in humankind reaches to our core. Oh they most certainly cause great anguish in us.

 Does God desire such actions and treatment of his beloved by his beloved? Absolutely not. But it is the result of a sin-filled, dying world. Are we surprised that “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5)? We shouldn’t be because God told us that is what sin has done to humankind. He also told us it grieves him as well. But that doesn’t mean he has left us. In fact on the contrary, despite what may come our way, God has taken care of our ultimate outcome through Christ’s death and resurrection that “after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:26) But, it is seeing how these sinful inclinations are exhibited throughout the world, through the events of nature as described as the end times, and through the storms of our own lives, that we become like the Israelites, like Peter. We take our eyes off Jesus, and let the worry and fear, sadness and pain pull us down and away from the Lord. Don’t let it. Face the Lord. Call out for help, just as Peter did. But do not be drawn down into its depths, to be swallowed up. Don’t let Satan win. For just as Christ reached down to Peter when he called, so he will reach down to you.

We can’t know why things are the way they are. We don’t know why God allows some people, especially children to be victims at the hands of others. We may not understand why we have the storms in our own lives. But in all things, we must stay focussed on the one who does know. The one who will get us through. And we can let him use us to be his instruments of change, the tools of love that saves, protects, and loves one wounded and lost soul at a time, even in the midst of our own storms. So don’t take your eyes off Jesus. Don’t doubt. Grab on to him. Then reach out and let him use you to be his saving grasp on others who are drowning.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me stay focussed on you so that “My eyes are ever on [you], for only [you] will release my feet from the snare.” (Psalm 25:15) There are so many storms around me and that I see happening to others in this world. Be with each and every soul. Make your presence, peace, and love known in each life that is hurting, every victim. Let them know of your salvation so that even in the end their eyes can be fixed on you and the inheritance you have waiting for them. Help me stay focussed on you. Help me Lord. Help us all. In Jesus’ name. AMEN!

Lord, I Lift Up My Children

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Today’s devotion is more of a prayer of my heart for my children. Just as Isaiah pleads and prays for Israel and their relationship with God, I too pray for my children and their faith in their Lord and Saviour, as well as, my continued role in proclaiming my trust in the Lord through word and deed. I do not believe I am alone. Therefore, let us top up our coffee and lift our children, their lives, and their love for Christ up to the Lord…

Readings for Aug 2, 2020; Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 55:1-5; Psalm 136:1-9; Romans 9:1-5 (6-13); Matthew 14: 13-21

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters. . .
 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.
Isaiah 55:1a, 2-3a

I love when my children and grandchildren come over for a visit and a meal. There is nothing more heartwarming than having all my children and their families chatting and laughing, and sharing their lives together with us. Before their arrival I organize the food and prepare everything that can be done ahead of time. In particular, I do my best to prepare those dishes that my children particularly love; those things that have earned ‘my mom’s is the best’ label.  It is with these dishes that you hear the ‘Mmmm… always so good, Mom!’ ‘Thanks Mom!’, or ‘Is there any leftover that we can take with us?’

Well, just as our children have grown up on the foods they have come to love, so too have our children been raised on the food for their souls, the knowledge of God’s love for them and Christ’s sacrifice for their salvation. Now as adults, they are learning to create their own meals, and feed their own bodies, both physically and spiritually. Therefore, when we are together, it is my prayer that my children are encouraged to seek the Lord through our words and deeds, just as they come to enjoy the company and then thoroughly devour the food which they receive. May they find in us God’s word in action, and ingest those things that can guide their footsteps, fill their lives, and assure them of Christ’s love and salvation. May they see our love and trust in the Lord and thus for one another, our mutual respect in our marriage, our sinfulness but yet our desire to be forgiven and forgiving, and to seek Christ in all we do, now and for eternity. So just as their bodies are fed with the finest of foods when they come to spend time with us, may they desire to take home the richest of fare for their souls as passed on from us to them.

Yes, it is so easy to get caught up in striving, and in doing. Recreational time is at a minimum and yet our society and Satan’s whispers can keep us focussed on being so busy that the last thing we feel we can do is take time to worship, to be with the family of God, and to feed on his word. Yet that is exactly what our souls and our lives need. It is in the Lord that we find peace, satisfaction and purpose. Without him we are chasing after the wind; always searching but never obtaining. Therefore may we, parents of young and adult children, continue to seek the Lord and be examples of heeding Christ’s call to come to him, that our children may live by that example, be encouraged in their faith, trust in God’s love for them, and then raise their children in “the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Oh Lord, help us to do this, and to trust in this promise. AMEN and AMEN!

PRAYER: Dear Lord, You have promised that as our children are raised in your truth and knowledge, that they will not turn from it when they are old. Therefore, I pray for your presence, the Holy Spirit, in their lives. Help them to see and seek you in their days as they work and play and care for themselves and their families. Help us, parents and grandparents, to be your hands, voice and hearts of love for them as they continue to be your beloved children. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Wicked? Righteous? Neither? … You Sure?

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for July 26, 2020; Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Deuteronomy 7:6-9; Psalm 125; Romans 8:28-39; Matthew 13: 44-52

This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:49-50)

Woe! As a believer in a higher power, a Creator and spiritual overseer of my soul, this passage can and should be a scary passage. As I mentioned last week, a lot of people believe in a higher power, believe in a god, believe in life after death, believe in a heaven and a hell. And the above verse, along with many of its adjoining verses make it very clear that there will be a separation of the wicked and the righteous, the removal of the wicked from his presence and their placement in hell, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Woe, that’s sobering stuff. No, that’s downright scary stuff.

I would guess if you didn’t believe in a higher power than you wouldn’t be reading this. But, if by chance you don’t believe and you just stumbled across this devotion. If by chance you believe this world is all you have so you can live however you want with no regard to a possible life eternal, either in a glorious realm or in a torturous hell, then go on living just as you are. But let me ask; what if by chance you are mistaken? What if there is a heaven, and a glorious life eternal with the God that created you to be exactly whom he desired you to be and who loves you beyond your wildest dreams? A God who desires you to be reunited with him forever? What if you’re wrong and you’ve just denied yourself a life of peace and joy and glory not just in eternity, but even right now? Oh, and not only that; but despite your denial, you are faced with the alternative weeping and gnashing of teeth for all of eternity, because it is either one or the other: the righteous or the wicked? What if you’re wrong?

But then, could it be even more horrifying in knowing there is an after life, and it is either in Heaven with the one and only God, or in Hell with the father of lies and all his demons. As a sinful human being I fall short. I am not righteous. No one is righteous, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) and I am told, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) This fact should scare all people. The fact that we can try all we like on our own to meet God’s requirements that would label us righteous, but we will never ever, ever be able to fulfill such requirements on our own. We are lost and dead to sin and no different than those who have chosen not to believe in the one and only God.

However, the difference is this; it is in knowing and acknowledging our helplessness to redeem ourselves before God that He- the Almighty, the Alpha & Omega, the First and the Last, the Great I AM- clothes us in his righteousness. For our righteousness is accomplished through Christ’s sacrifice. He has done it and it is ours. In fact, “this righteousness is given through faith inJesus Christ to all who believe, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22a, 24, italics added) Our righteousness is not dependent upon ourselves, but on Christ. Therefore, in believing in Christ, our home is with the one and only God, and our relationship with him is restored now and for eternity. There is no fear of our destiny, of hell, or an eternity of weeping or gnashing of teeth. There is no fear of working hard enough or ‘doing’ enough. In Christ, we wear his robe of righteousness, and no one or nothing can change that: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35,37)

Prayer: Dear God, no matter how hard I try, it is clear I am a sinner. I do not deserve to be counted among the righteous, for my sin has rendered my being ‘wicked’ as scripture states. But thank you for loving me so much that Christ came down to this earth and obtained your required righteousness on my behalf. You arranged my ransom. You paid my penalty. And then you laid upon me your righteousness. For this I am ever indebted to you. Thank-you! In Jesus’ name alone I pray. AMEN!

Seeking The One & Only God

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for July 19, 2020; Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 44:6-8; Psalm 119:57-64; Romans 8:18-27; Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43

“This is what the Lord says— . . . I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? . . . Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” Isaiah 44: 6-7a, 8b

Do you fervently believe in God? Do you seek the guidance and favour of the Almighty? Well, you are not alone.

There are many people of many religions that seek their god. Yet, there is one God. Some people generalize everything and proclaim that all religions are the same. However, from our above passage in the Old Testament – writings from which many religions believe is God in history- we are told that there is one God. So why so many religions, so many beliefs?

If God is God, the one and only, then the issue must fall on humankind. And really that makes sense. As in many aspects of our lives, people walk a path of stubbornness, or a path of trying to make sense of things that are not sensible, or see God through the hypocrisy of humankind and so change their view of God to address the hypocrisy. At any point in time, there was an origin of each religion, an origin that included the thoughts of humans about God. So over centuries and centuries, we have a world of many religions and of many gods, all of whom say their god is God. Yet, there is only one God, as our above reading states. To me, this is mind boggling?

I am not a scholar nor theologian, but this I know: the one and only God loves each and everyone of us. He loves you with a love beyond comprehension. He created you intimately. He is a jealous God for your attention. However, I also know that he hates evil and sin. He is a God that expects perfection and righteousness, for he is perfection. Weighing our good deeds against our sin does not cut it. All the ‘doing’ – I do this and I do that, I go to church/mass/temple/etc. and I’m a nice person- doesn’t cut it. One little tiny sinful thought or selfish act, bars us from him. In fact many religions address this connection between humankind’s sinfulness and their atonement with God. It seems there are many religions that have many laws and rules that permit humankind to make atonement for themselves. But in all of them, for all of humankind, there is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to reunite with the one and only God, the first and the last, the great I AM. Truly I ask those whom are attempting such justification, “Do you feel justified? Do you feel redeemed? Do you ever feel your ‘doing’ has made you right with God? Is he happy with you yet?”

Let’s be honest, all you have to do is truly, and honestly, look within yourself. Put away the pride and see the depth of sin within you. You and I cannot escape it. But the one true God, Creator, knows our sin – yours and mine- and our inability to obtain atonement on our own. He understands the depth of sin in each of us and desires us to lay it before him. There is nothing in/about us that is surprising to him.

Therefore, I challenge all people of all religions to seek the one and only God in his truth. Ask him to guide you in his truth. Do not just go to your god to help you in your trials, to fulfil the requirements of religion, but go to him to truly know him. Seek him in order to know the God of Creation – the Creator; to see the one and only God in history through the Old Testament. Yes, ask him to reveal his true self in prayer and seek him earnestly. Then, and only then, be prepared and open for him to answer you and to reveal himself to you in his truth. For he will answer. God is faithful and merciful and he will answer. Just look at the Etheopian in Acts 8 of the Bible or Cornelius in Acts 10.

For there is one God and he has told us his plans for humankind- for you and me, for all peoples of every nation around the world. There is no difference. Remember, he says to all of us, “I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? . . . Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44: 6-7a, 8b) Therefore, as you believe that God exists, then seek the one and only God in his truth, and he will show himself to you. He loves you. He has redeemed you. And he will draw you to himself. He is faithful and he will do it. In humility and sincerity pray to him that he may be found and be ready for Him to answer.

Prayer: Dear God, the one and only God, guide my heart to know you in your truth. Forgive me my sin, and if I am blinded right now of your truth, please make it clear to me. Forgive my stubbornness and open my heart to know the depth of love you have for me and the plan to bring me back to you despite my own inability and sin. Let me know you, the one and only God. AMEN!

There’s Power In Each Droplet

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for July 12, 2020; Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 55:10-13; Psalm 65:9-13; Romans 8:12-17; Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing. Psalm 65:9-13

Last night we had a downpour. I sat and watched as the water pelted the earth in sheets. Each tiny droplet, teamed with other tiny droplets, affected the face of creation all around me. Now following the downpour, I see the grass is greener, the flowers are brighter, and the fields seem fuller. Besides the beauty that those waters brought, I also see weak and unstable roadways washed out, berms collapsed, and ridged, sharp ledges of dunes smoothed out. Everywhere those individual droplets landed, the earth responded. Either positively or negatively, the earth was changed.  A good watering not only brings God’s creation to life, but it also refines and re-sculpts that which is weak and either puts it in a state of greater strength to withstand the storms or annihilates it altogether. God’s rain is transforming, convicting, life changing and life giving.

With these visions of how powerful, life changing, and life giving rain, and water in general, is to God’s creation, let us compare it to the life changing and life giving power of God’s word. Yes, each and every person onto whom each droplet of Scripture falls, is affected. In fact Isaiah tells us just that: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the
sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:10-11)

Can’t you see it now? Can’t you see how God’s living word gives you strength to stand taller, shine brighter, live freer, in the same way that those rain droplets affect each individual flower in the gardens and stalk in the fields? His word is food for the soul and his Spirit springs to life in you, like the purest spring, to grow strong and brilliant; a beauty for others to see. Therefore, if you are regularly showering in His word, rejoice and shine brightly.

Or perhaps, can’t you see how God’s word is refining, redefining, and re-sculpting you as it washes away the weak or rough edges of sin in your life? How it guides you to be more Christ-like and to see him in all that you are and do, as you let go more and more of yourself and trust in his guiding and perfect ways. If you are being refined, continue to plunge into his deep ocean of truth and guidance, love and grace as poured out in His word.

Or finally, when confronted with a watering of His word, do you feel the heaviness and its weight of inhalation upon you? Do you feel you cannot live under the load of sin with which his word confronts you? Do you clearly see the depth of your own sin and unworthiness to stand? If you feel the need to avoid God’s blanketing waterfall for fear of being crushed, do not be afraid. Do not build up a dam, but instead, let his word gently wash over you. Let His words, and the Holy Spirit bring to light the areas in your life that may need to be demolished. Is it addiction? Is it chronic temptation? Is it feelings of unworthiness? Lowliness? Lonliness? Whatever the crushing weight that His word seems to have upon you, know that you haven’t heard enough. You need to hear more.

The word He desires you to absorb into the depths of your soul is this, “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17) He does not desire to crush and condemn you. …but remove your sin from you. To remove it from the inside out. Oh yes, that is how much God loves you. He sent Jesus to redeem you. To take the heaviness of that annihilating sin you feel and wash it away, and cover you with the purest of coverings. Therefore, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18-19) In Christ, it is your sins that are annihilated, you just need to stop clinging to them. But cling to the one who has come to save your life through his redeeming blood. He has accomplished it. You just need to let go and repent of those anchors that weigh down and crush you, then let his love, grace and forgiveness wash over you.

No matter what, just know that God’s word in your life will accomplish that which he desires it to accomplish. And his ultimate desire is for you to see yourself as his redeemed child; to know that the heavy penalty of your sins has been paid for; to believe that Christ accomplished it once and for all, because he loves you. Then you too can “shout for joy and sing!” (Psalm 65:13b)

Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive me my sins. Take away the crushing load that they bear upon me and let your word wash over me to free me from the crushing burden of sin, to re-sculpt me to be more Christ-like, and to feed me in order to shine your brilliance in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Rejoice! Hope’s Restored!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for July 5, 2020; Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Zechariah 9:9-12; Psalm 145:1-14; Romans 7:14-25a; Matthew 11: 25-30

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. Zechariah 9:9,10b-12

As I write this devotion, it is the day that my son and his beautiful bride were to be married. Despite it being a beautiful day with ideal temperatures and colourful flowers and bushes all around, it is a somber day for our family. And it has made me think of all the people around the world whose lives and future plans have been put on hold or lost because of the turmoil that the pandemic has brought upon us.

It is sad to see our young vibrant people brought low, having their energy and anticipations harnessed; to see our older folks’ desires subdued or snuffed out totally.  I guess we could ignore reality and pretend there is nothing to be concerned about, as some are doing, and live life without caution or care for ourselves or others. For these individuals, perhaps such joyous occasions are still being considered and celebrated. But at what cost?

On the other hand, for those individuals, like my son and future daughter-in-law, who are taking care of themselves and loved ones by obeying authorities and postponing, indefinitely, life changing events, it is a time of sadness, and unquenchable hope. …Or so it seems.

The words of Zechariah are words for us now. They are for us to hear during these day of bondage and isolation. They are words of hope, words of victory, words of abundance. They are promises for us; promises for all those who remain steadfast in obedience and endurance.

Despite the sobering reality of our physically isolating days, where our ability to extend and receive affection is sucked dry, Christ will lead us to a river that is overflowing. In faithfulness to Christ’s covenant of blood for us, he endures these days with us as we seek him, and in faithfulness, he will bring us to the other side. In him, our hopes will be fulfilled and he will restore us with more than we can ever imagine. He is faithful. He will do it. Just look at Noah, just look at Job, just look at the exiles, just look at Christ from this side of Good Friday.

With your sights focussed on Jesus our Saviour, stand tall and with determination to endure these days in patience and obedience. Rest in him on all your tough days. Share your sadness on your tearful days. Seek his comfort and be confident in receiving it. For Jesus himself calls out to you, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest… for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest [-and comfort, and peace, and strength-] for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29) And as you wait patiently, know without a doubt, that your hopes will become a reality in his time, and when they do, they will be fulfilled in joy and love and beauty beyond your wildest dreams. So, Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!

Prayer: Dear Lord, some days are tougher than others. Please draw my heart and mind to you. Help me to rest in you. Give me patience to endure those tougher days, and to remain obedient and patient, despite my desire to get back to normal; to feel the embrace of my loved ones, and experience the fulfilment of my desires. Help me to help others find strength to endure, and to be confident that betters days are coming. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Who’s The Enemy?

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for June 28, 2020; Fourth Sunday after Pentecost Jeremiah 28:5-9; Psalm 119:153-160; Romans 7:1-13; Matthew 10: 34-42

Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,
 a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Matthew 10:32-36

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10: 37-39

I have often wondered if the first part of the above passage, verses 32-36, were the words that seemed to give some Christians the idea that they had the right to fight against others. To stand against others; to go to battle, to argue and fight them in the name of Jesus. At first glance, it would seem that is what we should be prepared for. In fact, there are many instances throughout history that display such behaviour. However, such behaviour is sinful. Such behaviour has not shone Christ’s light and love. Such behaviour is so, so sad! No, such behaviour, in the context of all Scripture, does not make sense.

We are told to love one another just as Christ has loved us. Christ is to be our example. We are to wash one another’s feet, carry each other’s burdens, be patient, be kind, be humble, be ready to give an answer to all those who ask. The only fight we, the followers of Jesus, are to undertake and be prepared for is the spiritual battle; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) And in preparation for that battle, our defense is found in the Armour of God and power of the Holy Spirit. It is a defensive stance, not an offensive, aggressive stance. So how are we to perceive the above words?

Well, let’s go back to when the words of verses 33-36 were first spoken. Micah, the prophet, spoke these words in Micah 7:6 when he was observing the Israelites around him. So many people had turned from God. So many people treated him and other prophets as enemies. It was not the faithful who were treating others as enemies; it was those who had turned from the Lord that were treating the faithful as enemies. In fact, Micah went on to say, But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Saviour; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. . . . He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.” (Micah 7:7-8,9b)

In this context, everything else that Jesus says in Matthew 10:35, 37-39, makes so much more sense. We have been warned that, as followers of Jesus, others will treat us as their enemies, even members of our own household. There will be division and a loss of peace in some of our relationships. Yet, above all we shall stand tall with our eyes and hearts focussed on Christ. We shall continue to seek, proclaim, teach, serve, forgive, repent and be faithful to him above all else, even if it opposes what our neighbour, society, and the world think we should do. We shall continue to protect and defend others, above ourselves. We shall live out the fruits of the Spirit– love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) And you shall “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1b-3)

But then, don’t be surprised or lose faith when at times there is no peace and you are treated as the enemy. Take heart. Stand firm. And together, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1b-3) And may God proclaim of you, “True instruction was in his[/her] mouth and nothing false was found on his[/her] lips. He[/She] walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.” (Malachi 2:6) AMEN!

Prayer: Dear Lord, at times, in my sinfulness, I want to lash out and fight against others to make them believe or to prove myself. Yet, that is not your way. Forgive me. Help me to walk in your ways and to proclaim you to those around me. Give me strength to endure when I am considered the enemy because of my love for you. Use me to show others your saving love and grace through Jesus, my Lord. In His name I pray. AMEN!

Set Free!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for June 21, 2020; Third Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 20:7-13; Psalm 91; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:5a, 21-33)

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6: 13, 16, 22-23

In the above passage, Paul warns us to pay attention to whom we are obedient. For what we choose to follow and make a priority in our lives, is that to which we strive to devote our time and energy; it is that to which our lives become enslaved. Perhaps, it’s work, or money, or prestige, or independence, or self-gratification, or substances. This life, Satan, and ourselves- if dependent upon our own wisdom and desires- would have us seeking and striving for things that are never obtainable. Although we strive and chase after these things, we can never fully grasp them. We are enslaved by them, and if we are willing to do anything to attain them, then in many cases, we enter into a world of bondage, pain, regret, and even death.

However, to be a slave to God is a bondage of peace, assurance, and love with no regrets. Who wouldn’t want to be a slave to someone who would bestow such things upon their slaves? The only problem is that to be a slave to God means to willingly let go of your ‘self’ and serve him in his truth; not twisting his truth to meet your own desires. It means “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) It means to see his son, Jesus, who willingly paid the penalty of sin in your place, in order to reunite you with God, the Father, for eternity. It means letting go of the reigns of your own life and letting God take the wheel.  It means to follow him wherever he leads and trust him to fulfill through you all that he has planned.

Yes, oh how difficult it is to let go of ourselves and the desires of our flesh. We are no different than the prodigal son who demanded he receive his father’s blessing and inheritance to simply fulfill his earthly desires, which lead to loneliness, regret, starvation, and self-destruction. It wasn’t until the son willingly returned, as a slave, to the grace of his father who waited expectantly with open arms, that the son became obedient to his father. Then through that obedience, the son truly experienced the joy, forgiveness, and peace that his father had desired to give him all along. It was then that the son experienced abundance and fulfillment.

In the same way, your heavenly Father waits expectantly for you to turn away from being enslaved by Satan, this world, and your weak sinful self, and to turn towards him to seek him, submit to him, and to receive all that he desires to bestow upon you. He has plans for you; “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) Instead of bondage, pain, and regret, your life will be filled with love, peace, joy, and purpose. Then, together with all who serve the one and only God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you can rejoice in your servitude and obedience: “You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you.” (Psalm 118:28) “I am your servant and am ready to serve you.”  (1 Samuel 25:41)

Prayer: Dear Lord, why is it so hard to let go of my own desires of the flesh that harm me, and to deny myself in order to fully submit to you? Oh Lord, how weak I am! Forgive me. I so desire you with all my being; yes my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. By your Spirit in me, help me to fully see the areas of my life that are in bondage to sin. Then free me from all things that enslave me, in order that I may fully submit to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Complete Healing

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for June 14, 2020; Second Sunday after Pentecost

Exodus 19:2-8; Psalm 100; Romans 5:6-15; Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-20)

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:35-36

“Jesus went…healing every disease and sickness.” Oh don’t you wish he was walking among our hospitals, our nursing homes, and our homes right now doing  just that, “healing our diseases and sicknesses; healing each and every person of COVID, cancer, ALS, heart disease, etc., etc., etc…. How awesome would that be?

Yes, it is so easy to get caught up in the miracles of physical healing that Jesus performed. Yet, he didn’t just heal the people physically. Along with his healing, he was preaching the good news. He proclaimed that he was the long awaited Messiah; that he was the one long foretold from whom “the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:4-5) In fact, the physical healing for the sake of people’s health wasn’t his main goal. The healing of all the sicknesses and diseases were simply the signs that proved he was the Promised One. All signs lead to him. Then through these signs and his words that announced that salvation has now come, Jesus provided the people assurance to put their trust in him as their Redeemer, and believe. The two go hand in hand: the proclamation of Jesus as Messiah and complete healing.

No, Jesus isn’t physically walking among us, proclaiming and healing, as he was in this passage; however, he is the good news, he is the Word, and anytime it is read or shared, He is being proclaimed. And in believing that proclamation is the healing, and not just a physical, temporal healing; it is the healing of our souls. The utmost cleansing and disinfecting ever to exist. Then finally, we may receive the healing of our bodies, if it be his will. For ultimately, the healing of our souls, our reuniting with God, the Father, as we once were in the Garden of Eden- God with his creation- is the ultimate goal. And because we live on this side of the cross and have seen his resurrection from the dead, we have the ultimate proof of the truth of Jesus’ words and proclamation when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Therefore, as Jesus had compassion on us because of our helplessness and his love for us, even while we were still sinners, he did the unthinkable; he died for us. Even as we opposed him, he laid down his life in order to pay the penalty our sins deserved in order to heal us completely once and for all. No matter what this world may throw our way, or with which our bodies become inflicted, Christ has done it: He has cleansed us and we are his, now and for eternity. So, go and proclaim the good news that heals us all.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, as you had compassion on those who came to you when you walked this earth, I know you continue to have such compassion on all people. First and foremost, help me to proclaim your Good news as I have come to know you in my life – Lord and Saviour- so that your Holy Spirit can begin the healing process of others as they see and believe that you are the Saviour of the world. Finally Jesus, please continue to extend your healing touch among those who are suffering from all sorts of diseases. Continue to gather all people to you, the sheep to their Shepherd! In Your name I pray. AMEN!

His Prized Possession

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for June 7, 2020; The Holy Trinity

Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; Acts 2:14a, 22-36; Matthew 28: 16-20

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,

the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8: 1, 3-4

Despite what is happening in our lives, the world keeps going. The sun keeps rising and setting. The seasons keep changing. Spring is here. Summer is still coming. No matter how isolated we are, or how void our lives may feel, new life is springing up all around us. Gardens are coming alive with colour and trees are unfolding their canopy over us. Baby birds are singing their sweet cries for their mamas and little ducklings are playing their game of following the leader. The world is alive, and beautiful! …And we- you and me- had nothing to do with it.

Yes, your life may have been turned upside down, and you feel void and scared, but the world around you continues to display its beauty each and every moment of every day. God continues to be faithful to his creation. No matter what is happening in your life, just look around… God is continually there blessing you and all creation with his glory, beauty, care, and love. Stop to see it. Look beyond your circumstances and see His reality around you. These days of hardship and grief will come and go but God’s faithfulness, presence and grace is constant.

Think about it…Isn’t it amazing how beautiful it all is. Doesn’t it give you a sense of belonging and comfort in knowing that life is still happening; creation is still on course.  You can be confident that the sun will rise each morning and set each evening. Now, if God is faithful in all this, how much more can you be confident in his love and care for you! Although this world does not permit your life to be without pain and problems- in fact, Jesus even says that “in this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33a) – we have assurance, like that of the sunrise, that you are in God’s care. You see, not even the birds of the air toil, nor the flowers of the field spin. And “are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26b) The answer to that question is a resounding “YES!” Yes, you are more precious and beautiful to God than anything you can imagine in all creation. You are his prized possession!

I know it’s mind boggling and hard to believe. It makes us ask him: “[God,] what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” And yet He does. You may not comprehend why he does, but without a doubt, we – you and me- are his prize processions. So even though you must endure trials in this sinful, fallen world, you can trust, beyond a doubt, Jesus’ words to you, “… take heart! I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33b) So do not worry, …for your heavenly Father knows what you need. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.(Matthew 6:31..33) Yes, God desires to care for you, and it pleases him. In Jesus, you are his prized possession, and don’t ever forget it!

Prayer: Lord, my Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, who am I that you are mindful of me; little insignificant me, that you care for me? You crowned me with your glory and honor through the sacrifice of Jesus. You made me manager over the works of your hands; you have put everything under my feet. Lord thank-you for loving me so much and continuing to care for me, even when I have no control over what is happening. Lord, my Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN! (paraphrased from Psalm 8)

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑