Is It God’s Faithfulness or Will?

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

Readings for September 27, 2020; Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-10; Philippians 2:1-4 (5-13) 14-18; Matthew 21: 23-27 (28-32)

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12..13

The other day I was with a girlfriend and we were reminiscing on our lives and sharing faith stories – those events in your life where you clearly see God working and you know without a doubt that God was in control of those events. After sharing one such story, where I still shake my head at how the events unfolded, I ended with, “God is so gracious! He is so faithful! I never imagined that such a dream of mine would be a reality.” To which my friend matter-of-factly stated, “But perhaps it was God that placed such a desire on you so that he would fulfill it, just as he has done. What about if it wasn’t the Lord simply answering your prayers but that he was fulfilling what he had planned all along for you. He was working out His will for you.”

Wow! That was a revelation for me, and yet it made so much sense. It made me stop and reflect on all those events in my life, my faith/God stories. It wasn’t God just being faithful to me and answering my prayers to fulfill my desires, but it was God directing my life and my inmost being to desire his will in my life. Wow! Could it be?! Could it be just as Paul is exclaiming about being obedient and continuing “to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” This aspect of acknowledging our desires and hopes as tangible gifts from the Lord, and praying that he guide our life according to His will, relinquishes any control we feel we have over our lives. It acknowledges that our God has our lives – my life, your life – totally in his hands. He is in total control. What power! What Awesomeness! May we live in total trust and humility in God’s sovereignty.

Now, as I live in this understanding of obedience and trust in the Lord over my life, it makes me see that it is the Lord that has placed me where I am to be his light to those around me. It is no longer just about me wanting to do or be in a specific place, but God wanting me to be in that place in order that I do his will and be his light to those he puts in my path. This totally aligns with Paul’s explanation that “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Therefore, I pray that I no longer live in such self-centredness that this life is all about me, but in the joy and humility that God is guiding me through these days as his beloved creation to serve where ever he places me.

In the same way may you be encouraged to entrust your days and their events, your dreams and desires to the Lord as he fulfills in you all that he has planned. Always remember that you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do, and may you continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Prayer: Dear Lord, what a revelation in knowing that even my dreams and desires are from you. Please forgive my selfishness in thinking you had nothing to do with instilling my desires but only faithful in answering my prayers for their fulfillment. How you must shake your head at me?! Forgive me. Continue to guide me according to your will, and help me to be obedient to your call and prompting. Do not let my human fears for change and challenges overcome me and keep me from doing those works which you have prepared for me. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Pay Equity? Thankfully NOT!

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

Readings for September 20, 2020; Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 27:1-9; Philippians 1:12-14,19-30; Matthew 20: 1-16

But [the owner of the vineyard answered], “Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?” Matthew 20:13-15

When my children were young, they learned firsthand that ‘fair’ did not equal ‘the same’.  They each had unique gifts, abilities, interests, and needs, and in many situations each received different forms or levels of care and support from us. At times when one child was receiving an extra measure of care during a personal need or interest, the others clearly displayed their frustration in the present ‘unfairness’, as they saw it. However, whether they approved or not, they did come to understand that if one of their siblings, including themselves, had a need, we, their parents, would assist them where they were at. They did not doubt that we would be there to support them when they needed. Our children learned ‘grace’ – how to receive it and how to extend it.

Isn’t grace exactly what we see the owner of the vineyard extend to his workers; particularly the workers who were invited to work only part of the day? Although all the workers received the same pay, they all did not endure the same amount of work. I believe we can even get caught up in judging the owner and feeling that the human rights of the earlier workers were violated. However, the owner makes a just point: he paid the first workers what they agreed to. So, if he chose to pay the others, who worked less hours, the same amount then that was his choice. He was not cheating the original workers, but was simply being generous and gracious to those workers who came later in the day. It’s all about the owner’s generosity and grace, and really has nothing to do with him treating anyone with less love or fairness. In fact, if this story was simply about an owner being generous with his money to his workers, then we could perhaps understand the above reasoning, whether we liked it or not. However, this story goes beyond a simply wage dispute. It displays the generosity of God’s grace for his creation, humankind, and dispels all teaching of works righteous – working our way into heaven.

You see, for some of us, God, by his Holy Spirit, may have called us to his fold as a young child, and we have served him through all our years. We have been aware of his commandments, of his boundaries for our lives and felt the Holy Spirit’s nudging to avoid temptation. Although we would have also experienced God’s grace and love, joy and peace, we would have also been faced with the ‘work’ to walk in his ways. Unfortunately, for some followers of Jesus, that is what they see, or told to focus on; focus on the work of following Jesus – do this, don’t do that.

Then there are those of us who have lived a life without heeding any of God’s calls, and walked down the road of self-indulgence and ways contrary to godly living. Yet, in the final hour, or even later- the final moment, before our earthly walk is over, we received the call of the Holy Spirit, the gift of life eternal through Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Even in that last moment, we receive the exact same gracious gift of salvation as those who ‘toiled’ their whole life in following the ways of the Lord, as their Lord and Saviour. Oh boy, how dare God give them the same payment? Isn’t that what we say: How can those people who only acknowledge him in their final moments, and prior to that did their own thing which may include murder, abuse, and all those acts listed in Galatians 5, receive the payment won by Christ, the salvation of their souls and life eternal with our Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If our salvation was about our works, then perhaps we would have an argument. If your salvation is about what you are ‘doing’ then you may be very disappointed, and you’re missing the pure joy of trusting Jesus as your Saviour.  For it is in this story of the owner and his workers, that we can see that our salvation has nothing to do with us and our work, but everything to do with God’s grace and the Salvation he has prepared for us- for God does not desire anyone to be lost, but for all to come to the knowledge of his Son. Therefore, as we endure our days, may we not look at our life in Christ as a continuous list of work obligations but an opportunity to freely proclaim His love and grace through Jesus, to give thanks to our maker for his love and mercy towards us, and to extend the invitation to others to receive this free gift of life eternal, even in their last moment.

Prayer: Dear Lord, owner of my soul, thank-you for your grace and mercy that while I was yet unborn, Christ died to pay the penalty my sins deserve. May my days be filled with thanksgiving to you, and may the ‘work’ I do be the ‘good works’ which you prepared in advance for me to do, in order to draw others to your harvest. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

How Much Do I Love You?

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

Readings for September 13, 2020; Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 50:15-21; Psalm 103:1-12; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18: 21-35

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—              For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:1-2,11-12

When my sister was a young mom, I remember her saying to her children, “How much does Mommy love you? …As high as the sky and as wide as the outside!” and with those words came arm movements, an underarm tickle, and hug at the end. I was an impressionable teenager when my sister was in her thirties and raising her babes. I recall the love she had for her children and how I drank in her love and compassion, patience and grace. Perhaps it is why when my children were young I shared the same words and actions with them. Although a fun activity, it was also meant as a reminder of a parent’s deep love for their children. And now with my sister no longer with us, it provides a heartwarming memory of her.

I am sure my sister’s phrase originated from the verses of Psalm 103, which speak of an even greater love than what we, parents, even have for our children. It is the depth of love God has for his creation and those who trust and respect him as the one and only God, the Great I AM, their Creator. It is the complete and utter forgiveness we receive from him, our Saviour, despite what our sins deserve. Oh what peace! Oh what joy is ours in knowing we are loved so much; you are loved so much!

Envision yourself being wrapped up in his arms as your God says, “ How much do I love you, (insert name here)? As high as the sky! …And How much are you forgiven? As wide as the outside!” then with a tickle he holds you close. That, my friend is what God has personally said to you in Jesus, as he spread his arms, east to west, so that nails could be driven in and he could take our place. So turn to him, rest in him, and be confident in his love and forgiveness. Then go and extend that love and forgiveness, without condition or judgement, to all those who come seeking. Be God’s voice to them saying, “I love you dear one, as high as the sky and as wide as the outside, always and forever!”

Prayer: Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases, who redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion, who satisfies my desires with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Praise the LORD! In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN! (Taken from Psalm 103:1-5)

Love, Your Debt!

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

Readings for September 6, 2020; Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 32:1-7; Romans 13:1-10; Matthew 18: 1-20

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10

How’s your debt load? With the stock markets in turbulent times and nations in a spending frenzy, with employment rates hitting record breaking lows and unemployment rates sky rocketing, it is no wonder our heads hurt at the thought of our personal debt loads and the future that lies ahead. Although we can get so caught up in how we are going to cover our personal needs, let alone those wants that we’ve become so accustomed to enjoying, or the expected tax increases we’ll be receiving, may our above passage offer us a distraction; an opportunity to think of things differently. In fact, may it not only be a distraction but permission to realign our priorities.

Yes, we have financial debt, and for much of the world, more than we ever thought imaginable. Oh if we were able to live debt free as the opening verse first advises, what joy, what peace. Yet, that is not the reality for so many families. We have debt, and somehow, some way, we will need to work on reducing and, one day, eliminating it. Yes, the wise will work diligently on trying to create a new normal in order to reduce their debt. However, despite our financial debt, there is a greater debt on which we can focus our attention. It is the debt to love each other.

Think about it. If we put as much thought, worry, and care into how we can help and care for those around us, as we do about how our bills will get paid, what a world we would have. What would such love look like in a pandemic? How would we treat those strangers we come across in the streets? How would we treat our spouse? our children? How would we treat those in authority that are extending recommendations for everyone’s well-being, like wearing masks and limiting contact with others?

When our thoughts go towards the debt of love that Christ paid on my behalf, on your behalf, it should turn my thoughts from my own personal desires to those needs of those around me. It changes my perspective and focus from me and my needs, to those I see and my ability to help them and to show love towards them. My current situation may not be changing anytime soon, yet I can trust that our God is true to his promises and will provide what I need. Therefore, I am free to live to help and love those around me who are struggling. These days provide many opportunities to extend love and joy, even from a distance. So may we heed Christ’s words to go and love our neighbours, and begin paying the debt of love we freely owe for all that Christ has done for us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, as you heed us not to worry about about anything, I trust you with my employment and financial situations.  Help me to lighten the days of my neighbours and those people you put in my path by extending joy, assistance, and love towards them and their needs. You know their needs. Use me as your instrument of love. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

“How Dare You, Jesus!?”

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

Readings for Aug 30, 2020; Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 15:15-21; Psalm 26; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16: 21-28

Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”  Jesus turned and said to Peter“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Matthew 16:21-26a

Could you imagine being Peter? After your plea to protect and keep safe your mentor and Saviour, you are called Satan; that your desire for his wellbeing is considered ungodly? How sad. How dare Jesus reprimand Peter for wanting good for his dearest friend? How dare Jesus acknowledge his earthly path towards death be full of pain and rejection? How dare he not put his earthly wellbeing and the pleasure he gives to his fellowman above the Father’s own purpose and calling of Jesus, the God man. How dare he!

I hope you are scathing at the above passage and considering me a heretic. I hope you are saying, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about! Jesus had to walk that path of pain and rejection. He had to get to the cross and be forsaken by the Father. He had to go there… for me!” Well, you are correct! Yes, Jesus had to fulfill his earthly plan of redeeming humankind. It was for his love for Peter and his disciples, for you, and for me that Jesus had to walk that path that seemed so unjust to Peter. Even if Peter prayed to God the Father for Jesus’ care and safekeeping, no matter how well intended, Jesus was going to walk that path. It had nothing to do with God turning his back on Peter, or even Peter’s faith or lack of, that kept Jesus from being saved, although isn’t that how we conclude such circumstances in our own lives- my faith wasn’t strong enough, or “How can God be loving if he lets such things happen?”, as if this world is the ultimate goal of humankind. No, Jesus’ path of pain had nothing to do with either of those human reasonings.

However, it had everything to do with God’s purpose for Jesus’ life, no matter how young or old Jesus was. In fact, any attempt to alter God’s plan is an attack from Satan to avoid keeping our eyes on our God and trust in his purpose for each of our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Jesus cursed Satan as Satan whispered in Peter’s ears to try to protect Jesus from such peril; the peril that would destroy the power of Satan over humankind. What a brilliant plan on Satan’s part! But Jesus saw through it. May we see through it as well, as we live out our days. Don’t let Satan allow you to turn your eyes from Jesus and trusting in God’s plan for your life.

Therefore, as we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ, and share Christ’s love, sacrifice, and salvation with our loved ones and those around us, may we pray that God’s will be done – whether that be a path of health and healing, or of pain, suffering and earthly loss- and life eternal. May we trust that God’s will is done and his ultimate desire to call each of us home to be in his presence for eternity be fulfilled; that Christ’s sacrifice and journey to the cross was not made in vain. May we find peace in knowing that despite our limited understanding and our grief of the death of loved ones, that they are as much a part of God’s plan as Jesus’. May we not say, “How dare He?! How dare God take this loved one from me?! How dare He allow such pain and sorrow to overcome my dear one; overcome me?!” But may we hold fast knowing that He has a plan, and even in the midst of turmoil, may he be proclaimed.

For no one would say, “How dare you, Jesus, die for me? How dare you take upon yourself my sins and pay the penalty my sins deserve?! How dare you redeem me and reunite me with my Creator, and lover of my soul?! How dare you!” But, thanks be to God that Jesus did not listen to Peter’s plea but held fast to the course that was planned in advance. In the same way, when faced with a future unknown or discomfort and grief, may we shine your light and hold fast to you and your love for us, being confident in the salvation that is awaiting us. Let our faith be unshaken, and may we each proclaim as Jesus did, “Get behind me Satan!” with our eyes be fix on him – our Saviour!

Prayer: Dear Lord, There is so much pain and destruction in people’s lives this side of heaven. Dear Lord, walk with your children, according to your will. Let your light shine in our hearts no matter what we are going through. Let us know your peace and comfort even in the midst of grief and pain. Let your healing had be upon us whether it be temporal healing now or eternal healing in your presence. In all cases let thy will be done. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!

These days?…What are we to think?

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

Readings for Aug 23, 2020; Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 51: 1-6; Psalm 138; Romans 11:33-12:8; Matthew 16: 13-20

“Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: Instruction will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. My righteous- ness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.” Isaiah 51: 4-6

What can we say about the goings on in the world? Disasters EVERYWHERE. Crazy weather systems, never seen before in certain parts of the world, are now common. A worldwide PANDEMIC. And I’m sure you can add your own personal experiences to the mix.

It would not be out of line to say that this world is a scary place. Especially over these past few months, it is easy to get caught up in all the chaos bombarding us and the lack of control we have over it. To be honest, if this world was my only hope, I probably would have been overcome with anxiety many times over: Do I have Covid? Am I passing on Covid? Let’s get out of the house? I can’t handle being out of the house?  Let’s see each other virtually? I can’t stand another virtual meeting? Should the kids go to school? Do we need to go to work? Who’s going to babysit? Do I want my children to be exposed? Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

Sure, all these things go through our minds. At least they have gone through my mind at one time or another, …and I can’t imagine I’m alone. These have been the things we think about, and boy do we have time to ‘think’ and to let our minds go wild in these days.

Yes these days are scary. But, these days are not all we have, these days do not have to have power over us. In fact, these days were foretold to us thousands of years ago by Isaiah and then again in Revelation. Yes, the heavens will vanish, and the earth will wear out. Yes, the human race will even ‘die like flies’. But the Salvation of the LORD will last forever. Although the world and our earthly existence may be in turmoil and unpredictable, the righteousness and faithfulness of the LORD will never fail. As we trust in him, our days will occur just as they were marked out before we were ever born. So none of us will live one day longer nor die one day sooner than ordained. No this does not mean we can go around doing whatever we want without regard for our neighbour. In fact, these days should exemplify the sacrifice of self-indulgence and display the love of Christ to all. Then in those times when we can get sucked into the fear and worry, let us turn our thoughts to God and think on him. Let us deny our situations and occupy our minds with words of praise and thanksgiving to our God, who has the power to dispel all fears. For where Christ is, Satan will flea. So consume your thoughts of God’s goodness and your anxieties will have no power over you. Personally, I have been singing over and over and over in my head the Doxology we sing in worship:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. AMEN!

So despite what is happening around us, we can stand firm on the Rock of our Salvation. We can stand in the shelter of his wings and his justice will be a light to the nations. We can fix our minds on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. We do not have to carry our burdens and fears alone. We do not have to coward in the corner of our homes. But we can give each and every fear, anxiety, and concern over to the LORD, and then sing praises to him for the blessings we have this day and his salvation which will one day be ours; no sooner, no later.

Prayer: Dear Lord, take my burdens and worries and grant me your peace. I praise you for all your blessings and your ever present love and faithfulness. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. AMEN!

A Crumb Is Enough

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

Readings for Aug 16, 2020; Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 56: 1, 6-8; Psalm 67; Romans 11:1-2a, 13-15, 28-32; Matthew 15: 21-28

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly. He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. Matthew 15:21-22, 24-28

I love this passage so much! I love this passage because I see myself. At least I hope and pray it would be me. Perhaps you see yourself in her, as well. You see, not coming from the Israelite lineage, I am considered a gentile, just as the Canaanite woman was considered a gentile. But being a gentile didn’t stop her from trusting that Jesus was whom he said he was – The Son of God, the long awaited Messiah of the Israelites.

It is in this faith that she pleaded with Jesus. She knew he could heal her daughter. Even though Jesus referenced himself as coming to redeem the Israelites, and that she had no inheritance in their lineage, she persisted. In fact, many people may say that Jesus downright insulted this woman by stating that she was no better than a dog on the streets, the city’s garbage collectors. Yet, she didn’t argue that fact. She didn’t get defensive and turn away. No! She acknowledged her lowliness before Jesus. She acknowledged the Israelites as God’s chosen people. She acknowledged that she, in herself and her lineage, had no right to ask Jesus for anything. But… she also knew that nothing depended upon her and that everything depended upon Jesus and his grace. His grace and mercy was sufficient for all, even just a crumb of his healing power was enough to fully accomplish anything she could need or desire. So she persisted. Her faith in Jesus as the Son of God was unwavering. In fact, just like the Centurion in Matthew 8, she didn’t even need Jesus to come see her daughter. She knew he could heal her daughter, right there, right now.

Oh to have faith like this fellow gentile woman. To trust God’s ways. To take all my sins and all my flaws, and lay myself down before him. Then know without a doubt that a drop of his forgiveness cleanses me fully, inside and out, and makes my heart glow with a joy and peace beyond measure. And then to take all my cares and concerns, the big and small, and to trust him above all things, even when the outcomes are not what I wanted or I don’t even see an answer or understand why. Just by clinging to that depth of trust in knowing that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, my Saviour, I can be assured that he is extending to me – and you can be assured that he is extending to you- the fullness of his grace and salvation. Oh to have such faith. So may we all hold fast to Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and know that his grace is sufficient… even a crumb is enough.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, the Canaanite woman’s faith was not unknown to you, yet through your conversation with her, her faith was displayed to the disciples and to me. Thank-you! Her story gives me hope. Help me to be content with a crumb. Please help me to be as humble as she was, but also as persistent in seeking you as she was. In your name alone I pray. AMEN!

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!

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