Did You Hear What They Said About Jesus?

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

Readings for October 25, 2020; Reformation Day

Revelation 14:6-7; Psalm 46 1 Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36 or Matthew 1: 12-19

[Jesus said,] “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Matthew 11:18-19

Have you or someone you know ever been so stuck on a negative perception of someone because you feel that he/she is a threat to you in some way and you nit-pick all the possible flaws in them to continue to justify that perception? We see it in political elections between candidates, we see it in workplaces, and especially during Covid, we see it on the news with some National leaders every day.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Although they are spewing lies, these people will degrade and diminish others for the sake of their own purpose, no matter the cost. And if we’re honest, it has occurred in our own lives too, yours and mine. When someone is threatening us and our security, we look to disprove them, think or speak falsely of them, and will do anything to remove them from our comfortable life that we have created.

Well, this is exactly what happened with the Pharisees, the Jewish church leaders, and Jesus was calling them out on it. Because Jesus was threatening their power and comfortable routines and sets of rules, they hated him. They could not bring themselves to actually hear what Jesus had to say for the sake of their own fear of losing their power and all they had created. They would do anything to protect their position. They would spew lies about Jesus, no matter how false. Just as in the passage above, not only did the Pharisees tell rumours that John the Baptizer was demon possessed -probably to defend themselves against John’s accusation of them being a ‘brood of vipers’, but they gossiped about Jesus being a glutton and a drunkard who hung around with the worst of the worst of society.

Yes, Jesus ate, drank and spent his time with people who were once tax collectors, prostitutes, demon possessed and down-right sinners. But the truth is we know he was never a glutton nor drunkard, and when confronted by the Pharisees on why he chose the company he did, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13) You see, in Jesus’ response he is guiding the Pharisees to understand, through the Scriptures that they already knew by heart, that God desired their worship of Him to be displayed in their lives through love, mercy, grace and a true relationship with him, not just in all the sacrifices or rules they created that built themselves up and burdened the people.

 Jesus’ same response is extended to us as well. Jesus desires our faith in God to be one where our hearts and our healing rest in Him, our Saviour, and we seek and trust Him above all things. Our salvation through Jesus is seen most clearly through the actions of love and mercy to those around us, not simply the acts of coming and going from a church building, participating on church committee, or saying “Ya, I’m a Christian.” Oh, don’t get me wrong: those things will occur eventually as you seek the Lord as he is desiring, but they on their own mean nothing. First comes your seeking of Him and then comes walking in His ways. Perhaps this is what James was meaning when he said, Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” James 2:18b

James had an intimate relationship with the Lord, as did all the disciples, and people like King David, Joseph, Abraham and so many others. So just as Jesus desired the Pharisees to put more importance of worshipping God by listening to and seeking him, the Son of God, than in their sacrifices and rules, so he desires us to seek him where he may be found- in Scripture, to trust him with our lives- the highs and the lows, to let his Holy Spirit fill us to love others each and every day as a response to his love for us, and join in the fellowship of believers in church. May His wisdom be proved right by your deeds.

Prayer: Dear Lord, let me seek you first. Let the sacrifice I lay before you be my very own life. You have come to seek sinners. You have come to seek me. Forgive me when my own sinful, selfish nature keeps me from fulfilling your will in my life and the lives of others. Let not my own agenda keep me from seeing and serving you. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

What Do You See In The Bathroom Mirror?

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

Readings for October 18, 2020; Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 45:1-7; Psalm 96:1-9(10-13); 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22: 15-22

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1: 2-3

When you wake up in the morning and look in your bathroom mirror, what do you see? Personally, at first glance it’s not very pretty – mouth guard in, tussled hair, sagging everything and the list goes on and on. Despite what you see on the outside, do you ever stop and really – I mean REALLY – look at who’s looking back at you. Underneath all of that not-so-prettiness is something beautiful and full of promise – God’s promise.

On the outside, you may not look all that pretty, but on the inside God has renewed you and filled you to overflowing with power, strength and endurance to fulfill the works he has prepared for you. You see, He’s prepared interactions and blessings for you to encounter today; opportunities for you to be his hands and voice to specific souls that he places in your path and parts of creation he has placed under your care, and he has totally equipped you to fulfill those tasks thoroughly. You are a person of beauty and importance. There is no time to waste. This day is full and God has prepared you – yes YOU- to do His work.

Through the eyes of faith in all that Christ has accomplished for you, our Heavenly Father wishes to share that hope and his love to others through you. God’s will for your life, through the works he has prepared in advance for you are awaiting you today. It does not matter if He does not make known his particular tasks. Simply do all you do, as if doing it for Him. Remember we only see dimly now, so trust in Him to unfold your day as he chooses.

However, to see more clearly and labour more willingly, let go of your sins through repentance and begin your day in the assurance of the forgiveness Christ won for you. Humble yourself as his willing servant and say as Isaiah, ‘Here I am Lord’ (Isaiah 8:6b, paraphrased). Then start seeing in the mirror, the beautiful, purpose-filled advocate of love that you are.

Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive me all my sins. Cleanse me through the blood of Jesus, my Saviour.  Thank-you for filling my day with purpose. Help me to show your love – to be your arms and voice, to all those you set in my path, and willingly accomplish the work you prepared for me this day. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Contented? Yup, Even Now.

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

Readings for October 11, 2020; Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:4-13; Matthew 22: 1-14

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11b-13

During these past several months since the pandemic presented its ugly head, I have been faced with a season of life ‘in want’. It’s not a need for food or shelter or employment, as many are having to endure, but still a very real state, none the less. It is the lack of being in relationship, in sharing in others’ lives, the emotional and psychological stimulation that assures you that you are loved and worthy, and the physical interaction that allows you to express yourself and your love to others. It is this social and psychological aspect of my being that has been surviving on minimal replenishment. And I know from others and the mental health statistics, that I am not alone. We are all struggling with it, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Don’t get me wrong. I truly believe that we must continue in our diligent efforts of physically distancing and self-isolations for the love of others. We have seen that such efforts by people make a difference, and we have also seen how rejecting such efforts by people feed the virus. So, I will continue through this season of ‘being in want’, and I pray you choose to too.

Despite these days, I am thankful that we can turn to Scripture to know God and his promises. God’s Word tells us of God’s truths. We know that God promises to fill us to overflowing when we seek him as our Shepherd, no matter how empty we feel. Christ promises to take our burdens and give us his burden which is easy and light. He has said and proven over and over again how much he loves us and that he will never leave us nor forsake us. When we seek him, he answers. Therefore, may we go to him in the quiet of our days and lay before him our ‘wantings’ and our needs. As we simply rest in his presence, he will fulfill all our needs and fill us with his peace. What we are missing from one another, he can accomplish.

In the remainder of these pandemic days, especially if your country is heading into colder, more isolating weather, may you seek the Lord and receive contentment and fulfillment in Him. May you join me in continually heeding Paul’s words:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4-7)

Then with confidence proclaim: “I, state name here, can do all things [and endure all things] through Him who gives me strength! AMEN” (taken from Philippians 4:13)

Prayer: Dear Lord, Glory to you oh Lord! You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Thank you Jesus for loving me so much that you willingly paid the price my sins deserve so that I can spend eternity in Heaven with You, the Father and Holy Spirit. Together, you are my God! I lay before you this day my needs of (state needs here). Help me to see your blessings all around me, and to continually turn to you for my strength and contentment. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

The Vintner & His Vineyard

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

In our readings for this coming Sunday, although the readings speak of God’s vineyard, I couldn’t help but hear a dialogue between God and his people. Let’s top up our coffees and begin reading through the conversation…

Readings for October 4, 2020; Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 5:1-7, 25-32; Psalm 80:7-19; Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21: 33-46

The People: Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. You transplanted a vine from Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. Its branches reached as far as the Sea, its shoots as far as the River.Why have you broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its grapes? Boars from the forest ravage it, and insects from the fields feed on it. (Psalm 80: 3-13)

The Lord Almighty: The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. . . . What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it. When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? (Isaiah 5:7, 4)

The People: Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:17-19)

The Son of Man: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:5-8)

My husband and I enjoy visiting wineries and viewing the amazing architecture of their structures, taking in the scenery of the acres of meticulously manicured grape vines, and savouring the vast differences of taste in the many varietals. We stand in awe at the great amount of time, effort and hands that go into caring for a vineyard and the work and science involved in processing even a small amount of wine. Vineyards take work and producing good grapes for good wine takes ones attention and care. We have come to appreciate the great pride and joy a vintner takes in producing a wine that is all he/she hoped it would be.

In the same way that a dedicated vintner cares for and takes pride in his vineyard and grape vines, so God cared for His people, the Israelites, as described in the dialogue above. He took great pride in choosing the grapes, cultivating the land, planting the vines and caring for them. He gave them his full attention and guided them in the ways they should grow in order to produce good fruit, to be faithful. But even with all he gave, they continued to refuse to listen. They produced bad fruit. They turned away from the ways of the Lord and did evil in his sight. So God, the vintner left his people, the vineyard, to their own devises which we know simply accumulates with weeds and is devoured by the beasts. Any good that may have been growing simply gets swallowed up.

This story isn’t just about God and the Israelites of the Old Testament, but about our relationship with God as well. Are we a vine that chooses to turn a blind eye to God’s cultivating? Do we rebel when we’re being pruned? Then, are we surprised when our lives are overcome by the weeds of consequences and despair and we are face to face with wild beasts waiting to devour us? Do we wonder why God is allowing such things to happen? Do we, in arogance, ask how he could turn his back on us?

Well let’s get one thing straight: It is not God who turned his back on us. It is never God who turns his back on us. He only did that to one person, and it was for your sake, for mine. No it is never God who turns his back on us, but it is us – you and me- who turn our backs on him and his truths.

If you are crying the same plea as the Israelites in the above passage, then perhaps you may stop and consider the Almighty’s reply and adjust your prayer to lay your straying ways and guilt before the Lord and seek to be graphed into his grace through his Son. You see, even the Israelites new the son of man, a saviour, would come and redeem them from their sinful ways. But even beyond their wildest desires of an earthly saviour to whom they could follow, God sent the Saviour of the world to redeem all of humankind for eternity: in both the earthly and heavenly realms.

Now for us, on this side of the cross, we can rejoice in the Son of Man who came and paid the price our sins deserve, on whom God turned his back so that the Father Almighty would never have to turn his back on us. In Christ we are graphed into him, the true vine, and in him alone we bear good fruit. Fruit that brings our Heavenly Vintner great joy!

Prayer: Dear Lord, Please forgive me when I turn from your ways. Please forgive me my sins. Renew me and help me to remain in Jesus, the true Vine, so that I can bear abundant good fruit. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

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!

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