More than Lament...
Lament! This is a common theme running through the Psalms. While some people might just see complaining in the psalms, I see an all too familiar thinking process.
Here is how this process goes. In the midst of Trial, I panic. Plumbing goes out and I see a price tag that would shake anyone. I Panic... I stress... I get anxious. Often we struggle with lament when we freeze in this first step.
The second step is that I take a step back and begin to survey things from a different angle. I look at the past; how faithful God has been historically... how many times I have survived moments of panic and struggle.
Finally, as I realize that this is not the end of the world, I spread out my hands and I thirst (Trust) in God to provide.
Don't Panic ... Thirst for God!
Read Matthew 12:1-13
I love this story. I can imagine Jesus in the midst of loving, serving, and teaching people, but finds himself facing questioning regarding his disciples eating a handful of grain as they walk along the road. I want to scream really! This is what you are stoping the work of God over. Really this is what you are concerned about. One of the major issues Jesus faces during his ministry is a cultural obsession with keeping the Sabbath Holy. Sabbath is awesome but when does it become work to avoid doing specific things. When does holiness become legalism? When it impedes the work love and grace of God.
In this story, Jesus is facing the legalism of Sabbath and confronting those around him with the will, and grace of God.
My question is this what are we focusing on? Are we sweating the small things, are we focused on preserving our idea of holiness, are we missing the work grace and mercy of God?
In John 16 Jesus is giving his disciples instructions and encouragement for difficult times ahead. I have mixed emotions when it comes to this passage. Jesus is communicating his future death, the care he has for his disciples and what they should be preparing themselves for. His tone holds so much concern for them. Yet, they like us often miss the point (cannot see clearly what Jesus' meaning).
So often I find my self in the shoes of the disciples, unable to fully hear Jesus. I ask questions? Feel like I am missing something even when the words are clear. Maybe it is that I am unwilling to imagine this reality.
As it fully sinks in for the disciples I can imagine panic and worry are in the back of their minds.
Yet this last verse Jesus wants peace for the disciples but knows they will have trouble. They will struggle with things like grief, a sense of lost direction, and persecution. However, Jesus wants them to take heart! To not be discouraged because... Jesus has overcome the world. All of it! Jesus will be victorious over death and the systems and powers of this world. He is the great overcomer.
I do not know what struggles or troubles you are facing, but remember that we can have peace in all situations because Jesus has overcome the world.
Grace and Peace
Read with me this morning Ephesians 2:1-9
Ephesians 2:1-9 How does salvation work in our lives? What part do we play in it? Some people think that if they are just good enough that they can earn salvation. "I'm a good person!" The problem as this chapter points out is that we are all sinners and worse we are dead to rights in our transgressions sins against God and others). You might find this a harsh word but it is an acknowledgment that we are all in the same boat. People who consider themselves good are still people dead to rights. As are people who see themselves as the worst.
However, Paul does not see this as bad news. But as the place where we live; this is just reality. However, because we participate in the life death and resurrection of Jesus we experience what Christians call salvation. I like the word redemption because it implies the work God is doing in us. We once were lost broken and dead in sin. Yet, now we are redeemed, given value again, restored to what God had called us to be.
Verse 8 tells us of the origin and availability of this salvation. It becomes clear that it comes not because we deserve it or earned it but we receive it because God did the work! It's a gift that cannot be earned or deserved. That's grace... that's Good News.
So What is our part in all this? Simple, respond! God has done all the work and he is simply waiting for your yes! That's it that is all.
Grace and Peace
When I was a kid, I hated the day I had to get glasses. It was another thing that was going to make me feel different. What would people say? Would people call me four eyes? Would I look good with glasses? Why me?
The reality, however, was that the moment I put on the new speaks the world was different. I felt like I could see the beauty of the world with all its details and majesty. Ok, as at 13-year old I would have not used those words, but the sentiment was the same. The world was new and my perspective was new.
Christians should be the same. We live with a different set of lenses than the world does. Simply we should begin seeing people as the creation of God. All are valuable to him; all are precious. I think that this is also a point of spiritual growth. We need to spend energy to cultivate this understanding of the world. In this way, we are different from the world. Good different, but different!
To add to all of this when we are in Christ we are a new creation. The old way we lived, were seen and see is different.
So, how is your eyesight?
What can you do to gain the perspective of Christ?
Grace and Peace
This passage is usually read and used in advent. This might also be the biggest shame of following the church calendar. On Christmas morning that light came into the world but it was during the life and ministry of Jesus that people began to see and experience this light.
During this season of lent, we are working through people's encounters with this light. For some of the characters, we will explore it is easy to see that the world they lived in a dark and hopeless world. Jesus however, regularly does the unexpected in their lives. Removing them from a place of darkness, shame, and hopelessness.
Today, I have two questions. First, are you in need of an encounter with Jesus? Have you been living in a world of guilt and shame or have you lost hope?
Second, As you look with new eyes at the world around you are there people that need an encounter with the light of Jesus?
As I drive through Muskogee I see so much brokenness, hopelessness addiction, and trauma. As Christians, we are the embodiment of Jesus in this world and for many, we have the opportunity to be that light. Are you willing?
Grace and Peace
Dreamers! I love the image that this Psalm evokes. When God restored we became like dreamers. As we walk through the season of lent we are often reminded of the redemption we receive through Jesus Christ.
Different Generations of Christians have different attitudes of faith. T Have you ever known someone who experienced forgiveness and salvation for the first time. They did not grow up in church and had no clue what this Jesus thing was about. 1st Generation Christians are so full of passion and fire. They know they do not know as much as others but they want to grow. They are dreamers full of Joy!
Other generations of Christians however, struggle to experience this type of passion and fire. Mostly because they did not know a world without redemption. In this season perhaps it is time to become dreamers again. People who recognize the transforming work of God that is active and present in all of us. It's time to become dreamers!
Together let us say the Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with Joy!
Grace and Peace
During some of the most tumultuous times in my life (the loss of my grandfather...ect) God seemed so distant. Psalm 34 reminds us that God is close to the brokenhearted. Why do we feel so distant from God in the midst of struggle? Why does it feel like God may have abandoned us? Have you ever wanted to scream at God where are you?
I think this is part of the human struggle we all go through. Jesus being fully God and fully man would cry out on the cross "Why have you forsaken me? I often run into the concept that feelings are not reality. We all look in the mirror at times and focus on our flaws rather than the good things. It's a distorted thought that does not reflect reality.
Psalm 34 reminds us of the distortion in our world view. God is close, perhaps closer when we cannot see him. So what do we do? How do we correct the distortion? I think that this is the beauty of the psalms the remind us of who God is but also when read and used regularly they take the head knowledge and slowly shift it to the heart. When that happens we don't just know that God should be close we recognize that he is in the midst of heartache.
I hope this is good news for you today. I hope that you recognize that our God draws near not distant. I hope that this knowledge and reminder will make its way from your head to your heart.
Grace and Peace