Out of the believer’s heart… I recently saw an episode of Twilight Zone about a young boy and his neighbor friend, a prize fighter whose best days were behind him. When stepping into the ring his courage was intact but his faith was in shambles. He was at the point in his career here he didn’t step into the ring to win. He stepped into the ring merely to get paid. Fighting was how he made his living. So it is for many of us. At times we fight against the harsh realities of life and other times just fighting to get out of bed in the morning. The young man in the episode decided to help the faith of this fighter by making a special wish for the fighter to win. As wishes go between the daylight and darkness of the Twilight Zone, it becomes true. The only thing left is for the prize fighter to believe. Gracious God in those twilight zone moments of our own lives, let not the sun go down on our disbelief that we may rise in faith and forever proclaim your glory in our lives.
“Prophets are not without honor except in their own country…” Matthew 13:53-58 The South African concept of Ubuntu emphasizes the interconnectedness of the human relationship. One can not be human by oneself. Anything that is done by one affects someone else in some way. For this reason, the concept encourages that each should strive towards the greater good because then everyone benefits, everyone moves forward. In the same way, when used according to his will, God’s gift to one of us, in various ways is God’s gift to each of us. Yet, when Jesus returns to his hometown filled with the wisdom and power of the Holy, the people of his hometown reject the gift given for the benefit of everyone. Innately, we are created to be in right relationship with God and one another. What we do is not so much about honor among peers as it is about the will of God. Christ has done his part, now is the time for us to do ours. Let us honor, receive and share the Gift. Have faith and believe.
Cover Photo by Elliot Haney 2009
And he was transfigured before them. Mark 9:2-13 It is not God’s desire to be a mystery. As believers, no longer should our life in Christ be a mystery. All that God transforms within us should be seen and experienced by others. Yet to those who won’t believe and hold steadfast to their own precepts, God will always be a mystery.
...tell me both the dream and its interpretation… Daniel 2:1-16 King Nebuchadnezzar made a request, which at first glance seems unreasonable. But the dream troubled him so much he needed to be certain that the “wise men” he called upon would not maneuver the truth concerning the meaning of the dream. Dreams can be very abstract. Life experiences can be as abstract as our dreams and we don’t always understand how they may or may not be manifested in our lives. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t trust his “wise men.” Daniel was wise enough to trust God because only a living and active God could have known that dream. Through Christ our relationship with God is also living and active. Through our faith in Christ, what seems abstract will be revealed and made complete for us as well.
…I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word… your word is truth. John 17:12-19
And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:4-10 What does it mean to be made holy because Christ offered his body as a sacrifice? God has given us the gift to create and we have no doubt taken full advantage of that ability. So much so, that the amount of stimuli in the world easily attracts our attention. God has not asked us to stop creating but rather to create for the fullness of life for one another. I believe life in the resurrection means that we are called out of the bondage of the world’s stimuli. There is no relationship with things or people that can take the place of the relationship God has with us. If we don’t have a relationship with God as a priority in our life, there is no sacrifice of stimuli (things or people) that will make a difference. We are encouraged to think Christ first, live in the resurrection and never stop believing. Nothing is impossible for God.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings you have taken no pleasure. Hebrews 10:4-10
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong. Acts 3:1-10
While I was serving as a chaplain at a hospital, I met a woman battling cancer. It was her second time around and she was determined to beat it. Still rather new in my position she was the first person I met faced with this condition who had not accepted the fact that she may die. In my training we were instructed not to encourage things that we ourselves really could not guarantee. For her, God was all about miracles. Since I couldn’t guarantee life or death (in the physical) I offered her prayer. Together we gave thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit. During this visit I was assured that life in the Spirit is definitely not a defense mechanism to protect us from what appears to be uncertain. It is instead a vehicle for strength and courage that readies us for what is certain. The Lord is risen indeed!
‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Luke 24:36b-48
…who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water. Psalm 114:8
…he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:19-31 The Holy Spirit within has feelings. Sometimes our spirit mourns. Other times our spirit rejoices. The Good News – we have a great high priest who has felt the gamut of those emotions, Jesus Christ. We are reconciled with Christ by each an every one of those emotions but now rather than use them as a hindrance, we must use them as our strength to do the work to which God has called us. As we proclaim his death, proclaim his resurrection, and proclaim his coming again; in the hearing, our very breath becomes an extension of his life.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6
No distrust made him (Abraham) waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:13-25 Sometimes the things we desire seem to take forever. Consider Abraham who was 100 years old before Isaac was born. Every day given is a gift and our faith should make us stronger as we breathe in the gratitude of God’s blessing and exhale with praise of his everlasting peace. Abraham’s experience is a lesson in waiting with the confidence that the God of this universe keeps promises. We have a tendency to want to hurry things along. Remember Hagar and Ishmael? Let’s not create more drama than we need. As we wait on God, let’s begin to walk with him as well. WWYD today?
Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. Romans 4:13-25
Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest… Hebrews 4:11-16 We ask ourselves how much longer must we wait for the Lord when it is God who asks the same of us. Through Christ every door is made to be opened. This doesn’t mean that we have to walk through them all. We do however have to discern our gifts to understand which ones will draw us forward in Christ and not in some other direction. The good news is that even if we find our selves astray God’s grace and mercy awaits the repentant heart. Unfortunately, we won’t always walk through the right doors. Fortunately, our life in Christ is as much about what we believe as it is about what we do. This is the confidence we have in the Gospel; if we believe in the truth about the Gospel of Christ, then we must make every effort to walk in that truth. To walk in that truth, like Christ, is to walk in God’s rest.
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. Revelation 3:20
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:18
So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. Deuteronomy 10:12-22
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion…” Hebrews 3:1-11 Here Paul is speaking about the rebellion of the Israelites who when Moses went up the mountain for forty days and forty nights, had created an image of God which they began to worship. A hardened heart is a heart that doubts, a heart that fears and a heart that ultimately trades the hope and glory in what is unseen for something that gives a temporary satisfaction to meet an immediate physical need whether it be things or people. I believe Paul really wants his hearers to understand that we should not forget that our praise and worship is a very valuable gift from God. What sense does it make if I receive a gift from my sister and I in turn praise my brother for the gift? This is kind of what we do when we go astray and turn our attention towards things and people other than God. Yet because God loves his creation he is faithful to it. So why not give your faith a heartfelt chance and praise God today. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Psalm 31:5, 7-8
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God…
I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have taken heed of my adversities,
and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.