Specks And Logs

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-12  It seems to me that perhaps by the usage of the words speck and log, the one who judges carries the greater burden. Who can see with a log in their eye? At best our judgment of others is flawed because of our inability to “see.” I believe Jesus challenges us to thoroughly examine ourselves first. If we look close and thoroughly enough, we may find that we don’t have time for removing the specks from others because removing the login us is a lifelong commitment. Today, rather than judge, let us encourage one another in Christ to do what is right, and see if the specks and logs don’t fall from all of our eyes, by the power of the Holy Spirit and not our own.

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Thankfulness

To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ everywhere…May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:1-14

Today I am filled with thankfulness for each of you. What we do really does matter. Let us continue to encourage one another in faith.

All Things Possible

Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples,… said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. John 6:1-15  When you focus on what you don’t have, it is difficult to see what you do have. Our relationship with the world must die in order to leave room for all the possibilities of God. Walk with the divine and in time all things possible will be revealed. Don’t let your dismay cause you to lose your faith. Faith in God’s love for us is greater than our strongest emotion.

…so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.

 

White Gloves On Sunday

“…one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.Luke 12 13-31  Growing up as a child my mother used to say that she never knew she was poor. She could not remember when she did not have food to eat, a place to stay and white gloves on Sunday. She accomplished many things in her life and yet she would tell you that her greatest possession was God’s love for her, her love for God, and the love she had for her family, exactly in that  order. Wealth by the world’s standards consists of many possessions. But blessed by God’s grace and mercy it is for us to look past the world’s standards, seek Wisdom and live according to God’s truth; according to God’s love.

Luke 12:13-31 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 

Proverbs 3:13-18

Happy are those who find wisdom,
   and those who get understanding,
for her income is better than silver,
   and her revenue better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
   and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
   in her left hand are riches and honour.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
   and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
   those who hold her fast are called happy. 

Trick Or Treat

Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? Luke 11:37-52   As a child I remember Halloween as a fun night. Growing up in a small town it wasn’t unusual to be out late but on Halloween we actually had something to do; walk the entire town and get as much candy as possible. Needless to say we had a lot of candy, some of which never got eaten. It never dawned on me then that how much candy we ended up with was determined by two factors; the number of doorbells we rang and how the host distributed the goods. Some people held out a big bucket of candy and allowed us to take what we wanted. This gave us the opportunity to pick and choose. Others would keep the bucket close and rationed out the pieces. Hopefully we got something we liked to eat. Today I wonder what determines whether we allow the trick or treaters to take what they want or whether we control what they receive? No doubt, if we allow trick treaters to take what they want some will take far more than what they need and perhaps the host will run out before the night is over. If however the host chooses to ration the goods she may end up with far more candy left over than she intended to have. What I do understand is that as the receiver, giving should not be taken advantage of and as the giver; giving isn’t so much about who controls the output of goods. Having been in both positions, what’s more important is the experience within me during the exchange.

So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practised, without neglecting the others. Luke 11:37-52

Cloud Of Unknowing

‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.’ Job 38:1-7, 34-41  This was the beginning of God’s response to Job as he struggled with the adversity that was happening in his life. As a believer, during adversity in my life, I sometimes find it very difficult to believe that God really is on my side. Perhaps it’s because I forget God’s relationship to this world, which of course includes me as well as the rest of humankind. I like to think that somewhere, at some point I was always a part of God’s grand scheme. Then there are times like today however when I feel as if God  has left me in a cloud of unknowing. I think of his servant Job and ask myself where was I indeed? Yet because of his greater plan in the midst of everything else under his authority, here I am.

Job 42:2  I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 

Maintain Your Peace Which Builds And Protects

I had a very interesting weekend and by all accounts quite enjoyable. However, it never fails that principalities against God’s will, that being peace and unity is confronted with an otherwise disengaged event, which only serves to disrupt the joy in the spirit that God desires us to have. In my case after considerable thought as to what I might learn from this encounter, I relate it to several scriptures which help to remind me that throughout this journey, in the same way God uses us as vehicles to build His kingdom here on earth, the enemy attempts to use God’s creation to break it down. Yes, even within the “church” meaning the body of Christ, we must always be conscious of being under attack. One cunning strategy is the use of scripture to justify adverse behavior. It is not only important to know the word of God but to study it. Most times it makes sense to simply walk away from what seems to be a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the scripture. Other times for the purpose of the Gospel, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, you will need to stand firm and having done all that you could do, give it over to God and then move on in peace.

Matthew 4:5-7 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’ Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ 

Romans 12:9-21 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Matthew 18:15 ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

Matthew 5:23-24  So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 

Who Builds The “House”?

Parenting and mentoring youth can be tricky at times and it is not always easy particularly when dealing with pride and esteem. However, sometimes children say things which gives us indications of a personality that could use some intervention. It seems apparent in 2 Samuel that King David believes that God’s world revolves around him. Imagine that! Yet, I like the way God so eloquently does what every loving parent would do; he uses what I call old school tactics and “nips it in the bud.”

Basically, God tells David that in the first place, he never asked him for a house and then helps David to remember that it was God who took David from the pasture. It was God who cut off all David’s enemies. It was God who appointed a place for David and the people of Israel that evildoers would not disturb them and it is God who gives them rest. The best part is when God covenants to build David a house. Long after David is laid down with his ancestors, it will be a house for David’s offspring that will establish an everlasting kingdom where God’s spirit reigns. God essentially tells David that in spite of all the riches that he sees and blessings that he has been given, God is not done! God continues, that this everlasting house will be built by the one in whom God calls his own son. The building of this house is where we come in, all of us who have had the experience of that stage when we believe that the world revolves around us and we have yet to realize that God’s plans for us like David, is bigger than we could imagine.

David had a lot of successes and some failures and so will we, and I believe God encourages us to be builders. The questions that always stands before us is whether we are building for ourselves or building for God. What is equally significant is what God’s response says about who he is and his relationship to us as the ultimate provider. Except to open our hearts by faith with thanksgiving, and allow him to work through us, God, the parent of all, doesn’t ask his offspring for a thing.

2 Samuel 7:2, 4-7 “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” …But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders* of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’

Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, they that build it labor in vain.

Fulfilling The Scripture Pt. 2

Consider for a moment a time when you may have felt hurt or betrayed by someone and yet as you look back on life you find yourself in a better place because of that experience. There is no way of knowing with absolute certainty what Judas’ thoughts may have been, but we can not argue that he must have had some questions and struggles within him even into his death, which in my mind is a tragedy. We know that Judas questions the use of the oil used to anoint Jesus feet. Perhaps he also questions Christ’s tactics and motives and particularly through out these last days struggles with the perceived rise of Christ among common humanity. Judas finds himself in between his relationship with the world and the spiritual relationship with Christ. He is having a difficult time seeing beyond the vehicle that is the body of Christ.  Remember Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Is not Judas portrayed to be in a place where we sometimes find our selves; unable to see beyond our present circumstances questioning God’s ways? The reality for us today is that when Judas died those questions, concerns and doubts did not die with him. Ultimately Judas had to make a decision and so do we. The scripture had to be fulfilled and Judas made the choice that led him to a sacrifice for death and yet leads us to the one sacrificed for life. Judas could be anyone of us or someone we know, but Judas’ dilemma doesn’t have to be our dilemma. The good news is that we have something that Judas did not have, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Are we using the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that the scripture can be fulfilled in our own lives?

Love

I believe experiencing love for oneself is one of the most important things we can teach our children. It is not simply the arrogance of loving oneself. It is experiencing love in relationship with the Holy Spirit within us. It is the consciousness of what is good, what is right, what is whole, and what is perfect. It is not experienced in bits and pieces but rather consistent and ongoing knowledge of God’s love for us in spite of our conditions. This ultimate perfection in love cannot be experienced through other people because as humans we are imperfect. It can only be experienced through God in Christ. As much as we like to think that our love is perfect, it is not. We hurt each other albeit unintentionally. Even our feeble attempts to protect those we love hurts because we want to hide things. The reality is that we hide things to protect ourselves, not the people we love. If we first seek and experience God’s perfect love, then we will know what love is suppose to feel like, without conditions (mercy and grace). Having obtained the perfection of God’s love within us, it is then that the peace, which passes all understanding, becomes our peace, walking in love, as Christ loves us. We obtain that peace when we understand God’s love for us. When we understand God’s love for us, then we are able to begin to apply God’s love to other people. Not the other way around.

1 John 4:7-8 …because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.