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Tag Archives: faith

Don’t forget about God

We are beginning into the hectic season of the year.

Fall parties, ok Halloween parties, just ended, or are in the works, and we are all preparing for the 2 months of the year we binge eat and go to so many parties we cannot get time to sleep.

And in all of the hecticness of parties and seasonal celebrations what happens to our faith life?

We seem to want to make it all work on the one hour we get in on Sunday mornings, and if we make 4 Sundays of worship, then that 4 hours out of the month will carry us through!

If we only got 4 hours of sleep a month would that be enough?

We need more than 4 hours of sleep to survive, now one could get 4 hours of sleep a day and function, but only 4 hours of sleep in 31, 30 or even 28 days? That is 744, 720 or 672 hours in a month depending on the number of days. And 4 hours is only 0.537%, 0.556%, or 0.595% of the month!

Is our faith going to grow or survive on a half of a percent of our time?

A devotional life, according to Frogs Without Legs Can’t Hear, is “essentially a way of living in the world connected to the saving work and message of Jesus Christ; the intersection between the eternal with the mundane in a way that personalizes God’s saving work and word.”

We need to be connected to God for more than 1 hour a week, more than 0.595% of the time!

St. Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing!” All of life is to be connected to God and that is what our devotional life must be.

If we are going to survive as disciples of Jesus, and grow in that discipleship we need to spend more than 1 hour a week with God. If you spent 1 hour a week with others would there be a vital relationship?

So as we dig into the busy party season, let us also dig into devotional time with Jesus.

Be on the lookout for our Advent Devotional at St. John’s, and the picture a day Advent devotional I put together. And if you need other resources, ask! I would be overjoyed to help.

And God wants more than 0.595% of your time… And your life and the lives of your family will be better off with more time with God also.

So Happy Party Season! And don’t forget about God, because He will never forget about you!

 

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David’s Advice to Solomon

When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn. Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’ “Moreover you know also what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner son of Ner, and Amasa son of Jether, whom he murdered, retaliating in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist, and on the sandals on his feet. Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. Deal loyally, however, with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table; for with such loyalty they met me when I fled from your brother Absalom. There is also with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a terrible curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim; but when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ Therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man; you will know what you ought to do to him, and you must bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.” Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established. (1 Kings 2:1-12, NRSV)

Here David is dying and tells his son, Solomon, the anointed king that will take David’s place on the throne to remain in the light of God and to follow God’s statutes and to keep the way of the Lord. And if Solomon does this, then God will bless the kingdom.

We should all take heed and walk before God with faithfulness of heart and soul. God will bless us and keep us. We will be walking in His ways and showing the world His love. None of us could ever do any better!

 

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Joshua and Israel Cross the Jordan

Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim with all the Israelites, and they came to the Jordan. They camped there before crossing over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place. Follow it, so that you may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, a distance of about two thousand cubits; do not come any nearer to it.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” To the priests Joshua said, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass on in front of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went in front of the people. The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” Joshua then said to the Israelites, “Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.” Joshua said, “By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.” When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan. (Joshua 3:1-17, NRSV)

Again the people walk across dry land where there should be water flowing. God has shown His people again and again how He will be with them and take care of them. God stayed in the middle of the Jordan with the priests until every Israelite had crossed the river.

God provided for the people through Moses and now through Joshua. Is God working in and through your life?

 

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Parting of the Red Sea

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?” So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. (Exodus 14:5-7, 10-14, 21-29, NRSV)

This is an interesting story. Most of us have seen the movie, so we think of the image above of the water pushing back and becoming walls, because that is what the text says.

But what happened really and why is this story important to us as followers of Christ?

Well, the story tells us that Pharoh after the plaques let the Israelites go and after that, he thought, “What have I done, now we have no one to do our work.” So they went after the Israelites. And the Israelites were then trapped between a body of water and the approaching Egyptian army. And the Israelites whined to God and to Moses about graves in Egypt and having to die in the wilderness. But God heard them and told Moses to lift his staff and the waters would divide.

Now, how big was this body of water? The text says the red sea. Which is here:

But is that actually where the Israelites crossed? And where on the Red Sea?

What if I told you that most scholars don’t think it was the Red Sea, but a different body of water? I remember in my class on this in seminary our professor telling us the Hebrew is Sea of Reeds. So it probably isn’t the Red Sea. And my bible software shows the route of the exodus going through what is now know as Great Bitters Lake.

And Great Bitters Lake is right here.

Or here is a picture of where it is located:

So why didn’t the Israelites go around the lake? Well, they were fleeing for their lives at this point because this huge army was coming up behind them, and they saw water in front of them, maybe for as far as they could see. So they panicked, as we often do.

And to get back to the question of why this is an important story for followers of Christ, beyond that it is part of the story that leads us to Jesus coming, it shows that God is always faithful. God led His people out of Egypt not to their death but to a land flowing with milk and honey. God upholds His promises and is faithful to His people.

Have faith that God will part the waters and help you walk on dry land. Even when it looks like all hope is lost, God will never leave you.

 

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The Promise is Given Again

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” (Genesis 18:1-15, NRSV)

Abraham and Sarah were very old and now they are visited and told again they will be the father of many nations and they will have an offspring. This when they are well beyond the childbearing years. But nothing is impossible for God.

When God makes a promise it is kept. What would you laugh at if God told you something that was hard to believe?

We think we know what God can do, but nothing is beyond His doing.

So have faith and trust in the promises God has given us.

 

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Back to School

It is August and for some of us, that means it is time to start preparing to go back to school!

Teachers will be in class rooms if they haven’t been already. Getting things ready for the new students to arrive in the fall.

Parents will go back school shopping with reluctant children.

Kids will not want to go shopping.

But all of the whining and worrying doesn’t stop school from coming. It is kind of like the Grinch, no matter how many trees or presents he takes Christmas still comes. No matter how many times you say you don’t want to go shopping or hide that back to school list, school will still come. You can’t stop it from coming.

 

And really isn’t that how we should all live every day of our lives? School is for learning, and we should never stop learning. The day I don’t learn something is a bad day. I want to keep learning and growing.

This is the attitude we need to have about life and faith. Our faith is never something we graduate from. Confirmation isn’t the end of our learning process or mean we are perfect disciples of Christ. It is never enough, we will never know it all. We are constantly learning and growing in our faith.

So buy some supplies and get ready to dig in and grow in your faith. Crack open your bible and knock the dust off of it and dig into it. We need to seek and learn. Are you ready to learn with me, and to continue to grow as disciples of Jesus?

 

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Peter and Cornelius

Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate. They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.” So Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?” They answered, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging. (Acts 10:17-23a, NRSV)

We find this story hard to take because we have never had God speak to us through angels or through visions. And it seems that people don’t show up at our doors and say that God has sent them.

Still happens. I know of a congregation in Texas where a man walked from California to that congregation and when he arrived walked in and said that God had sent him to be the pastor of that church. And he was the pastor. I am not sure if he still is or not, but it happened…

Why is it hard for us to believe this just because we have not had it happen to us? Can’t we believe on faith?

That is really hard. But really that is what our faith is, hard. Following Jesus is easy and the most difficult thing you will ever do. But know you do not do it alone.

 

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