Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday March 4 God is Good

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!                  1 Chronicles 16:34
The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9 NIV
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalms 34:8 ESV

God is good!
All the time.
All the time
God is good!
Many worship services begin with this antiphonal declaration and many Christians use it for a greeting. It is good to remind ourselves that no matter what we see around us, or what our circumstance is or how we may feel at any given time, God is ALWAYS good. He can be nothing else for goodness is the very essence of God and likewise God is the source of all that is good. As we read in James, above, God never changes. When all is right with our world it is easy to speak those words and believe them. But what about those other times...times when we cry out and it seems as if He is nowhere to be found? It is at those times that we delineate our faith. For if it is only in good times that we trust in the goodness of God, we are really celebrating our good fortune, not the one who is the source of that good fortune. Life on this side of heaven will be filled with trials and pain. It's a promise directly from Jesus' own mouth. But we can be encouraged for Jesus has overcome this world and we serve a God who is not only good Himself, but is a veritable fountain of goodness even in this world. And that same God takes great joy in His He longs for us to know Him so that he can bless us with that very goodness.  Hallelujah!

O God of glory and might, we love You and join with Your children of all times and places in proclaiming Your goodness. Remind us O God, when we find ourselves in times of fear or doubt that You are good and You are in control and You long to be in relationship with each one of us so that we are able to bask in that goodness regardless of our outward circumstance. O Lord who never changes, give us eyes to see Your goodness in every situation and hearts that that long to connect with that goodness. We ask in Jesus name. AMEN!

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV

Thursday March 2 God is unfathomable

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. In this first week of Lent we will be considering God the Father...some of His attributes.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.       Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.             1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT

Any search for God must begin with the humble acknowledgement that He who made us is greater than we are and that only by His grace in revealing Himself, will even the faintest glimpse of Him be possible. Yet that should in no way hold us back from seeking to know Him. As we see in our Old Testament reading, God Himself placed in us that desire to know Him and He longs for us to be in relationship with know Him personally, not simply to know about Him. Paul tells us clearly that in this life we should not expect to know all the things of God. There are mysteries that will simply not be revealed at this time. But just as the sun rises each day without our help and our hearts beat within us keeping us alive without our understanding, so God remains sovereign and yet continues to call out to us His creatures to come into a deeper relationship with Him.
Creator God, we come before You with awe and thanksgiving that You have called us and planted in each of our hearts that desire for You that will lead us to You. Help us during this time of preparation, to draw closer to You that we might know You more and love You more fully, even as we experience the fullness of Your love for us.  Help us to walk in Your ways despite our human limitations. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday March 3 God is almighty, all powerful, omnipotent

And human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. Acts of the Apostles 17:25

I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27
Perhaps one of the first ideas we need to leave behind is that God needs us to do His work. God has no need of us whatsoever. He can accomplish anything he wants without the tiniest bit of assistance. In fact, God can accomplish in the blink of an eye, more than strongest, smartest or most talented among us can accomplish in a lifetime. No, God did not create us because he needed us but rather because he chose to. We are told in scripture that we are His masterpiece, made in His very image and that He exults over His image bearers with joy and loud singing. Not only that, but this same God who can so easily accomplish anything He pleases, chooses to partner with us here on the earth, to help build His kingdom and to help answer the prayers of His children. May we never forget this awesome privilege He has granted us through Christ, our savior!

Almighty Father, You who spoke the word and called all of creation into being; God who made the mighty oceans and sprinkles dew on the fragile silk of a spider's web we bow before You in awe of Your creative genius and in thanksgiving that one such as You would choose us to bear Your very image. Remind us this day of who we are and what You have made us to be. We ask in the name of the One You sent to save and lead your wandering children back home to You, Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN !

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish exceedingly, abundantly more than we might ask, think or imagine. Ephesians 3:20

So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Saturday December 24 Christ is Born

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only son of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
With these words we learn of the greatest of all miracles, that God almighty, the God of Abraham Isaac and David, the very author of creation, who made heaven and earth and everything therein chose, for our sakes to step out of the glory which He inhabits and walk among us; not just with us, but as one of us. He chose rather than remain seated on high, to come humbly into the very world he created, defiled by those whom he created, in order to restore us to Himself. Though He was fully God, he chose to empty Himself and become as one of us. Jesus Messiah, Immanuel, God with us, the King of Glory came into this world not with fanfare or display of strength, but born of a woman, a young virgin and her carpenter husband in the humblest of settings, a cattle shed. And this is what He chose. Jesus, the only person in all of history who chose to be born and for whom birth into this world was the greatest contrast of circumstance, chose this for us, knowing what it would all entail and cost Him. Yet He chose it still.
What did it cost to come in such a way? Why, it cost Him everything. This One who knew no sin chose to step directly into the sinful world and take every sin upon Himself so as to save us and reconcile us to Himself.  This One who was of the very substance of God, chose to give up all divine power and authority and become a helpless and very human child. How did that tiny human frame contain God Almighty? How did He empty Himself of all that He is and was? The how of it, friends, is a mystery we cannot expect to fully comprehend this side of heaven. The why of it is another matter. The why is because of His great love for those He created and that includes us. Our salvation begins not by human decision, or a husband's will, but born of God (John 1:13).
Is this not cause for the greatest of rejoicing? We have a divine mediator who knows our condition with complete intimacy, not just because of His own divine knowledge of all that is, but because he has chosen to share that very condition, with all its frailty and temptation and suffering. Sit with that a moment will you? The perfect One who knows no bounds, by His own choice, because of His unlimited love, chose such a way to redeem us. We are told in scripture, that He came to reveal God to us: No one has seen God; the only God who is at the Father's side, he has made him known (John 1:18) In that swaddled babe we are given a true high priest who is interceding for us; able to sympathize with human weakness (Hebrews 4:14-16) We are given a perfect example that we might follow in his steps (1 Peter2:21) and learn from His ways. He provides a sacrifice, a perfect and unblemished lamb, to atone for the sins of us all. In the letter to the Hebrews we are told  he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:17-18 ESV). As God he would not have been able to suffer death. As humankind, He would not have been able to conquer it. Yet as both natures fully integrated, He is able to present us weak and weary ones, spotless before the throne of God redeemed for all eternity. For this friends we join with the angels singing "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased" (Luke 2:14) HALLELUJAH! Christ is born!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Friday December 23 His Kingdom Come

“Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth— blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved...       
Joel 2:28-32 NLT

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4 NLT

This week we have been talking about dreams as a way God may choose to communicate with us. But what about the other kind of dream...the dream planted in each of us? That dream of what is to come that we celebrate through this season of Advent. For even as we commemorate the birth of baby Jesus in that long ago cattle shed, we look forward and dream of His return in glory.  This is more than a dream. It is a promise of our great and mighty God, who made heaven and earth, the seas and everything in them. Who keeps every promise forever. Psalm 146:6 So advent is truly a season to nurture those dream seeds God has planted in each of us.  It is a time to dream of that day promised in the scriptures above, when all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. To dream of that day when God will wipe every tear from our eyes and we will no longer know sorrow or suffering, crying or pain ever again. Can you dream of a day when we no longer ache for those we love who are suffering in body, mind or spirit? Can you dream of day when children are not hungry? Can you dream of a day when we do not watch helplessly as innocents are slaughtered by evil regimes? Can you dream of a day when Aleppo is part of paradise? Can you dream of a day when we no longer need fear for the safety of our brothers and sisters simply because of the color of their skin? Can you dream of a day when God Himself lives with us?If so, perhaps it is time to stop dreaming and start working to build the Kingdom right where you are and hasten that day He has promised.

"God of grace and God of glory, on your people pour Your power. Crown your Church's ancient story. Bring her bud to glorious flower. Grant us wisdom. Grant us courage for the facing of this hour. Lo! The hosts of evil round us scorn the Christ,assail His ways. From the fears that long have bound us free our hearts to faith and praise. AMEN! (Harry E. Fosdick)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wednesday December 21 Attention!

For God may speak in one way, or in another, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings. He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride. He protects them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death. Job 33:14-18 NLT

If we accept that God created us for Himself and His purposes, surely we would accept that He wants to communicate with us. In fact, He is relentless in trying to get our attention so that we might have a true, active relationship with Him. Today's scripture affirms that God speaks to us in many different ways. The simplest and most direct way He speaks to us is through His written word, but He certainly does not stop there. He may use other people, music, circumstances, nature, and of course, His Holy Spirit residing in each one of us. Last time we talked about the possibility that God may speak to us in our dreams, and again, today's verses confirm that possibility. Of course, not every dream is a communication from God, any more than every word spoken to us from other people is communication from God. It is important to use discernment and "test the spirits, whether they are from God for many false prophets have gone into the world" 1 John 4:1 Nonetheless, as scripture tells us, dreams can be a valuable source of communication from God. He may use them to warn us of a situation that is dangerous to either our physical or spiritual selves, as He did with Abimalech when he took Sarah for himself. (Genesis chapter 20) Or He may use a dream to offer encouragement as He did for Gideon in Judges chapter 7. Consider the importance of dreams in the Christmas narrative, including Joseph's dream telling him to take Mary as his wife, or later to flea to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to  protect Him from Herod. Similarly it was through a dream that the wisemen were warned of Herod's evil intentions. How might God be using dreams to get your attention?

Great Lover of our souls, we come giving thanks with such gratitude that no matter how distant we me become, You never cease reaching out and calling to us. Lord we thank You for the way Your faithful servants of old listened to Your communication through dreams. Help us O God, to be open and attentive to all the ways You would speak to us each and every day. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday December 19 Dreams

Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Genesis 37:5-11 NIV

Perhaps it is because I used to have extremely vivid dreams, but dreams have always interested me.  That certainly puts me in good company. A multitude of books and articles have been written about dreams over the years and dreams have been the subject of scientific study. The ancients believed dreams were revelations from God to be acted upon,  as in the story from Genesis of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph's dreams and his ability to interpret the dreams of others were the source of both his misfortune at the hands of his brothers and his rise to power at the hands of Pharaoh. Pioneering psychologists such, as Jung and Freud, saw dreams as tools of the unconscious mind to help us work out the psychological difficulties of our waking time. More recently, neuroscientists have posited that dreams are part of memory consolidation, connecting visual,  auditory and motor experiences. Often, when this happens, scientists tell us, we are able to connect images and ideas that we were previously unable to, possibly leading to breakthroughs. And so modern science brings us back around to dreams as revelation. That modern science gives us biochemical mechanisms for the way dreams happen,  in no way dismisses the possibility the ancients embraced that dreams are communication from God.  After all God is the amazing creative source of our biochemical make up and functioning. I urge you to pay attention to your dreams. Perhaps God indeed has a message you need to hear.

Creator God,  You have made us so marvelously! Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made, in ways that even the greatest minds cannot fully fathom. Lord we thank You for Your amazing creativity and attention to detail in creating us and sustaining us and leading us back to You. Help us, we pray to be attentive to all the ways You communicate with us, especially through the sending of Your Son Jesus, in whose name we now pray.  AMEN!