Don’t worry- we have a Father close by

If I said “Don’t worry..”

What would you say? My guess is you would say, “be happy”. That’s the hook from the Bobby McFerrin song.

Jesus said it first and then he gave a reason not to and then he redirects our attention to what we really need to be focused on.

“25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Our culture and our economy are based on what we don’t have. Advertising keeps showing us what we could have, or what other people have, so that we will be discontented with what we have now and keep going out and trying to buy our happiness. But I think that may be a sideways rant. Sorry.

I do not do well in this area, worry. The problem of worry is what lies behind it. I worry because I don’t trust. I don’t trust because I don’t know the one well enough that I should be trusting in.

All I can do is confess my failure and weaknesses, ask for forgiveness and then get back to the task at hand. Seeking the Kingdom first.

Father God, forgive me when I worry, pull me close and tell me you love me because sometimes, often times I forget that truth. I love you Father, show me what you need me to do for you today.

(Originally posted 1/19/17)

At your service!

Wouldn’t it be nice if each time something broke, the repairman was already there to help us? Like as we are pulling off the highway with a flat tire, or steam billowing out from under the hood, the service truck was already there in front of us and the service tech was smiling and waving walking towards us with tools and parts in his hands? That would be nice.

God is like that.

That is why he sent Jesus to us.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:6-8 NIV

The thing is, us humans come out of the womb broken and in need of repair.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

1 John 1:8-10

“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:10-18

God knows us and knows our predicament and that is why he sent Jesus to suffer and die in our place. Then to be raised to life again. He knows us AND he loves us. He wants us to be with him, to have fellowship with him.

“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:21-23

The bad news is, we all need a repairman for our souls. The good news is that God has already sent not just any repair technician, but God Himself has come down, in the form of his son to repair our broken condition.

Does everyone around us know that? Do all the people we know, know about Jesus? That he came not to condemn us for being broken but to save us from our brokenness? I wonder if the ones who don’t know, would like to know? Only one way to find out….

(Originally posted 1/19/18)

God is light

Was it my fear of the dark that eventually led me to become an electrician? It could just be a coincidence. It still thrills me to go through the process of wiring and conduit and termination of devices, to get to the reveal-drumroll- -click- then let there be light!

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 1:5-7

Electricians participate in what God started at the beginning of creation. He said “let there be light” and there was light. Since God is light, does that mean he just entered the void where nothing was and just him being there brought light? Or did he create light that would be part of creation?

I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter. What matters is that God is light, his character is light. That’s one of the scary things about him. We can’t hide in the shadows, we can’t cover or shade ourselves AND be in his presence. He is light, exposing us his exposure is not intended to shame us, (shame not being the impetus for repentance) but to make us aware of our own condition, our own direction, so we can repent and get set right and get cleaned up.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 1:5-7

I get dressed in our basement in the morning. I dress in one room then turn off the light as I leave and head for the stairs up and out. Many times the darkness disorients me, I can’t find the stairs or the switch for the lights and I have walked into the walls and or tripped. What if once I found the switch and could see the way up and out, I refused the updated information and continued on my misguided path? that would be silly. So it is when we meet with God and refuse the information that his light of revelation brings us.

Jesus, being God also has character of light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

This quote comes directly after Jesus defended a woman caught in adultery. His light exposed her sin but did not condemn her for it, instead he forgave her.

Someday this light will light the earth , until that day…? What will we do with the light we have experienced that did not condemn but forgave, forgives us? Will we share it? Will we use it? Will we spread it as we share the good news of what Jesus has done in us and can do for anyone else who will confess and believe?

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

Revelation 21:22-24

#Godislight #1john1

(Originally posted 1/18/18)

The end for Rusty

I don’t consciously try to work my truck into my posts but this morning the text just lends itself to it.

Matthew 6

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I have a 57 Chevy truck. I named him Rusty. I didn’t think about the significance of naming something made mostly of of steel, Rusty. Rust is the end of steel. It would be like naming a baby “Mortal” or “Death is Coming”. (Sorry Rusty.)

But that is the sad truth. Rusty has cancerous rust in many places and will some day dissolve back into the earth where his parts came from. The same is true for me. I will breath my last breath and I will be gone. Or will I?

In 1 Corinthians Paul talks about the resurrection.

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”

I believe in the resurrection of the dead. I believe this because Jesus rose from the dead. He cooked, he ate, he was seen by over 500 people in one place, he could be touched, Mary Magdalene grabbed him outside the tomb and he said to Thomas, “touch me”.

This life isn’t all there is to life. None of the stuff we gather up

Here can move with us to the next chapter of life but we can send something ahead of us by investing in the kingdom.

The treasure test is like in a murder mystery, Follow the money. Your money will tend to pile up on and around the things you love. If you love the Kingdom of God and his people your check register will show it.

I am going to look at my checkbook and then have a talk with God about my priorities. (Rusty…)

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer but we all will die. What will our life show? Where have we invested our heart and money and our time?

I leave with this:

“12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.”[a] But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”

We by nature Put our money where our heart is. Who has our heart?

Jesus plus ? = eternal life

Jesus has an exclusive. It is Jesus plus nothing, and Jesus or nothing.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

1 John 1:1-4

There is no one else who can truthfully claim to be the Word of life.

Jesus said in John’s Gospel “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

Our culture wants to downgrade Jesus, to make him one of many ways to God, but that is not what he said. He said we can’t get to the Father without going through him. Can Jesus lie and still be perfect? Can he exaggerate and still be sinless? Can he be mistaken and still be trustworthy? It looks like I have a choice to make, he can’t be one of many if he said he is THE way, THE truth and THE life. I choose to believe what he said about himself.

John also said this about Jesus in his Gospel “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:1-5

I can’t imagine how cool it would be to hang out with Jesus. John, the writer of this Book was a close friend, maybe the closest friend of Jesus. “We heard him, seen him, touched him…” He’ll say it again, “seen and heard”. John was an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry. He was one of 3 who got to see him transfigured on the the mountain top.

“Make our joy complete. “ John’s joy was to see people believing in Jesus and being saved. Our family, my dads side, us four siblings, any cousins and aunts and uncles we can gather will be meeting again this year. Loeffelbein’s are descendants of German immigrants. Our family has a history of being hard working industrious people. We know how to work. We don’t know as well how to play, how to relax. We are learning. We do enjoy getting together. There is sweet fellowship. There is family love.

Fellowship with God will be like this except beyond it, way way beyond it. Love that knows no boundaries or limits. Love that knows us completely, faults and fears, failures and foibles and still loves us completely. Engulfed in love, like the security of a warm newborn swaddle and the freedom of a moonlight skinny dip, blended together in perfection. I believe that I cannot fully comprehend what fellowship with God will be but I think it will be like the garden of Eden, fully exposed and unashamed. We receive Jesus not only to escape hell and avoid its tortures but to gain fellowship, with each other, the family of God, and with God our Father.

Jesus knew that sweet fellowship before he left heaven. He left that to come here to earth, to to live and love and serve, and in completion of that service, to suffer and die for our sins, for my sins, then raise to life again and go to back to heaven to intercede for me and make ready a place for me to spend eternity.

Today the Word of life is reaching out to each one of us. What will we do with his offer of forgiveness of sin and eternal fellowship with a God who loves us more and better than we can know or deserve?

Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism. I do it all the time. It means to give human characteristics to non-human things. I do voices for our dogs to explain their facial expressions or their behavior. I do it for my truck Rusty, ascribing to him traits he doesn’t really have, or feelings or even masculinity. ( trucks are in fact gender neutral, but don’t tell Rusty).

When I looked up the word to make sure I was getting it right it said anthropomorphism is something we do to non-human things, especially deity, gods.

That’s strange for me to write deity, like there are a multitude of gods. I believe there is only one God and he exists in 3 persons but that’s not what I want to write about.

Matthew 6 has the prayer in it that we call the Lord’s Prayer.

I’ll quote it here in context but I really only want to look at the first line of the prayer.

“5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]

but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Hallowed be your name. Why would Jesus recommend we start our prayers like that? Hallowed. It isn’t a word we use often. It means revered or holy. Holy is a word that grasps the meaning for me. Holy means separate or special or “other”.

All we see around us, all we can know or experience, is all part of the things God created but God himself is not part of his creation. He is holy, he is other, he is not from around here, he is different. Jesus knew our propensity to anthropomorphize things around us to help us understand them, but we cannot treat God that way. We cannot understand God better by attributing to him human characteristics. He made us in his image, it doesn’t work to return the favor and recreate him in our image. One reason for that is that that puts limits on God and God is limitless. When we sit down to pray and we start out by stating, “God, you are not from around here, you are not limited like I am, you are not a created being, instead, you are the creator, you are separate from us and yet you love us and joined yourself to us in Jesus, you became God in the flesh, you are to be hallowed, you are so awesome and great and fantastic that it makes me want to worship you”.

Once I have established that mind set, then I can get on with my prayer. I can pray for his kingdom to advance in our world because I believe only he knows what is best and can do what is best. I can ask for my needs to be met, I can ask to be forgiven, I can ask for guidance and protection because I am talking to my God, the creator of the universe.

Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

(Originally posted 1/16/17)

Good news/Bad news

The good news / bad news of Matthew 5.

Matthew 5 starts out with the beatitudes.

“3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

I like what I hear until I get to verse 10. I’m challenged by 10-12. I guess I kind of want to think about persecution as a surprise and not an expected upcoming event. You can’t surprise God. And he doesn’t want us surprised by negative push back. Persecution will come.

Who can reject the gospel message? Who would ? I mean the very word gospel means good news. Who doesn’t want good news? Well unfortunately along with the good news there is bad news. The good news is that God loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us. The bad news is that before we can receive Gods gift of forgiveness, we have to confess that we need to be forgiven. Everyone wants the forgiveness but not everyone wants to admit that they need forgiveness. Some people who have been hurt refuse the message of forgiveness because if they can be forgiven then so can the ones that hurt them. Everyone is invited to be forgiven. Not everyone will take God up on his offer. Some will rather damage or destroy the good news bearer than to hear and receive the message.

We are all in the same race. The human race. It’s a race that we all lose. We all lose to death. There was one who died and then came back from death. Jesus. If the race was to live life without sinning then there was the same one, Jesus, who lived his life as a man without sin. He is offering us to share in victories both over death and over sin.

There are many challenges in chapter 5. If we think our life is free of the “big sins”, he tells us that if we hated someone then we have killed that person in our hearts. If we have never touched another person sexually, but we thought about it, we committed the deed in our heart. It’s in the heart where sin is born and if our hands are clean but our hearts are dirty then we are dirty.

2 more challenges.

“43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Love our enemies and pray for the very person who is persecuting us? That is a challenge.

The last verse is the topper. Being perfect. How can I be perfect? My heart goes places my hands will never go and God sees that. How can I be perfect?

I’ve heard it said that you do not have to be Good to get into heaven. You do not have to be good……you have to be perfect.

How can a sinner like me be perfect?

Jesus.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

The bad news is we all need be forgiven. The good news is that God has already done that in Jesus

(Originally posted 1/15/17)