Fixed on the faithful one

Hebrews 3

Are you a fan? A fan of a team or a movie star or an athlete or anything? I am a Chevrolet fan. I own 2. When I talk about one of the two, my 57, (his name is Rusty) my eyes glass over, my lips curl into a smile, my speech speeds up and even gets a little louder. I am a fan of Rusty and I love to talk about him.

The writer of Hebrews is a fan of Jesus. One of the biggest fans. Rightly so. Who else is worthy of our attention and affection? Who else has saved us and who else intercedes for us? There have been great men, great servant leaders, Moses was one. But as great as Moses was as a leader, Jesus is better.

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”[a] bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”

We have only one day to do what we have to do. That day is today. All we can do is work in the moment that we are in. If we knew we were dying what would do? Put our affairs in order. What day do we put our affairs in order? Today.

““Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.””

We get right now. What will we do with it?

Jesus loves us and died to
Prove it. He lives now to intercede for us. Have you accepted his gift yet?

I think I slipped into rabid used car salesman mode. “What’s it going to take to get you into this…?.” Im not selling anything. Jesus is giving us freedom, forgiveness, family and salvation.

““Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.””

It’s today. Now what?

My efforts are like giving birth to wind

Isaiah 26

Are you feeling weak and weary?

I am.

Do all your efforts end up like a big burst of gas from your backside?

Mine do some times.

Let me offer you, and me some hope.

“Lord, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer. As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in your presence, Lord. We were with child, we writhed in labor, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth, and the people of the world have not come to life. But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise— let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy— your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed on it; the earth will conceal its slain no longer.

Isaiah 26:16-21 – NIV

What can we hope in? Who can we hope in?

Isaiah 11. A branch from the stump of Jesse.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord — and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

Isaiah 11:1-6 – NIV

God is going to rearrange the order of things. There will be true justice. There will be disciplinary action against wrongs done. Somehow God will set all things right. The wrong I have done will be set right. Not by me, and I will witness the miracle but I won’t pay for it because Jesus has already paid for it. He paid for my wrongs by dying on the cross. He paid for your wrongs too. Jesus is the root from the stump of Jesse. Have you asked him to forgive you yet? He will. I know he will do it for you because he did it for me. He forgave me.

He doesn’t look on the outside, he looks on the inside.

“A broken and contrite heart oh God you will not despise”. I don’t remember where that is in the Bible. I said it hundreds of times in the Lutheran liturgy.

I have loosely scrapped two sections of the Book of Isaiah together and I told you God has forgiven you because he loves you. Now it’s up to you. What will you do about Gods great loving gift?

Timeline

Our race, our culture, all human beings, have a timeline and it has been marching forward steadily forward as steadily as the earth turns on its axis and as calendar pages get used up and torn off, the timeline just keeps plodding on. I vaguely remember my geometry teacher Mr Ivan Hoyt talking about the properties of a ray. A ray is a pointed line that goes straight from a point out into eternity, it goes on forever. 🔜

From Wikipedia: When viewed as a vector, a ray is a vector from a point to a point . In geometry, a ray is usually taken as a half-infinite line (also known as a half-line) with one of the two points and. taken to be at infinity.

(Eternity- infinity…whatever…)

Isaiah chapter 9 has 2 prophecies about what God was going to do. God’s timeline started in the garden of Eden. It continues through the life of Abraham and the patriarchs and continues on through the history of the nation Israel and then when Israel is divided into two nations, north and south, focuses on the nation of Judah. The book of Isaiah is God speaking to his people, warning them of upcoming devastation and promising restoration and reconciliation in the future. But it goes beyond Just Judah and Israel and the Jews as a nation and God broadens the focus of his message to include everyone, all the people of the world.

Our, earths that is, timeline is just that, a line. It is not a time ray, at least not yet. It is a time line. A line has two fixed points, a beginning and an end. God started it and he will finish it.

In between those points he developed a plan to save us. the plan has always been to send his son Jesus.

The book of Isaiah is stuffed with hints and peeks into how this this will work and what this savior will act like and what he will do.

Isaiah chapter 9 is one such place.

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
Isaiah 9:1-7 – NIV

Earlier in chapter 7 we get another peek, a virgin will bear a son.

“Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights. ” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test. ” Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.
Isaiah 7:10-16 – NIV

The date today is December 2. On the church calendar we are in the season of advent, which kind of means, the season of anticipation. During this season we try to remember what it was like to anticipate the new thing that God would do, and do we try and put ourselves in that mindset. the Jewish people had a long history of oppression and servitude to nations that occupied them and ruled over them. They were looking forward to God setting them free. Not many anticipated all that God would do when he sent this redeemer to earth. God’s plan wasn’t so limited. His plan was to set all people free, not just Jews, and not from just political slavery but from spiritual slavery to sin and physical slavery to death.

So our timeline is a line. It has a beginning and an end. Speaking of ends, I woke up from a dream last night filled with fear about the end of time being imminent and the struggles involved in the last days. It could be soon. Or not. It will be, we just don’t know when.

There will be change at the end of our timeline, time will be exploded out on both ends to infinity, in all directions. Eternity is infinity in all directions.

Are you ready? Have you met Jesus the Christ, the promised messiah and redeemer?

He is a prayer away. He is waiting for you. He loves you. he wants to spend eternity with us, you and me. It requires a transaction. We have to trade our sinfulness for his righteousness. Otherwise eternity will be without him. That is a place no one should be. He died and he rose again and then he ascended into heaven and now waits to complete our home, to complete the number of people who will be saved and wait for the signal from the Father that it is time.

Timeline. Tick tick tick. Please consider his offer.

In all things…

It’s not hypothetical. It isn’t hyperbole. They aren’t just nice words to give us warm fuzzies. They are words spoken by God through the apostle Paul.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

It was 52 years ago today, probably around this time of day, maybe a little later, it was dark. Fifty two years ago I was burned. My face and right hand would never be the same. I was eight years old. But God used this horrible thing, even and especially this horrible thing to preserve me and lead me into a relationship with the most perfect woman to share my life with. My wife Mary has been the single most supportive person and the biggest blessing in my life. Besides meeting Jesus, and being saved and forgiven by him, Mary has been the most important person in my life. We met after I was burned. After I was disfigured. Somehow she saw something in me that attracted her to me.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

These words more than any other in the Bible show me, remind me, that God loves me and will use even the worst things in my life, the worst things in our lives, for our good. God used the worst thing that happened to me the bring the best thing to happen to me. Why? Because of two things.

One, He loves us.

Two, he is a good father.

Scratch that itch?

Is it an itch or a hunger?

There’s a restless soulish urge that continues to plague me. I want to say it is spiritual in nature, it is at least soulish. It comes from somewhere beyond my rational mind’s control. It is a longing but it doesn’t go away when I administer what should be relief measures. The more I attend to it the greater it becomes.

It reminds of something I dealt with back in Jr High.

When I was in 7th grade I started to get some itchy spots on the back and side of my calves. I didn’t like the itchiness, but I loved the satisfaction of scratching. The harder and more intensely I scratched the more pleasurable the sensation, up to a point. Then it started hurting. It went on for what seemed like months. The bumps where the itching started grew in number, and as I scratched, they spread. first they were dime size, then quarter size, then half dollar size. They started oozing, and forming scabs.

The style in that day was to wear long white tube socks, all the way to the knee if you could find them. They were made of some type of acrylic fiber and they had two or three bands of color at the top. The half dollar size sores on my calves were covered by my socks. The scabs that would form on the sores sometimes would get stuck in the fiber of the socks. pulling the socks off or down tore off the scabs. (Sorry this is so gross). It became a cycle of itching, scratching, oozing, scabbing, spreading. What started as a sore on a leg became multiple sores on both legs. I don’t remember how my mom discovered what was going on, she worked full time and wasn’t home very much, but eventually She saw the sores and I was taken to the doctor and given some cream and antibiotics and the itching and infection went away.

I don’t remember how annoying the itch was. I do remember how pleasurable the scratching was. This plague of soulish unrest that I am experiencing is like that itch. And to answer the original question I asked, It is an itch, not a hunger. If you feed a hunger, it goes away, it is satisfied. If you scratch an itch, the itch only gets stronger the next time, and bigger. It covers more area and the scratching brings with it other problems, like infection and other ills.

The problem, the itch, is soulish. It lives in area beyond my intellect but under my spirit. I can’t think it away. I can pray it away. There are issues that my brain power can overcome, but soul issues live outside the realm of my intellect, like in an orbit that my brain cannot reach, but my spirit, now inhabited by the Holy spirit absorbs the orbit of my brain and my soul with its emotions and longings and itches.

My solution for the itch is to say NO to the urge to scratch, and then honestly pray to my Father in heaven about both the itch, and the urge to scratch. If I have scratched and caused an infection in my soul, God offers me salve. He offers me the salve of forgivenss in Jesus.

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
James 4:7-10 – NLT

The spiritual prescription in James’s is pretty simple, Resist temptation AND run towards God our loving Heavenly Father. now comes the hard part, the act of my will, will I do it?

In seventh grade I didn’t start to heal until I revealed to my mom what was going on. There was a confession of sorts, I had to accept that I needed help, that fixing this thing was beyond my ability, it was also beyond my mom’s ability, we had to go to a physician. Jesus is the great physician. My job is to run to him. His job is to heal my wounds, even those that are self inflicted.

I have written this down so that I can share what I think might be a common problem and offer a solution that I am clumsily learning to use. I hope it helps. Jesus saves, he also salves.

At the gate but late

The door was closed.
She could not get on her flight.
She missed it and no one could or would help her.

I was at Seatac. I was at my gate early. Not bragging, just saying I was there early. Next to my gate was another gate flying somewhere far away, Texas maybe? I had seen this lady on the other side, the main terminal. She was being seated in a wheelchair by an airport worker. When she showed up at her gate she was walking. Earlier I had seen the airlines’ hostesses walking the length of the terminal calling out names of missing passengers and heard multiple announcements asking for passengers to go to the desk, announcing boarding and then final boarding. Then they closed up the desk, walked through the doors and boarded the plane. After all of that happened the lady showed up. She was at the right gate but she was late. She couldn’t find anyone to help her. She walked through the seats asking for help, loudly asking for someone, anyone from her airline to help but they were all in the plane already.
She tried crashing the door. She could see her plane still parked at the gate but she couldn’t get on.

When she crashed the door an alarm sounded and security personnel arrived rather quickly. But they couldn’t get her on the plane either. It didn’t seem to make any difference why she was late or how loud she got with her protests. She could not ride that plane. Even with a boarding pass she could not get aboard the plane.

It was a scene that played out in my life that I️ watched like it was a performance for me. It made me wonder and now over 2 weeks later I am still pondering it. As the character Scrooge says in the Christmas Carol, “why was I privy to this conversation?”.

At the same time I have Been reading 2 Peter. In chapter 2, Peter mentions some times when God’s timing and the peoples time ran out.

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;”
2 Peter 2:4-10

So did God show me this so that I would present it as a cautionary tale? As a culture we are constantly exposed to and driven by schedules and time tables. Is it a surprise that God also has a schedule and a time table for his plan for us? None of us knows his time table and schedule. Not even Jesus knew when the end would be. Can we say that God is a meany head for having a schedule? Or can we say thank you to him for his patience with us thus far?

Further into his letter Peter had this to say,
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:3-9

Mary calls me Debbie Downer because I see the dark side of things, I really don’t want this to be that.

God loves us. He sent Jesus to us not Just to say I love you, but to do I love you. Jesus came to die for sins we cannot pay for or erase. Then he rose from the dead to lead us into God’s heaven. He made a way for us.

We get today. We have today to choose.

I don’t know the outcome for the poor lady who missed her plane. I do know the outcome of everyone who missed Noah’s boat. I do know the outcome for everyone who misses God’s grace in Jesus but I would rather talk about the splendor waiting for those who receive God’s great gift of forgiveness in Jesus.

Today, all aboard.

What kind of people ought we to be?

From 3 years ago:

It’s cyber Monday. A busy day for shopping. Mary has been asking me what I want for Christmas and I I’ve been humbly replying “I am content with life, I want for nothing” but then I went to Home Depot with my son in law Michael. SO much stuff, so many tools and gadgets that I don’t have yet.

But I caution myself with what the apostle Peter says in his second letter.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”
2 Peter 3:8-13

Everything we see and know will eventually be destroyed by God as he prepares a new heaven and a new earth. Only two things will remain, the word of God and the souls of men. We are created to live forever. And we will, but where will we spend eternity?

God loves us and longs to spend eternity with us but our sins separate us from him. He knew that and prepared a way for us to be forgiven and cleansed from our sin through his only son Jesus. By accepting Jesus death as payment and believing in his resurrection we can spend eternity with our Heavenly father.

I’m going to try to not let this holiday season be about the stuff of life in stores but about hastening the return of Jesus by expanding his kingdom through sharing the story of a God who loves me enough to die in my place. A baby who came to save me, save us.

Who can I tell this to today?

Thanksgiving Eve: how much is enough?

James 5.

Riches. Having some makes us want more. On the eve of the day we as a nation give thanks for to our God for his abundance that he has given to us, James has this to say to us.

“And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.

4-6 All the workers you’ve exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You’ve looted the earth and lived it up. But all you’ll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you’ve done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it.”

Will our fattened corpse that we leave behind testify against our indulgent lifestyle? How much is enough? What have we done to earn what we have? Is having more our goal or is our goal of wanting more so we have enough and sharing the rest with others who don’t have enough?

“7-8 Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.

9 Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner.”

Patience, waiting, delayed gratification. These are not popular practices in our culture. And that is okay because We are not of this culture. Christians have been waiting for the return of our messiah for 2 thousand years. Does that mean he isn’t coming? No, it means He is closer now then he has ever been and each day is closer still. We Look around, we watch and wait, we stay busy building the kingdom planting the flag in a heart here or there. Gods kingdom doesn’t exist on the soil, it exists in the hearts of people. We can’t claim America for Jesus but we can claim Americans for Jesus.

Pray. Pray for America, pray for whatever country we live in, pray for each other, pray for the sick. Prayer works because God our Father is all powerful and He works. Not like a genie where we ask for selfish gain but like an all knowing, all powerful God he gives us what we need within his all knowing wisdom about what will help us grow up.

Sing praise to our great God because no matter what situation we are in, he is worth praising. There is none other like him.

“19-20 My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.”

More on…how to respond in traffic etc.

James 4

I abruptly left off in verse 6 yesterday. It was an unusual morning, there was a baby asleep in the bedroom off the kitchen and my truck was on loan so I scrambled for a ride and for food and for the liquid of life, (aka coffee) and for quiet, for me and the sleeping baby.

Plus I kinda chickened out of the next verses. I will quote them using the message because it makes more sense to me. Besides it uses the word graffiti. First we’ll talk about how to deal with temptation.

“7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”

Say no. Yell no, then run. Do not run away, but run to God. I tried this the other day. I told God exactly what I was being tempted by. And then I napped. That is not a practical way to live my life 98% of the time but that day? It was just what I needed.

“11-12 Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?”

I was driving home last night and some one to my left didn’t yield to my right of way, then didn’t signal or stop at the stop sign. I didn’t either but this is not about me, or is it? How many times have I pronounced judgement on the terrible driver in front of me while being guilty of the same mistakes? What if I take a broader picture of my life? Not just my driving but my everyday actions. Can I condemn someone when I am guilty of the same or worse? I will try to leave the condemning to our gracious and merciful God, who knows men’s hearts. He has forgiven me? How can I condemn?

“13-15 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”

16-17 As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.”

Who knows what a day will bring forth? No one. No one except God. Honor God in our plans and in our speech.

Knowing the right thing to do and not doing it? That’s just as wrong as doing wrong thing. Falling short, missing the target, it is all Sin. Sinning and repenting and being forgiven. That is the Christian Life. It isn’t being perfect, it is being perfected, being bought back from a life of slavery to sin, to becoming free and forgiven and living in forgiveness, forgiving as we have been forgiven. It’s a process of maturing. We are born again and we need to grow up and there will be messes and mistakes but we press on and we do grow up. Learning to do the right thing at the right time.

Giving thanks and praise

I finished reading through the Psalms. I actually finished yesterday but I read through the last 3 again today.

148 is great because it reminds all of Gods creation from sea creatures to stars to praise the Lord.

Why?

“13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,[b]
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the Lord.”

God’s s horn was the psalmists’ hope. That “horn” we know today is Jesus. Our hope is in God’s son Jesus. Our hope for forgiveness, for freedom, for life both here and in eternity is all in Jesus. This hope is not disappointed.

Psalm 149 has a different reason to praise God, still valid but not as light and hopeful.

“6 May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
7 to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
9 to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people.
Praise the Lord.”

There is a day coming when evil will be punished. God will set things right. Injustice will be punished. God is watching everyone and everything. The pain that I have caused, the rules that I have broken, the people that I have hurt, the damage I have done? All these things are under the covering of Jesus’ forgiveness. Somehow God will set it right and I will not be punished because Jesus took my punishment upon himself. His beating and death on a cross should have been mine. But he loved me enough, loved us enough, to die in my, in our place.

Psalm 150 ends with an admonition.

“Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.”

If I am breathing? I should be praising. God is always, eternally and in each moment of my life, worthy of praise.

My post election post

This morning I read Psalm 146. The psalms even cover and/or apply to post election America.

“1 Praise the Lord.[a]
Praise the Lord, my soul.
2 I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.”

As christians, We have a mission. It hasn’t changed since Jesus left to prepare a place for us. We are to let the world know about Him.

After Jesus rose from the grave and before he ascended into heaven he left us with these words, “4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

In light of the election don’t lose hope. In light of the election don’t put your hope in the wrong person. In light of the fact that we are alive today let’s remind ourselves of who is King no matter who is president and let’s get on with our mission. Who can I tell about What Jesus has done in my life? How can I live to best show the change in my heart?

And as the psalmist started and ended his song, Praise the Lord!

James 2b.

Or not 2b. That’s not the question.

“14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Can we have a saving faith in Jesus without it changing our behavior? Is our faith in Jesus real if it doesn’t prompt us to act on the behalf of those around us with needs that we can meet? Real faith will change us. Real faith will not only cleanse our hearts, cleanse our minds, break chains from the past, change our thoughts and emotions but it will also cause us to do. Do stuff. Do stuff for people. Otherwise this faith in Jesus is not faith but an idea about or an opinion about Jesus. It’s not faith in Him until it grabs ahold of us and we start sharing the love and the possessions we have been given with others.

The 2 examples James gives us, Abraham and Rahab acted on what they believed and showed by their actions that their faith in God was real.

“You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
James 2:20-26 – NIV

At the end of the storm in Spokane this week there were 206,000 people without power. No heat, no way to cook, no lights, no refrigerators. 2 of those households are my kids. I’m not sure how I will help but can it be just “stay warm guys, love ya”? How will I help? How will my faith take action?

“26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

Gross

Ten gross. A gross is 144. 1440 is ten times 144. Ten gross. That’s how many minutes we have in a day. I have recently been told by my governor that for 25 minutes once a week I cannot corporately sing with other believers in Jesus inside my church building. That leaves me a lot of minutes to praise my Jesus in all the other ways and all the other places in my life. 1415 minutes per day. I can probably think of something or some way to express my worship of the king of kings and Lord of lords in that amount of time. Hmmm. 1440 times 7 Minus 25. That’s still a lot of minutes to praise the one who died for my sins and rose again and now lives forever to intercede for me❤️

The original counter culture

James 2

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Maybe it’s contagious. This wealth thing. We tend to want to hang out with wealthy people. Remember the show “lifestyles of the poor and destitute”? No wait, that wasn’t it, it was the “rich and famous”. Our human nature wants to associate with wealth and success. Could it be that we think it might rub off? At the very least, rich people have cool stuff. Cool stuff is fun and expensive and so it is rare. Hanging with rich people we might get to play with their stuff. But human nature is almost always counter to Christian belief and practice.

The kingdom of God is upside down to the world. Our king laid down his life and died for us. Our king washed his friends feet. Our king never had a palace or a throne or a scepter. Our king was born in a barn and slept in a feeding trough. Our king carried his own cross.

Christianity is counter cultural and sometimes counter intuitive. It doesn’t always make sense.

“5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?”

Favoritism = adultery = murder. That is not good math. Not in my mind. It’s like saying a penny equals a million dollars because favoritism is a penny sin, murder? That’s a million dollar sin. Am I right? No. I am completely wrong. Sin = all other sin. Sin is sin.

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.”

There is hope. Our God is merciful. He expects us, once we have experienced his mercy, to extend his mercy to the world around us.

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Mercy. Not getting what we do deserve. Grace. Getting what we do not deserve. They are what distinguishes Christianity. That and the fact our savior rose from the dead. Yes, I said fact. Feels harsh to leave I there but I’m going to.

No I can’t. Jesus loves us. He died to wash away our sin. He lives to intercede on our behalf. Won’t you accept that gift today?

Boogers and sewage and how to deal with them

James 1 part 2

We left off at verse 13.

“13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

The wages of sin is death. That is not good news. It’s not even news. It’s on the news.

But the gift of God is eternal life, throughJesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

That there? That is good news.

Every good thing comes from God who does not change. He doesn’t adjust himself to fit in.

“19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

The righteous life is not brought about by anger. The word brings life.

We can’t just listen to the words of God, we must act on them.

“22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

Have I ever looked in a mirror, saw a booger hanging out of my nose and just walked away without getting rid of the booger? What if Gods word shows us we have spiritual boogers? Do we leave them and go on with life or do we act to change the boogers?

(Be honest, did you just touch your nose? I did. I hate boogers. Spiritual or otherwise.)

“26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Are we about the real business of Christianity? Are we Helping those who cannot help themselves? And are we keeping ourselves from being polluted?

There is raw spiritual sewage that people are drowning in. Our job as Christians is to rescue them from the sewage without getting ourselves sick. I have had to check monitoring devices in our sewage lift station at work. One rule is to Keep our mouth closed, another is to keep our hands clean. Wash up after. Is there a spiritual application there?

Jesus help us. Keep us healthy as we go about the rescue.

How long will His love last?

Moon is out.

Psalm 136

“1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.
13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.
17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.
23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.”

The moon was God’s idea. The moon, he created it. He spoke into being. There once was no moon or stars but God created them and now they exist and we gaze at them and wonder.

I give thanks to this God, my God who can create moons out of nothing and suspend them in nothing to brighten up my night.

His love endures forever.

Our work and our money

1 Timothy 6

“6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slaves.”

Slavery was a reality, just part of life. If a person was enslaved and a believer, they should be the best slave possible. Respect their master, even more if the master is a believer. I am not a slave but I still have people in authority over me. My direct boss is a Christian. I need to respect him and do my best for him and for Jesus who is watching us both.

And speaking of making money:
“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Money is a reality. We need it to do what we have to do. Even good and Godly activities take money. Money is not the end, it’s a means to an end. For about $15 we can provide a kid whose parents are in jail a Christmas present through Angel Tree. For $39 a month we can support an impoverished kid in a 3rd world country through compassion international. There is Samaritans Purse and shoebox gift program. There is no end to the needs of people. There are people who need help right where we live. Make as much money as we can not so that we have more but so we can give more.

“17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

If I could have a sign off I think this next section of the letter would be it.
“11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.”

Yes! Amen.

(If you’ve been reading these posts of mine and you have given your heart and life to Jesus, to make it official you need to tell some one. Tell a friend. Tell a pastor, tell your spouse, tell me. Leave me a note in the comments. Thank you for reading and studying Gods word with me. May God bless you and make your faith in him and your understanding of him grow.)

And this how we live it out

1Timothy 5

Practical advice for followers of Jesus.

Our pastor will often say this to our congregation, “when you’re here, you are family”.

Paul says pretty much the same thing, ” Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”

We are a family. Family takes care of our own.

“3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

There were no programs or institutions for the care of the less fortunate. It was all done person to person. I guess that’s not completely true. There was the “list”. Widows who were over 60 and had no family but who were still active in their faith doing good could be put on a support list.

Paul is very practical and realistic here. He notes that younger women will want to remarry, that idle people tend toward gossip and being busybodies. My mom’s favorite saying was “idle hands are the devils playground”. I had at least 4 after school jobs. And yet still I found time to get into mischief.

More advice; if we have a widow in our family we should take ownership of their care, pay your pastor well, don’t believe every accusation that you hear, require witnesses, if an elder sins rebuke them publicly, don’t show favoritism, don’t be hasty to advance people in the church, wine occasionally is good, we are being watched, our sins and our good deeds are being noted, by God and by those around us.

Long chapter. Jesus loves us and cares about the needs of our lives. We need to help others when we can and be open to receive help when we need it. To be The church, we need to act as Jesus with skin on.

Is it time?

1 Timothy 4

The food network got this one right; All food is good. (Even beets?) no food is on the naughty list. And speaking of naughty, marriage isn’t naughty, it is good. I would add that for me it has been very good.

“3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”

There are things we should avoid.

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

And here is the thing to not forget, the key, the center of the message, the reason for it all, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

Jesus saves. Jesus has forgiven us. Jesus wants to restore us. Restore the broken parts, the parts that hurt us. He wants to heal us from the the inside out. When I think about restoring I think about my old truck Rusty and what all I’ve done to get him drive able, useful. A labor, a labor of love. The goal has never been to make him glisten but to make him road worthy. To get him back in service. In many people’s eyes he was just an old carcass, a pile of junk, a waste of space but I saw what he was meant to be. (https://www.facebook.com/Rustys-Page-532927836827647/ )

Some of us feel that way, like a pile of junk but God sees us through eyes of a loving Father who knows our potential. No one knows better the capability of a thing than the designer/architect/craftsman who designed and built it. I am
Limited in my skills, abilities and resources for Rusty. God is not limited in any way with us. He knows what we can be and has the skills and resources to make us just that.

Today are you ready to surrender yourself to our father for rebuilding and restoration? The process can begin with a prayer.

A word to the men

1 Timothy 3

Overseers (Pastors) and deacons qualifications.

“3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

The online version that I’ve been using is just a little different than the one that I have been reading. My hard copy says “the husband of but one wife” where this one says “faithful to his wife”. Same idea, being faithful.

Men this is a gold standard list. Orderliness, a life of order and self control. A man who has himself under control. A man who can bring order and control to a system prone to disorder and chaos, his family. It’s not by might or power or vocal volume. It’s by a heart and mind lead and empowered by the Holy Spirit. God in my head and in my heart can bring order first to me then help show, guide and direct those around me to what God has shown me in his word. It is so much easier to read and write about than to do it. Husbands and Fathers, this is the list we are to aspire to. It won’t be easy but that’s why God has called us specifically to the wife and family that we have. We are the specific men for our specific families.

Men, We may not ever lead a church but we are given the opportunity to lead our families. It won’t be by grit or self determination it will be by humbly submitting ourselves to God and being servant leaders in our own homes.

Men the call on us is to pastor our families. Are we up for the challenge? What if our family is a basket case? The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. The same goes for pastoring our families. We can only use the second best time, today. Give God our past and present and see what will grow in our future.