Stinking….

It stinks.

It gets everywhere and touches everything.

It’s odor is on everything.

Invasive.

Pervasive.

Sin.

Did you think I was talking about the smoke? Well that too. But it just keeps reminding me of the human sin condition. There is no escaping it. Young or old rich or poor ugly or beautiful, high or low. Sin and smoke. They are both permeating all of us.

What is the answer?

Rain.

Rain can wash the air clean. Rain will quench the fire that is causing the smoke.

There is a cleansing for the cloud of sin too. It’s not as pretty. The cleansing comes through blood.

The song asks, what can wash away my sin? Then answers, nothing…but the blood of Jesus.

Paul says this in his letter to the Ephesians about the effectiveness of Jesus blood in washing away the stain of sin: “Ephesians 2:13-18 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. ”

Sin and this smoke are infecting and affecting everyone in the area.

Let’s pray for rain. Rain for cleansing and let’s pray for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.

We do because we do it because it’s what we do

Next up? The good news according to Dr Luke.

For 400 years there is silence from heaven. No prophets, no revelation. The people of God carry on. They continue to pray and worship. It becomes routine

Worship can become routine. We do it because we do it because that’s what we do. Then something happens. Last week our power went out right before service started. It broke up the routine and we had to decide to worship not because it’s what we do but because we want to connect with the God of the universe, with the great God of mercy, with the God who loves us enough to die for us.

Zechariah was doing his job, his routine and a messenger of the great God he was serving showed up and had an answer to his prayer. It’s what we should expect. We should expect God to answer. He is listening. He is aware. He is watching and waiting for His perfect timing. Sometimes the routine becomes the thing. We forget that there is a God and a relationship with this God behind all the trappings.

I guess what I’m getting out of this is don’t give up praying. Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. We have a God who hears our prayers and will answer them. Sometimes the answer is NO, and sometimes it is WAIT. What’s the difference? Time.

There are people that I have prayed for to get saved for over a decade with no change. There are others who did decide to follow Jesus. So I keep on praying and believing that God is hearing me and that someday he will take away the barrenness in this relationship and bring new life.

Jesus is God’s plan

Gods plan for salvation has always been Jesus. When I follow his lineage back there were some nail biters in the generations. Cain killed Abel but God provided Seth. The entire world was flooded and God had Noah build an ark. He provided Shem. Abraham was old. Very old. Sarah was old, very old the time for children was gone. Long past. And then Joyous Laughter was born aka Isaac. And so it went, life almost snuffed out our hope but God made a way. Ruth’s husband died leaving her childless and hopeless then God provided Boaz, our kinsman redeemer. Over and over just before all hope is lost God provided a way all culminating in Jesus.

My take away is that Gods purpose and his plan are unstoppable. He did all of that so I could have a way of cleaning off my filthy sin and be welcomed with open arms back into His family.

“4 As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.”

That’s good news.

The war and the weapons

Ephesians 6 I want to start at the end.

Paul says that he has entrusted the letter to Tychicus not just as a postman but as one who will encourage the believers there. Basically Paul said Tychicus will carry the letter in his hand but he will stay and help because he has Jesus in his heart. Tychicus will be a living letter to the Christians in Ephesus. Tychicus is mentioned 5 times in the bible and every time it says this guy can be trusted, “faithful servant”, one who encourages. I want to be like him.

To the family of God:

Kids, obey your parents,

Fathers, raise them right. Do not exasperate

Slaves (people who have bosses, and even bosses have bosses) work like your boss is Jesus himself, obey respect, work hard

Masters (bosses) remember we all have one master Jesus and there will be a day of personal accountability.

We are in a battle but it’s not with who you think, because if you can mentally picture your enemy with skin on then you got it wrong. Our battle is not with flesh and blood and so neither are our defenses or weapons. Our battle is spiritual: truth, righteousness, good news of Jesus, faith in him, and being saved by him are our battle gear, the word of God is our only weapon.

Weird war. Let’s get to it then.

September Mayonnaise Malaise

ma·laise

məˈlāz/

noun

1. a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify.”a society afflicted by a deep cultural malaise”

synonyms:

unhappiness, uneasiness, unease, discomfort, melancholy, depression, despondency, dejection, angst, ennui;

That’s where I am. Malaise.

The words sounds like and the mood feels like mayonnaise.

Big white blob of bland.

I am continuing my journey as a Christian but my life feels like a blob of mayonnaise.

I read something that encouraged me.

“21. Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Mary and I just got back from vacationing in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. My malaise could just be jet lag or exhaustion but I feel this way almost every year at the end of August and beginning of September. September is the Thursday of months, a transition, not beginning, middle or end. All the expectations I’ve had for my life during the summer go through the September check off point, and i have to say to the stuff I didn’t get done, “well maybe next year”. Malaise.

But here is the good news, when Paul talks to any group of believers he uses the word “all”. No matter what kind of funk I’m in, the grace and peace that comes from God our father through Jesus Christ his son, also flows to me. I may be disappointed in myself or in life or whatever but God is still pouring his his love and mercy into me and over me and through me. And the best news of this passage is that he will not give up on me and his work in me. No matter how thick the malaise mayonnaise is, no matter what the season is, God is continuing his work in my life.

I don’t deserve it, I never can and I never will, but God will not ever quit me or quit on me.

All believers are covered in this promise, God will continue working on us and in us and through us till we see Jesus, either by our death or his return.

Let us be encouraged together.

For those reading this who are not yet believers, it’s simple to join us, if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that he rose from the dead, you will be saved.

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 10:9-11

Become one of the “all” and be covered by God’s grace found in Jesus’ substitutionary death and share in his resurrection power.

Beauty for ashes

I was listening to a radio pastor yesterday and heard something new or at least fresh. A fresh thought.

As I get closer to Jesus , the light he brings into my life continues to expose more and more of the mess in my life.

Like if I were with Jesus in a dark room. He asks me if the room is clean. Hmm, the room is dark, nothing under my feet, I say yes. He then lights a match and we see just a little way around us. There are dirty dishes, litter, a pair of underwear that didn’t make it to the hamper. Then he turns on a flashlight and we see deeper into the room, more mess, then he flips on a light and we see clearly, smudged walls, mildew and mold.

The longer I hang out with Jesus the more stuff he exposes. Sometimes the pain and shame of a life exposed is too much and I want to push Jesus back out of my life and shut the door and please oh please, kill the light. The mess doesn’t go away when Jesus leaves and the light goes out, but if we don’t have to see the mess of our lives, we can pretend it isn’t there, and the pain and shame fall and fade.

Meeting Jesus and inviting him into my life will not make my life a blissful rose garden. Well not just the flowery part. Jesus will begin to clean up and the fascinating thing he will do is to use the poop of my life to grow beauty. The bible says the he will give us beauty for ashes. Ashes are the waste product of the end of something, something gone and useless. God has the ability to turn that part of life, and poop is a useless waste end of life product too, the poop and ashes and reuse them to bring us beauty, like roses.

This will only happen if we allow him into our lives and trust him enough to expose the mess behind the door. Denying a mess doesn’t make it go away. Admitting to a mess doesn’t make It go away either but it can start the process of cleansing.

Isaiah 61:1-6 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.”

Today will you let Jesus into your life to help you declutter your your heart and soul? He will turn it around for you. Beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise for despair. He loves us and just wants to help.

Things to do and things not to do

Ephesians 5 is more family business meaning this is written specifically to those who are following Jesus, to Christians.

Being a Christian is brand new to some of us. What do we do? How do we act? What are the rules?

Here’s a general guideline:”1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Things NOT to do:

Be sexually immoral

Be greedy

Get drunk

Don’t do these.

Instead, Do these:

Be filled the Holy Spirit

Sing

Make music

Give thanks

Wives submit to your husbands like you do to Jesus

Husbands love your wife. be the Christlike man that a woman doesn’t have to fear submitting to. Love your wife like you love you. Love like Jesus did- Die to yourself and live for Jesus and your family. Love your wife. Love your wife like you love you. Love your wife. (I added one more “love your wife” than Paul did, sorry, now two more)

Being a Christian is the simple life. It is not the easy life but it is simple.

Live a life of love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.