Why not worry

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.

Moth and rust

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?

Hallowed

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.

Blessed are the…

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 if 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

We have hope

1 Thessalonians

Highlights

I read through the book of 1 Thessalonians this morning and it was so refreshing. Paul really loved these people and the entire letter is filled with encouragement.

I wanted to share 3 quick snippets.

This first was Paul reminding the folks how his group treated them. I see it as A word to fathers: “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

Then a word about the end of all days. It was written to comfort those who had lost loved ones to death: “13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Jesus is coming back! No one who knows Jesus and dies is really gone. We will meet them when we meet him. That is good news.

Then this, my prayer for myself and family and all who read this today: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

Jesus loves us and he is coming back for us. In the meantime he is continuing to perfect us. Woo hoo!

Life -unscripted and unpredictable

Hebrews 13b

Finish concluding.

“The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”

It’s through Jesus’ sacrifice, through his spilled blood, we are made holy. No ritual or right will make us holy. Only the blood of the one true sacrifice, Jesus.

Things may not get wrapped up here. Our lives may end with unsettled debates, with questions unanswered, with things left unfinished. Our lives are not a 43 minute TV drama plot. We get fed a steady diet of conflict-resolution, conflict-resolution all tidy and complete before the preview of the next episode which will feature….conflict-resolution.

“But we are looking for a city that is to come.”

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.”

Let’s Talk about Jesus. To each other, to those around us who don’t know him yet. Normalize Jesus in our world, in our homes, yes, but in our daily lives. We can’t talk about Jesus without praising his goodness.

Share.

Be obedient. We are the slaves of who(m)ever we obey. The world culture is telling us to live to please ourselves, Jesus, through our leaders is telling us to die to ourselves and live for him. Who are we obeying? Our lord is the one who can tell us what to do and then we obey.

Be obedient.

Now this prayer for us all:

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Thanks for reading this.

May God bless us today with a fresh understanding of how much he loves us.

Home improvement kit

Hebrews 13

Tools for living.

The writer puts so much in this last chapter that it’s difficult to condense.

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;

never will I forsake you.”

6 So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?”’

Love each other,

be hospitable,

carry that hospitality into prison, honor our marriage vows,

don’t be greedy,

Because God is with us, what can man do to us?

” Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.”

Remember, how has God worked in our past, in us and in our leaders? Jesus doesn’t change. He is the same today as he was yesterday or a thousand yesterday’s ago and he will be the same tomorrow.

I need to hear this. As I’m writing this, I’m going to China for a small plant expansion and I have been dreading it. I’m not strong in the area where I will be working. Honestly,I am fearful.

Jesus will be with me. He has the same power, knowledge, Grace, mercy, strength, wisdom and all everything else that he has had in my past, in our collective past. I don’t feel it yet but I believe it.

Lord willing I will finish this chapter and book tomorrow and then I will be in China for a couple of weeks. Last time I was there, there wasn’t any Facebook. What? No Facebook?! So I will be off here for a while. Pray for me, for our team, that we are safe and that it all comes together like it should.

(Update: the expansion went together as planned and designed. The were some glitches and God was gracious to give me the tools to work through and fix them).

Thank you for reading this. May God bless your day.