Archive for November, 2014

18
Nov
14

goodness and mercy

6271471373_a3b811c732_zI was driving along in my SUV a few mornings ago, praying about everything going on in my life. To be completely honest, I was worrying as much as I was praying. At that moment the words of Psalm 23 came to my mind, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me.” I thought about that phrase for a moment and, as I was reciting it in my mind for the third or fourth time. I heard the Holy Spirit ask, “Has that not been true for your entire life?” After a moment of reflection in which I came to the realization that, yes, in fact, goodness and mercy have accompanied me my entire life. Then the Holy Spirit followed up with a couple more questions. “Why do you assume that is going to change? Why can’t you assume that I will continue to bless you and provide for you just the way I always have. And why can’t you assume that when difficult times come that I will deliver you just as I always have, rather than worrying yourself over the challenges you are facing right now?”

I have to admit, I was taken back. I had fallen into the “what if” trap. I was operating as if God had completely abandoned me and I was on my own to figure everything out. I felt completely ridiculous. God has never failed me. In fact, God has always been faithful to guide me and shield me through every difficult situation I have ever faced. Why would he change his behavior now? Why would I ever assume that goodness and mercy would not continue to follow me?

I’m not completely sure how that happens, but I do know the antidote. It is the same strategy Jesus employed when he was faced with temptation. He simply quoted the Word of God. And so now, when I am tempted to worry, I simply breathe the words “goodness and mercy” reminding myself that God was faithful yesterday and he will be today and tomorrow as well.

11
Nov
14

new wine, new bottles

Picture-6-300x239In the daily devotional guide, “Connect the Testaments”, John Barry writes…

“In the face of perplexing situations, we naturally respond with what we know and understand—we even take refuge in familiar traditions. This is precisely how Jesus’ disciples respond when Jesus is transfigured before them.

After Jesus is transformed and Moses and Elijah appear, Peter says, ‘Rabbi, it is good that we are here! And let us make three shelters, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’ (Mark 9:5). Peter is drawing on the Festival of Tabernacles (or Booths), which celebrated God’s dwelling among His people (Lev 23:42–43). Peter isn’t certain how to respond, so he evokes a tradition. At least Peter understands that this confusing event shows God at work among His people.

But is Peter’s response the correct one? Mark gives us a hint in an aside: ‘For [Peter] did not know what he should answer, because they [Peter, James, and John] were terrified’ (Mark 9:6). It’s not surprising that Peter has trouble understanding this situation—who could? But his response, underscored by the editorial aside in Mark, suggests something larger about how we, as the audience of this Gospel, should understand Jesus.

When Jesus reveals Himself to us—really inaugurates His reign in our lives—it may be terrifying, but we do not need to resort to our traditions to understand it. By going back to our old ways, we might lose sight of the point of God’s work altogether. Instead, we must be ready to accept what is new.”

When I read that this morning I was reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 9:17. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

We all want a fresh revelation from God, but that revelation always comes with the challenge of following the leadership of the Spirit into a paradigm of living and serving.

04
Nov
14

just the right time

Story4The Bible says, in Galatians 4:4, that when just the right time came, God sent his son. I’ve often wondered what made it the “right time?” I know what the scholars tell us about this verse. They say the “right time” had a lot to do with the colonization of the known world by the Roman government and the subsequent building of the road systems throughout the Empire, as well as the expansion of trade routes, common culture and commerce. This certainly seems to be a reasonable explanation, but I do wonder if there might have been other factors as well.

The one thing I do know is that God’s timing, although not always fully understood, is always perfect.

I had a great example today. Let me start by saying that the last month has presented a few challenges, a few disappointments, and a few questions. Don’t misunderstand; God has been good and over all, things are good. (The Lord willing, we are going to have our kids and grandkids home for Thanksgiving! Thanks Father!) But life is life and the enemy is relentless. So for the past couple of weeks I have been talking it out with God and trying to come to some understanding of things. In my devotion this morning I decided I was just going to give God thanks in spite of the fact I didn’t have all my answers yet. I finished my devotion and got busy with my day. When I returned to the office after lunch one of the men of our church was in the receptionist office. I stuck my head in to say hello and talk for a minute. I finished chatting and got up to go back to my office and the man stood up as well, walked over to me and said, “I noticed your demeanor of late and it looks like you’re struggling a little bit.” He grabbed me, hugged me and said, “It’s going to be all right.” I thanked him and walked back to my office thinking, “At just the right time…”