Ransom

Today’s Reading: 1 Timothy 2: 6

“Where is he?”  “Have you looked in his bedroom?”   “I have looked in his bedroom, under all of the beds in the house.  I have looked in the closets.  I have looked in the basement. I cannot find him here in the house.”  “Lets check with friend A.”  “He’s not there or at Friend B or C’s house.”  At this moment, you start to fear for the worst. Your son cannot be found.  He was upstairs 30 minutes ago.  You have been in the kitchen preparing dinner and go and check on him and he is no there. You begin the fell the sense of worry and anxiety because he was just right here.  You search the neighborhood for five minutes… ten minutes… fifteen minutes. You cannot find him. Two minutes later you see him turning the corner onto the street and you are flooded with a mixture of emotions.  Your son has returned home.

This scene has happened to me and countless others in our lives.  We have lost something that is truly precious and valuable to us. This has happened several times this summer for friends and myself with our children. The blessing is that God allowed us to regain our children quickly without harm.

There are some other individuals that are not as fortunate and their loved ones have been captured and place up for ransom.  Currently this is something that still happens and the individuals affected by this are experiencing unspeakable anguish and hurt.  We lift up these and others who have been victims of these atrocities.

Every one of us have been the victim of unspeakable atrocities and our souls where place up for RANSOM by the adversary.  In the book of Genesis, our spirits were taken by trickery and malice and place up for ransom.   The adversary believed that in order to remove the Jesus from his place in heaven, he would have to sabotage God’s creation.  This assault on us created a rift between God and our spirit.  The adversary believed that if Christ would come from heaven and become flesh he would lose his power and weaken the Trinity.  There were several attempts to reconcile the people with God: Noah, Moses, and David.  Through the use of sacrifices that spilled the blood these acted as a partial payments for our sins.  The real payment would be for Christ to completely pour out his body and blood to fulfill the ransom.  But the adversary did not realize that Christ, being part of the creator and the creation, he would overcome the boundaries of the creation and fulfill the payment and reconcile himself to himself.  He paid the Ransom with his blood, so that we would be reconciled to him and be in fellowship with him.

We have all been the lost child in the neighborhood.  We have all been a person looking of that child.  When we left paradise, God was searching for us.  He could see our outside shells, but our spirits where hidden from him.  Once Christ gave his body, we have been given a new bond and relationship that will not be broken.  We have been blessed with a renewed spirit that is in continual fellowship with the Holy Spirit.  This is the joy of this Ransom.  It reconnected us with God in a manner similar to when time begin.  We have to acknowledge this connection and not allow the adversary to trick us again.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the ransom that you paid for us.  Thank you for renewing our relationship.  Thank you for protecting us and sheltering us in the midst of the chaos.  Thank you for being the anchor that we can cling through it all.  Amen

The Potter

 

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 64:8; Romans 9:21

Imagine, it is the cool of the morning and the potter comes into his workshop.  He looks around and marvels at the items that are in his workshop. He also has in mind something new that He wants to create.  He sits at the wheel and places a piece of raw clay on the wheel.  It takes several minutes to get the clay to start working properly.  There is a lot of time and concentration taking place.  The potter uses some water and allows the clay to expand and contract under his fingers.  Then once the clay is properly prepared, the potter then start to shape the clay.  It looks like a plate, then it transforms into a bowl.  Then the shape is transformed from a bowl into a jar.  The end product is up to the potter. He can choose different purposes for the creation.  From the same piece of clay, the potter can make many different and purposeful items that would be essential for everyone to use.  The Potter can then design each piece differently even though they may look similar.

Jeremiah 18: 1- 10

 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:“Arise, and go down to (A)the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear[a]my words.”So I went down to (B)the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.And the vessel he was making of clay was (C)spoiled in the potter’s hand, and (D)he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the Lordcame to me:“O house of Israel, (E)can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. (F)Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will (G)pluck up and break down and destroy it,and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, (H)turns from its evil, (I)I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will (J)build and plant it,10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.11 Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. (K)Return, every one from his evil way, and (L)amend your ways and your deeds.’

 

The creation of the item is the first step.  The next and most critical step is the firing of the clay. Before the creation will be able to withstand the harshness of use and wear, it must be placed in a kiln.  This is where the item is subjected to some of the most extreme heat and pressures to create the final product.  The kiln has to be the correct temperature.  If it is too hot, it can deform or even melt the clay.  If it is too low, it will not create the integrity to sustain the item. The range goes from 212oF to 2345oF.   With this range of temperatures, each degree confers a higher level of integrity, but not all clay is suited for each extreme.  It is up to the Potter to determine the end purpose of the finished product.

With the earthly potter, the finished product is purchased and the final destination and purpose of the item is somewhat unknown to the potter. But our Heavenly Potter, can repurpose the final product at any given time.  This is seen in the gospel of John and the Epistle of Romans.

 

John 2: 6

Now there were six stone water jars there (G)for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty (H)gallons.[a]Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.”And they filled them up to the brim.And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.”So they took it.When the master of the feast tasted (I)the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested (J)his glory. And (K)his disciples believed in him.

Romans 9: 20-24

20 But who are you, O man, (AA)to answer back to God? (AB)Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”21 (AC)Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump (AD)one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience (AE)vessels of wrath (AF)prepared for destruction,23 in order to make known (AG)the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he (AH)has prepared beforehand for glory—24 even us whom he (AI)has called, (AJ)not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

The Ultimate Potter is continuously shaping and redesigning us for our ultimate purpose.  When we are in the midst of many trials and tribulations, God is perfecting us to be the proper vessel to provided and deliver His Glory.  The process of pottery making is an intense and arduous process, but the results can withstand time.  Allow yourself to ask what is the purpose that the Potter has for you and what is the direction He is leading you.

Be Blessed.

The One and Only Son

 

Today’d Reading : John 1:14; 3:16

Today, I asked my mother to be a guest writer and she graciously accepted. I have over the years learned so many things from her that has created the person I am today.  I am happy to share her inspiration with you as well.  Be Blessed

One And Only Son!

John, “the beloved disciple,” who belonged to the “inner circle” of Jesus’ followers gives an account of Jesus’ life and that it is centered on knowing God by believing in Jesus Christ.

Sunday, June 21, 2020 was recognized and celebrated as “Father’s Day” in our Western society.  Fathers, grandfathers and God-fathers spent memorable time with their children and families.  In many homes, there were fathers who thought about their sons and daughters—and how he could guide them, inspire them and protect them.   There are many fathers who are blessed and who have been blessed to have only one child and some were blessed to have only one son.  And you can only imagine the love these fathers have for their one and only son.  This brings to mind, “Only Begotten Son,” and its meaning—the only offspring of its father. Only begotten describes the unique, loving relationship of the Son with the Father.

This week’s segment is on “One And Only Son” focuses on John 1:14 and John 3:16.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  –John 1:14  NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  –John 3:16  NIV

John,“the beloved disciple,” outlines and illustrates Jesus’ journey, character, teachings and miracles.  God’s desire and unconditional love is that everyone would be saved.  God sent Jesus in the flesh, so that man, could see and understand, be aware, be knowledgeable and saved for eternal life.  Jesus identified himself with humanity by becoming flesh.

In John, chapter 3, Jesus is teaching and describing the “new birth” in order to receive the glory of God and eternal life with God. Jesus describes this “new birth” in the conversation with Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, scholar and Pharisee. Most Pharisees were intensely jealous of Jesus because he undermined their authority and challenged their views. But Nicodemus, a believer, was searching for some answers, the truth about God.  Perhaps Nicodemus was afraid of what his peers, the Pharisees, would think about his visit with Jesus, so that is why he sought Jesus at night after dark. Like Nicodemus, we must seek Jesus for ourselves with an open mind and heart.  Chapter 3, verse 3, Jesus states,

“I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” Nicodemus asked, “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”    Jesus replied, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  Humans can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from Heaven.  So, don’t be surprise of my statement that you must be born again.  Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” 

 Jesus explains here that we cannot control the works of the Holy Spirit.  God works in ways we cannot predict or understand.  We cannot control our physical birth; nor can we control the spiritual birth.  It is a gift from God through the Holy Spirit.

In order to have “eternal life,” chapter 3, verse 16 states,

“…so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

To “believe” is more than an intellectual agreement that Jesus is God.  It means to put our trust and confidence in Him that Jesus alone can save us.  “Believing” is putting Christ in charge of our plans and eternal destiny. “Believing” is both trusting His words as reliable and relying on Him for the power to change.  Christ is able to change those we might consider unreachable. If you have never trusted Christ, let this promise of everlasting life be yours—and believe.

As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and He came to save us; we believe that He lived among us and taught us. We believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose in the Holy Spirit.   We believe our sins are forgiven, if we repent.  We believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Eternal life is God’s life embodied in Christ and is given to all believers now as a guarantee that they will have eternal life.  In eternal life there is no death, no sickness, no enemy, no evil or sin.  As Christians, we receive this new life by faith and begin to evaluate all that happens from an eternal perspective.

Prayer:   Almighty God, thank you for sending your “only begotten son” to save the world from sin. Lord Jesus, by faith, I gratefully receive your gift of salvation.  I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day.  Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life.  I believe your Words are true. Please come and remain in my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior.   Amen.  

The Mediator

Today’s Reading:  I Timothy 2:5

Daily we are confronted with situations that allow us to make decisions based on our past experiences. As adults these decisions are formed from a complex and diverse skillset and experiences to make the best choice in the midst of many variables.  For children, this process is sometime much simpler.  Last weekend, our family went on an adventure of camping.  Camping has become a tradition that the kids and we enjoy. Each time camping is a different experience.  Something is always changing and exciting.  I remember the first time that we went camping and the closest restroom was a primitive restroom, a natural latrine.  The youngest kids were to little to use it properly and the older kids would not attempt.   Now everyone used the latrine without hesitation.

During these trips, we can reconnect with the kids on an individual basis and some of the insights can be remarkable.  While on a walk to the main office, Ollie and I had a conversation about the trip and what were the highlights of the trip.  As he was recounting the highs about the trip he also stated “ Those people in the RVs are not really camping”.  This made me pause and inquire more about the statement.  Ollie replied, “Real camping is in tents and not in the RVs with running water and air condition.”  I had to gently redirect his view of the situation.  We had a dialogue on the different ways of camping and how different people chose to enjoy nature differently, but we are all able to participate in the beauty that God has given us.  We have to be grateful in all aspects of camping from backpacking to glamping.

This interaction with Ollie helped me to reflect on the many areas of my life and my thinking and become more aware of the benefit that we have Christ as a mediator for us.  There have been many situations that I have misinterpreted, but God allowed me to see it through his eyes.  There are situations that he has been a guard and shield for me.  These situations are not guaranteed to work out easily, but with His presence, they have been a benefit for his Glory.   In the midst of so many different scenarios and situations, we could be seen differently outside of the true content.

While on the campgrounds there was a beautiful RV camper that was created for a person who had been through some difficult situations.  This camper was a sanctuary for this person.  This was a way to create a new sense of peace and wholeness for this person.  But if we were only thinking from one perspective, we could have missed to deeper meaning.

Christ through the manifestation as a human from the Spirit of God has been given the ultimate ability to intercede and be our chief mediator to God the Father.  Just as with our children, we often cannot understand the complexities that Christ advocates for us to God on a daily basis.  This advocacy didn’t start after the death, burial and resurrection, it was present at the beginning of creation and it is also recovered in the oldest book of the bible Job.

Job 16:19-21 (NIV)

Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.
20 My intercessor is my friend[a]
as my eyes pour out tears to God;
21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as one pleads for a friend.

 Christ has always been our advocate, but his sacrifice completed the ultimate place as the mediator who can represent us in spite of our sins and transgressions.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for our Mediator in Christ.  Thank you for the gift that you gave so that we may be able to communicate with you personally through Christ. Thank you for the peace that you give us in spite of our sins.  Amen

Love

Today’s Reading : I John 4:8

Fear.  It is one of the oldest emotions that we have.  Fear is the absence of knowledge or a state of ignorance and the unknown.  Fear leads to confusion.  Fear leads to anxiety.  Fear leads to isolation. Fear leads to mistrust.  Fear leads to desperation.  Fear is a basic emotion, but it has to be taught.  The beginning of fear can be trace back to the beginning of existence in the garden.

Genesis 3: 7- 10

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[c] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LordGod among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”[d] 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 

 

Fear was created during the separation of us from God.  Fear allowed our minds to search and create abstract meanings for the unknown.  It replaced the knowledge and peace that God had given us during creation.  It replaced our connection with God.

But there is a remedy for Fear, and it is Love.  Love was the creating force that God used to create us in His image.  Love was and is in the fundamental foundation of everyone. It is something that cannot be erased or changed.

If we reflect on Love, it is the first emotion that many of us feel at our birth.  When we enter into this world we are surrounded by love and caring.  It is the sense of belonging and the knowledge that we will be safe.  This innocence is truly a gift that if nurtured will blossom into excellence.  Unfortunately, life will introduce fear that can be both useful and detrimental.  Fear can be useful to give children caution from harming themselves or others.  But if the fear is not tampered with love and caring, it will create destructive and more harmful repercussions.

I John 4: 7-12

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

The love that God has for us is unconditional and never-ending.  This is a hard concept for us to comprehend because the only love that we can tangibly witness is that from each other. No matter how hard we attempt to give the best love to each other, we will fail every time.  It is only when we can become aligned with God that we are able to love more and without reciprocations.  Loving each other is something that we have to be intentional and consistent.  This has to be done on a daily basis as explained by David in

Psalms 51: 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[b] spirit within me.

One of the best examples of how Love can cancel out fear is found in our interactions with our children. On many nights since the kids were babies, there is at least one night per week that the kids will wake in the middle of the night and come to our room.  The child will tell me that something is in the room or they heard something.  I will take them in my arms or by the hand and take them back to bed.  Then I will ask them what is the thing that has cause them to be afraid.  The will tell me and I will acknowledge their fear and then I will search for the offending agent.  Sometimes it is a toy that has been left on and is making a sound.  Sometimes it is clothes or an object that is on the dresser that cast a shadow on the wall.  Sometimes it is a tree scraping the window or outside wall.  No matter what it is I will comfort them and then let show them what it is that cause this increase anxiety.  They will then proceed to return to rest and fall asleep.

This is how God works with us when we are aligned with him.  This alignment comes from regular communication with Him and acknowledging his presence in our lives and purpose for our lives.  One of the main weapons that the Adversary has is Fear.  Then the adversary wants us to attempt to banish fear and not acknowledge it.  But when we attempt to diminish the true effects that fear has on us, it actually grows when left unchecked.  When fear remains uncontrolled or hidden, when it is revealed it can be unrelenting and completely detrimental.

  • We have to allow God to Love us and then we have to Love ourselves.
  • We have to allow God to be our Father and comfort us in the midst of the Fear.
  • We have to allow Him to reveal with Love the uncertainty and unknown that Fear attempts to give.
  • Once the Fear is acknowledged and shown for its true nature, we have to rely on God to keep us safe and know that we are Loved.

May God give us Love. May we Love ourselves.  May we show Love to each other.  The only thing that conquers Fear is Love.  Be Blessed.

Lawgiver

 

Today’s Reading: James 4:12

The image of the lawgiver is one that is subject to each individual.  It is based on your background and heritage and your current situations.  When you think of the lawgiver in the United States of America many people would think of the police officer, the lawyers, politicians, or judges.  If you were in ancient Rome, you would consider the lawgiver to be Caesar, or the centurions, or the soldiers.  It deepens on the circumstances that you are dealing with and your status.  These are worldly lawgivers, which have been given authority to help guide and assist us and protect us from harm.  To do the passage of today justice, we must understand the full context of the message of Christ as the Lawgiver.

 James 4: 1-12

                 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions[a] are at war within you?[b] You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people![c] Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.[d] The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

 God did not create the laws to restrict us, but to give us freedom.   God has loved us continually from before the beginning of time.  He has shown His love in countless ways and only wants us to return this unconditional love.  But we as a people have not been able to fully reciprocate His vast and unending love for us.  We have and continue to turn away from this amazing love for other things: fame, fortune, power, prestige, and lust.  These things that we seek out takes us away from really loving God with our whole heart, mind, and spirit.  It is because of this inability that God has created a template for us to follow and realign ourselves to him.  It is this reason that he has created these guidelines to allow us to fully embrace the richness that he has in store for us.  He is a gentle father and only wants to the best for all of his children.  He gives us these laws to allow us to have a safe and brighter future and life.

This is similar to the guidelines that we as parents give our children. If we didn’t give them the guidelines of staying out of the busy intersection or not to eat a deadly plant, we are allowing them to be vulnerable to chaotic freedom with the uncertainty of life.  But when directed properly we are able to give them compassionate freedom that allows them to explore within a certain set of parameters to ensure their growth and success.

God loves us and wants the relationship with us. Because of the nature of man, we are not able to completely engage with God without the law.  But the original plan did not require the sacrifice to enjoy God’s love.  The current plan doesn’t require that we sacrifice, only if we commit and submit to Him completely. Here are some passages that illustrate this truth.

Psalm 40:6

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.[a]
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.

Psalm 51:16-17

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Hosea 6: 6

For I desire steadfast love[a] and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Going against popular belief, God is not a tyrannical being that wants to place harsh judgment and punishment on all mankind.  God is a just and loving God that has our best interest in mind.  He has created these laws and commandments so that there is a framework for us to work within.  This is to protect our spirit and us and allow us to share His love with others.  When we fall outside of the law, He gently redirects us and bestows compassion on us as well.  God’s love will not be overcomed by anything that is created.  God’s love even extends to those who don’t love, know, or recognize him, even until the moment before death.  This is lawgiver that I am thankful that we have and are able to communicate with daily.  Be blessed.

Judge of the Earth

 

Today’s Reading: Psalm 94:2; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:8

 

Judge.  When you do a quick Google search of the word judge you are presented with many of the household names that we have become accustomed with: Judy Sheindlin ( Judge Judy), Joseph Wapner (The People’s Court) , Joe Brown(Judge Joe Brown), Greg Mathis (Judge Mathis) , Marilyn Millian ( The People’s Court).   These are actual judges that have completed their requires studies to practice law and have created names that are synonymous with high ratings and explosive courtroom drama.   Webster has five definitions of the word as a noun and six definitions as a verb.  Each of the definitions has their origins in the Anglo-French: jus- right,law ; dicere- to decide .

Judge of the Earth.  This is a major component of God that we sometimes take for granted and not fully realize the true complexity of this trait of God.  It is a trait that we would rather not speak of or acknowledge.  This is the characteristic of God the Father.   This is where we are fully aware of the consequences of our actions: both positive and negative.  This is a difficult aspect because we all will ultimately face the judgment of our actions and deeds.  This can be truly frightening and daunting at times.  We can become consumed with worry and guilt that would leave us incapacitated. But when we fully understand Him and His will for us then this calms the fears.

Over the past couple of decades, I have requested that God would show up to me in all areas of my life.  I made a true commitment and allowed Him to direct my path and I have diligently sought Him.   I have found how to place another’s welfare above my own when I married Jillian.  I have found out to love unconditionally when we became parents with Oliver, Ruby, and Nadya. But in the midst of these relationships He has given me a glimpse into His heart and how he loves me and everyone else.  Yes, He is almighty and all-powerful and can bestow judgment on everyone, but it will be a judgment that has the most compassion that it is not imaginable. There will be a judgment in the last days, but I believe it would be similar to the judgment I try to give my children.  Just recently, I had to give a negative consequence to our children: No screen time for X minutes or something like that.  But Jillian and I have agreed to give the consequence and also let the children know the reason for the consequence and let them know that we still love the person, but not he behavior.

God is just and God is Love.  The nature of God of to love us no matter what we have done. There is evil that exist and that is the absence of love.  But God wants us to accept Him and love him.  There will always be exceptions to the ones that Love God.  He understands that and is compassionate to us all.  Jesus tell us throughout the scriptures that there will be separation of those who love him and not.  There will be some that are ready with their lamps and some without. This what we are certain, but Jesus also tells us that not matter what part of your life you in in you will be able to be with him if you confess and acknowledge His power.   In the readings of Today, there are many references into the full extent of the judgment that God gives, but I also wanted to share this passage to conclude the day.

Matthew 20: 8 – 16

 

And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’[b] 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

No matter where we are in life: birth or just before death, God is able to accept you as his child and grace you into the compassionate judgment of a Loving and Caring Father.

The Holy Spirit

 

Todays Reading: Isaiah 43:15; Luke 1:35; I John 2:20

A Portion from the Nicene Creed

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.

The Holy Spirit is one of the most abstract, yet most personal manifestations of God that we interact with on a daily basis. We are currently in the Easter Season of the liturgical calendar.  Several years ago, it was revealed to me that Easter was not only a specific day, Resurrection Day, but Easter is a season of joy and happiness and new life that begins on Resurrection Sunday and last for 50 days ending with Pentecost Sunday (the fifth Sunday after Passover).  It is this particular day that the Holy Spirit and mankind reunited.

We as a people are able to reconcile God the Father.  There are many religions that believe in a higher being and creator.  The people of the book: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all can trace back our origins to God the Creator.

God the Son: Jesus Christ, it the pinnacle transformation of God for Christians.  Jesus is the ultimate union of God and Man in a single being.  This union allowed God to create a life that was able to fully feel, breathe, and comprehend the completion of the human experience.  This allowed Christ to fully understand the full gambit of emotions and experiences that we all have face or will face in our life including death.

God the Spirit is one that has been in more direct intimate union with us more the other images of God since creation.  This is the best gift that we as Christian believers have available to us: God the Spirit. He is the comforter to all of our needs.  He is the true manifestation of God in us and abides within each of us.  This full purpose of Christ coming to earth was to reconcile the people with the Spirit which was disconnected in the garden.  The reason that it is hard for many to understand God the Spirit is because of the relationship with God the Father and God the Son. These relationships have to be created and maintained in order to see the fullness of the power of the Spirit.

To better understand this relationship lets look at our relationships.  I have been blessed to have many relationships throughout my life.  Many of the long-term relationships are forged on many different experiences and encounters. These relationships I have been son, brother, spouse, father, and friend.  In each of these relationships I have been intimately invested for the course of the relationship.  There have been elations and points of disputes in all of the roles, but we persist. If at any point I didn’t have open communication with these relationships, the connection would be damped or lost completely.  These connections have to be matured and maintained on a periodic basis.  The more frequent the interactions; the more connected with the individual you will be and the communication aspect will reflect it. There are times when I have a certain feeling or a time that I am under an immense amount of pressure and one of my close friends will call me without me first contacting them.  This type of relationship is one that God the Spirit is searching for in each of us.  He wants to be able to comfort and direct us in the times of the most difficult and challenging, but first we have to create the relationship with God the Father and God the Son.

For many of us we have to have tangible items to connect us with the intangible.  Here are some examples that have been given in the scriptures that can direct us to the true nature of God the Spirit. I believe a way that God communicates with us about his being is in the tangible elements of Fire, Water, Wind, and Earth.

                                                     Fire

Acts 2: 1-4

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

~ God the Spirit appeared as actual fire to the believers on the day of Pentecost

Jeremiah 20:9

For the word of the Lord has become for me
    a reproach and derision all day long.
If I say, “I will not mention him,
    or speak any more in his name,”
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
    shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in,
    and I cannot.

~ After being persecuted for prophesying Jeremiah tells that God the Spirit is like fire that is captured in him and will not allow him to be silent about the goodness and judgement of God.

                                                       Water

John 7: 37-39

37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as[f] the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

                                                       Wind

Job 38:1 -3

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action[a] like a man;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.

 Genesis 1: 1-2

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

                                                      Earth

Thinking of Spirit as earth, the Spirit is the one that creates the Shalom or inner peace within all that recognize him.  In the Jewish tradition Shalom means to make complete something that is not whole.  Imagine a fortress wall.  The main purpose of the wall is to maintain strength and fortify against intrusions.  If there are several bricks missing from the wall the integrity is compromised and the fortress is prone to attack.  This is our spiritual wall.  We all have many places that are weakened from current attack, past attacks, and future attacks.  If we are trying to mend these on own we will fail.  But God the Spirit is able to locate all of the weaknesses and re-fortify our walls if we have a relationship with Him.  He alone is able to give us this complete Shalom and peace that transcends our understanding.

One final thought:  God the Spirit was there before the earth was formed.  God the Spirit breathe life into Adam.  God the Spirit spoke through the prophets.  God the Spirit conceived Christ.  God the Spirit rose Christ from the dead.  God the Spirit communicated and performed miracles in the apostles.  God the Spirit is within each of us waiting to do amazing miracle in us if we allow Him.

God the Spirit,

Allow us to welcome you into our lives and acknowledge you in all that you do and have done for us.  Amen.

 

Head over Every Power and Authority – Preeminence

Today’s Reading: Colossians 1:18

The most sacred weeks of the Christian year began yesterday with Palm Sunday.  It is traditionally the beginning of the Passover and the being of the last days of Christ before the resurrection.  As we look at the scripture passage for today it rings so profound to the awesomeness of God.

Colossians 1:15-18

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

This is the entire Jesus story in a paragraph.  This is the reason that all of this happened, is happening, and will happen.  This is the Creation, the Fall, the Blood, and the Resurrection in one unified statement.  God in his infinite wisdom loved us and wanted to share Himself with us. We could not open the relationship and maintain it, so He came in the likeness and fullness of man to reconcile us to him.  He loved us more than we can or ever could understand.

During these very difficult times it is sometimes impossible to see the goodness of God, but he is continually here with us.  It is stated in the above passage

16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  This section gives me peace. I have cried and worried a little during this current crisis.  This is a wake up call for everyone in the world.  It is getting to a point that all creatures are being affected. But when you are able to have a true relationship with God, you may weep for a while before you are able to realize that He was in the midst of all things before they created. There is nothing that God has not seen or not known about, because he created it.

Heavenly Father,

As we prepare for this coming week, allow us not to dwell on the worries of the world.  Allow us to find your inner peace that you have given us and remember that you are in complete control of all things.  Thank you for loving us so much that you sacrificed yourself to reconcile us to you. Amen

God of all comfort

 

Todays Reading : 2 Corinthians 1:3

Life is hard.  There are many times throughout the week, I question how will this all turn out.  The highs and lows of life can be daunting and exasperating.  This is during a “normal” week.  Then you factor in new variables and this can become overwhelming.  The Holy Spirit then whispers “there is Comfort in the Chaos”.  One of the main misconceptions about being Christians is that life would be without hurt and suffering once you follow Christ.  But the truth is you are more aware of the suffering and the trials that you face, but being in a relationship with Christ the suffering allows the Holy Spirit to bring you comfort and peace that is not understandable by others.

2 Corinthians 1: 3- 7 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.[a] If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Despite all of the sufferings that we are go through, Paul informs us that we will be comforted and in this sorrow and suffering we will be given the knowledge and fortitude to help those who may suffer as we have.  Over the years, I have been blessed with several spiritual mentors and prayer warriors that give me encouragement and guidance through some of my most troubling times. One of these special people always have referenced the above mentioned verse.

During one of the most difficult times in my adult life, this scripture was recited to me and I was not ready to hear it.  I was just laid off from a position.  My children were in the midst of new health issues. My spirit was very low and my cup was completely empty.  I needed something uplifting and comforting.  Then my mentor states “  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”   This was not the response I was looking for.  I was not looking to comfort others in the future I needed comfort then.  But as I mediated and prayed this verse over and over, it became clear that God was in the midst of the storm and crisis.

God allowed my mentor to give me this piece of wisdom and knowledge.   That time of my life is pivotal in my relationship with God, my family, others and myself.  It was turning point that has continued to shape me who I am today.  This allowed me to step outside of myself and actually see God for all that He is and His place in my life.  Before these changes in my life I started to search for a strong bond with him and seek a more profound life for him.  He was able to gently shape me into the person that I am today through the suffering that experienced.  When we are intentional about the relationship that we want with God, He will open up His presence and comfort to be available to us.  Because of the trial and detours on my journey I have been given the opportunity to help others in their afflictions.

In our current crisis, a couple of lessons I learned about the comforter is:

Provision:

I can now fully understand the needs and desperation of others in the time of need. The ability to provide for yourself and family is a true sense of being.  God allowed me to see that He is the source of all of the things that I need and want.  When one faucet is turned off, He will allow another to open with more flow.  No matter the outlet, the source will not be hindered.

Health:

God has the final say on the health of our loved ones and us.  No matter what we try to do to mitigate the possibilities of life, life will happen.  We can attempt to workout more or eat better, but the end result is the same.  But the consolidation is that even in the midst of the most strenuous of circumstances God will use the situation for his glory. There have been countless times that I question why the health of my children is not solid, but God reveals the warmth and compassion that the children can impart on other health care workers.  This is way that God can show through them.  I cannot hinder their blessings.

Uncertainty:

In the midst of life the only thing that is guaranteed is uncertainty.  With this uncertainty we are given the privilege to know God and have access to his unlimited comfort and love. Now when there is uncertainty I pray that God will reveal himself so that I may understand His will.

Heavenly Father,

As we navigate this journey that we are on, allow us to see you and experience your comfort in the midst of storms, conflicts, and crisis.  Allow us to hear you as a whisper in the storm.  Amen