Monday
Sep082008

Mindful of God

"Mindfulness of God arises slowly, a thought at a time.  Suddenly, we are there."  (Man's Quest for God, by Abraham Joshua Heschel)
 
That may not always be true.  The Bible gives some pictures of people who are JOLTED by an immediate awareness of the Immanent God.  (Saul on the Road to Damascus and Moses at the burning bush are two that come to mind.)
 
But much of human experience and Scripture suggest "mindfulness of God" often does "arise slowly" and need continual nurturing on our part as we cooperate with the Spirit.  
 
In Psalm 139 the Psalmist reminds himself (and us):
 
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down...
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  (139:1-3, 8 NIV)
 
He asks "Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?"  (v7)
 
Of course the implied answer is "NOWHERE!"
 
Yesterday we talked about the commitment our church wants to make to the growth of people in our congregation.  At the end of the service, several people made commitments to their own growth and to the growth of those within their sphere of influence.
 
If you were one of those, I want to encourage you to make today the first day of fulfilling your commitment.  You were in my prayers this morning.  I asked God to send His Spirit to you and help you carry out your promise to Him.
 
May God continually bombard us with thoughts that make us "mindful" of Him.
 
May we nurture those mindful thoughts through faithfully setting aside time for windows and doors where we welcome God into our lives.  Windows like
 
-    reading scripture
-    spending time in prayer
-    getting together with other believers    
-    giving ourselves to God in times of worship
-    blocking out all noise and distractions in times of silence
-    filling our ears and hearts with music that draws us to Him
-    giving up for God things that we value through fasting
-    journaling our thoughts and impressions
 
These are a few of the "means of grace" that saints who have come before us have found to be valuable as they draw closer to Him.
 
Let us commit this Fall to times and acts that help us be "mindful of God".
 
Grace & peace
 

Thursday
Sep042008

Why Wait?

"I know Messiah (called Christ) is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us."  Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."  (John 4:25-26)
 
Waiting can be OK.
 
We want our kids to wait to cross the street until they have looked both ways and determined it is clear.
 
We want our cars to wait to move until everyone is buckled in.
 
We want people to wait  to get face to face with us until they have brushed their teeth in the morning or popped that after dinner breath mint into their mouth to cover up the garlic and onion.
 
Sometimes waiting is OK.
 
.But sometimes waiting is procrastinating.  Putting off until later what would be better done immediately.
 
Jesus met a woman at the well of Sychar in Samaria.  He started a conversation with her that would change her life and the lives of many in that little town.
 
Several times in the conversation she was wanting to put off a real, meaningful, life-changing interaction with him.  She had already tried to point to the differences between her people (the Samaritans) and Jesus' people (the Jews) as a reason not to find agreement.  "We worship in different places," she proptested.  Jesus knocks down the protest.
 
Then in verse 25 she throws up her last attempt to put off a decision.  "I'll wait for the Messiah.   We'll know for sure when he arrives on the scene."  Seems reasonable.  Except....Jesus is the One.
 
"I who speak to you am he."
 
We read the passage, shake our heads, chuckle to ourselves, and think, "Silly gal.  He was right there in front of you and you wanted to wait."
 
However, we often leave the story and think to ourselves, "If only God were that real and close right now."
At my workplace.  At my school.  In my family.  In my relationships.  In the midst of my difficulty.
 
And all the while the Spirit of God whispers to us, "I who speak to you am he."
 
I wonder...
 
What great work does God want to begin today in or around us?
 
Where is He trying to WAKE US UP to the fact that He is already miraculously on the move?
 
May we have our eyes opened to His movement and our ears unstopped to His voice today.
 
May we confess, "You ARE here.  I AM ready to respond."
 
Grace & peace

Wednesday
Sep032008

Philippians 3: What's the Missing Word?

What word is missing in the verses below?
 
But whatever was to my profit I now consider ___________ for the sake of Christ.
What is more, I consider everything a __________  compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have ___________ all things.
(Philippians 3:7-8a, NIV)
 
 
See the answer below.

 
Over the weekend the news coverage was all about Hurricane Gustav and how New Orleans would fair in its path.  Many people wondered if once they returned home everything they owned might be lost.
 
During that same weekend, we were repairing the drywall in our basement.  We had covered up a crack in one of the walls.  We hoped not to lose any more items, such as carpet or furniture in the future.
 
Have you ever owned an automobile that was in a wreck?  Sometimes when the car is beyond repair, when the cost of fixing it is more than the value of the vehicle, the insurance company considers it a total loss.
 
We will do nearly anything to keep from losing things, losing face, losing our dignity, losing a game, or losing items we've paid for and worked hard to acquire.
 
So how countercultural is the passage above, where the Apostle Paul is telling us that he considers EVERYTHING a loss for the sake of being in relationship with Jesus.  Nothing else matters.  Not his comfort.  Not his safety.  Not what would make life pleasant for him.
 
He intentionally loses everything!
 
His words are a wake-up call to those of us looking for the me-first, easy road of Christian faith.  Ultimately, this passage tells us, everything in my life needs to be laid down, set aside, lost for His sake.
 
Can't you hear His call?  "Nothing else matters.  Lose your life for my sake and you'll save it.  Try to save it and you'll lose it."
 
I'm mulling that one over today because the words are so challenging and difficult.
 
I hope you give some thought to that one too.
 
 
ANSWER:  The word is "loss" (the first two times and "lost" in the third space).
 
Grace & peace

Page 1 ... 78 79 80 81 82