One of the things I miss about gathering on Sunday mornings, is having people to catch me when I forget to make an announcement. I completely forgot to mention that this Thursday we will be gathering once again, at Buhl park for an outdoor service. It will begin at 7 pm. I will send more details along later this week, but mark your calendars.
LET'S PRAY TOGETHER Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Lord, we are so small and understand so little, You are great and know all, Help us to trust You and seek Your will for every circumstance. Teach us to love as You love, and pray for everyone and everything, Trusting that You are the Good Father. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us; may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm; may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us; may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors. Amen
MEDITATION May God himself, the God of peace, (cleanse) you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. (Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV) This week I wanted to consider the above verse in a bit more detail, especially the idea of being “blameless.” This is Paul’s prayer for the church at Thessalonica, and as usual Paul is packing a whole lot into a little bit of text, but I think in this moment it may be worth sitting back and ensuring that we as God’s people understand what it means to be cleansed and blameless. The first thing to consider in the verse is, “Who is doing what?” This is vitally important because if we miss this we get caught up in patterns of faithlessness at the very moment we want to be faithful. Growing up, I read the Bible, A-LOT, but without any guidance. I had a mediocre translation and no internet, mentor, or commentaries to help me make sense of what I was reading. As a result, I became caught up in the rules. I re-wrote pages of rules and commands for my own life to keep from sinning, I had index cards posted around my room to remind me to be kind, clean my room, prioritize my studies. Yet I was endlessly defeated by my own choices and lack of self-control. The harder I tried the less joy I derived from my “faith” and I was increasingly judgmental of others shortcomings and quick to spot where everyone else was falling short. How different from the hope that Paul held out to the church in Thessalonica. May God himself, the God of peace, (cleanse) you through and through. God is the one who makes us clean, WE CANNOT DO IT OURSELVES! It’s the whole reason Jesus came, and while I “knew” this, I didn’t KNOW it. I thought the “blamelessness” that Paul was talking about meant I would no longer make any mistakes or sin ever, so of course I was frustrated every day. But what Paul is praying for when he says, “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” is that we will be utterly devoted to Christ and put our full trust in Him. That we will not trust in money, comfort, riches, strength, sex, guns, nature, food, fun, alcohol, or any other false god. These things are just that; things created by God and by man and were never meant to be worshiped. Yet if we put our faith in them we have turned from God.
The cleansing, keeping, the calling, and the doing in this prayer are all God’s. God transforms us so that we may truly live abundantly. We definitely have work to do. Our job is to keep our eyes on Him, to have faith in Him, to seek Him, and thank Him. Paul says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." We will make mistakes but God is not looking for flawlessness He is looking for faithfulness. Do you trust Him?
DAILY SCRIPTURE READING
Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/ If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me. I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-2-kings/ for an overview of the book of 1st and 2nd Kings and https://bibleproject.com/explore/acts/ for an overview of the book of Acts. These videos will help with the “big picture” and the main themes. 2 Kings 12:1-14:22 Joash is an interesting king. How was he described (12:2) and what is he being remembered for doing? He stands in contrast to Jehoahaz. How is Jehoahaz described? (13:2) As a result of who Jehoahaz was, we are told the “Lord’s anger burned against Israel.” What led the people to believe that God was angry with them? (13:3) The sons of these two kings will become kings, and they will follow in the ways of their fathers. So again, here is where it gets interesting. Jehoash son of Jehoahaz did evil in the eyes of the Lord, whereas Amaziah son of Joash did right. And yet, Amaziah will pick a fight with Jehoahaz, and then be routed by him. Basically he was defeated. Just because Amaziah did right in the eyes of the Lord, while Jehoahaz did evil, there was no guarantee that God would take sides. So here’s the hard question… if God causes the rain to fall on the unrighteous as well as the righteous, then why do we follow God? (This is an important concept to understand) Another way to ask this question is… if we are “righteous” will God, serve us? 2 Kings 14:23-15:38 As an aside, the Jonah we read about in 14:25, is the same Jonah who was swallowed by the whale. (Kinda cool, huh) 14:27, is an important verse. Jeroboam did evil in the eyes of the Lord, but even so, God will do what in this verse through Jeroboam? We need to be careful of this idea that God will serve us, versus us serving God. It leads us to think that what we "do" should be rewarded. When really, what we do, points the world to the one we are saying is faithful and loving, and it helps us avoid a whole lot of pain, self-inflicted, in this life. The history will continue, with kings rising and falling. In the midst of everything, God has a plan. That is what we will be keeping our eyes open to see. Acts 25:1-22 We continue to see how the Jews are trying to set Paul up. They see Paul as a threat to their faith. How would the church respond in this situation? Imagine someone was perverting Christianity. What would be our response? Paul’s witness, which is rooted in his faith, continues to remain unwavering. It will lead him to testify before Agrippa. Acts 25:23-26:23 When Jesus had called Paul on that road to Damascus, he told Ananias what would come of Paul's life. Go back and re-read Acts 9:15. What we see happening here at the end of Acts is a fulfillment of God’s word. Psalm 81:1-7 I don’t like breaking up the psalm like we will be doing. So read these verses, and just sit on them for now. We’ll come back to them in a couple of days. Proverbs 16:18-27 There is an idea that has become very poignant to me in recent months. It’s the idea that the things we meditate on, the things we listen to over and over and over, these perspectives will begin to influence what we think and believe. If this is true, then what would happen if we meditated on Proverbs? Think about it.