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Archive for August, 2010

Jesus had a conversation with a woman who was as far from a relationship with God as one can get. She had been married several times and was living with a man without being married at the time Jesus talked with her. It is interesting that Jesus even talked with her because she was a woman who lived a sinful life. She was a perfect example of why Jesus came. He came for all of us who are apart from God. As they talked she asked Jesus a religious question. She asked where people should worship. Jesus replied not with where but with how. He told her that “God is spirit and those who worship must worship Him in spirit and truth”.

There are many places in the bible where it says that God does not want our sacrifices but wants us to show mercy. In the times before Jesus came and in the time He was here, the Jewish religion had a sacrificial system of worship. The problem was that their hearts were not in the right place. They were performing outward actions of religious ritual, but their hearts were not right with God and others. One passage in the bible catches my eye. It says that pure religion is to help the widows and the orphans.

What does God want from us? He wants our hearts to be right with Him and our relationships to be right with others. He does not want empty ritual. He wants is to give Him our hearts and our love. He wants us to show love to others.

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Life can be confusing at times and different voices express all sorts of ideas. It can be confusing to try to understand who God is and what does He want for us. I find comfort in what is recorded in the Bible. It gives me peace in the midst of a world that sometimes seems crazy. The bible records some encouraging words spoken by Jesus.

When he taught his followers about prayer and fasting He told them to not do so for recognition from others. He taught them to begin prayer with “Father” when He gave them an example of prayer that began with “Our Father”. He also said something significant when He said, “your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask”. God knows what is going on in our lives. He knows before we do what we will need.

God does not want us to live in fear. The bible says that He has not given a spirit of fear but a spirit of adoption so that we can be called children of God. It also says that when we receive the Spirit of adoption we cry out Abba Father.

What does God want for us? He wants to be our Father in relationship with us, not to abuse us, but rather to lavish upon us His love. He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for……, plans to prosper you… to give you a future and a hope. That is why He sent Jesus, so that through Him we could be restored to relationship with God as our Father.

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This morning I took a friend to the University of Nebraska to take care of some final details before she begins classes next week. When we got there, I found a parking spot right in front of the building where we needed to go. I told her Jesus helped us. She did not think a parking place was very important. I shared with her something Jesus said, “even the hairs on your head are numbered”

God cares about us so much that He pays attention to even the little details that we do not think are important. He knows the number of hairs we have on our head. If He cares enough to keep track of how many hairs we have on our head, how much more will He care about other details in our lives such as bringing friends into our lives, helping us make progress toward our goals, even helping us the find a parking place.

As we go through the busy day today let’s take a moment to ask God for His help. Let’s remember that He is there with us even in the little things. Let’s also remember to thank Him for those little things.

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When someone important enters a room, there is usually some of sort of recognition. When the President of the U.S. enters a room the song Hail to the Chief is played and those who are present stand out of respect if not for the person than at least for the office. When politicians visit a place, they usually arrange for some sort of press coverage to ensure it gets some sort of media attention. It seems to be human nature to want to call attention to things we do or events we will go to.

In contrast Jesus invited people to come to Him. He said, “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest….. for I am gentle and humble of heart” God spoke to the great prophet Elijah in a still small voice. When God calls us, He does so in gentleness. He speaks to us in a still small voice even though He has all power.

I have had some recent conversations with people who have just begun their relationships with God. It was interesting for me to hear their life stories. I could easily see that God had been working in their lives to lead them to the point where they were. God led them gently to Himself. God is always wooing people to Himself. He calls us in gentleness. He places people in our lives to get our attention. I like the saying that a coincidence is when God does something but stays anonymous. Listen to His gentle call because it is calling you to the one who loves you so much that He died for you. Jesus loves you more than you can possibly understand. He has all power, but He works gently to woo us to Hismelf.

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As we go on our journey there will be times that we may feel uncertain regarding which way to go. There will be choices and difficult decisions along the way. At times it may not seem clear which way to go. I often share with my friends in my Sunday class that we do not need GPS or Google Maps to know they way.

During my first trip to Romania I was confused about how to get to my host home. My Romania friends gave directions in a way that Americans do not usually think. They would say two stops and then get on number # bus and go 3 stops. Their were many times that I would get on the bus not sure of where I was going and every time there would be someone on the bus I had met in the English camp or from the church. They would help me to know where I was going. I finally told my translator Mihai that the directions people were giving me were confusing and the numerous different buses were confusing. He drew me a map of the area around my host home and I had no more problems. That was in 1997 before there was GPS and Google Maps.

In our spiritual journey we will have times that we feel confused as if we are in a foreign country in need of directions. Our guide Jesus will not only give us directions. He will do more because He Himself is the Way. Jesus said of Himself. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. no one comes to the father but through me.” Jesus is the way and when it comes to our final step of the journey in this life, which is when we die, Jesus will be the on who picks us up and takes us to heaven. GPS and Google Maps cannot give us the directions there, but who needs them when our guide Jesus not only knows the way, but is Himself the way.

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Whenever I am under the leadership of another person one of the questions I have is- What does this person want for me? Other questions I have are; what is this person’s vision, what are this person’s goals, what does this person want for others besides me. If we need to rely one someone, we want to know what their motivation is and how will it affect us. When I travel abroad, I am keenly aware of the importance of being able to trust translators, friends from that culture etc.

As I journey in this life, I am mindful of who it is that is on the journey with me. I am thankful that the One who is our Creator, Savior, and God has already stated what He wants for all of us. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full”. Wow!! Stop and think about that for a moment. Jesus our guide on the journey wants us to experience the fullest life possible. Some mistake that to mean we will all be millionaires, but that is not what Jesus was speaking in reference to. Full life means relationship with God. It means eternal life with God that will never end. It means having God in our lives now. It also means a life full of friendships, meaning, purpose, and realization of why we are here.

Jesus is the guide who has our best interest in His heart and mind. He has already proven that. He proved it when He died on the cross for our sins even though He had no obligation to do so. He wants to forgive us and come into our lives. We need to trust Him and as Him to do so, and then He becomes our guide on our journeys.

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As we travel on our journey in this life we will at times come to dark times of loneliness, despair, failure, and times when we fall into sin. Those times have been called dark nights of the soul by some people who have gone on to be considered great people of faith in the history of the church.

It reminds me of how we feel when we walk down a dark street or drive through a dark area. We can feel fearful or doubtful. It also calls to mind the times when it seems like it will be gray and cloudy forever and our mood is affected. When we walk down a dark street or drive through a dark area and finally come to an area that is well lit we feel relieved. When it has been gray and cloudy for several days and we finally have a sunny day our mood brightens.

So it is on our journey in this life. We at times feel as if we are walking in the dark or feel we are under a cloudy time. Jesus said of Himself, ” I am the light of the world”. The bible says of Jesus that He is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Imagine walking down that dark path and a friend joins you who has a huge light that illuminates the whole area or a friend who on a cloudy day takes you to the sunlight. Jesus is such a friend. He shows up but not with a light because He IS the light. We only need to trust in Him and ask Him to forgive and come into our lives to invite Him to share our journey.

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