Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ASKING QUESTIONS IN GRIEVING


As you journey through [the] early part of the process of grieving loss and growing spiritually, finding good companions to travel with you can be crucial. A fitting person for this part of the discovery is someone who is good at asking questions and can help you name the various dimensions of the loss you are experiencing.

The story of the early church as recorded in the book of Acts begins with many questions. When Jesus died, those who had followed Him needed to discover the meaning of His death by naming what they had lost. They wondered with the risen Christ if His death meant the coming of the new Israel (Acts 1:6). As He ascended, men in white robes asked [the disciples], “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” What did His life mean? The meaning of Jesus’ life became clear only in the exploration of what His followers experienced in the emptiness of His absence.

-- Dan Moseley in Lose, Love, Live: The Spiritual Gifts of Loss and Change. Copyright © 2010 by Dan Moseley. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A LACK OF TRUST AND OBEDIENCE


“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”  (1 Samuel 28:15b NIV)

Saul was chosen by God to lead Israel. He was gifted, strong, and charismatic. But he had a pattern of behavior in his life that revealed he would not trust God enough to obey Him. This went on for such a long time that, finally, God could not use him anymore and chose David to be the new king.

Initially Saul had liked David, but when he discovered that David was to replace him on Israel's throne, he would not surrender to God, would not surrender his crown, would not obey God. Finally, he ended up turning to the occult. He went to visit a woman known as the witch of Endor to ask her to conjure up the spirit of Samuel the prophet, an occult practice that would have been an abomination to him when he was a young man. As G. K. Chesterton wrote, if people cease to believe in God they do not believe in nothing but in anything. In the end, Saul took his own life in despair rather than bend his knee before God.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


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Monday, March 20, 2017

INTIMACY WITH GOD


“The LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7 NRSV)

Here is a promise of being let into intimacy with God.

Our prayers will result in joy, for they will be accepted.  God will gather us in and not shut us out.  We will be known fully and nevertheless loved completely… Life will flow.  What we do will have meaning.  And so there will be a feeling of total inclusion.

No longer will we feel like strangers but like those who have come to the spiritual home for which we have always longed.

-- Gerrit Scott Dawson in Called by a New Name,  published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.   Used with permission.


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Friday, March 10, 2017

RESUME FOR A REDEEMER


“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also created the worlds.  [Jesus] is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. When He had made purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,…”  (Hebrews 1:1-3 NRSV)

The author of Hebrews presents a series of arguments for the superiority of Jesus over all rival claims to allegiance which the readers were feeling and hearing. Their attention was easily diverted off in other directions, just as our attention is easily distracted today. They, like us, were being tempted, frightened or pressured into following other voices and serving other masters.

Jesus’ superiority to the prophets is marked in six ways. First, He is the Son, and as such speaks with greater authority and completeness than the prophets… Second, the Son’s superior greatness to the prophets springs from His position as both creator and heir of all things… Third, the Son shares fully in the divine nature… Fourth, the Son is the master of the universe… Fifth, in sharp contrast to this image of universal power the Savior accomplishes the purification for sin through the agony and blood of the cross… Sixth, Jesus sat down at God’s right hand denoting the supreme honor accorded to the triumphant Lord, who is risen from the dead…

Clearly the world we live in today is one which desperately needs this redeemer.

-- adapted from Ray C. Stedman in Hebrews: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series


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Thursday, March 9, 2017

THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN


Sin is a word not often thought about seriously in our time. Neal Plantinga writes, “Nowadays, the accusation you have sinned is often said with a grin, and with a tone that signals an inside joke…” Sin has become a word for hot vacation spots (Las Vegas is Sin City) and dessert menus: “Peanut Butter Binge and Chocolate Challenge are sinful; lying is not. The new measure for sin is calorie.”

But sin is the deadliest force because it takes us out of the flow of the Spirit. Imagine the consequences if we did not have a word for cancer or depression. We must identify and understand that which threatens our ability to flourish, and only sin can keep us from becoming the person God wants us to become. All other challenges face us from the outside. Sin works its way inside, strangling our soul.

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be


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