Thursday, April 26, 2018

Scripture to Meditate On

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

Isaiah reminds us of something that we all too often forget. There are limits to what we can do. We forget this so we push and push and push. As a result, we find ourselves 'faint and weary' and we 'fall exhausted'. How much better to accept these limitations and to live more sanely.

But there are all those things that need to happen! How will we get them done?

This is where Isaiah's word 'wait' comes in. But don't think of it as being passive as you watch life pass you by. This word includes the notion of hope. It's sometimes associated with that word. For example,
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Psalms 39:7
We wait, placing our hope in Yahweh. Remember the Bible's definition of hope: waiting for God to keep a promise.

When I feel the pressure of time and the weight of things to do I have learned to recall to mind this promise.
… casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
I have found that as I, then, deal with what needs to happen, recognizing my limitations and hoping in Him instead of rushing about, my Father always makes sure that what needs to get done does get done. It may not feel exactly like mounting up with wings like eagles, but life works well and that without all the stress and bother that it used to have for me.

We need to see more of this in our rush about culture.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Witness of the Spirit

We’re back in Romans chapter 8. And Paul is still teaching about the ministry of the Spirit in the life of a Christian. Today, we come to something that the Spirit does that we really need to understand. It’s bound up with a couple of questions that aren’t asked very much these days, a couple of questions that really should be considered more frequently. ‘Are you sure that you’re a Christian? If you think you are, how do you know that?’

Listen to what Paul wrote.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…  Romans 8.16

I’m pretty sure that we all have questions about what Paul means by this. I certainly had some myself before I began to study for this sermon. And while some questions still remain for me, the bigger aspects of what this is about have become much clearer. It has been my prayer this week that I would be able to do a good job passing on to you what the Spirit has shown me.

A Prayer

Father,

It's cold. It's April and it's been snowing. Everybody has noticed, some have complained, and we're all wondering. After all, this weather is coming from You, like it says.
He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? (Psalms 147:16-17)
What confuses us is that You're the one who promised the seasons.
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. (Genesis 8.22)
This cold April doesn't fit our expectations. It doesn't seem to fit what You normally do.

What we need to see is that You're not trapped by Your own rules. There are times when You just break some of them. Some of those times people get annoyed and complain. But other times they are amazed at some miraculous thing that You just did and give thanks.

You get to break Your own rules.

And when You do that, it's always the right thing for You to do. You certainly have Your reasons when You do that, reasons that You need not share with us. But in due time we will come to see the wisdom of all that You have done, including when You have broken Your own rules.

Father, You don't fit into the neat boxes that we have carefully created for You. You continue to surprise us with what You do and don't do. We need to get the lesson that You're not at all like us. You're not just some human inflated to super-size. You're God. And You do lots of things that make absolutely no sense to us. Lots of good and wise and loving things that confuse us.

So, Father, grant to us a greater measure of humility. Help us to see more clearly the difference between who we are and who You are. You get to make all the rules, not us. And You get to break them sometimes, not us. Humble us so that understanding reality better we would submit to You better. That is, after all, what we were created to do.

Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Comment on a Hymn

What Shall I Render to My God?

Isn't that a great question? We have been so greatly blessed that a question like this only makes sense. And the writer conveys that sense of being blessed quite well. So, the question is apt. How shall we answer it?

What I find so very interesting is that our writer answers it by talking about going to church to worship with the saints. How many would answer it that way these days?


What shall I render to my God
For all His kindness shown?
My feet shall visit Thine abode,
My songs address Thy throne.

Among the saints that fill Thine house
My off’rings shall be paid;
There shall my zeal perform the vows
My soul in anguish made.

How much is mercy Thy delight,
Thou ever bless├Ęd God!
How dear Thy servants in Thy sight!
How precious is their blood!

How happy all Thy servants are!
How great Thy grace to me!
My life, which thou hast made Thy care,
Lord, I devote to Thee.

Now I am Thine, forever Thine,
Nor shall my purpose move
Thy hand hath loosed my bonds of pain,
And bound me with Thy love.

Here in Thy courts I leave my vow,
And Thy rich grace record;
Witness, ye saints, who hear me now,
If I forsake the Lord.

Friday, April 20, 2018

For Sunday

Reading of the Law of God
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10. 14

Confession of Sin
Our Father, to our shame, we admit that we have idols. They are not idols of stone that can be seen but rather idols of the heart which are hidden. But You see them. All too often we look to them instead of looking to You. We ask that You would reveal them all to us. We ask that You would free us from their slavery. We ask that You would forgive us this great sin. We ask this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Declaration of Pardon
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53.4-5

May almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save sinners, bring you his pardon and peace, now and for ever.
The Book of Common Prayer

Scripture to Meditate On

​All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned - every one - to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

One word that bears some scrutiny here is the word 'astray'. What is included in that word? Well, think about what it means for a sheep to go astray. There is danger. Wolves are near, and a sheep has no defense against them. Then, there is the threat of hunger and thirst. Sheep don't know where the green grass and clean water are. And on top of that, there is the loneliness of being away from the flock. Going astray is not a happy time. But lest we feel too sorry for the sheep we need to remember that it is confronted by all of this because it chose to go astray.

Isaiah uses all of this to convey something of what was our own plight. 'All we like sheep have gone astray.' We deserve what would have come our way because of that choice. And we're not talking about mere hunger and wolves. Consider what lies behind that imagery. But that is not our fate. And there is but one reason why that is the case. We have a savior who rescues us from all of that.