BLOG
Check here weekly for new blogs, and peruse our archives for dozens of great resources.

Love Brings Hope

purple and orange tulips on white surface
 
33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.   John 13:33-35

If you knew you only had one last chance to speak to the people closest to you before you left this world, what would you say?  As I reflect on this question I think I would want to express how much I love those people I cherish.

Here, in the thirteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is sharing a last meal with His closest companions.  He also shares with them some of His last words.  “Love one another,” He says to them.  He even issues this as a command.

They are to love one another because He has loved them.  They are to love one another to be a witness to the world of the difference God’s love makes in the life of any human being.

Do we show the Lord’s love to those within our homes?  Do we tell our spouse, our parents, our siblings that we love them?  If not, we should—we must!

But Jesus, by His life, death and resurrection reminds us that “love” is not just a word.  “Love” is an action.  Love is lived out in our relationships as we forgive one another, just as Jesus forgives us.  Love is acted out in a helping hand, a listening ear and a shoulder for a friend to cry on.  

Yes, love can be hard work!  Just ask Jesus!  But, the results of loving others are amazing.  Love gives meaning and purpose to life.  Love heals broken relationships.  Love brings hope.  

Prayer: Blessed Lord of love, because of Your love for us we love one another.  Forgive me for those times I have been less than loving. Give to me a spirit of joy that I may reach out with Your love to make the life of others filled with peace.  I pray this in Your name, O Jesus. Amen. 

Read more...

His Love Never Fails

Love scrabble tiles on book page
 
11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me. Isaiah 8:11
 
I remember as a young child, when our family moved to a new neighborhood and I was to attend a new school. I was a bit more shy in my younger years. As my parents walked me into this new school they put a hand on my shoulder. This was not out of fear that I would bolt and run. They promised me—gave me their word—that I was going to be just fine in this new environment. The hand on my shoulder was one of comfort and security. This hand of the one who loved me and gave me life was a sign that all was good and right.

The heavenly Father does the same with His children. We live in an imperfect world, which often causes us fear and worry. We walk into each new day not knowing what we will face. The Lord does two important thing. He gives us His Word that all will be fine. He puts His hand on our shoulder to give us the assurance that His strength is on our side, protecting and directing us.

This is why it is important for us to begin each day in His Word. It is important that we hear the reassuring voice of the Savior and feel His strong hand on our shoulder.

I face challenges each day. So do you. We need to remember that it is not about the size of our problems, but it is about the size of our God. His love never fails!

 
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank You for the guidance You give to me each day. There are those times that I would like to go in a different direction, but I trust in Your way and in Your will. Strengthen my trust in You and my joy in living under the touch of Your hand. Amen.

Read more...

Omnipotent

view of cross during golden hour
 
For you created my inmost being… Psalm 139:13 

Psalm 139 starts with God’s omniscience, the fact that He is all-knowing.  It continues with his Omnipresence, the fact that He is present everywhere.  And then, it assures us of His omnipotence, the fact that He is all powerful.

Power can be a scary thing.  Those who achieve virtually limitless earthly power often end up being pretty lousy people.  Nations who have great military power are often feared by their neighbors.  So when we hear that word “power” it is often not a comforting word.  But in the case of God, it is.

Psalm 139 portrays God’s omnipotence, his power, in terms of our creation.  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Indeed, God creates, destroys, calms storms, raises the dead, and more.  All of these things attest to His power.  But in Psalm 139, His power is understood in terms of love.  He has the power to create, but He uses that power lovingly, to create us uniquely.

One of the more common difficulties that people in our society have is understanding their value.  In an age of social media where 100 “likes” on one of our posts is supposed to indicate that we have lots of friends, people end up perceiving their value through what other people think of them.  That’s a scary proposition.  What if everyone is mad at me?  Does that mean I’m less valuable?  What if I haven’t achieved as much as other people?  Does that mean I’m less valuable?  To overcome debilitating thoughts like this, we are reminded of our creation.  God has uniquely and wonderfully made us.  We are not accidents, like others in our society would like us to think.  We are who we are…on purpose.  God did this.  God created us.  And God knew what He was doing when He did.

When we begin to question our value in a society that determines value based on some very fleeting criteria, we look to a loving God who created us lovingly to be who we are.  And if that doesn’t quite do it for us, we look to the cross and see how valuable we really are.  That Jesus would go to a cross, cover Himself with our sins, and die to take those sins away should convince us beyond any doubt just what God thinks of us, and how important we are to Him.

God is indeed all-powerful.  But that’s not scary to us when we read this Psalm and the rest of Scripture, and understand that His power is tempered by His love for us, seen clearly in our unique creation, and supremely loving redemption.

Prayer: O Lord God, you are all-powerful.  We praise you that you have chosen to use your power in such loving ways.  We thank you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  And we thank you that you have redeemed us through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Read more...

Omnipresence

 
If I go up to the heaven’s you are there.  If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. Psalm 139:7

Psalm 139 begins with God’s omniscience, the fact that He knows all things.  It continues with His omnipresence, the fact that He is present everywhere.  There’s the story of the little boy who was afraid of the dark, and especially afraid of his dark and scary basement.  His mother told him to go down into the dark basement and get her the broom.  The boy looked visibly shaken by the prospect of going down there alone.  So his mom assured him, “you don’t have to be afraid.  God is everywhere.  He is even down in that basement.”  The boy looked at his mother with hopefulness.  “You mean, God is down there in that basement?”  “Yes” his mother said.  The little boy opened the door of the basement, peered into the darkness and said, “God if you’re down there…please hand me the broom!”

It’s a hard thing for us to get our minds around, this idea of God’s presence everywhere.  And probably, if you grew up in a Christian home, you were reminded again and again that God is with us wherever we go and wherever we are.  That’s a comforting thought, but again, it’s difficult to grasp.  He may be in the room with me, but I can’t see Him.  He may be in the car with me, but I can’t perceive Him.  He’s inside the house, outside of the house, above the house, below the house.  How can we make sense of that?

Because of the limits of our minds to make sense of it all, God went a step further.  Instead of being this mysterious, ethereal presence that is hard to define, He locates Himself where we know we can find Him.  God is indeed present everywhere, but He has promised to be in His Word.  So now, when we’re looking for Him, we know where to go.  God is indeed present everywhere, but He has promised to be in the Lord’s Supper.  So now, when we’re looking for Him, we know where to go.  And we’ll find Him there every time.  But most importantly, in His most incarnational presence, He came into this world in the person of Jesus Christ.

God has never been content with the mysterious idea that He’s everywhere.  He has narrowed it down for us so that we always know where to look for Him, and be certain that He can be found.  He is in His Word.  He is in His sacraments.  And He lived among us in this world, identifiably and visibly in Jesus.  God has never been lost Himself.  But He certainly can be found.

Prayer: O Lord God, you are present everywhere.  How grateful we are that you have chosen to locate yourself where we can find you, and be certain of your ever-present love.  Amen.

Read more...

Omniscience

Jesus Christ wall decor
 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:6

Psalm 139 begins with Omniscience, then Omnipresence, then Omnipotence.  Today, Omniscience.  The word means “all-knowing.”  God is all-knowing.  Here’s how the Psalmist puts it: “O Lord, you have searched me and 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.  You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a words is on my tongue, you know it completely O Lord.  You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”

Do you remember Gilligan’s Island?  In one episode, Gilligan discovered some seeds on the Island.  The seeds allowed anyone who ate them to be able to read the thoughts of everyone else.  At first, it was kind of funny and quirky, then it got real annoying.  When people could read the thoughts that others had about them, they started having arguments.  Friends stopped being friends.  It was too honest.  And then Gilligan in all his wisdom, destroyed the plant that had those seeds so that everyone would get along again.

We probably would say that we like the fact that God knows everything.  But do we really?  He knows what’s in our thoughts.  He sees what we do when nobody else is around.  That’s private stuff.  And often, it’s sinful stuff. 

But gladly, God forgives sins; the sins we do out in the open, and the ones that only He and we know about.  And there’s more.  The fact that God knows everything, even our thoughts means that He knows how frustrated we get with ourselves and our sin.  He hears us when we silently pray and ask for forgiveness.  And He knows that in our hearts, we love Him dearly.

So while God’s omniscience can be perceived as a problem for us sometimes, in the end, how grateful we are that He knows all things…especially our struggling but saving faith in a Savior who died for us.
 
Prayer: O Lord God, You know all things.  Forgive us for our often sinful thoughts and private actions.  Thank You that Your love sees through all of that to who we really are.  Amen.

Read more...