“What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”
“When all else fails, there is still God.” When the end of the road seems immanent, another road suddenly appears; a way out of a situation that by earthly standards was hopeless. It has been said that there are no coincidences in life, and that seems to be the case especially when life is viewed through the lens of faith. You have been given a gift, so amazing a gift that God had to go through a cross and empty out a tomb so it could be delivered. Take a hard look at your life; the good, the bad, and the…well you know. With eyes of faith you can see God making a way out of no way. You see God putting the complex puzzle of your life together as a master builder constructs a house out of a pile of lumber and a few nails. Thank God we are not left on our own; God loves us far too much for us to be alone along life’s journey. What does God require from us as a payment for all that has been done for us? “To seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) But to fulfill this simple requirement is to love, just as Christ loved us, to fulfill all the law and prophets by, “loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.” We thank God by living a life that witnesses eternal thanksgiving, by loving those that God loves which by the way is all for whom Christ died. We love others even when they may disagree with us. We love others when we cannot understand their actions. We love others when their politics or theological understanding is different from ours. In other words, we give thanks to God when we “have the same mind as was in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) Maybe all God wants from us is for us to offer the same grace as we have been offered, and be thankful not only for the gifts we have received but also for the opportunity and privilege to share those gifts with those around us. How is this possible? “Call on the name of the Lord” and you will see the glory of God in every part of your life. Celebrate the Lord in all that you do and “lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” Thank you Jesus!
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
This is the season for graduations, new beginnings not only for the graduates but for their families. For some, this is uncharted territory where there will be challenges, grand accomplishments, and seeing life from a whole new perspective. For others, there may be times of loneliness, or maybe hopelessness as this new adventure unfolds. God knows that every once in a while life can be a challenge to say the least. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, “do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you be name and you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) You are not alone, and you are not without God, because you have been blessed by the promise that God has made to you to be with you always, “even to the end of the age.” The greatest blessing is received at the point where you accept the fact that the God who loves you will give you the strength, the wisdom, and the peace to “do all things,” no matter how difficult the task or circumstance. Louis L’Mour once wrote that, “There will be a time when you believe that everything is finished; that will be the beginning.” Put God, through our Risen Savior Jesus Christ at the very core of your being, and understand that all the strength and courage you need comes from the Lord, especially at times of new beginnings. God does know you by name and has loved you unconditionally from the time of your conception. May those who are graduating as well as their families and friends know that their strength comes through the Lord and that all have been incredibly blessed. The true celebration of the graduation season is the presence of God, who has been there throughout the journey, and will continue to be especially on the new adventures that lie ahead. It is by faith that mountains are moved and dreams achieved, because you “can do all things through him who strengthens you.” Celebrate the adventure; celebrate God. Thank you Jesus!
“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
I Corinthians 13:7-8a
St. Paul, in his note to the Church of Corinth, defined for the people the essence of the love of God; grace. Grace is all about loving even when a person by all worldly definitions of love does not deserve our time let alone our love. Yet, unconditional love looks beyond what is perceived and hopes for what is possible. As a nation we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday. Perhaps for some it is a time to make a few extra bucks, but for us it is an opportunity to thank those women in our lives that have loved us through good times and through bad, challenges and joys, as well as those times that we just don’t feel like showing our face in public. A mom is not defined by the biological ability or reality of giving birth, rather a mom is someone in our lives that no matter what looks beyond our shortcomings and was, and is, always there for us, seeking nothing more than what is best for us. To me, a mom is someone who looks at another and shares the grace of God and undying hope and devotion. So the question is, “what does it take?” The love of a mom is beyond words, just as the love of Christ is without definition. Love takes believing beyond what is seen; hoping for what may seem unreachable, and enduring through the challenges along the way. To have the love of a mom requires the love of Christ in their heart, a love that has no bounds and the commitment to those God called them to nurture, support and “be there” no matter what life has dealt them and the choices they have made. What does it take to be a mom? It takes a love that “bears all things, believes all things, endures all things;” a mother’s love never ends. Thank you mom! Thank you Jesus!
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
As I pray over these words of Jesus, the pile grows down the hall in anticipation of our church’s annual rummage sale. There is a lot of stuff accumulated for the sale that will help support our mission team and the work of the church beyond our walls. We all have stuff, some more than others, but we all have stuff, enough that we can drop some of our stuff off for the sale and never really miss it. The celebration of life in abundance given by Jesus has nothing to do with the accumulation of stuff, wealth, or even the maintenance of good health. What Jesus offers to us in abundance is grace; the eternal presence of God in our lives whether we have much stuff, or no stuff, live in wealth or impoverished, healthy or struggling with illness, or caring for a loved one going through a difficult time. Abundant life is the celebration of God, through our resurrected Savior Jesus Christ, that makes real the promise of God to be with us, even to the end of the age. Our task, sometimes difficult, is to trust that God is with us throughout our lives offering abundance of living. There may be times that we do not feel the presence of God, just as Job felt; “If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but cannot see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold.” (Job 23:8-10) There are times while on the journey we are blinded to God’s presence, even though it is there in abundance. We cannot see God as we build walls around our souls, but God is there, offering grace in abundance. We are frustrated by life’s twists and turns and consumed by day to day challenges, but God still is offering grace in abundance. We may even turn to God in despair and ask, “why God, how could you do such a thing,” and God is especially there, in abundance. God knows your journey, and God knows your challenges. Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and live in the abundance of God’s grace. Celebrate the Lord and you will be blessed, in abundance. Thank you Jesus!