When You Send Your Spirit

February 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Psalm 104:24-35 reveals a three-part structure.  First, it describes God’s incredible works of creation (104:24-26).  Then it describes how God provides for all of His creation (104:27-30).  And it ends with an appropriate response of praise for God’s creation and provision (104:31-35).  This flow from creation to providence to praise rests in the fact that “when you (God) send your Spirit, they (the creatures) are created, and you renew the face of the earth” (104:30).  This is God’s promise that He will continuously create and renew through his Spirit.  Based on this promise, we can be confident that God will provide for us, come what may.  It gives us the opportunity to submit all our uncertainties and anxieties about the future to God.  Take a few minutes at the beginning of this new week to praise God for his faithful care and provision, and present to Him everything that causes uncertainty and anxiety about this coming week.

Stewarding God’s Secret Things

February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

This morning’s sermon (based on 1 Corinthians 4:1-5) summarized in 7 slides:

Stewarding God’s Secret Things

A Second Naivety

February 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Naivety would not be considered an adult virtue.  Adults are independent and streetwise.  From a Christian faith perspective though, adults are invited into a life characterized by a second naivety.  Psalm 131 is such a short song of second naivety.  It uses the metaphor of “a weaned child” rather than a nurtured child to describe someone who “is not proud” and who “do not concern myself with great matters” (131:1).  If the metaphor was a nurtured child, it would suggest the first naivety of an infant’s complete dependency on his/her mother.  However, a weaned child refers to an older toddler who returns to the comfort and shelter of his/her mother (131:2).  The weaned child has some experience of the world, but still seek the calm and quiet environment of the parent.  Amid the calamities of the world, the weaned child lives into a second naivety of constantly returning to the reliable consolation of a mother’s nurture.  He/she is not ignorant or unaware of the dangers of life, but is sustained by the confidence of God’s divine presence in his/her life.  When you and I are done with the daily routines of adult life, the only thing that is left is to return to our Parent’s house to be nurtured from the scars of an adult life.

Compassion

February 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Isaiah 49:8-16 presents a moving portrayal of God’s compassion for us.  It contains one of those rare occasions in the Bible where God is spoken of in a typically motherly rather than typically fatherly metaphor.  When God’s people said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me” (49:14), the response came, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” (49:15).  This was a powerful message in Isaiah’s time when God’s people went through the pain of devastation during war and deportation to Babylon, and it still is a powerful message to everyone who experience the helplessness of hopeless situations that seem to have no solution or positive outcome.  Isaiah piles on verbs to reassure God’s people that God’s power and protection remains with them regardless the apparent abandoned and forsaken circumstances.  This is God’s ultimate promise that you and I live by today and in every possible circumstance, namely that “the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones” (49:13).  Therefore, the Lord has “engraved you on the palms of my (his) hands” (49:16).  In what regard do you have to not only hear this message today, but also believe it with all your heart?

What Comes First?

February 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Jesus challenges people to determine what comes first in their lives, because He wants them to be aware of the potential threat to God presented by possessions and wealth:  “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).  This alternative god is as big a threat today as it was in the first century.  It competes with God to be the first passion and concern of the human heart.  Therefore, Jesus finds it important to warn against the all-consuming power of concerns about what you will eat, drink, and wear (6:25-34).  “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (6:25).  Instead, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (6:33).  What motivates you and me in life?  Where do our passions lie?  What comes first?  God will take care of us.  His daily bread will always be sufficient every day.  He asks us to trust Him with that so that we can focus our everyday lives on how to participate in His kingdom wherever we live, work, and play among loved ones, friends, and strangers.

A Camel and a Needle

February 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

When the rich ruler comes to Jesus in Luke 18:18-30 with the question of what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus first reminds him of God’s commandments.  This first response of Jesus sounds good enough for this rich man to believe that he has done enough to qualify.  But then comes the sharp blow:  “You still lack one thing.  Sell everything you have and give to the poor…” (18:22).  That makes the rich man sad, because he knows he will not be able to sacrifice all his wealth to other people.  Others around him who hear the conversation also think that makes it impossible for anyone to be saved.  Which is exactly Jesus’ point:  “…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (18:25).  Jesus is not saying rich people cannot be saved (there are many examples of saved rich people in the Bible), but that all people will find some or the other lack within themselves to qualify as saved.  The point is brought home in Jesus’ words in verse 27:  “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” All of us have this tendency to wanna pull ourselves up with our own bootstraps, but yet again we are invited to find ourselves completely dependent on God’s free gift of salvation in Christ.

A Gentle Tongue

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

A 19th century folktale tells the story of a man who was saying bad things about the town’s wise man. One day, he decided to ask the wise man for forgiveness. The wise man, realizing that this man is not really sorry for his transgressions, told him that he would forgive him on one condition: that he go home, take a feather pillow from his house, cut it up, and scatter the feathers to the wind. After he had done so, he should then come back to him. Though puzzled by this strange request, the man was happy to be let off with such an easy task. When he later returned to the wise man’s house after doing what the wise man asked him to do, the wise man said, “Go now and gather up all the feathers.” “But that’s impossible. The wind has already scattered them,” he replied. “Precisely,” the wise man answered. “It is as impossible to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feathers.”

Proverbs 25:18 warns, “Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor.” On the positive side, Proverbs 25:15 says, “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.”

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