March 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
Ephesians 5:8-14 contrasts what it means to walk as children of light and as children of darkness. Everything is exposed by the light (5:13), and therefore, we should walk in the light rather than dwell in the darkness. It reminds me of a short video clip that I once saw on youtube about the young Einstein (they claim it is a true story). Instead of reading a longer devotion this morning, please take another minute to watch this video clip:
March 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
The short second letter of John focuses on the relationship between truth and love. Truth “lives in us and will be with us for ever” (v.2). For John, to walk in the truth that lives in us and that is with us is not a new command, but the very same command as to walk in love (v.4-6). The rest of the letter emphasizes that you can lose truth and love if you deny “Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (v.7). John’s letter is consistent with the Gospel of John in proclaiming that the One who came as the fleshly Word (John 1) is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is the truth. But He is also the embodiment of God’s love. Truth and love is intrinsically related in Christ as God with us, among us, and in us. But John is adamant that all of this will make no sense – will only be abstract theory about truth and love – if we do not love one another (v.5). Truth is not the theoretical propositions of ideologies which we often use to divide people with our judgments of right and wrong, but rather the treatment of others with the merciful, loving acceptance of God. Who is God sending you to today to walk with in truth and love?
March 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
The episode in Genesis 29:1-14 takes place within the larger context of God’s journey with Jacob. The passage in itself tells the story of Jacob’s arrival at his mother’s home and subsequent conversation at the well with the shepherds, Rachel, and Uncle Laban after he continued his journey across the desert, seeking out the family members that his parents instructed him to locate. But the larger context of the story is God’s promise to Jacob that is so well articulated in the previous chapter: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:16). This story is another example of God fulfilling his promises in spite of and even through the less-than-admirable actions of the human beings in the story. Though Jacob is a liar and a trickster, God graciously gives him the blessing God gave to Abraham and to Isaac. In addition, God promises to be with him and to bring him back to his homeland. God is faithful, and God fulfills his promises, even through very flawed human beings. That includes us. God has given us another day in our lives because He is on a journey of promise with us. Today is the first day of the rest of your adventurous journey within God’s larger purposes with your life.
March 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
For modern human beings, reason and experience play such an important role in what is real or true. Something is real or true only if I can feel it or if it makes logical sense to me. Of course, what is central to such a modern construction of reality and truth, is the “I” or “me”. Reality or truth is something that is constructed within me, because both reason and feeling are faculties of the inner self. However, more often than not this construction is far removed from the biblical picture of reality and truth. For example, Psalm 81 puts the emphasis on listening as the crucial aspect of reality and truth: “…you called… I answered you… if you would but listen to me… but my people would not listen to me… if my people would but listen to me (81:7-13). Listening requires relationship and community. At the heart of the Christian faith is a speaking God who seeks to be in relationship with a listening people. The psalm knows very well the dangers of not listening. The alternative is the inner voices of the self: “So (if not listening) I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices” (81:12). God will speak to you and me today in many ways if we care to be in relationship with Him (seeking Him in his Word and through prayer) and other people (finding Him behind the face of the other that will cross our path today). Are we listening to hear His voice?
March 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
One of my favorite “call to worship” songs: “Come, Now Is The Time To Worship”. Psalm 95 functions as such a call to worship. The invitation is put out twice (in verses 1 and 6). First, the general invitation of “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord…” (95:1). And later, a repeat of the invitation to a worship posture of “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…” (95:6). Every time the reason for the invitation to worship is given: “For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods” (95:3); and again, “for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (95:7). We have to be constantly invited into living a life of worship, because (as the last four verses of the psalm remind us) we have a tendency to forget that God created us and sustains us. In all kinds of subtle ways, we often doubt that God is “the great King above all gods”. The reference to how that happened in the life of Israel (95:8-11) is also a reminder of how that happened in the history of our own lives. Therefore, yet again today, “Come, now is the time to worship… now is the time to give your heart… Come, just as you are to worship… just as you are before your God”
March 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
Don’t be too quick to criticize the people in Exodus 17:1-7 for grumbling about the lack of water. They had every reason to complain about that in the full heat of the Middle East sun. There are always enough things to complain about in life. The big test is how we deal with situations when we have every reason to grumble. The desperate situation of the Israelite community in Exodus led to a lot of quarreling going on (17:2). Even Moses got real anxious in the situation when he thought his own life is at risk (17:4). However, God’s reaction in the situation is stunningly different from the Israelites and their leader. While their response centers on the conflict, God’s response delivers compassion. Notice how God never actually condemns them for grumbling. He simply instructs Moses to get on with the solution that He will provide for them. When the going gets tough, God shows compassion rather than making things tougher than what they are. The climax of God’s compassion is His promise that “I will stand there before you” (17:6). We are called to learn from God’s response when we are in the midst of difficult situations every day. The basic question for any situation is “Is the Lord among us or not?” (17:7). That puts the focus on His presence rather than the crisis.
March 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
Romans 5:1-11 is the entire gospel in a nutshell. The good news is that God is Love. Paul writes that God loves us so much that, even though we are weak (5:6), and even though we are sinners (5:8), and even though we are enemies of God, and each other, God sent God’s son to reconcile us with Him and each other. We have a faithful God who was and is willing to go to any length to save us from the destruction we brought over ourselves. However, God’s salvation is not only something that God has done for us in Christ. God made sure that we are fully involved in that salvation, “because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (5:5). Our salvation has been achieved outside of us (in Christ) but became fully embodied in our lives (through the Spirit). Therefore, Paul says, we have peace with God and find joy in the hope we have through Christ (5:1-2). The fruit of the Spirit is the blessing of God’s free gift of salvation that became a full part of our lives. You and I again have the opportunity to spend another joyful day rooted in the peace and hope we have in God.