Sunday, August 26, 2018

Faith, Hope & Love -- Three Enduring Blessings

In the last verse of 1 Corinthians 13 we read about three abiding or enduring blessings that we have from God. They are faith, hope and love. Faith is that ability to believe even when things seem so much bigger or complicated than we can figure. We read that we are saved by faith and that we also are to live by faith. God is faithful without flaw and He is the One that enables us to believe, trust or have faith. He expects us to then walk in it.

Hope is that ability to look beyond the immediate and to anticipate a good future outcome. God has promised that He will never let us go, and in Christ we have been promised by our faithful God an eternal hope that does not fail or fade.

And love is the most amazing blessing of all. It is because God loved us that He sent His Son to go to a cross to pay for our sins so that we might be rescued and restored to a relationship with Him. We even read that we love because God first loved us. He is the One the put love in us and it is as we grow in His love that we can appreciate it even more.

Love is also the most enduring of the three because one day in His presence we will no longer need to have faith because we will see. We won’t need hope because our hope will be realized. Love endures forever.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-13, NAS)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

God is Faithful

Sometimes in our English translations of the Bible we find an original language word that is worded differently based upon the context of a specific passage and maybe a special facet of the word that is not fully captured by any single English word. This is the case with the Greek word “peirasmos” which is translated variously as temptation, trials, and tests. In working through the passages dealing with this one Greek word I developed an amplification of one of those verses (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“There is no test, no trial, no temptation to sin, no pushing, pulling, prodding, or anything else that comes my way that makes me any different than anyone else. We all experience these things, maybe in different ways and at times to different degrees, but I am no different than anyone else.

BUT GOD…. He is always faithful in all things. With every trial, test, or temptation—no matter how big or how small; with all of these things He has set a limit to them. He will not allow anything into my life beyond which He also has not given the ability to victoriously endure. With every single test, trial, and temptation He has provided a way of escape, and He will keep me from being crushed, and He will bring me out standing on the other side. This is true whether that other side is realized in this life or ultimately in His presence. This is a certain fact.

Therefore, I will place my trust in Him and look not to the size of the situation, BUT to the size and faithfulness of my GOD.”

It is my hope that this might help you as it has me in reminding us who we need to turn to when things get tough and then commit to trusting God in response.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Neglected Bridges

Oregon has a rich history with covered bridges. In their heyday in the early 1900’s there were an estimated 600 of them. But due to newer roads, better bridges, negligence and decay there only remain about 50. In 2006 one such bridge came crashing down in Wimer, Oregon. The people were in shock at the loss of their historic treasure, and the headlines of the local paper simply read, “It’s Gone.”

So often when we cross ways with people or even churches we speak of “burning a bridge” or “not going there again,” and it is not until someone dies or something tragic happens until we rethink our actions or role. It is then that we think about what we should-of or could-have done to draw closer, to resolve that long-standing issue or even rebuild the bridge.

The people of Wimer, Oregon were so moved by their loss that they committed huge blocks of time and resources to rebuilding the bridge. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight, but they made the commitment, pooled their resources, and they got to work.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31–32)

Is there a broken bridge in your life that needs some attention? Maybe from your perspective the bridge might even be gone, and maybe you don’t even know how to take the first step. Start with your heart. Rejoice even in the fact that you recognize the need. Then ask God for an opportunity, and as the first plank is laid take the first step realizing that you may not get very far on your first attempt. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

"Oh" Encounters and Open Doors

I have not posted to this blog for several months other than place weekly links for sermons and texts of those sermons. Our family has been going through a change as God has moved us to north central Oregon to serve Him in two churches in Sherman County. It is a wonderful part of the state with a genuine and hard working people who put in the hard work of growing wheat and cattle. One of the perks of the new role is the privilege of contributing twice a month to a Friday Spiritual Matters corner of the local eNews. In this post and the next several I will re-post the first of those articles.

Article #1:

“How are you doing?” This a common but potentially awkward question. Much of the time we expect a casual non-committal response such as “good,” or “Okay” which we acknowledge in some equally casual way and move on. Even when someone throws this process for a loop and responds negatively we have our favorite responses such as “hang in there,” “I hope it gets better” or even, “I’ll pray for you.”

But it doesn’t take much to break this cycle and open the door to richer and more meaningful interactions. Following their response with a simple “Oh” provides an invitation for the other person to go deeper and share more. Saying “Oh” communicates that I’ve got a few minutes to hear and to care and not rush on down the road. Rather than fearing the “Oh no, what have I done now,” “oh” said at the right time can in a non-threatening way prove a huge blessing as you take advantage of an opportunity to enter into the life of someone else, to encourage, possibly help and even bring them in prayer before God who knows them far more than we could ever imagine (Psalm 139). “Oh” is an opportunity to extend the compassion to others that God has shown to us.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4, ESV)

Try allowing some extra time for an “Oh” encounter, and maybe even extend it to “Oh, what can I do?”