One of the great passages in the New Testament is found in the fifteenth chapter of John’s gospel as Jesus uses another one of those great “I Am” phrases, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinegrower.” (John 15:1)
We know who the Son is, and who the Father is — but we also know who we are in this metaphor. We are the branches that are connected to the vine, which is the life-source for each branch.
In my devotional time I came upon a passage I’ve read numerous times, but this time it came with a bothersome question – as though whispered to me. From Luke 18:2-8, in the story of the Persistent Widow who implores an unjust judge to grant her request. Because of the widow’s constant plea, the judge finally gave in to her. When comparing this kind of earthly relationship to the relationship we have with our heavenly Father, Jesus asked, “Don’t you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him day and night?”
But then the Lord poses a question, “When the Son of Man returns, (referring to His second coming) how many will He find on the earth who have faith?”
How many will be waiting on Him? How many are believing in Him? How many are trusting and obeying Him and seeking His will in their daily lives?
At first, that sounds like an easy question for anyone who’s reading through the Bible for their devotion time. “I have faith! He will find me!”
But then the whispered question: “What does faith look like — in His eyes?”
The season of Lent is both rich and scary. The season is rich because we are invited to dig deep into our faith practices and determine whether we are on the right path to becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. We are encouraged to look at our whole lives and then to lay them alongside the life of Christ and see how we measure up. That is where the scary part comes in.
Here are a couple of real life situations:
We have recently come through the Advent Season in the life of the Church. Advent represents, in part, the waiting we experience for Jesus Christ’s second coming. In His second coming, the Church anticipates our full redemption as Christian believers rise to an eternal fellowship with our heavenly Father!
I came across this story many years ago, and only recently did I recall the story because of what I was reading, preparing for Christmas this year. I don’t know the author; in fact, there may have been many hands that helped shape this story:
History tells us that early in the 19th century the whole world was watching with bated breath the campaigns of Napoleon. There was talk everywhere of marches, invasions, battles, and bloodshed as the French dictator pushed his way through Europe. Babies were born during that time. But who had time to think about babies or to care about cradles and nurseries when the international scene was as tumultuous as it was? Nevertheless, between Trafalgar and Waterloo, there stole into this world a bona fide list of heroes whose lives were destined to shape the history of humanity. But again I ask, who had time to think about babies while Napoleon was on the move?
Well, someone should have.
1 Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath!
— Psalm 146
Is it possible to grow weary, giving thanks to God? Have you fallen into that spiritual-warping posture? If that happens to you, let me offer a couple insights that can lead you to overcome your own thanks-weariness. I pulled up several Psalms in the Old Testament and a few passages from the New Testament to observe how thanks to God was expressed in the Bible.
In recent weeks, while reading the Psalms, I came across two that were very similar in nature, Psalm 142 and 143. It spoke to me as I was thinking about our community, and I wanted to offer you instructions on some guided reading of the Bible.
A single day in Your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!
It has always been the priority of God's people to meet together in order to worship God. But over the past 12 to 18 months the pandemic has created a downward spiral in Church attendance — and that's a great concern for me and you. When the regular routine for attending worship is broken, you often find a slow drifting from spiritual practices; we may become negligent in prayer, studying God’s Word, and shrugging off worship or practicing stewardship.
In Romans 12, Paul instructs the Christian believer, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them!” and then he goes on to describe what love looks like. It looks a lot like kindness to others!
I believe the Church needs to talk a lot more about kindness!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.