Archive for March, 2011
God chose us “before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God in love.” Wow! Forever, God has loved us. Forever, God destined us to be God’s children. Forever, we will live with God in the freedom of forgiveness! These verses, and those that follow through Verse 14, overflow with praise for all of the unbelievable gifts of love God has given us. Even on our Lenten journey, it is good to be reminded that it is precisely because of this abundant generosity that we are dedicated to responding to it—in joy, in a renewed commitment to serve and with a life of praise!
We are in awe, O God, as we experience your steadfast, eternal love each day. Amen.
This is one of my favorite psalms. I have sung a choral version of it that I always hear in my mind as I read it. This time, however, I have a different “take” on the psalm. I used to think of church, frankly, as God’s dwelling place and courts. Now I see all of creation as God’s dwelling place (and probably have for a while). Seems obvious, doesn’t it? This change in thinking has reminded me how precious, holy and fragile creation is. God has entrusted to us God’s dwelling place. We can have profound effects on it. Now I ask myself, “Will I care differently for it as I ponder this new insight during Lent?”
Generous Creator, may your Spirit guide me in my care for your creation and all its creatures. Amen.
There are those occasions we work overtime to have fun. New Year’s Eve is one. People spend small fortunes and risk all their driving privileges to find a good party. Often, their searches end in vain or they party so much they have no recollection of it the next day. It may be possible to enjoy a happy New Year’s party, but you are more likely to come up short. The opposite is true when singing God’s praises in the house of the Lord. Standing shoulder to shoulder with other saints while bellowing a great hymn always fills the soul. Happy, indeed, are those who live in God’s house ever singing God’s praise.
Lord, fill me with joy when I sing your praise. Amen.
Currently, I’m sitting in a comfy chair drinking my morning coffee at Starbucks. I get here relatively early, so I usually don’t have to stand in much of a line. About 10 or 15 minutes later, the line gets considerably longer. As I’m sitting here watching people join this line that will probably result in them being here for about 10 or so minutes in order to the the coffee the drink to fuel the caffeine addiction they have created for themselves (myself included), it got me thinking about what we spend out time on.
As a pastor, I’m always encouraging people to spend time with God in prayer and studying the Bible. The most common excuse that I hear is about how people don’t have time to spend with God and yet, we spend at least 10 minutes in line for our morning latte, huh.
In John 10:10 Jesus talks about how He has come to give life, and give life to the fullest. We spend so much time looking for life in the bottom of a coffee cup, sports, activities, working out at the gym, hoping that it will give us enough energy to get through the next few hours or the rest of the day, yet we don’t spend 10 minutes a day with the one who actually created us and gave us life. Jesus gives us insight and opportunity into how we each are uniquely made and what gives us sustaining life and purpose.
What if instead of looking for life in things that are temporary, we looked for life from Jesus, the giver and sustainer of life. The one who will never leave or fade away and will always be there. Join me in evaluating not only HOW we spend time in our life, but more importantly, WHERE are we looking for life?
Pastor Steve Gold
Nothing lasts forever, and that’s a good thing for sales. Our whole economy is based on consumption. What is fashionable today must not be so tomorrow, for if it is, sales will cease. We are told to search and strain to find the latest trend, idea or hero. Once we find it, we can get on with building our lives. Then another trend appears and we have to start all over again. Wouldn’t it be better if some things were certain, if we could build our lives on a sure foundation? Yes. Build your life on Jesus. He is for keeps. His love for you never shrinks or goes out of style.
Lord, let me build my life on you. Amen.
Thirsting is a cinch. The list of things for which we thirst is long: prosperity, a long life, good friends, meaningful work, health, wealth, wisdom. One thirst is quenched and another shows up for duty. It is endless. Jesus knows this. So he comes with new water. It is cool and pure and one sip quenches for eternity. He is this water. He pours himself into us and makes this promise: I am with you. You are mine. It is settled. Thirst no more.
Sir, give me this water that I may never be thirsty. Amen.
What’s captured you? Has something gotten a hold of you that won’t let go? Abraham’s call, like that of many people in the Bible, begins with an invitation to let go, to say goodbye to what’s known and to be open to what God has in store. Lent is a time for all of us to practice letting go, saying goodbye to what we know and being open to God’s movement in our life. Just like the seasons in nature create rhythms of life, so do seasons create patterns for God’s people, reminding them what it is to be a follower of Jesus. So, in this season of Lent, what is God asking you to let go of, say goodbye to or be open to? Can you hear God calling?
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
– Genesis 12:1 NIV
Have you ever felt on the outside? Maybe you were the last to be chosen for teams, the one who looked different, acted different or talked different. Today you are chosen … and you are chosen first. You are the one God wants to spend time with. Christ came into the world to destroy the things that separate, alienate and divide. What are the things separating you from God? Christ is willing to take them from you. What are the things that alienate you from others? Christ can overcome them. What things divide you from the ones you love? Christ’s love can break through those obstacles. Today, let God choose you, claiming you as one of God’s chosen people and a member of God’s family. Let Christ remove the barriers and heal the divisions in your life.
…You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.
– Ephesians 2:19 NIV
My high school choir director experienced hard times in his life. He looked to Psalm 121 for comfort. One summer, he wrote a song using the words from that Psalm. That fall, he told my choir about his struggle and gave the song to us as a gift. We worked hard that year to learn the song, and sang it at our closing concert. It was a moving moment, for us and our director. What a gift. Later, as I hit hard times in life, Psalm 121 was the first place I turned. My choir director gave us more then I had imagined, for he knew that he couldn’t keep the hard times from happening in our lives, but he could give us guidance when we hit them.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
– Psalm 121:1-2 NIV
I appreciate the part of the liturgy that begins with the confession and absolution of sins— but I don’t often get it. Sometimes I routinely mutter the words, quickly rushing through. Other times, I recognize my sin and get stuck in the confession part. Neither response recognizes the power that comes from that brief order. In John’s Gospel we read about a woman about to be stoned for her sin. At the last minute, the Pharisees invite Jesus to weigh in on the issue. Jesus, the one without sin, has this woman’s future in his hands. He knows the law, as do the Pharisees. Jesus turns the tables. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the one without sin, Jesus, says these words to you today, just as he did then: No sin, no wrong doing, is too great. You are not condemned. Go and leave your sin behind.
“…Go now and leave your life of sin.” – John 8:11 NIV