Category Archives: Blessing

Unfamiliar Reality

The Second Beatitude
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Ponderings:
Mourning exposes a depth of emotions associated with loss that are an Unfamiliar Reality to us. Loss forces us to experience those emotions and at same time admit our coping skills will not comfort us.

This is the reality that Jesus simple words address: mourning releases us from our need to cope with those unbearable circumstances so we are ready for the blessing of comfort.

Fallen Through the Cracks

Matthew 5:3 The First Beatitude
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Ponderings:
You’ve probably heard expressions like “high spirited or free spirited. Those expressions describe people whom God has chosen to give personalities that are more demonstrative, more confident of their place in life and are therefore more noticeable.

I doubt you’ve ever even noticed anyone you’d call “poor in spirit.” Maybe that’s why God has chosen this apparently very small group to be His number one focus. He noticed them precisely because their life is not about depending on their own spirit at all. Somehow they’ve Fallen Through the Cracks of praise and attention in our world but  they’ve caught a glimpse of a different kingdom and another Spirit that sustains them.

Reminders

“No matter what changes God has performed in you, never rely on them. Build only on a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the Spirit He gives. All our promises and resolutions end in denial because we have no power to accomplish them.” Oswald Chambers

The word “denial” made me think of Peter [the rock] and then King David [a man after God’s own heart]. Somehow there’s comfort for me in recognizing God saw past their humanity to those descriptions. They are my Biblical examples of the truth of what Chambers says. There are illuminating moments of real personal Godliness to enjoy. But there are also moments of the dismal reality of being way too human.

Those moments are not reward and punishment. They are Reminders. One is a reminder of His reality in you and the other that He cares enough to let you know you still need him. Either way it’s a blessing.

Limitless Then…

Back in Genesis God tells Abram in Chapter 17 “Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!…”

The definition of a covenant is “a solemn, and binding agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.”  Maybe a covenant is not a static, one-step, New Year’s resolution kind of thing but more like a cycle renewed each year?  That concept makes sense to me.

That first step across the line from unbeliever to believer is only one step, but a momentous one, all  based on the awareness of “if’s.”    That’s when the cycle of “then’s” begins.   It’s the beginning of God’s personal covenant with you: his promise he will move the “if’s” to “then’s.”
If…God, Then awareness…
If…awareness, Then the Holy Spirit…
If the Holy Spirit…Then truth…
If truth…Then grace…
If grace…Then forgiveness…
If forgiveness…Then mercy…
If mercy…Then love – 1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us…
If love…continuous renewal and Limitless Then…

The Gift 12/25/15

My journey of words to the Cradle this Advent is over.  It’s been a blessing and sometimes the words have been hard to find.  They couldn’t be just any words because they were meant to express the reality of THE Word in my life.   Twenty seven days of many words have come down to just this one word…”present.”  It’s a word of several meanings.   The present…today…Christmas 2015.  This is the inheritance we’ve received from the time  we took to witness this birth again.

There’s a second meaning though: present…to be here.  Immanuel chose to be present with us in a very unusual way. That’s part of our legacy too.  That cradle is the essence of new beginnings.  No matter how unusual the circumstances that have brought us to this day, God is present here.

And finally there is a third, and anticipated, meaning of that same word: present… an item given to someone without the expectation of payment.  All three meanings of that one word are tied up in this painting.   It’s my present to you from my own hand.…The Gift.

The Gift - Isaiah lightenedLove and Merry Christmas, Shirle

It’s Pastor Appreciation Sunday 2015

Grace RegardlessRomans 1 – New American Standard Bible (NASB)
1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2  which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was borthe Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness,   Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thoughts:
When I first read this passage my inclination was that it didn’t meet my study criteria of looking for ways to understand the effect and application of Grace in today’s world and in my life.  Here’s what changed my mind.

“…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;…”  And here’s why.

This Sunday I’ll be in church.  I’ve chosen my churches carefully since becoming a believer.  I know it’s just a building filled with people who are drawn there for many reasons.  It’s likely there would be a very small number of people who would declare one of those reasons to be “needing the obedience of faith.”  But up in front stands a man who has been given that charge of Grace, “in His name,” regardless…

• Regardless of what we think we need or what he knows we need, he speaks of offered Grace.
• Regardless of our recognizing his elevated status he confesses his own need for Grace.
• Regardless of strife in the body, he hopes Grace will prevail.
• Regardless of exhaustion when sacred and moral duties use up all his energy and time, it’s Grace that makes him put one foot in front of the other.
• Regardless of sometimes being a wounded target, it’s Grace that heals and encourages.
• Regardless of all the evidence to the contrary it’s Grace that lets him look out at our faces and believe “you also are the called of Jesus Christ.”  That’s real-time, real-life Grace…Regardless.

Thank You!

The Blessing of Not

Matthew 5   JB Phillips NT
“Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them!

From Deitrich Bonhoeffer – The Cost of Discipleship –
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” …what it means is that when the kingdom of heaven descends, the face of the earth will be renewed, and it will belong to the flock of Jesus.

My Thoughts:
…In the meantime…don’t waste energy demanding, fighting, struggling or complaining.  Now that is a lifestyle that requires strength and commitment virtually unidentifiable in our powerful and rights-driven society today.  It is hard to even try to imagine how this might look in real life, in fact.  “Meek” may be the most hard to define word in MY language today.  I know my definition tends to go to the negative side and then prompts a negative reaction followed with “but…”  And yet it it’s what Jesus says.

Today I’m going to go with this group of statements which are odd because they all begin in that negative place; with that word “not” but lead to a much better ending.  And maybe that’s the secret to understanding the property rights of the meek.  You may well have to begin with that negative word but each statement carries the promise of the Blessing of Not.
• Not demanding Jesus be or do what I want…
• Not fighting against circumstance…
• Not struggling against obedience…
• Not complaining about the my rights, people and life…