God’s Living and Active Word

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Does God’s Word speak to you in different ways on different days?

Several months ago, the youngest children in our Sunday School asked me an interesting question. They asked, “Pastor Wayne, do you know all of the stories in the Bible by heart, or do you need to read them just like we do?” And I was struck by that question because it made me think about the times in my own spiritual journey when a story in the Bible spoke to me in a very different way than it had at any other time in my life because of something that was happening to me.

Several days ago, I read familiar words of Jesus: “I will not leave you as an orphan; I will come to you. In just a little while, the world will see me no more, but you will see me.” (John 14:18-19a). And, when I read those words this time, they spoke to me as somebody who knows what it’s like to be an orphan. Those of us who have lost both of our parents know what it’s like to want to be able to pick up a telephone and call someone who is not going to answer your call. I wish that I could ask my father for advice as I am traveling through these unusual times with you. I sometimes wish that I could smell my mother’s pumpkin pies baking in the oven. That’s a normal part of grief, isn’t it? We never just “get over” the death of a person that we’ve loved. The only thing that we can do as we grieve is adjust to our new normal.

Are you grieving, right now?

Grief isn’t something that we only experience when people die. We grieve when we lose a job and don’t know how to restart our lives. We grieve when we can’t do things like have a graduation party with our friends to celebrate one of the biggest days in our lives. Grief can, also, be a part of our spiritual journey. We grieve when we find ourselves unable to worship inside a building where we feel connected to God. We grieve when we can’t hear the music of a praise band or listen to a pipe organ. We grieve when we can’t see people that we know in worship or in a Sunday School class. In fact, we grieve almost every time something radically changes in our lives because we all like to feel that our lives are both stable and secure, and that we are in control of what happens in our lives.

But one of the things I’ve learned is that the Bible is living and active.

I can hear God speaking to me in the words of the Bible on one day; and, on another day, I can hear God speaking to me – in the very same words – in a different way. What Jesus once said about orphans strikes me very differently now that both of my parents have died than they used to speak to me when my parents were both alive. And, maybe, that’s an important truth for the Church to grasp right now.

Maybe God is stretching the Church right now and is calling Christians to remember that God is not only found inside of the buildings where we worship when we read: “The God who made the world and everything in it does not only live in the temples that have been made by human hands.” (Acts 17:27) You see, my friends, the Church isn’t a building. The Church is US – whether we’re singing together inside a familiar building or gathering as God’s people in a Zoom meeting. Maybe God is stretching us and calling us to see the presence of Jesus in our lives in a different way as Jesus tells us: “I will never leave you as an orphan; I will come to you. And, even though the world may not be able to see me, you will be able to see me.” (John 14: 18-19a). Perhaps, we all need to be reminded that Jesus has not abandoned us in these challenging days? And maybe God is stretching us and the entire Church, right now, as He says: “I have asked my Father to give you an Advocate – a Helper – the Holy Spirit who will be with you forever.” (John 14:25-26) You see, God is not far from us at all! The Holy Spirit is leading us and guiding us, and Jesus is still listening to us as we pray about what’s happening in our lives and as we ask God for the types of guidance that we need during these unusual times.

God’s Word is living and active!

And, this week, I want to encourage you to spend some time reading your Bible. Maybe God’s Word will speak to you very differently during these challenging days!

May the peace of Jesus continue to fill your heart and calm your soul. And may you, also, be reminded that God is close to you every time you open your Bible, worship and pray.

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Reading Through the Bible – Week 12

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I hope that you’re continuing to read through the Bible with us.

The Spirit of God moves in our hearts as we read and digest the words of the Holy Bible. The Bible itself tells us: “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Hebrews 4:12) Christians cannot live faithful lives apart from God’s Word. The Church, itself, cannot move forward in rapidly-changing times without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Faithful Christian lives are bound to the Risen Christ, and the Risen Christ is revealed in God’s word and in the sacraments that the Risen Christ instituted. As we read and digest God’s Word together, Christ binds us to one another and reveals Himself in our midst.

We’ve been moving through one of my favorite stories in the Bible in the last few weeks. The story of Joseph is the story of a young man who was admittedly spoiled by his father. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph was taken to the land of Egypt where he rose to a position of power – lost everything because of a horrible lie – and then, rose to a position of prominence again. Joseph’s brothers didn’t follow the rising and falling tides in Joseph’s life. And, when they came to the land of Egypt looking for help, they were not expecting to discover that their brother had risen to a position of authority that was second only to the authority of the Pharaoh.

“And Joseph’s brother’s came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them.” (Genesis 42:7)

How do you treat people who have hurt you in the past? How do you respond when a person who has hurt you in the past comes to you for help? Do you help them, or do you turn them away? Do you try your best to assist them, or do you (inwardly) smile and rejoice in their suffering and hurt? That’s what we’re going to be challenged to think about as we move forward with the story of Joseph this week.

And so, here are this week’s readings:

Sunday: 1 Corinthians 7-8 – Monday: Genesis 44-47 – Tuesday: 1 Samuel 6-10 – Wednesday: Psalms 33-35 – Thursday: Job 23-24 – Friday: Isaiah 62-66 – Saturday: Mark 3-4

Blessings!

 

 

 

Reading Through the Bible – Week 4

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I’m hoping that you continued your journey through the Bible this week!

You’ve done it! I mentioned, last week, that studies have shown that new routines become a regular part of our lives after 21-days of consistent change. If you’ve been sticking with your daily times of reading the Bible with us, you’ve just created a life-changing spiritual practice. Congratulations! If you’ve missed a few days along the way, that’s OK too! We are glad that you’re staying with us – and hope that you’ll feel free to simply continue to move forward with us this week without feeling burdened by the need to return to what you’ve missed.

Perhaps, some of the things that you’ve read this week struck you?

Have you noticed the sharp contrast between the “peace with God” (that St. Paul describes in Romans 5:1) and the brutality that we’ve been seeing in the book of Joshua?

I was struck (on Wednesday) by the sharp distinction that I see between the words “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears” (Psalm 6:6) and the words “What is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4).

Where do you find yourself in your journey of faith, right now? Is your walk with Christ one that’s filled with harsh realities, or peace with God? Are you traveling through a time in your life when you are flooding your bed with tears, or are you mindful of God’s gentleness and compassion? Perhaps you would describe this particular point in your spiritual journey with other words? If that’s true, what words would you use?

That’s something that I’d encourage you to think about as you move through the rest of this week’s readings.

And now, here are the readings for next week:

Week #4

Sunday: Romans 7-8 – Monday: Genesis 12-15 – Tuesday: Joshua 16-20 – Wednesday: Psalm 9-11 – Thursday: Job 7-8 – Friday: Isaiah 18-22 – Saturday: Matthew 8-10

Please remember that this journey through the Bible is meant to encourage you to explore God’s Word and to help you move through the Bible over the course of the next 52 weeks. It’s not meant to place a burden upon you! I’m hoping that if you miss a reading (or a few of the readings) along the way that you’ll feel free to simply jump back into the schedule of readings that I’m providing – knowing that, when you do, you’ll be re-connecting with faithful people who are committed to traveling through God’s Word with you.

Blessings!

 

Reading Through the Bible – Week 3

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I’m hoping that you continued your journey through the Bible this week.

Today, I have some good news for you! Studies have shown that new routines become a regular part of our lives after 21-days of consistent change. And so, if you’re sticking with your daily time of reading through the Bible with us, you’re well on your way to creating a life-changing spiritual practice. Congratulations!

We came face-to-face with the beating heart of the Christian faith this week.

On Tuesday, we encountered the words: “If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7b) But, on Monday, we read a very different truth: “For we hold that one is justified (made right in God’s eyes) by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

How have you found peace with God?

Does your journey of faith send you out into the world knowing that you have to find ways to “rule over sin” today – or does your journey of faith send you into the world knowing that you have peace with God because of your relationship with Christ? That’s something that I’d like to encourage you to think about as you move through the rest of this week’s readings.

And now, here are the readings for next week:

Week #3

Sunday: Romans 5-6 – Monday: Genesis 8-11 – Tuesday: Joshua 11-15 – Wednesday: Psalm 6-8 – Thursday: Job 5-6 – Friday: Isaiah 12-17 – Saturday: Matthew 5-7

Please remember that this journey through the Bible is meant to encourage you to explore God’s Word and to help you move through the Bible over the course of the next 52 weeks. It’s not meant to place a burden upon you! I’m hoping that if you miss a reading (or a few of the readings) along the way that you’ll feel free to simply jump back into the schedule of readings that I’m providing – knowing that, when you do, you’ll be re-connecting with faithful people who are committed to traveling through God’s Word with you.

Blessings!