Monday, October 23, 2017

Proverbs 1:1-7

Proverbs 1:1-7
English Standard Version (ESV)

  Graduation is a glorious day!  No more tests, no more assigned readings, no more lectures.  The achievement of school has passed, and greater things await.
  Proverbs offers us a helpful reminder -- if we are wise, we recognize that our learning doesn't stop.  If we want to continue to grow as Christians, it's vital to continue to find a place where we can learn.  We need to find Christians willing to teach us, and we need to be humble enough to admit our need to learn.  Growth only happens when we gather with people more mature than we are, and they pour into us, just as we should be pouring into other Christians.  To be wise means we recognize how little we know.
  It's not very popular to admit that you don't know everything.  It seems like our political landscape is filled with people who grow in stature the more brash they are -- to engage in humble conversation and engage from a position of vulnerability isn't wildly popular right now.  So it's a different way -- a different lifestyle.  What's it mean for you to continue to learn, to continue to grow in faith?

Friday, October 20, 2017

1 Peter 1:1-5

1 Peter 1:1-5
English Standard Version (ESV)

  Know what's great news?  A living hope.  Not a hope that was declared thousands of years ago and is still a moment in history.  Our hope is alive, having shattered the bonds of death.  Our hope is alive, and it's living in us, calling us forward into God's marvelous future, a future that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading.  I can't tell you exactly what that future is like, but the hope that lives within us pulls us towards us, reminding us of its power each and every passing day.  When the beauty of the world around us overwhelms us, when the love of a fellow human surrounds us, when the peace of God dwells richly in our hearts, these are moments in which our living hope is stirring us up to gaze forward, to waken our hearts to the reality of God's great love and the coming Kingdom of God.  Now is not the time to sit back and wait -- now is the time to live along with our hope, to let it form and shape us, to let it guide us into the kind of people God has called us to be!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Romans 8:18-19

Romans 8:18-19
English Standard Version (ESV)

  This is the hardest thing about being human.  My 6 year old son likes waiting as much as he likes broccoli.  They could be handing out ice cream at the front of the line and he'd get anxious waiting.  We don't like waiting, and so what we often do is choose the easy way out -- we look at distant promises and think they are too far off, and so we settle for something that offers more immediate gratification.  A long way down the road, we may regret this decision, but in the meantime we are grateful that we don't have to wait any more. 
  Christianity urges us to discipline ourselves to be patient, to trust in slow discipleship that takes a lifetime to develop, to focus on spiritual practices that don't feel like they are yielding immediate fruit but will develop our character in the years and decades to come.  It's hard to wait, and there are so many temptations to stop denying ourselves immediate pleasure, but Christianity points to abundance that waits down the road.  It's not 'Your Best Life Now', perhaps, but God has always promised that it would be worth the wait, and God is a promise keeper, so let us keep our eyes and hearts focused on the future glory.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Revelation 3:15-22

Revelation 3:15-22
English Standard Version (ESV)

  I've been to a few concerts that are general admission, and I'm always amazed by the people that get there early to reserve a seat near the front.  They give up significant amounts of extra time, all to squeeze forward uncomfortably for the experience of being closer to the band.  I find space in the back, hearing the same music, but having a very different experience.  Mine is probably much more comfortable, but more subdued as well.  At least I'm in the concert, right?
  It's pretty easy for most of us to hang back, finding a comfortable spot and waiting for what we consider to be the perfect moment.  The problem is that those perfect moments to engage are often only clear in hindsight.  It requires a risk in the moment, and it can be uncomfortable.  It's much easier to get lulled into the idea that we are in need of nothing, not realizing how much we are missing by preferring our comfort over fully engaging with the Gospel.
  Christ comes to us.  The amazing truth of the Gospel is that the Savior comes to us, knocking on the door and seeking a path into our lives.  We don't have to figure it all out -- we have to accept the gift that comes to us, but the next step isn't to sit back and wait to figure it all out.  We are then charged to go forth with passion, with energy, and let the Gospel transform us.  We must recognize our total need for grace and let our gratitude for God's love and mercy guide every word and action.