Monday, October 10, 2016

God Has A Good Plan

God has a plan and His will be done. I am typing this note with one finger on my phone. We still have no power or water at my home. Since it's my day off I'm  thinking maybe His plan is for me to take the day off. That is after I do one visit. The electric company is now estimating I will have electricity at 11:45 tonight. I am hoping so but not counting on it. Hurricane Matthew did quite a dance on Bulow as well as other parts of Flagler County. I will continue the blog when my wifi and computer are up and running.

BTW.. Power went back on at Christ Lutheran just prior to worship yesterday. It was good to be with our brothers and sisters and hear how God has been with them and blessing them this past week.

God"s Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Whom Are You Looking For?

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  John 20:15 NRSV

Indeed, whom are you looking for? He is there with you, right now. Can you not see him? Then, maybe, it's really not Jesus that you are looking for. Maybe it's someone or something else that you think might satisfy you. Maybe you're looking in all the wrong places. The tomb is empty. Jesus is not among the dead; but, among the living. If you're looking for Jesus, look no further than around you. Jesus is Risen! He lives with you. He is with you now and always.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

High Places

"The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights." (Hab 3:19 NIV)

"The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places." (Hab 3:19 KJV)

It has been many years since I read, "Hinds Feet On High Places," an allegory, written by Hannah Hurnard. The journey of Much-Afraid and her friends Sorrow and Suffering, as they follow Shepherd to the high places, where they will walk as on hinds' feet, takes them through many dangers.  It is a long journey. They must have patience. They must have persistence. But, in the end, they (we) will dance in the presence of God. 

This is a familiar story to many of us as even daily we journey through many difficult times in anticipation and the hope of the promised land.

Just as Habakkuk prayed and waited patiently for the LORD to deliver God's people from the enemy, from the many dangers that surround them; we, too pray and wait patiently (sometimes not as patiently as at other times) for the LORD to deliver His people from the turmoil and dangers they encounter as they journey through the dark shadows of the valley of death.
The Lord is our strength. With Him we shall walk through dark valleys to the high places where the light does surely shine. 

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, March 20, 2016

No Easter Without Events Of Holy Week

Today we enter Holy Week. On this Palm Sunday we also celebrate Passion Sunday at Zion Lutheran. I will narrate the whole story; from Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem with palm branches waving to his burial. We do this in order so that as many people as possible can hear the passion story. We will not have as many at worship as we will on Easter Sunday; but, we will have some who will not be with us on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday or Holy Saturday to hear the story. They will be there to hear of his rising from the grave; but, they will not be there to hear of the actual sacrifice that he made that precipitated his resurrection. Without death there can be no resurrection. Without Good Friday; without the events of Holy Week, there can be no Easter Sunday. Therefore; on Palm Sunday we also remember his passion for us. We remember that because he loves us he was willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried and crucified for us.

Join us at Zion or your local congregation this morning and throughout Holy Week as we remember all that our Lord has done for us.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Clothe Yourself With Good Things

Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14
"As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." Col 3:12 NRSV

We are not to be doormats. We are to stand firmly on the truth, which is the Word of God. Jesus, and in the end his disciples, did not back down from the truth. They stood firmly on God's Word and on His promises.

But, neither are we to be bullies asserting our rights over the rights of others. Paul encourages the Colossians to treat one another with compassion and kindness. We are to try to have empathy for others; to, as the saying goes: "walk a mile in the shoes of others." We are to listen to all sides with humility; humbling ourselves so that we do not put our needs over the needs of others, and with empathy so that we can act with compassion and kindness to those who are suffering.

May God reconcile us to Himself and to one another, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Toiling After Riches Meaningless?

The older I get the more death becomes a reality, I lapse into more moments of thinking that life is as meaningless as Solomon would imply. Why all the years of toil, if it is to be gone in a second? Even if you have something to leave your offspring, how long will it last them? Do they follow in the way that they should go so that all that they say and thing and do will glorify God? Will their inheritance be wasted away on trivial stuff - fleeting moments of pleasure rather than those things that will bring real joy (that is glorifying God)? Will they appreciate all the years that you spent earning and saving it for them?

This toiling after riches is meaningless.

"Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?

The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.  (Eccl 5:10 - 15 NIV) 

That is not to say work is evil. We should work if we expect to eat. But, it becomes very bothersome, even a burden, when one works only to amass riches. Jesus told this story to a crowd who followed to listen to Him: 
 “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
  "Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
  “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." Luke 12:17-21

Our work should bring joy to us as well as to others. Live life! Enjoy the life that God has given you! Whether it is in the hours you spend laboring or during the hours you are relaxing with your friends and family, life here on earth is to be lived and enjoyed. Life, abundant life, is a gift from God.

"This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart." (Eccl 1:18-20).

While you are yet making your journey through this world focus not on amassing wealth or power to the exploitation of others, but on living life so that God may be glorified.

And... may the peace and joy that is found in being in relationship with God, our Father and with one another, through His Son, Jesus the Christ, be with you always.  Pr. J

Saturday, March 12, 2016

God Help Us To be Fruitful

     "Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
     To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
     May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."  2 Peter 1:1-8 NRSV

We are saved by God's grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ; yet, Peter reminds us that we should support that faith with such things as goodness and knowledge. It makes no sense whatsoever for us to have received this precious gift of faith if we do not live by that faith. We are to be fruitful laborers in that which He has called us.

God bless the works of our hands, the words of our lips and the meditations of our hearts and minds that all that we say and think and do will be acceptable in His sight and glorify Him.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

He Holds The Children In His Hands

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
    incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
    a strong fortress, to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
    my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
    it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.
Psalm 71:1-6 NRSV
My birth family did not attend worship. I never attended Sunday School; but, thanks to some wonderful neighbor ladies I was able to go to Vacation Bible School. I was confirmed; but, that was because I wanted to affirm my baptism. I would find rides or walk the few miles to the classes at church. I attended services with my grandmother when I was very young and stayed with her at times. I remember some of those services being in the Finnish language, which I did not understand. But, in spite of a very minimal formal Christian education, I came to know and to trust God. He came to me when I was not able to go to Him.
Family life as I grew up was pretty chaotic and there were many times, as a young child, that I simply had no one to turn to. I feared for my safety and felt very alone. So, I turned to God for comfort and for safety and for love. There were many nights that I could not sleep because of troubles in the household. Weekends were usually the most rough. I remember hiding knives and ammo in the evenings before our parents came home on Friday and Saturday nights. But, I must stress that in spite of the many times of trouble, there were also many good times, as well. There are many children growing up today who do not have the benefit of these good times.  
But, where and to whom shall a child turn when they are afraid? One of the few songs that I knew from Vacation Bible School was "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands."  In order to rest without fear and to be able to fall asleep in peace, I would often envision myself laying in the comfort and safety of God's great hands. He came to me. He was and is my strong fortress to save me. He is my refuge and strength. He was and is with me always. He is with you always. 
There are children today who live in much greater fear than I did. My heart goes out to them and I pray that they will live and rest in the comfort and safety of God's hands.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, March 7, 2016

Walk In The Light

"Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them."  Eph 5:10-11

You're in a bind, again?! We all get in binds sometimes. We can step right into traps without even considering where we're placing our feet. Sometimes we step into those dark places on purpose thinking that we're not going to get lost or trapped.

Here's a suggestion from St Paul. "Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord." Quit working so hard at trying to please the world. You will just find yourself in darkness. Seek the Lord while he may be found. Seek out what will be pleasing to the Lord and you just might find yourself walking in the light and participating in His life; real life.

May God guide you in His light.

God's Peace - Pr. J