Category Archives: God Omnipotent

Finding Common Ground

Christmas
January 5, 2018

Scripture Reading: Acts 19:1-7
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the inland regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ They replied, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ Then he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They answered, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied— altogether there were about twelve of them.

I do not believe in coincidences, but my Sunday school class discussed Acts 19 this week. I enjoined hearing others describe interacting with people with viewpoints different from theirs. We talked about the diverse ways Christians perceive Christ even today. And we talked about finding common ground on which we can strive for oneness. I think it is time we set our disagreements aside and identify the things on which we can agree working on them with all our hearts, souls, strengths and minds. There may be instances when we agree on the problem but not the solution. My guess is we need all the solutions possible to deal with some of the major issues of our day. Poverty, for example,  may be addressed by .clothing, and shelter; ending discrimination in all forms. Surely we could all identify our niche among such a diversity of responses that are all desperately needed.

I wonder whether we disagree because it is easier to differ than to deal with the differences. I wonder if we struggle with divergences in faith because our faith is thinly based on what we perceive to be right rather than on our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord, show us how to love one another and grow together in our love for you and all your children. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

 

Our Time is God’s Time

Living in the Spirit
September 21, 2017

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:21-30

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. –Philippians 1:21-26

Christ calls us to disciplined, purposeful, and productive action. We need never be busy just for the sake of being busy to win favor with God. Brownie points are unnecessary; grace takes care of that. Using our time wisely toward the realization of God’s Kingdom is our thanksgiving for God’s love and our way of telling others of its wonder.

I have about equal doses of Mary and Martha* in my persona. One does not grow up on a farm without learning how to work. Yet, I have no problem at all reading a good book, listening to music, or sitting around talking with friends about faith or whatever. God mysteriously uses us at times always with purpose. We need to be open to those opportunities and not shy away from them even when they may seem out of our comfort zone at the time.

Prayer: Lord, grant us the full measure of your leadership to use our time wisely for our development and our service to others. Amen.

*See the story of Mary and Martha’s dialogue with Jesus at Luke 10:38-42.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

 

Christ as Judge

Living in the Spirit
September 14, 2017

Scripture Reading: Romans 14:1-12

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God. –Romans 14:1-6

I guess the reason we have denominations is that “birds of a feather flock together.” People have different ways of addressing the spiritual or for that matter various aspects of life. A problem arises when we think our way of being or doing is the only way and we try to enforce it on others.

Argument arises with the degree of importance some beliefs or practices are related to the authenticity of the faith. Believers baptism vs. infant baptism, immersion vs. sprinkling, communion every Sunday or once a month or once a quarter were each historical areas of fervent discourse. Who indeed are we to pass judgment? Jesus said,

‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-3

The problem becomes more pronounced when we try to use our faith as a means of approving bigotry or hate such as we see in racism, ethnic cleansing, or discrimination related to sexual orientation, all human contrivances, each designed to set people apart. In Matthew 25 Jesus outlines the actions by which he will judge us: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, restoring those in prison, and welcoming the stranger. All these actions are in direct contradiction to bigotry and hate.

Prayer: God of Love, help us simplify our lives by accepting that you do the judging while we care for all your children in whatever situation we may find them. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.