Tag Archives: God’s guidance

Works in Progress

Living in the Spirit
July 6, 2017

Scripture Reading: Romans 7:15-25a

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. –Romans 7:15-20

We are works in progress. None are perfect, yet we strive for perfection, learning from our successes and failures, asking for forgiveness and mercy when needed. We should not be too hard on ourselves nor too easy. Wasting time and energy in continual self-deprecation helps no one. Continuous self-evaluation and adjustments are key to overcoming our deficiencies.

God generously provided within the scope of God’s love scripture to guide us along the way, Jesus as a role model, communities of faith to support and nurture, and the Holy Spirit to guide and direct. When we engage with these gifts, we grow in spirit and truth enabling us to turn away from evil and seek God’s good.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;
Rise to all eternity.*

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your grace. Thank you for inspiration and expectation and for insight and passion. Direct us to use all our gifts to your service in creating your Kingdom on earth. Amen.

*Final verse of Jesus Lover of My Soul by Charles Wesley see at http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Jesus_Lover_of_My_Soul/

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.

The Rock

ChangeLiving in the Spirit
October 29, 2014

Scripture Reading: Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37

Some wandered in desert wastes,
   finding no way to an inhabited town;
  hungry and thirsty,
  their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
  and he delivered them from their distress;
  he led them by a straight way,
  until they reached an inhabited town. — 107:4-7

Have you ever driven into an unfamiliar area and, become hungry while watching the gas needle edge ever so much closer to that big “E” and begun to wonder if you will ever find a restaurant or service station? The first time I drove from Oklahoma to the east coast down I-40, I had never encountered so many trees blocking the view beyond the road. Oklahoma has a lot of wide open spaces in its landscape. The trees were beautiful but I could not tell where there were places to get gas or food. It was the first time that I had seen highway signs that gave some indication that there were actually places to eat, get gas, or spend the night up ahead. They were needed because I sure could not tell just from scanning the horizon. Now I think I might be lost if I forget my cell phone and do not have access to GPS coordinates that will guide me quickly to exactly what I need, most of the time.

Is that how Moses felt while wondering in the wilderness; how it feels to totally trust in God’s guidance? While we today may think we have the earth well mapped with locational directions a few clicks away, entering the territories of cultures and religions, differing systems of government and economies, and differing socio-economic neighborhoods can be just as daunting as being lost in the wilderness. All kinds of fears crop up: Fears of inadequacy to meet the challenges, fears for safety, fears for loss of self-esteem, and fears of change. We are living in a time of change that is probably more pronounced than the reformation or the industrial revolution. Technology and communications has advanced so quickly that we now can get a nightly report of how many new Ebola cases have occurred in what area of Africa since yesterday.

I am reminded of an old hymn, In Times Like These by Ruth Caye Jones
In times like these, we need a Savior
  In times like these, we need an anchor
  Be very sure, be very sure
 Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock

The Good News is that we have just such a Savior.

Prayer: We trust in you, O Lord, help our lack of trust. 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 American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Whistleblowers and Tattle Tells

Living in the Spirit
August 4, 2014

 Scripture Reading: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

 Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. This is the story of the family of Jacob. 

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.* But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. — Genesis 37:1-4

Thou shalt not tattle is one of the most sacred of childhood’s codes. Chronic tattle tellers are shunned and sometimes banned from the play group. I suppose the same could be said for what we adults call whistleblowers. Usually associated with the work place, both private sector and governmental, these are the people who report what they perceive to be less than acceptable work, or lack thereof, occurring on the job. Part of the problem is discerning whether the tattler or whistleblower is truly concerned about what has transpired or if they are trying to raise their own status at the expense of others. My hunch with Joseph is that his motivation was a little of both. As one of the younger brother, he was already envisioning himself as an equal to his father and thus saw the need for work to be productive. He had visions of ruling his brothers. At seventeen and younger, he did not have the good sense to not flaunt his superior talents and skills.  He soon got a lesson in humility in an empty cistern.

If nothing else the story of Joseph is a story of redemption. We could all take sides as to who was right and who was wrong in this situation. Rueben obviously knew what the brothers were doing was wrong. He even tried to intervene but failed. How many times have we wished we had stopped something or started something and did not? And when the dust has settled, how often would things had been better if we had implemented our wishes?

I personally have prayed many times, “God guard my tongue”. Those are usually times when what I wanted to say was more a shot back at something rather than addressing a problem. Shots back usually cause more problems, I have discovered. However, as far as regrets go, I have had deeper senses of failure when I have not spoken. It takes courage to tattle or to whistle blow when one’s motivation is spot on right and one knows it to the depths of that still small voice of God whispering in his or her ear. I still need to pray for God to guard my tongue. I also need to pray for God to loosen it when it is God’s will that I speak.

Prayer: Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3) but help me also remember when you said if these were silent, the stones would shout out. (Luke 19:40) Give me the courage to speak out in your service. (Luke 19:40) 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 American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.