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Sunday, July 24, 2022

Hoping to Trust

 Our reading this morning will come from Luke 16:10: “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”

The more I think about this verse, the more I see its power.

We look around in this world and we see prices going up, groceries cost more, rent, fuel, everything seems to cost more now than it did before and all it seems to do is make us feel like we have so little. The same grocery bill doesn’t fill up the cart like it used to. The same price at the pump doesn’t fill up the tank like it used to. Everywhere you look you’re being reminded about how little we have and how much everything costs.

Friends, don’t let the world get you down. Don’t let the message from the world drown out the message of the cross. Don’t let the hardships we face now attack our faith in a way that keeps us from our future glory. The Lord tells us through His word that sometimes we will suffer and experience trials and hardship. He tells us that when these things happen, we must not let the daily trouble overtake our eternal blessings. He encourages us to have faith, and to “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2).

Jesus makes these sorts of worries a “faith issue” and let’s be honest, that’s a challenging thought. Jesus tells the story of a woman who gave even when she had so little (Mark 12:41-44). Jesus tells us that the big and amazing things we think He can’t do through us actually only take a small amount of faith (Mat. 17-20).

Jesus tells us through James that as big as my problems are, my current worries, my fears, or as big as my doubts might be, or as overwhelming as my life is that with God by my side these things are small and will be defeated. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (Jam. 4:14b). Lord, let me use this time I have that is here for a little while for You.

We like to think we have just a little and so that means we might only have a little to give, or only a little with which to honor God, or only a little to bless others with.  

But Jesus tells us we’re thinking too small. He says to “be faithful in a little” (Luke 16:10) and you will be blessed. 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Hopefulness Fulfilled By Godly Confidence

In our next lesson in our series on “Hope” we are going to look at the lives of Ruth and Boaz. Despite our separation from them in time and space, and culture we can still see a great many ways Ruth and Boaz have embodied the Gospel message of grace, redemption, and restoration.

The people of Israel were given a special status with a special calling. They were called the family of God, they were to be His children, and they were called with a special purpose to be a light to the nations that the nations might know God through Israel. When the Bible talks about the “nations” in this way, it’s talking about the “other”, the “outsider”, the Gentile. If Israel is called to be “set apart”, these are the people they are called to be apart from.

To many then, the calling was one of exclusion. Rather than keeping the false gods,  the false religion and the immorality out, it became a calling to keep the people out. The story of Ruth and Boaz shows us this wasn’t the intent. The  intent was to bring others to the Lord, not to keep them from Him.

For Ruth, she knew of God through her mother-in-law Naomi. She knew He was good, and trustworthy, and full of grace and mercy. She had confidence, in the same way that “we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus” (Heb 10:19b) that she could “approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb 10:22a) the people and their God. She held fast to her confession, her hope did not waver, and she knew that God is faithful. (Heb 10:23). Because of this, she did not abandon the faith but let her confidence in the Lord guide her.

For Boaz, he knew of God through his family and traditions and he held true to them. He saw someone in need who was faithful, honorable, and ready to work. Boaz also saw in Ruth someone who had very little to offer. She was alone, she had no property, she had no wealth. But Boaz saw in her a person valuable to God.  Because of what he saw and how he treated Ruth, Boaz was blessed. Just as Jesus promises us blessings in Luke 14:14, “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

There is beauty in fellowship and honoring God through it. What I see in the story of Ruth and Boaz are two people that honored God with their choices and I want to learn to make those same choices every day.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

On Track for Success

Success and goals go hand in hand. You can be doing a lot of things, you can be very busy, you can have no time to even sit down and hear yourself think but it’s hard to know what success looks like if you don’t have an idea in your mind of the goal you are striving towards. When we have a goal in mind, the business of life can be reshaped, and the things we need to get done are slowly modified and replaced with new tasks, new ideas, and new work as we progress towards our new goal.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes some of the things that were important to people in their former lives. He will talk about the things that kept them busy, the things they used to think were important, and the things they used to let take priority over what really mattered. He says, “You yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters” (1 Cor. 6:8) and he calls them “thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers” (1 Cor. 6:10) mostly in reference to their past.

But for some in Corinth, they were having a hard time letting go of the old ways. Some liked things the way they were before Jesus. Some liked who they were before Paul. Some liked what they did before they became a Christian, and so, as immature followers of Christ, they followed after self and Christ. This is what Paul wanted to correct in what he saw in them.

Paul speaks plainly to them. He is clear and he is specific. There are things that have to change. The people, their behavior, their choices, their hearts all need to continue to change. After highlighting the issues, Paul then points to the goal. The Christians in Corinth weren’t finding much success because they had a different goal in mind. They wanted to have it both ways.

They wanted to live for Christ without dying to self.

Paul reminds them what Christ has done for them, and reminds them of their goal in Christ: sanctification, salvation, transformation – “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11b).

Pointing back to his prior admonitions just a few verses up, Paul reminds them of their goal, to put off the old self and put on Christ: “And this is what some of you used to be” (1 Cor. 6:11a).

If I am to be successful in Christ, I need to keep my goals in front of me and I need to ensure my daily routine, my tasks, my thoughts, my heart, and my actions are leading me towards that goal. Or, as Paul puts it a few chapters later: “do not run like someone running aimlessly,” instead, “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9:26,24).