God Is Our Focus

God is our FocusBecoming distracted is easy. As a pastor, this is just as true as it is for everyone else. Becoming distracted is easy. It is even more comfortable, it seems to be distracted from God’s calling and from remembering His providence. Elijah highlights this issue in 1 Kings 19:1-8 as he has just seen God’s mighty hand and was emboldened to call for the death of false prophets who had mocked God. He moved from being brave and standing firm to one who was fearful and desiring death because of the word that Jezebel was seeking to kill him. I can relate as I have witnessed God’s hand and then the actions of another have brought me low. It is incredible how easy it is to lose focus on what God is doing. That is the importance of realizing that our faith is not dependent on us. It is God who gives faith. Yes, He desires for us to always turn to Him first, but He realizes the brokenness of who we are. He sent us Jesus precisely for this reason. If we could keep our focus on what God desires by our own ability, then there would be no reason for Christ to have died on the cross for us. He would not have needed to enter into Creation at all. Since the Fall, this is a reality that we all struggle. Paul speaks to this problem since it is easy to be distracted by the things of this world. Unfortunately, we more often are influenced by the things of this world instead of being the ones affecting our friends and loved ones by our unswerving faith in Jesus Christ. Some will try and separate themselves from the world and place themselves on pedestals pointing out the errors and flaws of those that are caught up in the sins of this world. This is no more helpful than those who try and excuse their sins and act as though God may approve of them so that they feel better about themselves without ever truly knowing the fullness of the forgiveness that Christ desires for them to feel.

Jesus came to the people that had witnessed the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes as well as the healing (John 6:35-51) and reveals to them their blindness to what God was doing. The offense that they feel is an offense at trying to make God fit into the right box. It is easy to feel offended or bothered when the Gospel is fully revealed because the Law will reveal for us the need for the Gospel and if we feel that we have it all together on our own to have it revealed that we don’t is quite offensive. It can make us feel judged. We don’t like to have the chains binding us revealed but are prideful that we aren’t bound by anything. When I have lost focus, God has been gracious. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t pain. I have been hurt by people that I had held in high esteem. God is good, however. He redeems and renews me. He heals me and helps to refocus my heart on what is essential. It is humbling but renewing. May your heart be renewed in Christ’s love.

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Why Do We Become Angry With God

Why Do We Become Angry With God

When they had diagnosed that her cancer had advanced, she was upset. Now I had walked with Delilah (not her real name) through her cancer. First, she had a lung removed, and the surgery did not go well in the end since her remaining lung shifted which had cause her esophagus to shift also. This made things difficult for eating and swallowing. Then her husband, a cancer survivor himself, became ill. The doctors had found that the cancer had returned. Because of the nature of his cancer and as aggressive as it was her doctor felt her cancer was under control and suggested that they focus on his treatment since any treatment of hers would make it hard for her to care for him. So, for the six months, she cared for her husband and his needs. Delilah’s husband was a man of faith, and he and I had many conversations through this time, and as he entered into hospice and was in his final days, he shared such a faith that there was nothing but comfort for me and those who he lived. Delilah was another story. Delilah was angry about her husband’s passing. Delilah’s faith was crumbling. She was angry that God had taken her husband from her. Then the doctor found that her cancer was much more aggressive than had previously been thought, so they attempted treatment but found it was too late. Her anger with God grew. She disliked her step-son, also, and her words against him were harsh. As her cancer worsened, so did her cries against God. Her children echoed her resentment because she had been so faithful in the latter part of her life serving within the church. As her health declined the time of ministering to her became darker and darker. She continued to cry out against God because she felt that God had failed her. She was angry. At the time of her passing, it was not any more comfortable. She felt like God had owed her and he was unable to pay His debt.

This story is not uncommon. The details may be different, but the theme is the same, “God, I worship you, so you owe me!” This is the consumeristic model of the faith that infects the people of God. If the music doesn’t enthrall me and make me feel good, then we need to find another church that will play what I want. If the sermons don’t make me feel comfortable, then it is time to find another church or another pastor. If God doesn’t answer my prayers as I want them to be answered, then God is not worthy of my worship or praise. The people of Israel in Exodus 16:2-5 had witnessed great miracles as God led them out of slavery and through the waters of the Red Sea. They had witnessed how God had worked miracles with Pharoah through the plagues. They knew the accounts of their forefathers and how God had worked through Joseph and protected them in time of famine. Yet we find them crying out against God. Why? Because they are hungry. Instead of crying out in prayer and praise and asking for God’s providence they cry out in anger that they were hungry and it should be required of God to provide for them. In spite of this, God still provides. God provides not because we demand it, but because He is generous. He provides for our needs.

We confess in the Small Catechism, “I believe that God has made me and all creatures. He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them. In addition, He has given me clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods. He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life. He protects me from all danger and guards me and preserves me from all evil. He does all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this, I ought to thank Him, praise Him, serve Him, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.” [McCain, P. T. (Ed.). (2005). Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (p. 328). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.] These words are biblically sound and give us a faithful witness of the faith it is that we hold. Though not all Christians hold or even study Luther’s Small Catechism, the truths found within it can transcend the various Christian theologies as it is centered in the Word and traditional Christian thought. God has and always will provide for those He has chosen not because of the merit of them but out his own love.

When I was a teenager, I was helping my dad with some of his friends reshingle the roof. Mostly I was a runner bringing up shingles and supplies when needed. Being the typical teenager, I was tired and complained. I wanted more than what I was receiving and quickly was reminded of the reality that my parents owed me nothing more than food, clothing, and shelter. Being a father and knowing that my life was better than the life of my parents, particularly my father when I hear the words, “That’s unfair!” I can only think of my parents and how I felt so put upon. The reality is that nothing in life is fair. It’s not fair that God has chosen me even though I fail daily. It’s not fair that in spite of my shortcomings I am promised, Heaven. It’s not fair that I can feel the hope I feel that is not dependent on the circumstances in which I find myself.

Our faith is centered in the reality presented to us by Paul as he wrote to the church in Ephesus 4:1-16 as we are reminded that we are united in the waters of Baptism. We receive the promises of our Lord as we are joined by the Holy Spirit that calls us to love one another. We are not told to love each other because we deserve the love of another, but because we receive that undeserved love from our Lord and are given the opportunity to share that with others. Our Lord did not only ascend, but he freed those that had been in bondage. He broke the chains of sin upon us and all who turn to Him. It’s a great and glorious gift for which we haven’t had to work. Christ’s death and resurrection have lifted us. God has called people to prepare and send out all who believe and trust in Jesus Christ. The power of this Word is so great that hearts are transformed. It is a great and glorious love that can guide us through the turbulent waters of the world which desires to distract us from the promise. This love can carry us through any suffering with which we may be confronted. I have known pain as have most yet God is still there, and He carries us through in His hope.

It is centered in realizing who it is that provides for us. John 6:22-35 highlights the yearning in the hearts of many as they have tasted of the gifts of God, yet not understanding for what it is they are genuinely hungering. There are so many hungering to know what it truly means to know forgiveness. The initial cost for those of us who believe is nothing, yet the Holy Spirits work is quite costly. The transformation of our lives is unimaginable. Once we submit our lives to the Lord the paths that we are lead are not in areas we could imagine. The struggles that it may cause for those that desire to enjoy the blessings but are still desiring to control the outcomes is also unimaginable. When we hear from where the true bread comes many are troubled. When we realize that the bread life is our Lord and God it is indeed a struggle. To believe that the bread and the wine is our Lord’s body and blood isn’t difficult when we trust in the Words that Christ says. When we trust in those words, we can find greater confidence in trusting in those promises. The bread and wine are not made the body and blood of Christ by our will or our actions or even our believing, but it is because He says it is. When we struggle with the words of our Lord, we grumble against God. When we struggle against the words of the Lord, we can become distracted from the blessings that we have received. That is the power of our Lord. That is the power of Christ. That is the power of faith. Christ’s love is great! Why do we grumble against the one and only God who gives? God gives us everything.

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The Word is Truth for Life

The Word is Truth for Life.jpg

How often do we look at the rainbow and think of God’s promise to us? The rainbow has been co-opted to mean other things, but as followers of Christ, it is something that we should seek to reclaim in our witness and our lives. The rainbow is intended to be a reminder to us that God is keeping his promise because as we read in Genesis (9:8-17), God created the rainbow as a reminder for him (as if God honestly would need a reminder) that he would never again wipe out all flesh through a flood. I could not imagine what it had to have been like for Noah and his family, particularly in those first days. I am sure that the cries for help could be heard from those that were outside of the Ark as the waters rose and covered all the earth. The deep sadness that each of them had to have felt like the great flood consumed family and friends. If we were to look at the flannelgraphs of the account of Noah and the Ark we might have an image of the oversized Noahs Arkbathtime boat that has all the animals loaded into overflowing. The image promotes a concept that helps to undermine the reality of the flood as a worldwide flood and how the various kinds of land and air animals were given refuge to ensure that life would continue on the earth. Again we are in a time that does not acknowledge God’s ultimate providence and rejects the flood or any of the biblical accounts as myth. Noahs ArkThe flood account is ultimately an account of God’s providence and His love for us, and the account of God’s creation of the rainbow is an affirmation of God’s true love and the keeping of His promise to us. God did not need to save Noah, his wife, son’s, and their wives along with a pair of each animal clean and unclean (seven pairs for those sacrificial animals). God did not need to save any of them, He created them all and to recreate was not beyond His ability, but He chose to save them and, in turn, us. This is the point of it all.

Paul speaks of our need to bow down to God in the reading from Ephesians (3:14-21) in response to His love for us. It is a reminder of why it is we bow to the Lord and why it is that we worship. We do not worship to make us feel better we worship because God is worthy of our praise. We are called Christian not because of who we are, but because of who it is that we worship. It is not by our own selection or power that we can follow Christ, but it is because of Christ and the revelation given us by the Holy Spirit that frees us from the bondage that we often find ourselves in because of the fallen nature of our world. We may not understand the love of God, but we truly aren’t meant to and neither can we fully comprehend it. His love for His creation is in the fact that He seeks ways in which to preserve it.

This final reflection is shown in the Gospels. Mark 6:45-56 is another step in the continued journey of Christ in the Gospels and a show of His providence and love for all of His creation. It is immediately following the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand with two fish and five loaves. The reality of what had occurred was still not understood as we find in the reading. The disciples did not understand that God was with them. They did not realize that it was His providence that was carrying them through. Jesus had gone up to pray, and they left ahead of Him. The night waters were choppy, and they were struggling to make it over. Jesus saw them, walked on the water, and met them planning to pass them by, but they were afraid not knowing it was him they saw. We honestly can not blame them, though. How would you react to seeing a man walking on water? He calms the storm, and they arrive on the other side and dock at Gennesaret. Here Jesus continues to heal as people in need of healing are brought to Him.

Nothing is too much for God. That is what we often fail to realize. We desire to blame God for all failings and shortcomings that are ours and do not want to give Him credit for all that He does for us. When we see great miracles, we often do not recognize them. When God’s Word is placed before us, the nature of many is to reject it or explain it away. The difficulty of Christ’s love for us is that it is beyond our own understanding and is not like the love that we show one another. It is far from the standard way in which we love or what we call love. Jesus’ love is not conditional as our love tends to be. It is not dependent upon how we act or how we respond but is there for us regardless of our personal actions when we call upon him and trust in him.

Unfortunately, the wisdom of the world often clouds us from the wisdom of God. For the world, it is silly to believe that a worldwide flood occurred and two of every kind of land and air animal was rescued with eight people on a large wooden ship sealed with pitch. It is nonsense that God created the rainbow to remind Him of His promise to all creatures that He would never produce another worldwide flood to wipe out all creatures of flesh. I’m sure that many of the people at the time of the flood thought similar things of Creation as they lived further and further away from it and the length of lives that they lived. It is incredible how so many today are quick to disregard the Word of God and allegorize so much Scripture for the sake of human-made knowledge. God creating in six days is just crazy and to believe that all of Creation occurred six thousand years ago is illogical since the science is settled and shows otherwise. Christ’s love extends even to those who disbelieve the Creation account, but hearts are often hardened to God because of similar wisdom. I mean, seriously, Jesus walking on water and calming a storm with a word? It had to have been a flash freeze that allowed him to walk across and the healings were just because the people were comforted with the kind words Jesus had to offer. I would rather place my faith in the Word of God than the thoughts of men, but that is just me.

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The Good Shepherd is the Bread of Life

Good Shepherd is the Bread of LifeOften in worship, we confess that Jesus Christ is the bread of life. We confess a lot of things in song, prayers, and liturgy but how often do we honestly believe them to be true? When times are tough like what the people of Israel faced in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:1-6), we find words of hope as God does not forget those who he has claimed. The power of his promise endures all things and at all times. When we wander and find ourselves in danger, it is because we have strayed from the Lord not because the Lord has driven us away. Like in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit and tried to hide from God, that is our tendency with God. In the midst of struggle we like to blame God, but at the same time, we want to cover up our shame, our sin. God still doesn’t leave us, but he always provides a way for us. Paul reminds of this in the reading from Ephesians (2:11-22). Again, it is when we are wholly reliant on our own abilities we find ourselves in trouble, but when we turn to Christ, we find reconciliation. Laws do not save us, they can drive us into further into despair because in them there is no hope, but when we turn to Christ, we receive all we need. The faith that we hold is no longer in our ability, but in God’s doing. So we come to one of the great miracles of God presented to us in Mark 6:30-44 in which we come to the five thousand men with women and children being fed. After all the long, arduous work Jesus leads the disciples away to a desolate place to get away and have some peace. The problem is that people see them in their boats and follow them meeting them at the desolate place. I am sure that the disciples were tired as was Jesus but the compassion was higher for the Lord for these people, so he does what he does and begins to teach them. Imagine the crowd. After some time the disciples urge him to send them off so they can get some food, but Jesus has other plans. He wants them to be fed. The number and the cost were overwhelming, so the disciples balk at this and question, Jesus. How often do we do this with God? Trying to say that something is impossible or too much for God to do with us. The great miracle is that with five loaves and two fish Jesus feeds all who are there, but God can not be stopped there. Not only are all fed and full, but twelve baskets full of the remaining were collected. God does not just provide, but he provides abundantly. That is the God we worship, and that is the God who saves. He never leaves us in the lurch but is ready to rescue us in times of need when we cry out to him. He didn’t need to provide for the people in the desolate place, and he doesn’t need to provide for me or anyone, but he does out his divine mercy and grace. That is the glorious God we worship! That is the blessing of our faith.

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Clinging to Christ as my Plumb

Clinging to Christ as my Plumb

I have never enjoyed correction. Most people don’t appreciate the correction, but correction is often essential. The idea of the plumb struck me deeply from the reading of Amos 7:7-15. For those that may not be familiar a plumb line is utilized in building to make sure that things are straight. Gravity is used to make the line. God uses this image in his prophecy given to Amos as a call to call the people of Israel back. The threat to the life of the king didn’t even give pause to the people of Israel to change. Instead, they wanted Amos to go away. How often do we run into that in our own lives? Instead of listening to the spirit of God or when we feel the pinch of our failure we react negatively and shut down instead of seeking the light of Christ. We like to feel like we are good and right.

Once we realize the grace that has been poured upon us through our Lord Jesus Christ, we are a new creation through his glorious power. Paul speaks of the blessings in Ephesians 1:3-14. The adoption given to us as sons and daughters in Christ is such a glorious blessing. Just like a child adopted into a new family we are adopted as children of God and given a new name. The power of this should be most transformative for us all. The things of this world have no ultimate authority, they are but temporary. God’s love is the one permanent thing we can honestly count on. It is this to which we are called to cling. The reality of our life in Christ is that we are not called to define ourselves in the ways and things of this world, but are called to be established and refined in the Word of God.

Mark 6:14-29 brings this home as we look to Herod, who is a tragic figure in all reality. He is uncertain of his standing and is perplexed when confronted with John the Baptist, but being a man of the Jewish faith he has an awareness of the holiness of God though is not transformed by it. His ears were drawn to hear the preaching of John, yet he did not desire for a change. He was challenged yet unwilling to meet the challenge or find transformation. So often we find ourselves clinging to things that are of this world. I know this and God has continually worked to change me in my own life. The work he has done on me has not always come quickly and has not been by my own choosing. The changing in my own spirit has come through urgings and deep convictions that have been set deep down inside of me through the power of the Holy Spirit. This work does not stop nor is it ever a one-time thing, but a continual process which shapes and transforms me. The same is true for all Christians, and each has a different journey as we all struggle with the old as new rises up in us. Christ is transforming power. Christ is a renewing force. Pride can cause us to do such unimaginable things as we try to cling to that old Adam. That desire to be righteous on our own is the seed that draws us down this path, the willingness to say that we have free will in which we can determine to know God and can define ourselves as good continually draws us away from the truth that is in Christ. Christ is for those that see themselves as holy very perplexing, the Word of God is allegorized and made into a book of stories that are meant to develop a sacred, moral understanding. The reality is that Christ and his love for us are abounding and when we cling to him above all else, then and only then can we know true blessing. He is our plumb line, and in him, we are made plumb. It is not by our own effort or doing, but in our clinging to him. Only he can make us right and true. Only he can bring us to salvation. That is the power of the adoption that we receive through him. We are redeemed in Christ’s love and through his love alone. The peace of Christ gives us new life, and in that life, we are given hope. That hope carries us through the struggles and strife that we know in this world. It is through these things alone we can withstand it all as we cling to Christ as our plumb.

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Living in God’s Sufficient Grace

Living in Gods Sufficient Grace

As a pastor, I have known rejection. It is not unique for pastors, this I understand. Unfortunately, there are those that have the mindset that if a person is proclaiming Christ and is doing the work of God that all those that profess a faith in Christ will accept and follow. The truth is that the message of God is not always a message that is readily received. It would be wonderful if all that heard the Word would follow the Word. This we know is not the truth. Just because one attends a church does not necessarily mean they are of the Church. When God was speaking through the prophet Ezekiel and was filling him with visions, there were those within Israel that professed a faith though few were faithful followers of the God of Israel. At the time of Ezekiel, the majority of the people of Israel were following and doing things contrary to what God desired. Ezekiel was sent to call them back. Ezekiel 2:1-5 was meant to guide Ezekiel in the ministry to which he was called. He was expected to be a voice to the people of Israel to call back those whose hearts still sought the Lord to repent and return to him. The human heart is prone to rebel against God. We have adultress spirits. God uses preachers to call people back to himself.

Paul knew this about himself, also. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul cites this reality as he often does when he points to another as opposed to himself. He speaks of his struggles, and these words come to us in verse 9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV) It seems a strange thing to boast in, weakness. It was just as weird then as it is today. It was a counter-cultural statement then as it still is today. It is contrary to our nature. For those of us who trust in Christ, it is a statement of freedom in dependence. We are free in our full reliance on God’s grace. In our realization of this reality, we no longer must remain in our strength but walk in the confidence of what God has done and is currently doing within creation. Jesus did not enter into creation as one would expect God to enter. Jesus was like any normal man and not like many would have expected God to come into creation. He did not enter as a prince or someone of high standing, but the child of a carpenter. So, in humility, Christ shows us strength. No one could do what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. That is the power.

God knows the hearts of man and when Jesus returned to his hometown after proclaiming the Gospel elsewhere was not met with open arms. Mark 6:1-13 shows us quite the contrary. He is met with questions and a little disdain. The people of Nazareth had seen Jesus grow up. They knew his family, they knew the history of his life in the community. In their opinion, there was nothing special about this son of a carpenter. Jesus was unable to do the ministry he had done in other places. The hearts of his neighbors were hardened against him. I have faced failures like this in ministry. Many pastors leave the ministry because of rejection like Jesus met. That is the difference between the son of God. Jesus did not lose heart. I am sure that he ached because of the love he had for these people, but I don’t know that he was surprised. Being God, he continued on his mission and sent out the disciples to proclaim the truth throughout Israel. Not only does he send them out, but he sends them out with nothing but the clothing on their backs. They were sent out to be wholly reliant on God. We are called to this mission as Christians. Our lives are meant to be lived in reliance on the providence of God. That is a humbling reality as we realize that everything we have is because of God and not because of our own doing. This is contrary to our very nature, our fallen nature. In my own life, I have had multiple opportunities to witness this as my wife, and I have stepped out in faith. This has not always been a choice. There have been times that this has been done because the reality was that we had no real option and have had to pray. Other times, other possible options did not feel right, so submission was more natural. If I were to say that either way was more comfortable then the other, I would be lying. It is never truly easy, but in following Christ and trusting in his providence there comes with it a sense of peace. My thorn is my pride and being one who has a strong sense of self, I am often humbled. I have had my share of suffering in the midst of it all. In the most significant points of struggle and pain, though, I have found great comfort and peace. When people have attacked me because I have proclaimed a word that caused them to feel convicted, I have relied on God all the more knowing that I am in his care. It did not end as I had hoped, often, but I have found things end as they needed to end. God has always provided a way. I can honestly say that as I reflect on some of the issues that arose and see where they led me eventually, I can see where my errors and my own thinking has gotten in my way. I have also found that being faithful to God’s Word has provided some difficulties as I have been challenged by those that did not feel that the way they saw things were not as the Bible had laid them out. It is hard to realize shortcomings, especially if you feel like you are a good person. To be shaped by the Word and not to form the Word around the way we want things to be is not something we like. Paul knew this and Jesus modeled this. When we lay it all down at the foot of the Cross, we find newness in life, freedom in Christ, and a new way in which we can live out our days. No longer fearful of God’s anger and punishment, but desiring to live a life that gives him all the glory. That is the blessing of our faith, and in that, we find our sufficiency in God’s Grace.

 

 

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Reaching for the Holiness of Christ

Reaching Out for the Holiness of ChristHave you ever had that moment where you felt there was no hope? There have been moments in my life which doors have slammed shut. I have had people say and do unimaginable things that just rocked my world. I have had people that I had thought were my support and had my back turn away. Like Jeremiah to the people of Israel in Lamentations (3:22-33) who, in spite of the adverse circumstances is proclaiming hope to the suffering people of Israel. The hope that comes from our Lord and him alone. We are often called to turn back to the Lord, to trust in him and in. When Paul is speaking to the people of Corinth (2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-15), we find a message that points to the generous spirit of the Macedonians. Their generosity was not because of their circumstances but in spite of it. So often we define ourselves by the things of this world instead of in God and his love for us. Finally, in the Gospel lesson reading of late (Mark 5:21-43), we find the story of two seeking favor from God. The first is a father, Jairus, who through the leaders of the synagogue, approaches Christ with concern for his daughter. She’s very sick and is fearful that she will not survive. In desperation, he reaches out to this man who has been seen as holy for many. In the midst of this, we have a woman who had been hemorrhaging for years with no help and no hope. Her faith drives her to Jesus, who she knows in her spirit is most holy, believing to the depths of her soul will heal her. Her actions delay Jesus’ journey to the daughter of the official because he feels her touch and desires to know who it was that was healed to offer a message of further hope and healing. After providing her words of comfort, he continues and finds those that have lost faith because they feel that the opportunity for healing the girl has passed as she is now dead. In both scenarios, we see a sense of disbelief in what God can do and, to some extent, an opposition to any further action.

Trusting and believing in God is not always an easy journey. In fact, sometimes it is downright impossible for those that desire to fit in with the ways of the world. Often people rely more on the things of this world instead of seeking guidance from God. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for going out and not taking medicine or seeking medical care when needed believing that the Lord will heal you, often times that is the means which the Lord heals since he has given us doctors and medical professionals. What I do believe, though, is that just because a doctor holds an opinion does not mean that other things are not possible. God works in the impossible. For the hemorrhagic woman and Jairus’ daughter, there was no hope in the things of this world. They both required miraculous action. They did not need anything more than a little faith. A little belief in the possibility that God could do something. God desires us to turn to him first, though, we find how gracious and merciful he is even when we don’t. He is a jealous God, in the sense that he desires for our undivided devotion but not in a way in which he ignores us after we fail and fall short. When we turn to him, we find that his arms are open to us.

Unlike God, I am not always perfect. Shocking, right? {sarcasm} I don’t always appreciate the love of my children as I should. Sometimes my mind is elsewhere, and the things of this world distract my attention away from what is highly significant, my kids. God isn’t like that with us. He isn’t distracted but is always attentive and ready for us when we turn to him. He is never too busy to hear our prayers and, unlike me, isn’t bothered by the little things. I think parents can relate to that with their own kids when they come up with something that they believe to be really, really important like a drawing and we are caught up with something else, and we don’t often appreciate the thing that is important to them. That picture or lego creation for us is usually not significant (and honestly the business we may be attending to may be more critical in the worldly sense). For God, there is nothing more important than us, and our prayers are precious to him. Not that the faith we hold is centered on us, but the graciousness of God is because of who he is and is why he is worthy of our praise.

Psalm 8 highlights the humility which we should have when it comes to God in asking ourselves, “Who are we that God would have us on his mind?” So often, it seems otherwise as people act as though God owes them something. God desires for us to come to him and trust him and just because we pray, he is not required to answer our prayers as we see fit. Our wants do not equal his wishes or desires. As we understand our needs does not equal what he sees as our needs. He is all-knowing, we are not. He is all-powerful, we are not. He is everywhere at all times, we are not. He is eternal and uncreated, we are not. Ultimately, our disappointments with God are not because he has done something wrong, but because our hearts were not in line with his heart. In my youth, I cried against God when things did not go as I wanted them to go and for a time it drove me away from God, but, as I have grown, I have found that I have changed. There have been times where people have done cruel things that were shocking to my spirit, but God has always provided for me in spite of the outward appearance of things. The suffering in this world is momentary, but in God, we find hope that carries us through. Reaching toward that which is holy is something that comes not through work or action. Christ is never far from us. It is not a striving or a work that we must do. It comes in merely believing and that belief comes through submission. Submitting to the urgings of the Holy Spirit. By not resisting God and trying to do things on our own terms, but let God do his holy work within us. That is where the peace begins.

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