HOW ABOUT A NICE PIECE OF FRUIT PIE?… Galatians 5: 16-21

My High School classmates are still interested in exploring life.  Few are sitting around waiting for the ‘grim reaper’.  One loves to take college courses, auditing them to learn something new.  Another is fascinated by the history of Judaism and Christianity as it impacts American history.   Someone else sculpts commissioned iron-work while teaching skiing at the New Hampshire resort he lives at.

Keep growing as we get older.  But in what way?  Certainly, we’ll want to get closer to Him until we’re with Him forever…and then that’s just the beginning!

In Galatians 5, Paul contrasts the ‘works of the flesh’ with the ‘fruit of the Spirit’.  For most of my life, ‘flesh’ is more than present.  Not always a bad thing.  But the Apostle Paul is not referring to the body we inhabit!  He means the actions that flow from our sinful nature.

I notice is that the ‘flesh’ is not some victim, but an aggressive part of our nature.  What we can and must control.   Sometimes, our proclivity toward sin leads to that sin’s domination.  Serious stuff indeed.

The other side is the ‘fruit of the Spirit’.  No way can we take credit for what comes from the Holy Spirit.  Fruit comes from good trees and plants.  Healthy ones.  Nurtured and well-fertilized.  Protected from predators and the elements.

In our walk with the Lord, we don’t create that fruit.  That comes from Him, as we do our part.  Like praying, reading  our Bibles, giving to Christian causes, and lots more which prepare the soil to produce good fruit.

Personally, I’m preparing the ‘soil’.  Taking no personal credit.  From Him…through us.

The pie of choice for your holiday table?  Nothing like a good fruit pie…from the Lord!

Lord, we need good fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  Amen.

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SO LITTLE TO ASK… Hosea 13: 4-6

It’s really simple.  Nothing complicated or mysterious.  No secret passwords or codes.  Strait-forward and upfront.  And, on top of that, asks little of us.

Have you read those verses from Hosea?  This prophet’s wayward wife symbolizes God’s people.  Chapter 13 records God’s anguished heart.

He alone is the Lord.  His people are simply to acknowledge Him and no other.  Should be easy.  So little to ask.  After all,  there truly is no other God.

No mystery really.  The Lord says that He’s the one who saves them and cares for them in the desert.  My wife and I remember being in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.  It was 120 degrees.  Hosea 13:5 records that even in hot places, God takes care of His people.  He feeds them, not a few measly morsels of food, but enough to fill them up (v. 6).  Every day for forty years.  They gripe and complain.  Yet, He feeds them until they push back from their tables full as full can be!  Without a care in the world!  ‘Man, aren’t we lucky!’

That’s when things take a rather nasty turn.  They start thanking each other, taking credit where none is due.  Luck instead of the Lord.  Preening with pride.  For all that THEIR hard work has produced.  They forget the Lord who saves them.  Who gives them everything they have.  Everything.

A bunch of ingrates.  They forget who stays up with them all night long.  Who pulls off their escape from Egypt.  Who everyday gives them food.  When no one else is there, He is.

How about you?  Lucky as can be?  What a fine fellow am I?!  Or blessed by the Lord?  You decide.

Happy Thanksgiving… to the One who deserves it most of all!

Lord, we are so thankful.  Because of Jesus.  Amen.

 

TIME TO OFFER A TOAST TO… Psalm 116

To God, of course!  Lift high your glass and toast the Lord of All!  Like at a wedding, wishing the man and woman to find joy and happiness together.  La Chaim!  To life!

To God!  To life eternal, given freely to us in His Son Jesus!  For making us a family of faith.  For so many blessings, hard to number.

Psalm 116: 13–‘I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord…’  See what I mean?  Time to toast the Lord our God!  For what?  For salvation.  For forgiveness.  Freedom from the effects of our sin.  We have no idea how deep a hole we’ve dug for ourselves through ungodly rebellion.

God knows and He stoops down to lift us up.  A helping hand.  A strong arm to lift up.  A cross that appears to be the end of the road, when in reality the way to God.  The only way.

Psalm 116: 14–‘I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.’  A toast to God who creates a new family of faith.  HIS people.  Not just anyone.  No dissenters or mockers.  For in His presence are His people who love Him.

This toast is from all who receive an invitation and respond positively to it.  In our case, if we’ve RSVP’d ‘yes’ to Jesus, confessing our sins and repenting of them, wanting most of all to have Him in our lives,  then together we can lift high the cup of salvation to the Lord our God!

A toast!  With Thanksgiving!  La Chaim!  To our Lord!

Lord, we are your thankful people.  Because of Jesus.  Amen.

 

 

 

STAY WITH ME… 2 Kings 2

 

In 2 Kings 2 we’re with Elijah, and his successor Elisha, travelling from Gilgal to Bethel, where Elijah tells Elisha to stay back in Gilgal.  Elisha knows, he’s been told many times, that Elijah is living on borrowed time, soon to leave this earth.

Elisha is heartbroken, anticipating the death of his great friend and mentor.  He’s been like a father to him.  The group called ‘the company of the prophets’ keeps repeating what Elisha does not want to hear–‘…do you not know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?’ (v.3).

Elisha shouts back–‘Yes, I know, but do not speak of it’ (v.3).  I wonder if Elisha is feeling that if this group would only keep quiet,  maybe it won’t happen?  He buries his head in the sand.

What does Elijah do next for Elisha?  Sensitively, he lets him go along with him for as long as possible, allowing him to say whatever is on his mind and heart.  Doesn’t scold him for some lack of faith.  He lets him be to work things through.  Stays with him until…

Elijah trusts that the Lord will do for Elisha what he himself can’t.  He steps aside.  Trusting God.

Is there someone in your life that you need to simply be with, allowing them to work through with the Lord what needs His attention?  Being a friend who keeps his mouth shut?  Not all the time, but probably more often than not.

How many times have others stood by me, trusting God to work in my life?  Keeping their ‘good’ advice to themselves?  Not many.  Hardly anyone.

Could I be like Elijah to someone today?  You too?  Let’s do it!

Lord, help me to stand by someone else and be like Elijah to them.  Amen.

WATCH YOUR STEP!… 2 Peter 1:5-9

I’ll never forget walking up the steps leading to the Temple in Jerusalem.  Marble steps, thousands of years old.  Jesus and His disciples used these same ones.  We sat down on them, imagining ourselves with Jesus!

Our tour Bible teacher talked about these steps, and what was most interesting was that every other step was of a different depth.  One marble block set deep.  The next rather shallow.  Making the climb most treacherous, especially if you weren’t paying attention.  Could easily land on ‘all fours’, bruised and battered.

What we’re told next is fascinating.  They’re planned that way, so that no one could run up those steps, barging into the Temple.  You had to watch your step.

Peter says something similar, urging us to godly living.  Confirming our conversion by being careful to live for Jesus.

2 Peter 1: 5-9– Step up on faith.  Then virtue… knowledge… self-control… steadfastness… godliness… familial affection.  Ultimately, reaching love as God shows it.

Like going up those steps to the Temple.  One at a time.  Watch your step.  Takes concentration and single-mindedness–focusing on Him.

Let me admit that I have bruises all over.  I’ve stumbled and tripped in life, fallen flat on my face too many times.   We’ve all fallen.  But Jesus knows that we’re made of dust and clay.

As much as we fall, He’s right there to pick us up, listen to our cries, hear our apologies and excuses, and stand with us as we head back up those stairs, one at a time.  With care and thought.  Slowly but surely.

When we get to heaven, with Jesus by our side, the gates will open wide!  No stumbling!  No falling!  Step right in!  Welcome home!

Lord, thank you for being there for us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.