Monday, 16 February 2015

The True God

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38

The True God
             A healthy faith focuses on God, His son Jesus and the
Holy Spirit. Some people would argue what about people of other faiths do they not worship God too? How can we as Christians say that our ‘faith’ is correct and theirs is not true? We love our brothers and sisters who have faith in God it is only when we understand their practise of faith that we wonder why there are differences.  In Acts 4:12 Peter says of Jesus Christ, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” But do we as Christians believe this? Jesus is the way we find salvation? “This truth as it is written eliminates the possibility that Jesus might be some vague manifestation of an impersonal God. It eliminates the possibility that he could be classified merely as a good and wise man who walked the face of the earth and loved people. It shows that Jesus is either the true God on whom we must focus or he was a colossal fraud.”
            John 5:23-24—He who does not honour the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly I say to you he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death into life.” To have a rue relationship with God, you must have a relationship with Jesus, his Son.
            Jesus walked this earth and his focus was to have people not just doing good things but truly focusing on God. Many at the time were pointing to the rules but Jesus pointed to a God who wanted a relationship with his people. Jesus focused on the Lawgiver who knew hearts and offered grace. A healthy growing faith is always focused on the person of God himself. This faith begins and ends in God  and Jesus is at the core. We will stril try to feel good by all the good deeds we do or we can love God fully. The true God we follow is God who first loved us.

Is Jesus Christ whom you follow and love because He is God’s Son? How do you explain to others about your faith in Jesus? Is Jesus the only way to God? How do you live out this in your daily living? Does it matter to you whether other people of other faiths do not know Jesus? What is your life’s focus-- To do good or to love God?

Holy God it is through Jesus that we learn about your unconditional love for us. It is through Jesus that we learn how to love others. And it is through faith in you that we may grow in relationship. Show us again your love as we grow closer to you.  Amen.

This reflection is based upon ideas of by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton More Jesus Less Religion: Moving from Rules to Relationship. Colorado Springs, Co: Waterbrook Press,2000.     Chapter 3

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Loved for Who I Am

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down;
 you are familiar with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3

Loved for Who I Am
            God is big enough to love us individually, call us individually work with us individually and walk with us through life individually, in spite of who we are. Paul tells a young church we need to boast about what Christ Jesus has done for each one of us because God loves each one of us as individuals. What is most important is Jesus not the human effort or background of who we are. It’s not about us- it is about Jesus and how Jesus can lead us to the transforming power of God.
            Maybe your temptations have been in drinking too much, doing drugs or breaking marriage vows with another person. In these you would not boast but God does love you and help you to stop with the temptations and aid you in finding better relationships than harming yourself or others closest to you. For the most important relationship is you and God and how God can change your life.
            Zacchaeus was a short man who was a tax collector who cheated many out of their wages. When Jesus met Zacchaeus and told the crowd that salvation had come to him. The crowd did not receive this news easily. But because Jesus stood with that man and told them what his intentions were to repay what he had cheated and more, they listened. For before Jesus could state this he went to Zacchaeus’ house, and connected with him and built up a trusting relationship. Jesus was available to those who needed him so desperately- not to totally solve the problems but to be open, compassionate, ready to talk, ready to teach, ready to help as needed and able. This is what loving others in the name of Christ means.
            One of the primary roles we have as Christians is to be in fellowship with God and his Son, Jesus. Because we are unique individuals, we must remain true to ourselves as people- not being cookie clutter Christians expected to put on heirs or play a special role. A healthy church is made up of people with a full range of emotions, intellect, free will and the ability to function independently. God has crated each person individually in his own image. He has given us many unique gifts that he wants us to develop in service to him. But  in order to do this effectively we need to build the relationship we each have with Jesus and learn to care about the other person who shares our faith and worship of God.
Jesus calls us to be in relationship with him. How are you building up your relationship with Jesus? Do you pray, read about Jesus’ life and teachings in the Bible do you discuss or listen to teachings about Jesus? Are you in a community of faith that focuses on your relationship with Jesus or something else? Pray for all of these for this is why Jesus calls you to him.

Wonderful God, you made us unique unto ourselves yet in your image. Help us to be and become the people you want us to be. Not clones of each other, but unique individuals who are in relationship with you and Jesus. Show us how to love others because of the love you have for us. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

This reflection is based upon ideas of by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton More Jesus Less Religion: Moving from Rules to Relationship. Colorado Springs, Co: Waterbrook Press,2000.     Chapter 2

Friday, 6 February 2015

Naïve Faith

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales;
 rather, train yourself to be godly. I Timothy 4:7

Naïve Faith
What kind of faith do you have? Is it healthy? That is do you
believe that God’s presence will be with us but that there are some dark places in this world? Or do you believe that everything is wonderful and you will never sin again?  Just what is your understanding of the reality of life and does it include seeing and accepting the truth about who you and I really are?  We are human and because of this we are falliable and can and will sin. We are the creatures and we are vulnerable, flesh and blood, men and women, God’s children and we must live by grace through faith every day of our lives.
We each need grace, encouragement, wisdom and mutual accountability every day of our lives to keep from being hardened or deceived by sin.
            Healthy vs naïve faith. When one has a healthy faith daily struggles with sinful nature and even relationship difficult are brought out into the light of Scripture and with care from brothers and sisters in Christ there is hope and prayer. If we deny our problems we deny reality and are unable to face real situations. Faith grows- and if we acknowledged when our faith is not healthy- denying the truth of how we have sinned- then our faith relationship with God will grow stronger. Believing that God with help us through the problems of life is a healthy faith. But hearing and believe that when a person becomes a Christian life will become easy is naïve. God will be there for us, but we too must think and feel and live our lives. We must choose the kind of faith we want.  Naïve faith asks, “If God is so loving, why does He allow my life to be so hard? Why does he force people to struggle so much and ultimately a question of faith—If there really were a God he would help”
            What kind of faith do you have? For generations, many churches taught that if one accepted Christ or believed in God all problems would vanish. This is not real.You will be tested and tried, you will have problems but if you truly have a healthy faith, God will walk with you through them and help you to grow stronger as you experience something new.
REFLECTION: What kind of faith do you have? Is everything good- always? Even God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Gen.2:18. When God created the world He declared it good. Yet not everything is good. And when things are not good- we need to take it to God in prayer and seek his wisdom and to have faith. “A loving God wants the best for us and is grieved when we miss it. True faith in him allows these bad things to be woven together in a protective covering that grows stronger in fiber and softer to the touch.” *
To whom do you turn when troubles arise? God is there if you believe and have real faith. Christ will guide you and encourage you no matter what you are facing.
Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows, but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God in whom I believe and have faith, help my unbelief about this world and the life I am living. Show me your love and guide me to live for you. Help me to be real about my faith in you and to know that you will never leave me. I ask this in praise and hope. Amen.

This reflection is based upon ideas of by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton More Jesus Less Religion: Moving from Rules to Relationship. Colorado Springs, Co: Waterbrook Press,2000.      * Quote from p. 13  Chapter 1