January 2, 2020- Numbering our Days, A Heart of Wisdom- Psalm 90:12, John 1:14-18

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So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (ESV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)  For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:14-18 (ESV)

Every January rolls around and it seems we want to take up New Year’s resolutions.  “This is the year we stick to a budget or to a diet or to an exercise program!”  Until the first of February or so, when we realize that the budget, diet or fitness regimen isn’t happening the way we wanted it to.  Even if we are disciplined enough to do things right most of the time, as we learn in Psalm 90:10- The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.

Fallible human beings are not the greatest at keeping resolutions.  Life happens.  Discipline and order are good things, but so are forgiveness and flexibility when situations call for those.  We need discernment, the wisdom that can only come from the power of the Holy Spirit, far more than we need one time resolutions that most often fail.

Solomon, the son of David prayed for wisdom- not for riches or conquests or power and land, even though God added those to him. (2 Chronicles 1:7-13)  Yet even a person with the wisdom of Solomon was not able to live according to the Law.  As Solomon got older he got enamored of foreign women and took wives who worshiped idols, and even he was not completely faithful to God.

The apostle John leads us to the answer to the wisdom question: The Word. We do not have wisdom on our own apart from God.  Wisdom is found in the fear of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh, bringing the fulfillment of Moses’ law, and providing the grace and truth that we do not have.

Our life on this earth is both joy and sorrow, paved with good decisions and not so good decisions.  We live with one foot in God’s kingdom, but the other foot still mired in this world of “not yet.” We journey through our seventy or eighty years knowing that our time here moves faster than we ever thought it would.

A new year is going to bring us all some blessings, some burdens, some joy, and some heartbreak. But only Jesus Christ brings us the forgiveness of our sins. Only Jesus Christ makes us worthy to be called children of God.  Only Jesus Christ makes the number of our days worthwhile, as well as the innumerable days we will spend with Him in the age to come.

 

 

 

January 3, 2018- In the Beginning, God…Genesis 1:1-5, John 1:1-5

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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Genesis 1:1-5 (NIV)

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 (NIV)

The beginning of Genesis and the beginning of the Gospel of John are eerily similar in that both writers are pointing out the same core truths:

God was God before the beginning.

God created heaven and earth.

God created light and separated it from dark.

God created life.

These truths may sound simplistic to those of us who were raised in a religious tradition, but what about people who have questions about the existence of God?

We as orthodox (small o) Christians (which include Lutheran Christians and most other Protestants, as well as Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox,) believe three basic foundational truths about the nature of God:

God is omnipotent- (all powerful)

God is omnipresent- (fully everywhere at all places and all times, all the time)

God is omniscient- (all knowing)

Given these three truths about God, we can imagine Him planning and working the coming together of the cosmos, and the formation of the galaxies and stars and planets. None of what we see in the heavens- or here on earth- came to be by random chance.  There is nothing we can see, touch, experience or imagine that is outside of God’s understanding or authority.

When we put the rubber to the road, what do these foundational truths about God mean for us in our everyday life and in the struggles we have now?

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

God is with us. He has been with us since before the beginning.  He is with us now.  He will be with us forever, when this world is no more.

As we continue the celebration of Jesus’ incarnation and birth we can take comfort and marvel in the fact that even before the beginning, God is, and for always, God is with us.

December 5, 2016: In the Beginning Was the Word – John 1:1-5

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In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,  the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.   Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.- Genesis 1:1-3 (NRSV)

In the beginning, God.  The writer of the book of John does not have what we would call a Christmas narrative like the one in the books of Luke or Matthew.  He simply echoes what God tells us in Genesis.  In the beginning, God. Jesus came to earth in human flesh, but Jesus always is and always was, too.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being  in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.  John 1:1-5 (NRSV)

So Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us, is with us now, and has been since before the beginning of time.  He is One with God the Father, and One with God the Spirit- as if we can ever really get that concept of the Trinity. That’s a hard thing for finite and fallible humans to wrap our heads around.  Jesus’ life did not begin in the manger at Bethlehem, because He has no beginning. He was before the beginning, and He has no end, because He will be after the end.  And when you think on Jesus, if you want to add the concepts of omnipresence (God is everywhere all the time, in every place, in all times) and omnipotence (God has infinite and complete power over ALL things) then you can really just sit and think and blow your mind.

Here’s a thought.  God the I AM (who has always been and will always be,) who created and sustains the universe, came to earth not just to live with finite, fallible and imperfect humans, but to become one of us- to feel our pain, to know our joy, and to walk in our paths with us.

How amazing is that?