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I have been thinking lately about how I see things. Not visually, not the optics of my eyes, but how things go together. Where do they fit? What is the framework?

Usually, and unfortunately, my framework is too small. That might be in distance, in money, or in time.

Here’s an example: you’re walking down the street and you see a twenty dollar bill. You go over to it and pick it up. It’s your lucky day! Now expand the framework – that twenty dollar bill is out in the middle of the road. Different factors apply – maybe you wait for traffic to stop – a red light. More to consider, and maybe you don’t get that money.

Different situation: instead of getting something good, you avoid something bad. Nobody likes pain, and none of us would stick our hand in a fire voluntarily. But each and every one of us would rescue a child who had fallen into the fire. The bigger picture of saving a life overcomes the knowledge of imminent pain.

Hebrews 12:2 says about Jesus “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

And Jesus knew the pain, the shame that was waiting. In Luke 22:42, Jesus prays to the Father: “Take this cup from Me”.  It was going to hurt, physically and spiritually, more than we could ever know.

Jesus knew that imminent pain, and He knew the ultimate glory. He saw the biggest framework – eternity.  He paid the price to keep us from the fire of hell. We celebrate his death and resurrection now with the wafer and the juice. Let’s pray.

Father God, I thank You for Jesus, His perfection, His sacrifice, His example. It’s in His name I pray. Amen.

 

Communion meditation October 15, 2017

 

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I’m going to read a part of a verse of scripture.  This is Jesus speaking, from Matthew 6:9.  You will recognize it.

This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father”

That’s short, but I think you will recognize this from the Lord’s Prayer, or the model prayer.  Jesus is talking to His disciples, and through the scriptures He is talking to us.  He is also talking to His own Father.  Though this is only two words, I think there is some deep meaning here.

The first word is “Our”.  Jesus could have said “My Father”, and he would have been right – God the Father is the father of His only begotten Son, Jesus.  Jesus could have said “Your Father”, and that’s right also, because He is our Father.  But Jesus used “Our” – He included Himself with us – He was fully human while being fully God.  He lived here, on this earth.  He was one of us.  And now He wants us to bond together, so that the “Our” still applies.

The next word is “Father”.  Again, Jesus could have said “Our God” and been correct.  He could have said “Our Lord” – but He didn’t.  He said “Our Father”. A father brings relationship.  A father implies family. A father is many things: a creator – and yes, God the Father is a creator.  A father is a protector.  King David knew this – Psalm 28:7 says “The Lord is my strength and my shield”.

A father is also a provider for his family.  God provides for all our needs.  Luke 6:38 says “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” God provides spiritual blessings as well.  He provided the greatest gift of all, the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. And now we are celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection with the bread and the juice.  Let’s pray.

Father God, thank You for being our Father.  Thank You for all of the Fatherly things You do, and thank You for Jesus.  He is the perfect gift – You provided exactly what we need. It’s in His name I pray, amen.

Communion meditation for 2017-08-13

I like animals. I try to be kind to them and take care of them. Even bugs, though I do kill mosquitoes. There are limits to my kindness.

Back when we had one of those heavy rains, we had some worms up on our carport floor. They were escaping drowning, getting up where it was drier. But they stayed longer than they should have – the rain stopped, and things started drying out. Good for people, bad for worms. They were getting all coated with sand and dust, and from their worm perspective, they couldn’t see that they were headed IN to the center of the carport, instead of out towards the cool, moist grass. They were headed to their death.

Then I stepped in. I had the benefit of height, and hands, and perspective. I could see and do things they couldn’t even imagine. I plucked a piece of grass, slid it under the middle of the worm, picked him up, and carried him to the grass. Well, that was my plan. The worm started wiggling and trying to escape, turning into a worm-ball that wasn’t working with my plans.

I finally got him, I think by using two pieces of grass. As I’m walking my rescued worm to the grass, I’m talking to him. “Mister worm, I’m only trying to help you. Won’t you cooperate, please?“

Later on, I started thinking about Mr. Worm, and Mr. Steve, and God. About the many times He has rescued my life, physically and spiritually. About the times He has spoken to me – I know the plans I have for you. He leadeth me beside the still waters. And about how hard I can struggle against doing what is best.

And I’m sure that God wishes I would just trust Him and do what He says. That’s what Jesus did – nevertheless not My will, but thine – and the outcome of that obedience is what we are celebrating now. I invite all Christians to partake of the wafer and the juice, symbolizing Jesus’s broken body and shed blood. Let’s pray.

Father God, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for His sacrifice and for His example, and His resurrection. It’s in Jesus’s name I pray, amen.

Have you ever been talking to someone and then you realize they aren’t there? They walked out of the room or something, and you didn’t know it.

This week I had a discussion like that – a disagreement, really, and with a guy who lived 400 years ago.

John Donne was an English poet, back in the early 1600s. He was the one who said “no man is an island” – yeah, he would have fit in with the inter-connectedness of everything now-a-days. That isn’t what I had a problem with.

He also said “every man’s death diminishes me”. We have had several deaths recently, including Starla’s mom just this week. Now I understand what he is saying – there is a loss each time someone breathes their last.  That’s true. But he used the word “every” – not some, not most, but every. So that has to include Jesus, who was fully man, while being fully God. And what I disagreed with, talking to the man from 400 years ago, is that Jesus’s death actually enhanced his life – and mine – rather than diminishing it. Yes, there was very much pain and suffering on the cross. I am sorry that Jesus had to suffer so, and I am terribly sorry that He had to do it for my sins.

I am also glad that He did, and my life is enhanced in uncountable ways because of Jesus’s death, and I will spend eternity in heaven because of that death. If that isn’t an enhancement, instead of a diminishment, I don’t know what is.

As all Christians take the bread and the juice, let us remember that death – and that resurrection. Romans 14:9 says “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”  Let’s pray.

Lord God, thank You for sending Jesus to pay the price for our sins – for my sins. Thank You for His death, and thank You for His resurrection. It’s in His name I pray, amen.

(communion meditation for March 26, 2017)

I did a very non-scientific study recently, of love songs on the radio. After removing all the Oooooohs and Babys and Yeahs, I was left with these three themes:

  • I will always love you
  • I will never leave you
  • We’ll be together forever

Now I’m not a scientist. I don’t even play one on television. But I see a common thread in those. And I know the reason why. Believe it or not, it’s God.

Laugh if you want, and considering some of the stuff they play on the radio, God doesn’t seem to enter the picture. But Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has put eternity in their hearts“. These people are trying to replace God with something that won’t last. Human love is wonderful – it’s a gift from God! – but it isn’t eternal, regardless of what the songs say.

But Godly love is eternal, because it doesn’t depend on humans. It depends on God, who never fails. In Romans 5:8, it says

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s true love, eternal love. It says “I will always love you, I will never leave you, and We’ll be together forever”. That love, that sacrifice, is what we are celebrating with the wafer and the cup. Let’s pray.

Lord God, I sometimes imagine you up in heaven, looking down at our silly efforts to fill that God-shaped hole in our lives with something besides You. Thank You for providing for that need, in the person of Jesus. It’s in His name that I pray, amen.

(communion meditation for January 8, 2017)

Jesus Christ was a rebel.

In reading through the Bible, I find three places where he defied what people thought He was “supposed” to do.

When Jesus was twelve years old, he skipped out on going home to Nazareth after His parents brought Him to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem.  They looked for three days to find Him.

Later in His life, He was at the temple again, and instead of worshiping and singing hymns, He made a whip out of what was available and started beating up on some businessmen.

Right at the end of His life, he prayed to His Heavenly Father, saying that He didn’t want to do what was next.

Rebellion, pure and simple.  And the events are true – but they are also a lie, because they don’t tell the whole truth.  They don’t go far enough.  They don’t include the spiritual. Let’s look at these events from a spiritual perspective.

As a boy at the temple, Jesus wasn’t being disobedient – He was being obedient to His Heavenly Father.  He told His earthly parents “Didn’t you know I had to be about My Father’s business?”.

At the temple, when he drove out the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals, He said “Get your things out of here!  Stop turning My Father’s house into a shopping mall!”  And the disciples remembered the scripture “Zeal for Your house consumes Me”.

And there, at the end of His life, He did ask for that cup to be taken away from Him – and He continued, “not My will, but Thine be done”.

Jesus was not rebelling.  Jesus was being obedient to His Heavenly Father – and that led to His death and resurrection.  That’s what we are remembering now, with the wafer and the juice, which all Christians are invited to partake in.  Let’s pray.

Lord God, Jesus didn’t do anything at all that was outside of Your will.  We have all sinned and fall short of Your glory.  With Jesus’ sacrificial death, the price for those sins has been paid.  Jesus’ body and blood, represented by the elements of communion, are the price of obedience.  That infinite cost, that priceless gift for us – thank You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

(communion meditation from November 20, 2016)

My communion meditation for today.

I was happy, then I was sad, then I was very happy.

First, I thought I found a new proof for God’s holiness and perfection. I was praying through the Lord’s Prayer – not just repeating the words, but praying it, chewing on it, meditating on it. “Our Father, who art in Heaven“ – and that’s where I stopped to think. God the Father is in Heaven – that’s what it says. And we know Heaven is perfect, so therefore God must be perfect.

I was pretty proud of myself for a few days. A new proof that God is perfect, from little old me. Pretty proud of myself, yep.

Until I started thinking of the implications of that. If God needs Heaven to make Himself perfect, then God must not be perfect on His own, and I know that’s not right. So therefore it must be God’s perfection that makes Heaven perfect.

BOOM – there goes my brand new proof, my shot at being included in theology books going forward. So I was sad.

But as I kept on thinking about it, rolling it over and looking at different perspectives, I was really happy. Because when I bring it down to a personal level, I don’t have to be perfect for God to come live in my heart. In fact, I can’t be that perfect. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“.

It isn’t my perfection that spills onto God. It’s His perfection that fills me, that spills into every part of my life, that overflows onto others.

There was only one perfect man, and that was Jesus. His perfect and sinless life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection – that is what we are celebrating now with the wafers and the juice. My imperfection covered by His perfection.  That makes me very happy.

Let’s pray.

Lord God, it’s all about You. If you had not sent Jesus to die for me, I wouldn’t be here today. Thank You for creating a perfect plan, carried out by a perfect man – a plan that does not depend on my own unachievable perfection. Thank you for Jesus. It’s in His name I pray. Amen.

(My communion meditation for today.)

A few weeks ago, I got sick on a Friday. Head cold. Rough weekend. By Tuesday I was really tired of it, and declared myself well. Wednesday I declared myself completely cured. Thursday I said I was in the best health in decades.

Friday I went to the doctor, who told me I was sick. Bronchitis. Bummer.

He gave me a prescription, I took it, and I got better.

At one level, this can be seen as a guy who wouldn’t face reality about being sick. At a spiritual level, this applies to all of us. We all think we’re strong, think we can do it on our own, think we can declare ourselves spiritually well. But the Great Physician knows our disease – sin – and He is the cure.

As we take the wafer and the juice, symbolizing His broken body and spilled blood, let us remember that He is the cure, and he paid the complete cost, now and forever.

Let’s pray.

Lord, Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. We didn’t even know we were sick. Remind us, now and always, of the terrible price Jesus paid for our sins. Thank you for His precious blood that cleanses us from that sin. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

(another communion meditation)

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s a new year.  This is the first Sunday of the new year, the third day into the year, and all of two thousand sixteen is bright and shiny.

So what?  Isn’t this the same way we saw last year, and the same way we’ll see next year?  In Ecclesiastes 1:9, Solomon says

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

But that isn’t the end of everything.  Lamentations 3:22-23 says

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

So is everything changing every day?  Yes and no. James 1:17 says

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

So things do change – we get gifts, perfect ones, from God, and He doesn’t change.  And what is the best gift?  Something new, of course.  1 Corinthians 11:23-26 says

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Let’s pray.

Lord, in Your wisdom you made the earth to rotate around the sun, marking days and seasons and years. In Your wisdom, You made a way for us to change from darkness to light, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  And in Revelation, the One who sits on the throne says “Behold, I am making everything new.”  Thank You for Jesus’ perfect life and atoning death.  Thank You for our new life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

My communion meditation for November 22, 2015.

I was in a city I hadn’t been to in a long time, walking along a sidewalk, when I saw a sign.  It had been put up by the city fathers, and seemed like it would have good advice.  I read the sign and followed the advice.  It said “DON’T WALK”, and I didn’t walk.  That saved me from a lot of harm and pain.

In I Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul says

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

That’s what we are doing now as we celebrate communion.  The Heavenly Father put up the sign.  We read it, and we are following the instructions.  And unlike the traffic light, these instructions never change.  Let’s pray.

Lord, you have made it so simple for us – see the sign, do the sign.  Hear the message, do the message.  And yet without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, without the Holy Spirit’s power, we couldn’t do this at all.  Thank you for the reminder, for the call to remember.  In Jesus’ name, amen.