richness

I was thinking this afternoon/evening – what is the purpose of my blog? Why do I do it? Why do I try to make it about posting about the Bible and fail? Why do I try making it about posting about mundane life details and fail?

I realized, listening to the radio, that it has been a long time since I listened obsessively to a song. Music used to transport me to other times in my life or made what I was experiencing more full, more rich. And now, it’s a cute song with a funny lyric or a great sound, but nothing else. Sort of hollow. Even sitting here, typing, I’m not sure what to write because the words are pre-judged and wrecked before they even reach the screen. And I wonder why that is? Have I worked so hard to get the “stuff” done in life that I lost touch with the reflective, pensive side of life? Is it too hard to think of the things that have gone on?

It’s no secret that FK and I have had quite the year. Just a little over a year ago, my dad got very sick. And life was turned upside down. And FK lost his job. And started a new one halfway across the country. And now he might lose this job, too. None of this is of anyone’s doing. It’s all things that have happened to us. Maybe we could have reacted better, faster, quicker, blah. It’s all hindsight, anyway.

So here we are, stuck in this moment, this now. Every step we take feels thick with outcome. Will we have children? Will we move? Where will we work? What will we do? Who are we becoming?

And then I think back to stupid NPR. God sometimes talks to me through NPR (not kidding). I realized that I agreed with the statement that it’s not about living a successful life (generally measured by money and fame and glory) but rather a significant life. And what’s funny about the significance I mean to seek is that it is marked by the glory God is given as a result and not what is given to me. When you seek to have your life measured by those standards, it changes how you approach living.

I think a lot about how human I am. I make mistakes, I fall short of the glory. I fall short of others’ expectations, I fall short of standards. I make big mistakes, even if I meant not to. I make little mistakes, when I meant to do big greatness.

For the first time in a while, there is a song that I listen to daily. At first I thought it was so interesting that this song existed in the secular world because really – people who aren’t familiar with the Bible won’t really get the meaning of the words or the Biblical stories they are referring to. The song is Hallelujah by Kate Voegele. And funny enough, I just was reading Esther in the OT of the Bible and I thought it was interesting that it is a book that doesn’t mention faith much – but infers it throughout. I wonder if these themes are God saying to me how important it is to live in the world as a person of faith? And if so, it just reminds me of how important it is for me to do what God made me to do and how that is an important part of worshipping Him.

My dear friend VW told us that Christians would mark places where signficant things happened so that they would always remember what God had done in their lives. Maybe that’s the importance of having a blog: to mark these moments in my life. Hopefully by marking these moments, that gives God glory. And hopefully it’s these marked moments that will remind me of the richness of the blessings God has given me.

matthew 2:1-12

The Visit of the Magi

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east[b] and have come to worship him.”

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ[c] was to be born. 5“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’[d]

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east[e] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

It’s amazing what a threat Jesus was to such a powerful ruler. Some of our friends have been having babies lately and it amazes me how helpless and vulnerable the babies are. Yes, they are resilient and strong, too, but they rely entirely on their parents for everything. The view at the time was that Jesus would be a political messiah – not an eternal one. The king was so quick to assume that he didn’t understand. I wonder – where is it in my own life that I am so quick to jump to conclusions that I miss out on what God is really saying.

matthew 1:18-25

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[d]—which means, “God with us.”

24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

I know that what I got out of this was not any different from what anyone else would say about this passage, but it spoke to me where I’m at right now. It takes bravery and courage to do what God made you to do. It takes strength and faith to say “yes” to God when the situation seems impossible.

study on John 16

Using BibleGateway.com, I pulled this Bible Study together for small group tomorrow night. Its based on John 16:17-33

 

Read the section.

What are some statements / elements of this passage that stand out? Why? What ideas are repeated? (Repeated words/phrases often have high importance)

  • Looking for “I tell you the truth” or “Amen, Amen” and “little while”

The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy

17Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

  • NOTE: asking, zeteo, means to seek. They are seeking this information from one another, even though they do not have the answers.
  • Share a time when you sought answers in this world and did not go to God.

19Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’?

  • NOTE: the phrase “little while” (mikron in Greek) is used 4 times in vv 16-19, which gives it emphasis. They understand that Jesus’ departure is imminent.
  • What event is Jesus describing when He talks about leaving the disciples and then returning to them? (note: context suggests Jesus is describing the climactic events of his revelation, which will indeed literally take place in a little while.)

20I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

  • What does the metaphor of child bearing tell you about the disciple’s time of grief? What message does that convey to you?
  • The word mourn (threneo) clearly refers to grief at a death (cf. threnos, “dirge”). Weeping need not refer to grief at a death, but in John it is only used in such a context (11:31, 33; 20:11, 13, 15). Thus, Jesus is referring to the grief they suffer at his death.
  • How do the disciples experience new life after suffering/grieving?

23In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

  • What is different about “in that day you will no longer ask me anything,” compared to “my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name?”
  • 2 diff’t Greek words are used
  • Ask questions – erotao
  • Petition – aiteo
  • “I tell you the truth” or “Amen, Amen” separates the two “asking” concepts. Draws distinction between the two ideas and two types of asking.
  • Indicates a change in relationship, too – the things they want to know about will become clear.
  • How is the communication between the Father and Christians depicted? (hint: ask & receive)
  • What does that communication tell us? Listen!

25″Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

 

  • Who is the subject of Jesus’ teachings? Is this consistent with all of Jesus’ teachings?
  • What does “tell you plainly” mean? NOTE: Possibly referring to the time between the resurrection and ascensio
    n.
  • What do verses 26 and 27 say about our relationship with the Father? Jesus reveals the Father’s love for us and our direct access to God. Jesus also revealed the character and heart of the Father is as well.<!–[

 

 

Matthew 1:1-17

The Genealogy of Jesus

1A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[a] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
15Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.[b]

 

Almost every Christmas in the Catholic church, they would threaten to read a much longer narrative of Jesus’ genealogy. I remember praying, “Please, don’t let them read that whole thing!!”

What I have learned since that time is how important where Jesus came from really is. Jesus was fulfilling the old testament prophecies, which was very specific about the origin of the Messiah. More on Matthew to come…

thoughts…

Tomorrow – 4/16, I am going to fast and pray through dinner. I want to really spend some time praying on what God wants me to do with my life: job-wise, family-wise, etc.

If you read this blog, it would be awesome if you could also pray for me on these issues. I will be praying for wisdom, discernment, courage and peace on these issues.

Thanks!!

Colossians 4:1 – 18

1Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Further Instructions

2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Final Greetings

7Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our[a] circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.

10My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

16After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.

17Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”

18I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

I think it is interesting that he begins this chapter with a reminder to masters of slaves that just as they have authority on earth, God has authority over earthly masters in heaven. It seems to me to be another way of saying, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

The other striking element of this particular passage is the paragraph that talks about prayer. Colossians actually addresses prayer quite frequently for such a short book. He talks about being in prayer for others constantly, just as much as he asks others to pray for him. It reminds me of the importance of prayer as a cornerstone and foundation of the church and our relationships with others. This is a very convicting message for me personally because I know that I do not dwell in prayer as I should. More on that later.

I love that Paul always remembers the “mundane” stuff in his notes. I always find it interesting to see his little messages to others and I love to see who he is talking to. I am always encouraged by the women he talks to – Nympha who has a church in her home. How cool is it that she went out on a limb and hosted a church in her own home? That takes boldness!

I was also encouraged by Paul’s seemingly cryptic message to Archippus that he finish the work that God has given him. Isn’t that how it is for each of us now? God has a purpose for us and we should see to it that we complete it.

Colossians 3:18-25

Rules for Christian Households

18Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

It is so hard to read the first verse of this because I don’t like the “s” word. But the important thing is that vs 18 does not exist in a vacuum. It is immediately followed by “husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” If I submit, it is easier to love me and if Frank loves me, it is easier for me to want to submit. When all is working as it should, it becomes easier for us to take on our appropriate roles. The last verses, 22, remind me to work for Jesus, not for man. It doesn’t matter that these men were slaves, but it does matter that we act with integrity at all times – both when people are watching, but even more importantly when people are NOT watching.

col 3:1-17

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I love that Paul reminds us that Jesus died for everyone’s sins, not just the sins of the Jews. And I love that he tells us to “put on” virtuous behavior because that is not our first inclination. When it is convenient to be kind, we are. Paul knows that it has to be a conscious effort to be patient and gentle.

colossians 2:13-23

13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,[b] God made you[c] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[d]

16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

20Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

I haven’t really read Colossians in a while and I find myself struggling to keep up with it. Paul covers so much ground in just a few sentences that it can be difficult to digest the first sentence by the time I’m on the second. THe general idea, that I am grasping, is that Christ conquered the old law. I should not bind myself to the law because I belong to Jesus and not to this world. How I measure myself should be based on Jesus and not the law/rules that are no longer relevant. Again, I am feeling that I need to evaluate more closely what I believe and make sure it is based on the Bible and Jesus and not superstition, fear of the world, etc.