I had expected to spend this past holiday weekend away at an island camp with the youth from our congregation and two other congregations, returning home exhausted, worn out from serving, delighted to have spent my energy as part of something big and wonderful, where more than a hundred youth come together in praise and fellowship. Do you get the specific servant thing I am describing?
But I was sent home from the retreat (voted off the island) due to illness. One doctor said that he estimates I will need to think about being off work for a week. I went to a clinic at Superstore, and I will see how it goes, and perhaps see my GP this week for a better sense of how long this is all going to take.
I certainly did not Outwork, Outlast, Outplay – but I definitely left a heap of dishes for some of the faithful to tackle.
This was not the outcome that I had anticipated.
Where shall I file this past weekend?
Was it a waste?
Did I do what came to me, with grace?
So here is the question: was what I did last weekend more or less worthwhile than what I had planned to do?
Did I serve God in my enforced sabbatical?
Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Am I grateful?
– yes, for all the care I received.
– yes, for health.
– yes, for a beautiful place which also had a good bed
and that is a beginning
My wife maintains my reputation for being the best brewer of coffee in the whole house – at this point out of 4 persons and a dog… This morning’s cup was particularly good. I will let you eavesdrop on a conversation in my kitchen:
“Mmmmmm, that is GREAT coffee, thank you Jesus. – Well, you didnt make this coffee…. well actually you did. Thank you!”
John 1:3 (ESV) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
That reminded me of something attributed to Carl Sagan:
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
Thanks! Great coffee. And a really nice job on the universe. – There is so much for which to be grateful – this day and every day.
“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
One son refuses Father’s will,
But later relents.
The other agrees,
But does nothing.
Be sure to examine
Truth you see and know.
When you have truly seen,
Do not hesitate
To change your mind
And believe Him.
Trust Jesus to upset any system whereby I think that I can provide myself with my daily bread with no thought to him and his agenda.
We are to be people of prayer – relationship with him, but we spend our time fretting about the gifts he has given us, rather than spending our time with him, the giver of life and all good gifts.
I noticed that in this section some people were getting upset at the wonderful things that he [Jesus] did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Matthew 28:15 ESV
And Jesus entered the temple
and drove out all
who sold and bought in the temple,
and he overturned the tables
of the money-changers
and the seats
of those who sold pigeons.
He said to them,
“It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’
but you make it a den of robbers.”
And the blind and the lame
came to him in the temple,
and he healed them.
But when the chief priests and the scribes
saw the wonderful things that he did,
and the children crying out in the temple,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
they were indignant,
and they said to him,
“Do you hear what these are saying?”
And Jesus said to them,
“Yes; have you never read,
“‘Out of the mouth of infants
and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”
And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
Here I am Lord, sitting before you, cleverly trying to read or think or write some right things without even noticing that you are here.
Is that wise? Is it sin?
Jesus, you wept over Jerusalem. They didn’t recognize what would bring peace; you were there with them.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see how you are with us.
English Standard Version (ESV)
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Faith in Jesus is easiest when I can see that miracles are happening; Lazarus being raised, walking on water, lepers being cleansed – when I see God’s hand moving and rescuing people near me. Then it is easy to say “it is well with my soul.”
When Jesus sets his face to Jerusalem, where people want him dead, when he chooses the path of suffering, when a friend’s cancer returns with vengeance, when I remember that young people die and mental illness abounds – that is when I need deep strong faith that goes immeasurably beyond me getting my own way.
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
He was “ready to go … To prison or death” with Jesus. But when things moved in a direction he hadn’t anticipated, and it looked like one of those two options was more likely than the other, he followed Jesus and his captors at a distance, anonymously – which didn’t work out very well. So frightened, he was that when faced with a servant girl, Peter was so scared that he felt he needed to lie – for fear of being hauled before the religious and civil authorities.
Fast-forward: seven weeks was it?
We have the man who had stammered out his denials in front of a handful of servants around a campfire, now in front of crowds; a preacher who doesn’t seem to care what anyone says or does to him. Bold. Fearless – or at least brave in the face of his fears.
In acts 2:36 Peter tells them: “…Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” We did not see that boldness coming.
What changed Peter?:
the empty tomb?
an amazing catch of fish (who actually counted those fish?)?
facing his failure and betrayal with Jesus
Jesus told the disciples that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon [them, and would be]… witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Then he was taken up, out of their sight, with angelic assurance that he would return in the same way he went into heaven. (Acts 1:8-11)
In Jerusalem, in the upper room, they stayed together praying, waiting, I suppose for what Jesus had called “the promise of my Father … power from on high.”(Luke24:49)
Even before the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter was beginning to change. We see him starting to take leadership.
And then Pentecost came.
Let us think about
- the crucifixion
- the empty tomb
- the things that we know God is doing among us
- our failure and betrayal – our need for forgiveness
Let us meet together with Jesus and with believers praying, waiting…
The sovereignty of God seems both essential and impossible to believe.
In James 4:15 we read “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” – recognizingGod’s sovereignty in what actually happens day-to-day. Still there is the troubling and essential aspect of our free will, and the free will of others who do things that we don’t like, things that we cannot reconcile with the sovereign will of God.
God reigns over us as King and Lord. We, his loyal (or otherwise) subjects, still have the opportunity to choose to obey him or not.
The above hardly begins to answer the question that I barely began to ask about the sovereignty of God and our free will.
Is Lent a time for us to be certain to listen to our King? We could do worse.
I came, I saw, I worshiped but I doubted
I wonder what the Latin would be? (Veni, vidi, venerari, dubitari, vadi)?
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and [spoke] to them…
They worshiped him – and doubted. It was hard for them to believe. Here, just a short time after the Resurrection, when they saw Jesus, risen from the dead, they worshiped him, but some doubted. When they saw Jesus, some doubted.
Then Jesus came and spoke to them. Presumably, even to the doubters. We know that He addressed at least one man’s doubts (Thomas). It was not: ‘Okay, you doubters, stand over here while I talk to the righteous, real disciples…’ No! Jesus came and said to them:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If it was difficult to believe then, we need not be surprised when we doubt. Doubt does not mean we cannot believe. We still need to go to Jesus, worship him, listen to him. If Thomas had stayed away because of doubt, he would not have heard Jesus say “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (john 20:29)
It was the eleven disciples who went, no doubt at various stages of belief, faith and doubt, but they went together. I think this is part of what it means to be the church. We gather, we see Jesus, we worship, and we hear Jesus. Then we go and do what he tells us to do.