Wednesday, January 27, 2016

White as Snow

Scrolling through the posts on FaceBook I’ve noticed a theme: my friends are thinking about snow! And so am I. Thanks to Winter Storm Jonas, snow is everywhere. As my eyes wander over the landscape blanked in sparkling white, my mouth starts repeating the words of Isaiah 1:18, ““Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

This is a call to argue our case with God. God is challenging us to do our best thinking. Think through our choices, and their consequences. It is an invitation to wrestle with the Word of God to seek understanding on this amazing truth: Even stained with sin as deeply as a twice dyed robe of red, God can make us pure again. Pause and let that beautiful thought float through your mind, and then sink in. God can restore. God wants to restore. God’s forgiveness doesn’t just gloss over a mistake, it reaches to the very roots and allows us to be changed and transformed.

However guilty our past, whatever mistakes and sins committed, God can recreate. It is possible to be restored to purity and holiness. Even more than that, this promise deals not just with the results of sin, but with sin itself. God wants to change us so we no longer desire that sinful thing. He desires we be as white as snow.

Conversation starter with God: Talk with Him about the places in your life that you need this restoration. Confess to God your sins, and accept His forgiveness. Leave the conversation trusting God knows how to forgive so deeply, that you can leave that

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Welcome the Sabbath

The welcome sets the stage for the rest of day. Enter joyfully into the Sabbath as it begins. On Friday evening, instead of rushing to the last moment to see how much you can fit, greet the Sabbath with joy. First, look up what time sundown will come. The goal is to think joyfully that the Sabbath is coming each time you look at the clock. Countdown to joy. Replace the countdown of time left to accomplish things with a countdown to rest and special time with God.

As sundown approaches, gather your family together. Let each person turn off their cell phone. Instead of just silencing it, power it down. The world will keep turning without you for this brief worship time. Voicemail can go unanswered for just a bit. Read a scripture together—maybe the beautiful Sabbath commandment found in Exodus 20. Perhaps you need a reminder of the perpetuity of the Sabbath and Isaiah 66:23 can remind you that we will keep Sabbath in heaven too.

Growing up, our Friday nights marked a change in the week. They reminded us of a better day coming. Each Friday night we sat around the table with candles lit and talked. The menu was simple: popcorn and fruit. If we smiled very sweetly at Mom, and asked her very nicely, there would also be tapioca pudding. The best part of the meal, to us kids, was the paper plates. You see, we grew up with chores to do, so paper plates meant a reprieve from washing dishes. It meant rest. This was our Sabbath tradition—a way to start together.

Start a Sabbath tradition with your family. Maybe your choice is to eat a simple meal of fruit by candle light. Maybe you want to connect with Bible memorization. You can recite Bible texts together as the Sabbath beings. Choosing to start the Sabbath in celebration helps us remember the value of the Sabbath. It also helps the whole day to be one of joy, instead of a countdown to secular activities. Sabbath needs to be a day of joy and things to do. A day like none other that brings joy, rest, and a special reminder of God’s presence. It is a day of trust in God. Sure, we could spend this 24-hour period engaged in the occupation that pays the bills, but on this day we rest and trust God to care for the needs and wants of life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

God is Faithful

As a child my sister, brother and I relished every opportunity to go hiking. We lived out in the country and could access countless acre to explore. My mother outfitted us for the day’s adventure. First backpacks for treasures found along the way, then big squares of neon green pistachio cake. Last, the most important item, a walkie talkie in each backpack for communication. Then, out the door we went. Always our faithful protector followed us out the door. Our companion Jolie, a strong and imposing German shepherd. We climbed trees, turn over rocks, examined berries and collected treasures. All under her watchful eye. Over every action our dog Jolie kept watch. Hours of hiking over hill and dale, and no matter how many hills we conquered or how far we hiked, Jolie was always on our heels. Her commitment to be with us was unswerving.

Perhaps you also grew up with a dog as a constant and faithful companion. You know what it is to gaze into those trusting and protective eyes. Those eyes that chose to attentively watch and care. The eyes that noticed every motion and action. Eyes that leapt into action at a moment’s notice.

The words of 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 tell us of one who is faithful. “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”

This is the God who called you to a relationship with God. It is the same God who will be there to lean on when the going gets tough. If He called you to this path, He will get you through it. When a task or a standard seems insurmountable, remember these words. In those moments, claim this promise, He is faithful even in uncertain and difficult times.