Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Category: Collaborating with God (Page 2 of 2)

August 4, 2021 — Seeking the underdog

Today’s Bible reading

(3:7) The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

(4:10) …Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”–Genesis 3:7-12, 4:10-11

More thoughts for meditation

Moses is known for leading the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt, and by the power of God, he parts the red sea as they make their escape into the promise land. But how often do we remember his lack of faith in his abilities, let alone God’s choice in him as a messenger? Reading the whole story in Exodus 3-4, Moses goes back and forth with God many times! He is resistant to follow God’s call. Perhaps he was afraid he would fail. Perhaps he thought he wasn’t good enough? 

Here God reveals a beautiful, mysterious part of God’s nature to us – that God prefers to execute their mighty works through us not so mighty and flawed humans. In fact, God deliberately seeks the underdog, the least likely choice. Moses with poor speech to speak out against Egypt’s injustice, the small shepherd David to take down the giant Goliath, a virgin Mary to give birth to the messiah. 

Suggestions for action

God tells us that in our weakness, God is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9) And just like God promised to Moses, God is with us, always!

Do you ever feel like you are not up for the task? Maybe your flaws, insecurities, or fears prevent you from feeling worthy or able to participate in God’s work? Jesus has gifted us with the Holy Spirit, and through that power, we can do all things. 

When tempted to feel inadequate, remember that God looks past all that. God sees you as God created you – wonderfully and beautifully made!

Yesterday was Flannery O’Connor Day! Enjoy her boundary-breaking gospel art at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

August 3, 2021 — Persisting with God

Today’s Bible reading

Eventually, Jesus came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who ill worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”[d]

Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone,  “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.–John 4

More thoughts for meditation

A woman, a Samaritan, an outcast within her own community, questioning Jesus. No one who could avoid it walked out of town, in the heat of the day, to carry back heavy jugs of water! It was common for women to do so in the morning. So here we see someone on the true fringes of society grappling with Jesus. She questions him at every angle – why would he talk to her? Does he think he is better than Jacob? Goes on to demand the good water he mentions, then questions him again on religion and politics! And Jesus engages with her throughout it all. 

Spurned by the world, she found his kindness hard to believe. Knowing thirst herself, she found his promise of living water too good to be true. Confused by the division among people, she asked, “why”? She was persistent, and Jesus saw her.

Suggestions for action

Are you ever skeptical of Jesus? Ever wonder if his good love might be too good to be true? Jesus sees each and every one of us. No one is too great or too small, we all are called to remain in him. We don’t have to be perfect, rich, eloquent, theologically sound – or whatever constructed walls you might perceive to be too high – to engage with God.

Ask your questions! God will be there with you. Be comforted knowing he is patient as you seek.

Today is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Александр Солженицын) Day! Appreciate this modern day prophet to the West at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

August 2, 2021 — Wrestling with God

Today’s Bible reading

After he had sent his family and servants across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. — Genesis 32:22-32

More thoughts for meditation

Whether you ever physically wrestled with someone or not, I think we can all relate to this story. Just like Jacob, we often find ourselves asking questions like: Who are you, God? How could you let this happen? Who am I? What is the meaning of it all?

We can find comfort knowing that God is with us in that struggle. In fact, God calls us to be persistent in our pursuit of them. Furthermore, if we abide in God and in the word, our desires will be fulfilled. (John 15:7) Although God’s answer to prayer may not always look like what we expect! In this story, God left Jacob with a blessing and a new identity. I bet Jacob wasn’t expecting a new name after a sweaty, night long wrestling match! 

Suggestions for action

Are you wrestling with God right now? Trying to understand God’s will, or struggling with something going on in your life? From our limited perspective, thing’s may often seem unfair or hopeless. 

Consider looking from God’s perspective. Embrace the struggle. Find comfort knowing God is with you. Abide in God, remain with Christ, and be open to receiving what they have for you.

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