Monday, January 25, 2010

Love is the greatest 1 Corinthians 13:1-13:13

Paul wrote to the church about gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 telling the early believer how critical each gift and individual was to the whole body of Christ. In chapter 13 he explained that all the gifts combined allow us to live together in faith, hope, and love.
Many couples pick this chapter, most especially, as their wedding reading. How many times have couples heard these words believing them to be instructions about how to live,

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NRSV

Young lovers believe Paul was writing about them. They believe in the power of their love to bear all things and endure all things. This is the kind of gift any human would like to offer a spouse. Saddy no human love can overcome all challenges and sustain us human lovers in all circumstances. We might deny our limits; but denial doesn't mean they are any less real. A wise teacher explained this so plainly it left a class of future pastors and church workers stunned. Years later I think back to those words every time I meet with a couple in any stage of marriage
As parents we dream and pray that we can promise our children love without condition. George Strait even sang about a father's love as a Love Without End, Amen. As wonderful as the promise of a parents to always love and care for a child sounds we have no power to keep it.
We humans are often romantics in love with love; and we are often cynics who believe there is no love. What we are finding are the limits of human love: mortality and falability. We might promise to love unconditionally, but we can't fulfill the promise. Only God can love without end. Only God's love known to those who believe in the risen Son gives hope of knowing life and love that has no end. Only in Christ risen from the dead is there love without end, AMEN.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New posts resume next week

Good Evening
A reader stopped me and asked about a new post. I have none to offer this week.
Last week my beloved and our youngest were in Tampa you can read about it in my other blog. The almost toddler and I checked out the town while my beloved attended a conference.
This week my beloved had surgery and I am just getting back to full speed and trying to help out around the house.
thanks to God for good travels and my beloved's healing.
John, aka unlikely

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fear not: God's made a promise Isaiah 43:1-7

What good is a promise?
I've been thinking some about promises this week. We make all kinds of promises. We make little promises, you know the ones that you can fulfill in a day or in a week. And then we make big ones that can only be kept over a whole lifetime.

One time in church a mother turned to her fidgeting son in the middle of a long sermon and told him, “I promise you that if you keep on making so much noise you'll distract the pastor and he'll have to start this whole thing over from the beginning.” It worked, the boy was very still and very quiet for the rest of the time in worship.

Our society, from top to bottom, functions on layers of promises. Not every promise that we make is completely kept; but in general promises and the trust in those promises are part of what keep us and our culture working. People often missed part of the story when talking about promises. Sometimes we act like we people are the only one's in the universe who make promises. When you and I start thinking and talking that way we are missing something big. We aren't talking just about promises we have made for ourselves or on behalf of others.

Are God's Promises any good?
Sometimes when you and I think about promises we are thinking, sadly about the promises that were made to us and for us, that have been broken. But when we listen to the prophet Isaiah its clear that human beings aren't the only ones to make promises and that God has a plan to keep every promise that has been made to his people. Isaiah declared these words on Gods behalf,

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

Isaiah's announcing something big about us. God has made a promise that we belong to him for all time. We always have and we always will be God's.
He is the one who created you and who formed you.
We don't need to be afraid because God is the one who has redeemed us. God the father sent his only begotten son into the world to save us. God the Father sent the one he was pleased with into the world to redeem us.

He knows you by name. He knows your faults and your successes. God's well acquainted with all the things that you would rather are hidden from sight. There's no dark alley he won't follow you through. There's no disease and no suffering so great that he can't meet you in the middle of it all. He calls to you and me through the prophets of old, through his Word revealed in scripture, through his church, and through his people. He is calling out to you today, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you.”

God says don't be afraid. You're mine. Don't be afraid. God says it over and over to the people he claims to be his own. We don't need to worry or fear at all. God, the maker of heaven and earth is in control

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 NRSV

As good as this promise sounds, you are God's, there's a part of you and me that bristles at these very same words of comfort. “God's in charge.” There's comfort when you are sick or in danger and you know that God's the one to set the direction and to make the plans.

But when you want to call all the shots its hard to accept that the maker of all things seen is in charge, not you. There's a part of us that bristles against God's sure and strong hands. We want to be in charge. We human beings demand to be in control, we fight hard against God because we believe that we have better plans than the maker of heaven and earth has for us. We resist because we want the control. We want to be in charge. We sin. And into our world and our sin God sends a savior to remake heaven and earth and all things including us.