To Write a Symphony

To Write a Symphony

Johann Sebastian Bach – 1685-1750 – Known as one of the greatest composers of all time drew much of his influence from classic hymns of his day using them to write Cantatas for the Lutheran Church as Thomaskantor in Leipzig. His work, of course, far more reaching than this still drew from his religious roots. As in the case of many great musicians and composers, his work was never truly finished, as displayed in his latter days, he spent most of his time coping, transcribing, expanding or programming music in an older polyphonic style until his death. Great work is never truly finished; there is always room for the master to tweak and expand.

Our life is much like a symphony that the Lord is writing. Each life is unique, gifted, and beautiful in its own way and never truly finished until the day one hears, “well done, good and faithful servant.” For many of us putting on the new self is a one time deal and then we are just marking time. We sit impatiently waiting in the quiet ticking of a hand-less clock, for the Lord’s return. We were not created to sit stagnant in time waiting; rather, we were created for such a time as this! Each day when we wake up, the day is half over. “There was evening, and there was morning . . .” This is how time is recorded in Scripture; Sunset marks the beginning of a new day. While the world sleeps, God is busy laying out His will for us. He has been setting things up and now in the middle of the day asks us to join Him. Our lives are His masterpiece. Until we cross over to the other side, we are a work in progress of the Thomaskantor.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,[a] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:3-11

So, stop thinking you are perfect or that you need to be perfect. Stop thinking there is nothing you can do or there isn’t anything to do. Stop thinking you are useless, or washed up, or worn out.  And start asking the Lord, what are You up to today, Lord? What work do you have for me to do, inwardly and outwardly?

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

The Art of Not Understanding

The Art of Not Understanding

It is hard to understand sometimes, what you ask?  Life.  That is pretty much a no brainer right?  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that life doesn’t always make sense.  In fact kids will say it all the time, “That doesn’t make any sense!”  And, they are usually 100% correct but we try to pacify them with things like, “You’ll understand when you get older” or my personal favorite, “You don’t need to understand.”  On the contrary helping people to understand, the art of not understanding is vital to civilization.  Life, isn’t always fair.  Let’s look at a story in Scripture about “talents”; We find it in Matthew 25:14-30.

Here is the story in a nutshell; The master of the house is setting out on a Journey.  He gives to three of his servants some money.  To one he gives 5 talents or basically 5 sacks of gold or silver. To another he gives two talents and to a third he gives one.  He gave to each of them according to their ability.  Let me pause here to make a point, Jesus is telling this story, and it is good and profound.  But, it doesn’t seem to make sense now does it? i mean why the difference in amounts?  i get that it is based on ability but even if one has a lesser ability shouldn’t he at least have equal chance? Meaning equal opportunity with equal resources?

These questions stump a lot of people.  We live in a world that has struggled with this idea and have made attempts to make things “fair” for all.  Time and time again these efforts have fallen short, for various reasons.  Life just isn’t fair, and that doesn’t make sense therefore, we as an intelligent species attempt to correct it.  i mean why not, shouldn’t life be fair?  This is going to be a two part series, this week i want to focus on the first part of this story told by Jesus.  The master gave to his servants, according to their abilities.  Did you catch that? Their ability.  We all have various abilities and we receive based on those abilities.

Shouldn’t we all have the same ability, the same chance, the same resources?  Why are some abilities worth more than other abilities?  What was Jesus trying to teach his disciples with this story?  i think the lesson is multifaceted.  1.  Not all abilities are worth the same however, all people are worth the same.  2.  Opportunities are earned.  3.  Abilities are another form of diversity.

We should spend less time worrying about fairness and spend more time finding out where we fit in.  How does our diversity help society better itself?  You see one seeks its own, the other shares;  One maintains status quo, the other expands its horizons; One hides, the other explores.  Jesus is looking for those that will share, expand, and explore.  The take away, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness….we won’t always understand but we always have opportunity to share, expand and explore life.

You are loved,

cj

God is Strong

God is Strong

“Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit”…”Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy”…”Stephen, they found they couldn’t take their eyes off him-his face was life the face of an angel!” These verses found in Acts tell of an amazing moment of God’s Faithfulness through a man full of Jesus.

Ephesians 6 says this:
“God is strong, and He wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the devil throws your way.”

What we know of Stephen is that he was living Ephesians 6. Without a doubt. As we head into Thanksgiving next week and then into the Advent season it is a good time to reflect. A moment of introspection in which we look at our lives, what we have to be thankful for and in being thankful living lives of thanksgiving. A life of Thanksgiving in which God is strong, because He is strong.

Because He is strong, we can live in faith that He will…
As we rely on Him, seek Him, rest in Him, He fills us with more of Him, His Holy Spirit…
The more we are full of the Holy Spirit the more our lives reflect grace…
Grace, when given fills us with power to change our environment…

This is Jesus’ heart for you.

You are Loved,

cj