Monthly Archives: October 2017

Life in God’s Creation

Week 8 (29 Oct.- 4 Nov.) – Home in the World

Sunday – Finding a Home

Scripture Reading: Genesis 11:1-9

In the story of the Tower of Babel, we find that humanity is spreading out eastward and as people built homes in the land of Shinar, they founded a city.  As they founded a city they began to build a tower to “make a name for ourselves.”  In our human nature, we want to find homes where we can raise our families, be in community and “make a name for ourselves.”  But in establishing our homes, we are to be doing it in God’s creation with God and not “for ourselves” and put ourselves in the wilderness.

Pastor’s Pondering:  In the story of the Tower of Babel, what is the connection between God, people, language and Home in the World.

Monday – Wilderness – Searching/Make Do  

Scripture Reading: Genesis 4:8-16

As we look again at the story of Cain killing Abel, we find that in life in the wilderness, we search and make do with finding a home in life.  We find that “Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”  Even though we are created to live in the presence of the Lord in God’s creation, we settle for life away from the presence of the Lord and make our homes east of the garden of Eden, the place where God created us to live in homes in the presence of the Lord.  Notice that for Cain, God’s grace is given to Cain by a mark of protection even as he is leaving the presence of God.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this say about God’s grace for people settling in homes in the wilderness?

Tuesday – Israelites and the Promised Land

Scripture Reading: Genesis 12:1-9

As God brings Abram to the place that the Israelites will call home, we find that God has not just a plan but a place for God’s people to dwell.  Although, as we find in the story of Israel, it is a journey to get there.  Just as with Adam and Eve and the Garden, so it is with Israel that the connection to life at home in God’s creation is their faith in God.  As long as God is at the center of their life together, they find their home – in the wilderness, in the promised land, and yes, even in exile from the promised land.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this say to us about our homes in our lives?

Wednesday – Christ – no place to lay his head

Scripture Reading: Matthew 8:18-22

As we hear from Jesus, though the animals have places to lay their heads – places they call home, Jesus had no place to lay his head and call home.  Christ knew that in his ministry/call to save us, his place would be among us, leading us away from the wilderness to our homes in God’s creation and eventually to the place that he has prepared for us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Why does Jesus say he has no place to lay his head?

Thursday – Christians – Where God places Us

Scripture Reading: Mark 5:1-19

As we find with the story of the man with the demon named Legion, we are not all called to leave our homes to follow Jesus.  When the demon is cast out of the man and the man desires to go with Jesus, Jesus tells him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.”  In following Jesus, we are to go and dwell where God places us that we may share with our community about what God is doing in our lives.  Pastor’s Pondering:  In what ways do our homes where God calls us enable us to share the good news of life in Christ/God’s kingdom/God’s Creation?

Friday – Permanent Residence?

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

As we see in this teaching of Paul, our bodies can be considered our homes for our souls.  Paul writes about the longing we have to shed this mortal body and to replace it with our heavenly bodies.  As I get older I begin to understand this more and more.  But, we have a purpose/plan from God while in our bodies – our earthly home that we are to focus on recognizing that this life is only temporary and we do have a permanent residence in God’s Kingdom through Christ.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Why is it important to remember that home in this life is only temporary with an eternal one awaiting us someday?

Saturday – Final Home?

Scripture Reading: John 14:1-7

The words of comfort that Christ gives his disciples to carry them through his arrest, crucifixion, death and resurrection is that he goes to prepare a place for us in God’s home.  This is our final home in Christ.  This is our forever place to abide with God to enjoy fully God’s creation without the separation and brokenness of the world and the wilderness.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What do you think our final home will be like?

Life in God’s Creation

Week 7 (22-28 Oct.) – Partner in Life

Sunday – Spouse/Singleness

Scripture Reading: Matthew 19:3-12

As we have seen in the beginning that God created Adam and Eve as equal partners in life together in God’s creation.  This is to be a lifelong partnership in the kingdom.  In this story of Jesus, we find that many of us a created to have a spouse, a partner in life and for life.  But, there are also those who are to be single: those who were created to be single, those who have been relationally scarred(until/unless they are healed), and those who commit to be single to focus solely on building up the Church.  In life, God has a plan for us in marriage or in singleness.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Where do you see people in each category in your life?

Monday – Wilderness – All About Me  

Scripture Reading: Genesis 6:1-8

This passage of Genesis is a confusing one as we try to understand what is meant by “when the sons of God went into the daughters of humans.”  Because this passage follows the telling of Cain’s lineage and then the telling of Seth’s lineage up to Noah it could mean that Seth’s lineage are the sons of God (living life in God’s creation) and Cain’s lineage are the daughters of humans (living life in the Wilderness).  Marriage is to be about both coming together in God.  In these instances, it has gone from being about God to being about Me.  When God is not a part of the marriage it is a marriage apart from God’s kingdom/creation and is a marriage in the wilderness.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Tuesday – World Separates/Distorts God’s Plan

Scripture Reading: Romans 1:21-32

As we see in this passage from the Apostle Paul, when the world separates itself from God, it distorts God’s created plan/purpose to it’s own desires.  One of the key signs of this as Paul points out is the distortion of marriage in God’s plan.  The result of which Paul explains as the sign of the times and our life in the wilderness.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this look like in life?

Wednesday – Wilderness Lack of Covenantal Understanding

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:21-32

Another area of marriage that is affected by our separation from God is the understanding of covenantal relationships.  Covenant is the word used to describe our relationship with God and the relationship within marriage.  That is why Paul connects the two in teaching on how a husband and wife are to abide in marriage.  In a healthy marriage, God is first, Spouse is second, Self is third.  Only in this way, can a couple truly experience marriage as the blessing God created it to be.

Pastor’s Pondering:  According to Paul, in marriage what are the actions that each spouse is to do for the marriage to be healthy?

Thursday – Creation/Kingdom – Sharing Life Spiritually

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

As Paul writes in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians and in Genesis 6, we are not to be mismatched spiritually.  To find our partner in life, the first qualification is to be someone who is a Christian.  Someone who can share in our walk with Christ, our talk with Christ, our life in Christ.  For those who are unequally yoked, Paul gives instruction in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Why is our spiritual connection to be the first qualifier in establishing a marriage?

Friday – Creation/Kingdom – Sharing Life Emotionally

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 13

As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, we find that true love means that we are to be connected spiritually and emotionally.  It is to express love not just with words but more importantly with our actions.  We are to be expressing our love in the ways that we treat each other in our life together.  As we love in our families, then we are able to love in the Church (life in God’s Creation), and it then can flow out into a world that lives life in the wilderness.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How important is showing our emotional connection in actions with one another?

Saturday – Creation/Kingdom – Sharing Life Physically

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 5

Finally, as we connect spiritually and emotionally with each other in marriage, we connect physically with each other in a way that is not to be shared with another.  The physical aspect of marriage is to be an expression of the intimacy of the relationship.  Sex is a sharing of the love between a man and a woman that expresses their unique covenantal relationship in God’s creation that is shared only between them in God’s blessing.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What is the connection of intimacy to a relationship spiritually, emotionally and physically?

Life in God’s Creation

Week 6 (15-21 Oct.) – Provisions of Life

Sunday – Basic Needs & Wants

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 3:1-10

As we see in this section of Proverbs, if we live life in God’s creation according to the word of God then God will provide us with “abundant welfare” and “then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”  God promises to provide us all our needs when we live life in God’s creation.  Adam was able to eat the fruit of any tree in the garden.  In the wilderness, even though it would take much toil, God would provide for our needs.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What are the things that Solomon says we are to do for God to provide us with provision in life?

Monday – Wilderness – Strive to have  

Scripture Reading: Exodus 16:1-3

When Israel enters the wilderness after leaving Egypt, they begin to grumble and complain to Moses because they are used to stressing about where the food will come from for them to eat.  In the wilderness, we have to work to find, to prepare, and to eat our daily food.  The Israelites complain because they had no idea where they would get their daily need of food.  Without God, we must figure it out ourselves.  We also see in other parts of Exodus, that they complain about finding the water they need.  Without God, we are left to find our daily provisions not recognizing from where it really comes.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What is it like to have to stress over meeting our daily needs in the wilderness?

Tuesday – Creation/Kingdom God provides

Scripture Reading: Exodus 16:4-21

Just as from the very beginning in the garden, God promises to provide that which we need to survive in life.  In this story, God provides quails and Manna for them to eat for each day – no more and no less.  God does this to remind them to daily turn to Him and believe.  Life in God’s creation is recognizing that God provides for us daily and that all we have is from God as a part of God’s creation.  Life in God’s creation means that as we live our lives following God we can trust that God will provide all that we need to eat and drink to survive.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does our life today lead us away from seeing God’s provision in life?

Wednesday – Focus on Life in Christ (Bread of Life)

Scripture Reading: John 6:22-40

When Jesus talks about being the bread of life, he is not meaning that literally we must eat his body as those listening to him think.  We know the rest of the story and that this can be reference to eating the bread at our Lord’s Table.  But, it means that as we work at the Spirit changing us into the people that have eternal life in Christ, we will be provided for by our Lord and Savior.  We just need to believe in God, our Father, In Christ, His Son and the Holy Spirit, the three-in-one.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What is to be our focus in our Life in God’s Creation to receive provision in this life?

Thursday – Eat/Drink/Wear – Stress of life

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:25-30

This scripture from Jesus beautifully addresses the difference in life in the wilderness and life in God’s creation.  In the wilderness, people stress over what they will eat, drink and wear.  In God’s creation, people focus on their life in the Kingdom and all these things are given to them.  Christ focus and no stress.  Unfortunately, when we live life in God’s creation we are tempted to revert to life in the wilderness and instead of trusting in God and focusing on the things of the kingdom, we begin to stress on what we will eat, drink and wear.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Lord, help us to focus and not stress!

Friday – Danger of Wants/Rich Man

Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:17-31

The danger of being bountifully blessed in our provisions in life is we forget where they came from and find that they become more important in our life than God.  The Rich man was able to follow the commandments but the idea of giving up all he had and relying upon God for what he would need was too much for him.  When our wants become more important than what God wants for us then we end up living life in the wilderness – and eventually lose what is really important in life.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How can we ensure that our needs and wants don’t become more important than our walk with Christ?

Saturday – Fasting/Testing of Needs

Scripture Reading: Luke 4:1-13

In Luke’s telling of Christ in the wilderness and being tempted by Satan, we find that Jesus is complete fasting – “eating nothing at all.”  It is after the forty days that Satan comes to tempt Jesus to take matters into his own hands instead of waiting for God to provide in God’s way.  Jesus could have provided for himself in this case, but the purpose of this time was to wait on God and oftentimes we are tempted to not wait on God but to take matters in our own hands especially when it comes to our daily provisions.

Pastor’s Pondering:  If we are fasting or if we are being tested to wait on God, may we fulfill God’s purpose for us!

Life in God’s Creation

Week 5 (8-14 Oct.) – Call/Vocation in Life

Sunday – God’s Plan for Us

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 29:11

When God gives these words to Jeremiah to give to us, it is an assurance that even when we doubt we can know that God has a plan for us, God’s people, and those plans are for a blessing not a curse, so we have a future with hope – no matter how bad it may seem.  Sometimes, those blessings come after trials and hardships but God has a plan.  Just as God had a plan and a purpose for Adam in the garden (to till it and keep it) so God has a plan for us.  If we want to have a vocation that fulfills us and blesses us, then we need to consult with God about what God’s plan and purpose is for us in our life in God’s creation.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What do you think is God’s plan and purpose is for you?

Monday – Wilderness – Why am I here?

Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

When we live life in the wilderness, we may seek the answer to the question of “Why am I here?”  As Solomon contemplates this the conclusion he comes to is it is meaningless without God.  If we are here by chance and are our sole purpose in the expanse of the world is nothing then it is just “vanities of vanities.”  If it is all just vanity then what we are left with is we are born, we live, we die and that is that.  The end.  Depressing.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What would/does this look like in life

Tuesday – Call/Purpose in Relationship with God

Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15; 12:13, 14

But as Solomon comes to the realization that in life God’s purpose for us is “eat, drink, and be merry in all their toil(labor),” then there is purpose.  To do this is to submit and trust in the Lord’s plan and care for you in the work that God has given you to do.  To be as wise as Solomon is to recognize that God created us with a plan and purpose and we need to submit to our Lord and follow that plan and purpose in our life in God’s Creation. There is no purpose/plan in the wilderness but when we see God’s creation/kingdom we find that there is a plan and purpose.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What would/does this look like in life?

Wednesday – Israel, Nation of God’s Deliverance

Scripture Reading: Genesis 17:9-14

As a nation, God’s plan for Israel was to be an instrument of deliverance of people from their life in the wilderness into a life of God’s creation/kingdom.  We see this as God shares the sign of the covenant that is made is to include “any foreigner who is not of your offspring.”  Through Israel, people were to see the benefits of a life lived in God, become aware of God’s love and become a part of that by proclaiming their faith in God and becoming a part of the nation Israel and God’s kingdom on earth.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What stories in scripture tell of when Israel fulfilled and did not fulfill their purpose in life?

Thursday – Christ, our Redeemer

Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:39-46

From the beginning of time and up to the time that Jesus prays to have the cup removed from him, Christ knew God’s plan for him was to redeem his people from the punishment of their sins which is eternal separation from God, restore them as children of God through adoption and sanctification and the cup of Christ is the cup of salvation that we share at the table of our Lord in God’s creation.   Christ knew God’s purpose for Him was to be our Redeemer.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How did Christ become the Redeemer for God’s people?

Friday – Church, Witness of Spirit

Scripture Reading: John 14:15-31

When Jesus tells the disciples (i.e. the Church), “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” we find that through the gift of the Spirit we can begin to know God’s love in our lives, grow in God’s love together and be able to share God’s love all through the work of the Spirit.  Thus, the Church becomes a witness of the Spirit working in us and a testimony of what the Spirit can do in other’s lives.  As the Spirit changes our hearts of stones to hearts of love, the world can see what God can do in them.  The Church becomes the witness of the Holy Spirit: God’s active work in the world today.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How can the Church (and each individual Christian) be a witness of the Holy Spirit in God’s creation?

Saturday – Individual, Talents & Opportunities

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12

In God’s plan and purpose for us, it is not just to be redeemed into life in God’s creation from the wilderness, or to be a witness, but we also have a specific purpose in building up the community of the Church and the world.  We all have different abilities and desires that fuel our gifts/talents that we are to use in our vocation in life.  As we find the opportunities that God provides for us to use our talents we find that it leads to a vocation that builds up our communities and provides us the means to live which will lead us to our next area of life in God’s creation is the provisions in life.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How do we find our calling in life in our vocation?

Life in God’s Creation

Week 4 (1-7 Oct.) – God’s Presence in the World

Sunday – At the Table of the Kingdom

Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:20-29

On World Communion Sunday, we begin our week focusing on God’s presence in God’s creation – the Earth.  When Christ gave us his Last Supper to observe it is to observe God’s presence in our lives.  When we gather at the table together in Christ and eat the bread and drink the cup, it is to remember Christ as our Lord and Savior and the gift of the Holy Spirit in us that gives us our life in God’s creation.  The Holy Spirit is God’s active presence in our lives that leads us, inspires us, and calls us together as God’s people gathered at the table of God’s Kingdom.

Pastor’s Pondering:  When we gather at our Lord’s table where all do we see the Holy Spirit at work in our lives?

Monday – Creation Reveals God

Scripture Reading: Romans 1:20

When I look at all of creation, the complexities of life, the connectiveness of life, the systems of life that entail all of nature and the world, I can’t help but see God’s power and handiwork.  To think that this is all came to be by chance over a long period of time seems to be illogical and harder to believe than in a greater being than ourselves creating it all.  The fact that we haven’t destroyed it all as we exercise dominion over the world and all that is in it reveals to me that God is still at work preventing, fixing, sustaining life even as we do what we can to destroy it.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What do you see when you look at creation?

Tuesday – Tabernacle

Scripture Reading: Exodus 40:34-38

When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, his dwelling place among them was to be in the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle with cloud by day and fire by night led them through the wilderness to the promised land.  When they encamped, the tabernacle was to be in the center of the camp and focus in their life together as God’s people.  The Israelites looked to the Tabernacle as the place in which God resided in their midst.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What place do we often look to as the place where God dwells in our communities?

Wednesday – Temple

Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 17:1-15; 1 Kings 9:1-9

When God brings the Israelites to the point that they have built their homes, their cities, and now their King’s palace, there is a desire to build a proper home for God.  The Tabernacle was no longer suitable for God and so, a more permanent dwelling place for God is built – the Temple.  It became the focus of not just the dwelling place but of their worship.  The belief became that as long as the temple stood God was in their midst.  Instead of faithfulness being the foundation of God’s presence with them it became the standing of a building.  We find that God departed Israel for their lack of faithfulness long before the temple was destroyed and they were exiled from Israel and into the wilderness of Babylon.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How can we make the same mistake as the Israelites in God’s presence in our congregation/life?

Thursday – In Christ

Scripture Reading: John 1:1-5; 10-18

Jesus Christ leaves us no doubt and the Apostle John wants us to know that there is no doubt that in Christ is God’s presence in the world.  The crime that Jesus was convicted of was claiming to be the Messiah, God’s Son, the one that was coming to establish God’s Kingdom on Earth.  It is only a crime to admit this if it is not true.  That is why Jesus was wrongly convicted.  For those who believe we are given the power to become the children of God.  In Christ is God’s presence in the world as God’s Son.

Pastor’s Pondering:  In what ways can we know in scripture that Jesus Christ was God’s presence in the world?

Friday – In Christians

Scripture Reading: John 17:20-24

When Jesus prays for the church that “…they all may be one.  As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  When we are in the Spirit, loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength and loving our neighbor (as defined by Jesus) as ourselves then we become the presence of God to the world.  We become the body of Christ, when we live our lives in the Holy Spirit, being obedient to the Word of God and loving as God loves us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How might we be God’s presence to the world?

Saturday – Christ Redeems

Scripture Reading: John 3:1-17

Jesus Christ, God’s presence in the world is not to judge the world but to save the world, to bring life to the world.  To do that is to judge, but also to take the sentence of that judgement and to give the power to change and become the people who have life in God’s creation.  Redemption takes us out of the wilderness (life without God) and brings us into a new life in God’s Kingdom as God’s creation and people who truly live in God’s love.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What is required to know full redemption in Jesus Christ?