Category Archives: Life in God’s Creation

Life in God’s Creation

Week 11 (19-25 Nov.) – How to Connect in Grace and Truth

Sunday – Future Hope

Scripture Reading: Revelation 22:16-21

As we began looking at life in God’s creation with “In the beginning so we look to the end of the Bible for the ending to the Study.  Christ’s purpose is to call all people to come to their life to God in God’s creation (tree of life and holy city.)  The Church as the body of Christ is to be about issuing that call also to those in the wilderness.  How are we to do it?  With not only the good news of the way, the truth and the life but with the same grace that Christ extends to us in love.  That makes us useful as the saints perfectly forgiven in Christ.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does it look like to share Christ in grace and truth?

Monday – Worship – Know Christ  

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:18-36

As we look to the stories of Peter’s confession, taking up the cross, and Christ’s transfiguration we find the starting point for us to share our hope in life in God’s creation.  It is knowing Christ which is our worship.  To know Christ is to confess our faith in Christ.  It is to know that his death and resurrection was for us.  It is to know Christ’s ability to bring new life replacing the old life which makes us shine when we share God’s Grace in action and speak the truth of Christ.  That is our true worship and knowing Christ in our lives.

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

Tuesday – Bible Study/Small Group/Church – Grow in Christ

Scripture Reading: Acts 2:37-47

As we look again to the first church in its purist form and their sharing the hope we can have in our life in God’s creation, we find that they were gathered together in the Spirit, focused on growing in Christ through learning God’s word, being accountable to each other, worshipping and dining together in their life in God’s creation.  This created a community that others saw and in curiosity found themselves drawn to and becoming a part of knowing and growing in Christ and their life in God’s creation.

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

Wednesday – Put Love into Actions – Share Christ

Scripture Reading: Acts 3:1-10

The next step in bringing hope to people living life in the wilderness is for the Church to put love into action in grace and truth.  For Peter and John, it is to reach out in grace and give the man what they had to offer – healing in the name of Jesus.  God calls us to reach out to others and offer grace in the practical way that God provides.  It is then to share the truth of Christ’s name and love that opens us to share in our lives in Christ together in God’s creation.

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

Thursday – Put Love into Words – Share Christ

Scripture Reading: Acts 3:11-26

Just as with Peter and John, when we put love into action in Christ then it will open us up to opportunities to share Christ by speaking with grace and truth.  This means sharing about life in Christ without being judgmental or with condemnation but with love and the desire to share with them about the possible life in God’s creation.

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

Friday – Using Gifts – Share Christ

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16

In this teaching from the Apostle Paul, it is about the unity of the church in sharing Christ and life in God’s creation.  We all have different gifts and opportunities to reach out to those living in the wilderness.  Through these gifts and opportunities, we are to share Christ with “all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

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

Saturday – Outreach – Share Christ

Scripture Reading: 1 John 3:11-24

As we look to sharing Christ through the Apostle John’s teaching it starts with being an Abel and not Cain.  We are to be one who is focused on love and not on murder.  To reach out is to love in truth and action.  If we do not have the actions of love then people will not hear our words of love in reaching out in Christ.  If people don’t see Christ in us then they will not listen about Christ in us.  If people don’t see us living life in God’s creation then they won’t see their life in the wilderness.  If people don’t feel the love from us then they won’t listen about the love Christ has for them and the life they can have in Christ and in God’s creation.  Lord, may they see the Love in us.  Amen (So let it be).

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

Life in God’s Creation

Week 10 (12-18 Nov.) – God’s Law for Life in Creation/Kingdom

Sunday – Purpose of Law

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-3; Matthew 22:34-40

Just as in God’s creation where there are certain natural laws, systems and conditions that exist to keep life going so there are certain laws, systems and conditions that are to exist to keep our life going.  This is all rooted in God’s love.  These are given to us in God’s Word/Law and are to be lived and taught to our children.  Jesus condenses them all to Loving God with our everything and Loving others not just as we want to be loved but more importantly as God loves us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How is God’s Law essential in our lives together?

Monday – Love God Commandments 1-3  

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:6-11

The first three commandments of the 10 commandments from God teach us how we might Love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  It is about putting God first and foremost in our lives.  It is about not confusing creation for the creator and loving God so much that even God’s name would only be spoken reverently and with love.  This has to be the starting point in our lives so that we might know and grow in God’s love as it comes to us in Jesus Christ.  Without God’s love first in our lives then our love for others will be a distortion at best.

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

Tuesday – Love God/Others Commandment 4 -Keeping the Sabbath

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Exodus 20:8-11

The fourth commandments transitions from loving God to/and includes loving others.  God desires for us to spend one day a week focused on our relationship with God.  This is the Sabbath.  God commands us to take one day a week to spend at rest with God.  It is about resting and about being together in rest.  This goes for our relationships with each other as well.  The Sabbath day is a day a week when all God’s people stop from their daily pursuits to rest together and remember our life in God.  Just as God rested after creation and redeemed his people so we are to take a day a week to rest and reflect on God’s redemption which is why it is on Sunday, the day of resurrection for Christians to experience the Sabbath day together.

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

Wednesday – Love Others Commandment 5 Honor Parents

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:16

When it comes to loving others it is to start with honoring our parents as they are the first to love us as God loves us.  They are the first ones to care for us like God cares for us.  They are the first ones who are to teach us about God, God’s love, Loving God and loving others.  We, ultimately, are to honor them by loving them in return, respecting them, and when needed help to take care of them.  In so doing, notice the outcome – long life in the land that God is giving you.

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

Thursday – Love Others Commandments 6-8

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:17-19

When it comes to loving others it is not just feeling love but more importantly putting that love into practice.  That means never wanting to murder, to push someone completely out of your life.  Never loving someone else like your spouse.  Never taking someone’s property from them without just compensation.  All of these things if done come from another place than God.  These identify those temptations that when committed tear apart relationships in life together.

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

Friday – Love Others Commandment 9

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:20

The next commandment is about not telling falsehoods about people with people as it puts a big strain not just on personal relationships but also in group dynamics of relationships.  We are to be focused on building each other up and when we falsely talk concerning people it says more about ourselves as it does the person that we are talking about.  It also damages the trust that people would have of us.   Bearing a false witness ruins the life that we can have together.

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

Saturday – Love Others Commandment 10

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:21

The last commandment is about spending our lives fretting over what we don’t have compared to our neighbors and not appreciating what God has provided for us.  This last commandment is over a sin that seems innocent enough but distracts us from loving God (how can we love him when we are fretting about what God hasn’t done for us) and from loving others (when we are focused on what the person has instead of the person themselves).  Coveting distracts and can disable us from loving.

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

Life in God’s Creation

Week 9 (5-11 Nov.) – Life in Wilderness: Prodigal Son Story

Sunday – Family/Society

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

As we look to the story Jesus tells of the prodigal son it is told as an analogy to life in God’s creation.  We are all created as children of God to be children of God in the world that God created.  But, to freely abide in God’s family, we have the freedom to walk away from God, God’s family and go our own way.  This is life in the wilderness.  This story teaches us the connection between life in the wilderness and life in God’s creation.  This week we explore the particulars of life in the world that God created.

Pastor’s Pondering:  Who are the characters in this story and in our lives?

Monday – God as the Father  

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

As with the two sons, we all are created as God’s children.  God is our Father whether we recognize it or not.  The basis of our practical relationship with God is not based on God’s love for us but based on our love for God.  As Father, God loves us all.  For those like the eldest son, God lives out the love in their life together.  God eats with them, works with them, teaches them, cares for them and provides for them.  For those like the younger son, who live their lives in the wilderness, God laments for them, looks for them, waits for them and in their return home, celebrates with them and restores them to their place in the family.  This is God as our Father in this story.

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

Tuesday – World/Wilderness Christians as Prodigal Son

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

The prodigal son is about all of us until we come to God in Jesus Christ and, yes, even as Christians, those who may wander in the wilderness after coming to God in Christ.  Whenever we are separated from God and God’s ways, we find ourselves being tempted to squander our inheritance and sinning.  In doing so, we find ourselves initially enjoying the thrill of that life in the world but eventually find ourselves in a pit, digging ourselves in a hole, in a miry bog and yes, in a pig pen wanting to eat pig slop!  It is at this point that looking at the life we had/can have as God’s servants/workers would be better than our current situation that we can return to God, find him waiting for us, receiving us in celebration and as children once again.

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

Wednesday – Faithful Christians as Older Son

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

As Christians actively living in God’s kingdom with God as our Father we do run the danger of becoming like the Eldest son.  Even though we have our life in God’s creation and an inheritance ahead of us knowing the joy of life with God as Father, we can look at the prodigal children with envy, jealousy, and/or judgement.  This takes away from the joy we can have focused on our father’s love and begin to replace that with spite against our father for the grace and love he has over His lost children.

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

Thursday – Celebrating Return

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

When a person becomes a Christian or a Christian who has wandered away from Christ and the Church returns there is much celebrating in heaven.  God celebrates.  The angels celebrate.  Do we celebrate?  The focus of the eldest son in the prodigal son’s leaving has been on how it left him with more work, how he is the more responsible son and how he is the better son.  When the prodigal returns, this all comes out in jealousy and feelings against the father for his unjust and unwarranted actions in killing the fatted calf to celebrate the return.  Yet, the Father lovingly reprimands the eldest son for these feelings and reminds him to love as He loves.

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

Friday – Continue as Family

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

As we see God the Father’s purpose is for us all to continue as family in our life together in creation.  This requires love.  This requires forgiveness.  This requires God the Father.  This requires God’s word.  This requires Christ.  This requires something supernatural.  This requires the Holy Spirit.  This requires us to live life in God’s love to be family together forever.

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

Saturday – Looking for the Souls in Wilderness

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-32

Finally, the overall teaching of this story and of the story of the lost coin and lost sheep is that we are to be looking for the prodigal sons, coins, sheep, souls that have left creation for the wilderness.  We are not only to be looking for them but sharing with them God’s love come to us in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, in God’s Word, and in God’s people.  We are to be looking, loving, and longing for those in the wilderness to return home to be with God, our Father.   Amen (So let it be).

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

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?

Life in God’s Creation

Week 3 (24-30 Sept.) – Time in Wilderness vs. Creation

Sunday – Christ in Wilderness

Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:1-11

When we look to Jesus’s time in the wilderness, we read that the Spirit led him there for a time of testing through temptation by the devil.  Fasting is a practice of prayer oftentimes used to focus on a specific prayer request brought before God.  While in the wilderness of testing Christ focuses on talking with God.  Satan uses this time to attack Christ’s weaknesses of Hunger, Doubt, and Faith in God’s Plan.  Considering Christ’s present condition, situation and future, it should be no surprise that these are the area’s that Satan tempts Jesus to turn away from God.  The wilderness for Christ is a time of testing of his faithfulness to God.  Once proven Satan leaves, and Christ is back in God’s creation as angels tend to Him.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What are the areas that Satan can use to test you in the wilderness?  What are the answers you should give to answer and respond to pass the test of faith?

Monday – Wilderness Consequence for Israel

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 1:19-45

As we see from this scripture for the Israelites, the wilderness is a result/consequence of their lack of faith in God and God’s plan for them.  Though they knew exactly what God was calling them to do, because they doubted God’s ability to help them overcome the Amorites, they were condemned to the wilderness instead of God’s promised land for them.  Just as with Adam and Eve, the wilderness is a consequence for their turning from God and God’s way for them.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How might your life be a consequence of your faith in God’s plan for you?

Tuesday – Wilderness Test for Israel

Scripture Reading: Joshua 1:1-9

With the next generation of Israelites, they are confronted with the same test of faith in God and God’s plan for them in this scripture.  They have grown up in the wilderness, seen how God has cared for them in the wilderness and now with Joshua take the bold faith step so they can live in the promised land – life in God’s creation.  It will require many tests of faith as they proceed forward but with each passing of the test, they move closer to the life God has called them to in God’s creation – the promised land.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What are the wilderness tests God has called you to and through to know life in God’s promised land for you?

Wednesday – Time in Creation/Kingdom is Growth

Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:1-6; Acts 1:12-2:13

Just as when Moses experiences life in God’s creation beginning with the burning bush and when the disciples are gathered in prayer seeking God’s direction, it is a time of growing in their faith in God.  In the beginning, they are afraid and uncertain of what God is doing but as we see them move forward in faith, it is a time of growing in the Spirit and their relationship with God.  When we live life in God’s creation/kingdom it is a time of growth.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How is your spiritual growth a sign of Life in Creation/Kingdom?

Thursday – Time in Creation/Kingdom is Refocus

Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:7-10; Acts 2:14-24

After Moses responds with “Here I am” and the disciples received the Holy Spirit, we find that their lives are Refocused.  Moses is give a new call to be used to lead Israel out of Egypt and the disciples are given the call to go and share the news of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who will bring people into the Kingdom of God – life in God’s creation.  Life in God’s creation/kingdom brings to us a new and on-going refocus in life from life on our own to life with God.  Life in God’s creation/kingdom refocuses from our life in the wilderness.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How are we refocused from life in wilderness to life in God’s creation?

Friday – Time in Creation/Kingdom is Recharge

Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:11,12; Acts 2:1-4

When Moses doubts his ability to go and lead the Israelites out of Egypt, God assures him with, “I will be with you.”  For the disciples, it is with the gift of the Holy Spirit that they are “charged” to go out into the streets to praise God in the languages that they were enabled to speak.  When we live life in God’s creation, God is with us and it is in the Holy Spirit that we are charged and recharged to be able to live out God’s plan for us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How do we get “charged” and “recharged” in the Holy Spirit in our Life in God’s creation?

Saturday – Time in Creation/Kingdom is Renewal

Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:13-21; Acts 2:37-42

As we see when God reveals to Moses, “when you see these things happen you will know what I say is true,” it becomes a renewal of faith when it happens. When the first church is formed and they see how the Spirit moves within them as they focus on Worship, God’s Word, Prayer, and Fellowship they are renewed in their faith in God and their life in God’s creation/kingdom.

Pastor’s Pondering:  How are you renewed as you witness God working in the midst of your life in God’s creation?

Life in God’s Creation

Week 2 (17-23 Sept.) – In the Wilderness (The World)

Sunday – In the Beginning

Scripture Reading: Genesis 3 

As we look to the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, we find that being led away from God by the Serpent, they chose to turn away from their relationship with God and go their own way.  This left them outside of the Garden (God’s kingdom in creation) and in the Wilderness (World’s kingdom in creation).  We already have read the “in the beginning of life in God’s Creation.  Now we read (and since the Fall begin our lives in the experience) of “in the beginning of life in the Wilderness (the World) in God’s creation.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What does this story say about our position in the Wilderness and God’s creation?

Monday – God’s Kingdom (Saw that it was Good)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:3

When God creates the conditions of and the reality of life we read at the end of each day that God, “Saw that it was Good.”  What makes it good is it’s relationship with God in the creation.  All was created out of love and to exist in love with God.  In this environment of perfect love all was in balance and in order as it existed in God.  The harmony of life in God is what made the Garden of Eden paradise.  In the end of the week, this is why God rested as a day to enjoy the love of life together that God had created.  Ah…    Paradise!

Pastor’s Pondering:  What would life in the garden been like during the time of perfect love in God.

Tuesday – Created in Relationship with God

Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:4-17

When God created Adam, it was with the purpose of sharing life together with Adam.  Our purpose in life when we are created is to have a relationship with God – glorify God and enjoy God forever.  God also had a vocation for Adam (tend the garden) and God has a vocation for us in God’s plan for our life together.  But, because of the fall and our beginning in the wilderness (World) we must choose to enter and abide in our relationship with God (Life in God’s creation.)  Christ provides the Truth about the Way to enter the Life in God’s kingdom.  Only in Christ can we leave the wilderness (the world) and enter into God’s kingdom recognizing God’s creation.

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

Wednesday – Created in Relationship with Spouse

Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:18-25

After Adam is created we read of how, “it was not good that the man should be alone” and so God created Eve to be an equal partner in life together in God.  In this equality of relationship, they both walked together in the garden, were tempted together in the garden, and walked out together into the wilderness.  They both were to and did live their life together through it all.  When we find that person that we love and commit to love in marriage then we are to walk together just as God walks with us in life.

Pastor’s Pondering:   How is the covenant in marriage like the covenant and a reflection of the covenant that God makes with us in love and life?

Thursday – God’s Work in Wilderness(World)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 4:1-7

As we see in the continuing story of life in the wilderness (world) God blesses Adam and Eve with children through procreation and is at work in their children’s lives in the wilderness (World).  Both Cain and Abel worship God with sacrifices.  When Cain’s worship falls short, God teaches Cain what he can do to resist sin and know God’s love in his life instead of anger and depression.  Through the Holy Spirit, God works with us in our lives while we live in the wilderness (World) – all out of God’s love for us.

Pastor’s Pondering:  In what ways has God reached out to you in your wilderness life?

Friday – Walking Away from God

Scripture Reading: Genesis 4:8-16

As we see in the continuing story of Cain and Abel, out of anger and jealousy, Cain murders Abel and in so doing, instead of trying to glorify God and enjoy God forever, he walks away from God.  When God confronts him, he tries to lie his way out of it and God sends him away.  But, notice that even then God protects Cain with a seal so that Cain can continue live even though it is still in the wilderness (world).

Pastor’s Pondering:  How does this story demonstrate God’s grace with those who choose to live in the wilderness and not God’s Kingdom?

Saturday – Invoking the Name of the Lord

Scripture Reading: Genesis 4:17-26

As we are left with the rest of the story of Cain’s family and their life in the wilderness, we pick up the story of Adam and Eve and their next son Seth.  Notice the difference in telling the story of this family “at that time people began to invoke the name of the Lord.”  Seth and Enosh and their families turned to God, glorified God and most likely enjoyed life in God.  What we read of them in chapter five is their many descendants leading up to Noah.  In the midst of the world living in the wilderness outside of God, there were and are always people who live “invoking the name of the Lord.”

Pastor’s Pondering:  Who throughout the Bible are the people who “invoke the name of the Lord?”