Jesus. Others. Yourself
Jesus is first. Others are second. I am last. And Jesus promises that whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for his sake and the gospel's will save it (Mark 8:35). The most miserable people in the world are those consumed with their own happiness, rights, and blessings. Jesus offers joy of a completely different kind.
October 27, 2021
God did that!
When the situation is dire and God shows up we find the strongest expressions of joy. The dark hours of deep contrition give way to the glory of sin's weight lifted. The restrictive bonds of worry are loosed by the peace of God in a moment of prayer and Scripture. The gloom of despair is cleared by the revelation of God's goodness. These come as the Holy Spirit has his way in us. Moving us to repentance. Opening our eyes to a path of blessing. Reminding us of the hope we have because of Jesus' resurrection. Rescuing us from disease.
October 26, 2021
Joy in the Spirit
Joy reigns in the believer's heart insofar as he has crucified the sinful flesh. When we're consumed by sexual immorality, excessive indulgence in sinful pleasure, anger, envy or drunkenness, joy is far away. And although these do not bring joy, they appeal to a side of us that will never be satisfied by their pursuit. Drunkenness of any kind is never satisfied and yields only the rue of hangover or the disappointment of poor choices' outcomes. Experiencing joy of this kind is a two-fold process. First is to crucify the sinful flesh. Denying the impulses to self-service, cheap thrills, and emotions' reign. Second is to lean into the Holy Spirit's presence in our hearts, through the word of God and prayer. All this is a matter of faith. Looking beyond the glitter and glory of the world's lure, we attach our hearts to God's promises, goodness, grace, and faithfulness. And his love.
October 25, 2021
Celebrating God’s work through Pastor Steve Henze at his 40th anniversary of ministry.
This message was delivered at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Houston Texas on October 17, 2021.
October 18, 2021
God's Daily and Miraculous Provision
Few times in life are we tested to the extent God tested Abraham. If we are, we who wait, hope, and trust in God will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Perhaps we can find strength to wait and hope in him as we recall his daily provision, along with those special touches of his grace along life's way.
October 15, 2021
This is a test
Abraham was being tested by God. But the stakes were much higher than passing an ESL test. His son was on the line. His faith, too, was being tested. And so was his willingness to obey. Abraham passed the test. According to Hebrews 11 he believed that God could even raise someone from the dead if Isaac had actually been killed. Abraham is, after all, the Father of Faith. James tells us that God does not tempt anyone. He never seeks to lead us away from himself. But he may test our faith. To make us stronger. To refine us. To focus our hearts and minds on him and his word. That's a good thing.
October 14, 2021
When you've 'got nothin'
God will provide. What a powerful promise. Isaac saw that up close and more personally than any of us could every imagine. He saw it at the last moment. When there was no way of escape. Except God provided. It was a dramatic show of God's providential care and faithfulness - even as it was a test of faith and obedience for Abraham. But we don't call this mountain The Mountain of Obedient Faith, we call it On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. We remember Abraham's faith. But we are pointed toward God's faithfulness. We are reminded of God's grace. We are grounded in God's provision of a lamb.
October 13, 2021
The Long Trek of Faith and Obedience
Abraham's trek from his home to the mountain that God would show him is anything but a slouch. Nor is it toward Gomorra. This is a long trek of faith toward an incredible test of faith and a resolute devotion of obedience to God. Three days. If it's me, my stomach is in knots after the first day. I am thinking through every possible scenario. I'm planning contingencies. I'm working out explanations. I'm wondering deep in my soul, is this really the voice and command of God? Did I hear him right? Did he really say that? Today the only way we can know if a thought or idea is of God is by testing it against God's word. And then we can only know that the thought is not from God - if the thought is contrary to a clear command of Scripture. If it is not contrary to God's word, it may be from God, or it may be sanctified reason bubbling up in our minds.
October 12, 2021
Is God a Maniac?
We want to domesticate God. We make him our personal place of safety, comfort, and security. But While Jesus came as a servant, he is not our personal assistant. We don't order God around. We do not demand that he answer us. We must remember who is God and who is not. Sometimes his demands might seem unreasonable. But who are we to judge? The only thing that anchors my soul in times of turmoil, God's unpredictability, or my confusion is the belief that God is good. He is faithful and true. He is gracious and loving. And whatever else might come my way, the faithfulness, goodness, love, and kindness of God is the constant. Maniac? No? Crazy? Not. Unpredictable? Yes. Good? Thanks be to God he is.
October 11, 2021
Extra Grace Required #4: Four men bring their friend to Jesus
We may not always understand how in need of God's grace we are. That is made clear, however, by Jesus' initial gift to the paralyzed man. Whether he was disappointed at being told his sins were forgiven - as opposed to being healed by Jesus - is not clear. But Jesus makes two points in his action on this occasion. First of all he sees and responds to our greatest need: the need for forgiveness. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation (Luther). And he makes the point that he has the authority to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins. Jesus is God. In the flesh. Full of grace and truth. Whenever we bring someone to Jesus, we are bringing them to truth and grace. We are doing a very good thing. Truth be told, we need to do that with each other every moment of every day.
October 8, 2021
Extra Grace Required #3: The Woman Caught in the Act of Adultery
Grace will always look for a way other than judging and condemning. Grace will free people. Grace will put people on a different path. Grace will even challenge the self-righteous. For they will either have to become even more judgmental and discredit others' kindness, or give in to their own need for it. Grace opens the door to the latter. And when people walk through that door they walk into freedom. That was certainly true for the woman caught in adultery. She was free to go her way, her sins were forgiven. She was to live a new life, "Sin no more." But so is this true for the scribes and Pharisees who walk away one by one. They are free at least for the moment from a judgmental attitude that held them captive to a righteousness they could never really achieve. We have no specific record of who brought the charges and what their lives were like after this encounter. Nor do we know for certain who this woman was. But we do know God's grace frees us. If we're not aware of our need for it, or we live in condemning judgment over all, we're missing the freedom that Jesus gives as he showers his grace upon us.
October 7, 2021
Extra Grace Required #2: The Woman at the Well
Jesus didn’t have to tell the woman at the well that her current living situation was sinful. She knew it. But he did invite her to expose this need for grace. When she did, he didn’t condemn her, but continued his conversation with her. He didn’t have to talk with her in the first place, but he did. He could have done what so many others surely had done, looking past her rather than seeing her and talking to and with her. He even broke two social barriers by this. He spoke to a woman. And the woman was a Samaritan. Finally, Jesus teaches her about God, worship, and himself as Messiah. He is the embodiment of grace and truth. As a result her life was changed. Instead of avoiding people (by coming to the well when she would others not to be present), she now goes into the village and invites everyone to come see Jesus and hear his teaching.
October 6, 2021
Extra Grace Required: Elijah, the First of Four Biblical Examples
Elijah's actions around the sacrifice to the LORD God set up a dramatic display of God's power and control over all of creation. Even after the altar is prepared and drenched with water, God rains down fire from heaven and consumes everything. "The Lord, he is God; The LORD, he is God!" goes up the cry after this mighty display. Elijah seizes and kills the prophets of Baal. You'd think that this would put Elijah on a high that would never end. But it is not so. He had defeated the Prophets of Baal, but King Ahab, and Jezebel did not give up. They threaten him relentlessly. They were still trying to kill him. He had hoped that his victory was sufficient, but it was not. He was very discouraged. He needed extra grace - even after seeing the mighty hand of God powerfully displayed.
October 5, 2021
Extra Grace Required
We need to understand, first of all, that we all need grace. Some people, however, may be extra challenging in their attitude or actions toward us or the gospel message. Those people are called Extra Grace Required people (EGRs). They may live next door, work with you, or be part of your family. In fact, you may be an EGR! They push our buttons, manage always to illicit a negative response in us, try our patience, or turn us away. We all need grace. And God's supply is limitless. EGRs, however, need extra grace, humanly speaking: more than we might wish to give. God loves EGRs, and it’s a good thing, for we all need grace. Sometimes we may need more than at other times. And the love of God changes our hearts. It is shown in Jesus’ ministry, seen in Jesus’ death on the cross, and will be celebrated for all eternity in the life of the world to come.
October 4, 2021
A Mother's Love & The Father's Provision
The love of a human being is a thing of great blessing. I am thankful for the love of my wife, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, and my friends. But human love - of a mother, sister, brother or even a spouse - has its limits. The love of the Heavenly Father has no limits. He sees all. He knows all. And he is writing a narrative that stretches from Hagar to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jesus, and to you and me. Whatever plot lines or twists, the end of the story is of eternal blessings. Worth waiting for. Worth remembering. Even as human love fades and fails, God's love conquers all.
October 1, 2021
God does not turn his head or heart from pain and suffering. He does not ignore difficult and distressing situations. He draws near. And 2000 years ago he took on all of that in his Son, Jesus. Jesus embraced the pain, suffering, sickness, and sin of the world. He also experienced it himself. And although God forsook him at his darkest hour, the true hero of our faith, Jesus, still called out to his Father, "My God, My God..." We too often judge God's goodness based on what we see or do not see. But we're all too selective in our perception. We don't have a whole world view. We don't see it all. But God does. And what God sees moves him. That means he sees you. He sees me. He notices. He loves. He cares. He acts.
September 30, 2021
We may think we know what we’re waiting for. But truth be told, we have only an inkling of it. Sometimes we may be exactly correct. The result comes back negative (good for medical tests). The wedding day gives way to the honeymoon. The judge calls your name and you’re on the jury. Or not. But sometimes there comes a Crazy Ivan. Sometimes God breaks in in unexpected ways. Like here…God opens Hagar’s eyes and she sees a well nearby. It was there all along. But she did not see it. Maybe God is waiting, too, for us to see his provision. Perhaps we are the ones on whom God is waiting. Waiting for us to repent and believe the good news. Waiting for us to take him up on his promises. Waiting for us to mend a broken relationship. Waiting for us to come to the aid of someone in need.
September 29, 2021
Deliverance writ small and large
There will be times of sadness and distress along life's way. We may be put into difficult and near hopeless situations. At those times, the slightest breeze can cool our sweaty brows, and a kindness of someone may be as a cup of refreshing water. Then we must take courage, stand again, and move forward with the assurance of God's presence, and the hope of the ultimate deliverance. I'm wondering who will bring that refreshing cup of water to me today. And I'm thankful for Jesus who give me grace and hope.
September 28, 2021
Join the Celebration
If we're consumed with our own desires, and constantly worried about getting our due, we'll forfeit joy. If we see the good things others experience as testimony to God's goodness and grace, rather than resenting them for their good fortune we'll begin to touch the edge of joy. When we celebrate God's goodness to others with them, we come even closer. And when we see that God's goodness is the source of every good gift, we will find true joy. I hope you join the laughter and the celebration. God is good!
September 24, 2021
Laughter and Joy
When was the last time you laughed because God brought joy to your heart? It need not take bearing a child at the age of 75 to bring joy. In fact, joy is a byproduct of hope, community, and grace. When God's grace visits us, and we enjoy that grace in the community of others who know the blessing of grace, hopes are kindled for a better tomorrow. And that brings true joy. Perhaps we need to reclaim such joy. That's God's gracious gift. It's best shared in community ("everyone who hears will laugh..."). It brings us hope for a future pure and eternal joy founded in Jesus and celebrated together with all who see God's gracious hand at work in our lives.
September 23, 2021
When God Comes Through
Much of this Abraham and Sarah narrative is not about the delivery of the promised child. It is about the struggles, foibles, and setbacks that come along the way. Life is not a series of yay God days, one after the other for most people. We can easily identify with Abraham and Sarah in their times of testing, waiting, struggling, questioning, and nearly giving up hope. The Bible is clear about that. The biblical record is also clear about God's good will and trustworthy nature in those times of waiting. God will make good on the good things he has promised.
September 22, 2021
Cuarto y Quinto and Beyond
There is no hiding the fact that sin had been committed. Although Abimelech had not "approached" Sarah, there had been deception, and a dangerous path was afoot. And everyone had excuses for his behavior. Nevertheless Abimelech did what he could to rectify the situation. He returned Sarah to Abraham, and provided gifts meant to show his and Sarah's innocence. On some level you'd have to say that Abimelech made it right. And God healed Abimelech and his wife and the women of his household. Because Abraham prayed for him, much had been and subsequently was set aright. This is the goodness, righteousness, faithfulness, justice and mercy of God. And although we may not need to be in a 12 Step program, we all have hurts and addictions small and great that need God's touch of grace and healing. You may need to start with step 1, grapple with steps 4 and 5 (cuarto y quinto), help someone in the same manner you have been helped, or somewhere in between. There is a path to walk with God and he will be with you every step of the way.
September 21, 2021
We Preach Best What We Need Most
One of the foundational truths of God’s word is that he is creator of all that exists. His creation is fallen, broken, and corrupt(ed). The devil has been at work and had his way with us. And whenever we give into the temptations of the evil one, our own sinful flesh, or the world’s allure, we sin against God. Maybe that’s not profound to you. But it is to me. I need God’s forgiveness. And so do you. For all my sins, great and small. Sometimes God prevents us from sinning, just as he did with Abimelech. But sometimes we run right past the roadblocks and warnings he posts. When we do, we confess with David, “Against you, you alone, have I sinned.” And we thank God that he forgives sin. And has done so in Jesus, his Son, who never ran past the roadblocks or warnings. But died with the weight of the world’s sin on his heart and shoulders. In him we have redemption and forgiveness. I need to hear that again and again. And I thank God that it is a message I am able to proclaim again and again. Whew! I really needed that. You?
September 20, 2021
God's Grace Abounds!
Sunday's message at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, Port Isabel, Texas
September 20, 2021
Fear, Forgetfulness, and Faith: Faith Wins!
Abraham and Sarah succumb to the same temptation that is recorded in Genesis 12:10-13. Now more than 25 years later, they try the same scheme. Abraham's and Sarah's fear and forgetfulness conspire to take this path of deceit. Thankfully that path is cut short by God. His intervention takes the form of the dream of Abimelech, and the stern warning to him. Why not Abraham? Why not Sarah? It is not clear. What is clear, however, is that the intervention works and Sarah is restored to Abraham, and this episode passes. Another chapter in the long saga of a fallen man of faith.
September 17, 2021
God's People Are Real People
God's people are sinners. They are forgiven sinners. And they are also the ones God uses to intercede for others. We serve the Father as broken vessels of God's grace. And if, once in a while, our brokenness becomes evident, we can be thankful that God's grace abounds. And perhaps it will leak out from us and be a source of blessing and favor to others.
September 16, 2021
Who are you in this story?
We will certainly not place ourselves in this story as the One who orchestrates it all. We're not the One to whom everyone else must answer. We are not the One who holds life and death in our hands. We are not the One who saves and destroys. We are, however, his. And that identity is most important of all. We are the children of God. His beloved. His redeemed. His precious. His delight. His joy. And from whomever else's perspective we may view the events in this account, our true identity is found in his loving kindness toward us and our place of delight in his heart.
September 14, 2021
Sin has its consequences, and yet we hope.
The sins of the world in which we live do not escape his attention. And this is where we live. This is no fairy tale world. Whether it's the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the horrific destruction of earthquake, famine, or hurricane, God's people are not exempt from life as it really is. These may be direct acts of God's judgment or the real and harsh consequences of life in a fallen world. But in any case these are God's call to repentance and fair warning of a more grave and ultimate judgment. Thanks be to God that there is a place of safety in our Zoar: Jesus Christ our Lord. In him we have redemption, rescue, life, and salvation. We can hold to that hope in the midst of all of life.
September 13, 2021
Sunday Message: Will You Pray for Your Chrissy?
I'm serving at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church in Port Isabel, TX during September 2021. This message is about the Priesthood of All Believers and our calling to pray for the lost and erring.
September 12, 2021
Do the right thing!
Perhaps Zoar is a symbol for Jesus: a little town, a man of little human consequence (cf. Isaiah 53). But his commitment to doing the right thing never wavered. He never flenched from loving God. He never failed in his pure and perfect love for sinners. He is our refuge from the coming destruction of every evil power, plan, pretension, or place known to man and the powers of this world. But step through the door of this city and discover just how large is God's heart and love, his grace and kindness. The joy of his salvation knows no bounds. It rings through eternity. To the praise of his glorious grace!
September 10, 2021
Let Not God's Warning Go Unheeded
How easy it is for us to dismiss the urgent call to repent, reorder our lives, abandon evil pursuits, or escape judgment or destruction! Lot almost falls prey to the lure of waiting and ignoring the imminent danger that will soon befall Sodom and Gomorrah. Had the angels not compelled him - taken him by the hand - he likely would have perished. I suspect there are some lessons for me here. There may be a sin to confess, a promise to claim, a warning to heed, a hope to embrace, a vice to abandon that I need to act on more urgently. Perhaps you do too. While it is day, there is time to do so. But we who really do need to recalibrate must not be lulled into a false sense of security in our laxness toward God just because The End has not yet come.
September 9, 2021
Weakly Whispered Prayers
We may have a lot in common with Lot. His prayer is weak and pleading. We might occasionally feel very weak. While there may be times for us to claim a faith like Abraham's, we can lean into the goodness, mercy, and kindness of God in every situation. In those weak and uncertain moments, we can remember this encounter with Lot and the promise of Isaiah 42:3, which says that God "will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle." Knowing that may make even the weakest prayers stronger.
September 8, 2021
Here in Genesis, God's mercy delays the city's destruction to allow Lot and his family to escape. Ours may not be as dramatic or obvious. But one thing remains: God's mercy is a precious gift. If grace is receiving something we don't deserve and mercy is being exempted from punishment we do deserve, we can rejoice in both. We see it here in Genesis. We ought to look for it every day of our lives and give thanks to God for it.
September 7, 2021
Is there a warning you’re ignoring? Are you too ready to conclude that people are crying wolf when they sound the alarm? I have no strong opinion about the current crises call about climate change. I’m pretty certain that the COVID-19 crisis is real. But I’m totally convinced that God’s call to repent and believe the gospel is absolutely vital. It is a message that must be heard. And believed. And heeded. Maybe it’s a relationship that gets patched up. Perhaps it is a sin to be abandoned. It could be an overall laxness toward God’s word and will. It might be a failure to pray. But wherever God is calling you to repent and believe, take heed! And rejoice! God’s call is to life, salvation, blessing, and true joy.
September 6, 2021
How to Multiply God's Kingdom
It may not be obvious that we should care to multiply God's kingdom...until we give thought to what Jesus did to bring us into his gracious reign and rule, and why he did it.
September 5, 2021
Truth and Grace: What if they don't receive it? What if they do?
Some people, for fear of rejection or other loss simply don't speak up. They don't want to look silly in the eyes of others. They don't want to sacrifice relationships for the sake of a clear witness. They don't want to sound extremist, or alarmist. Or fanatical. Maybe I'm one of those people. I haven't always been. In college I took my Bible to a philosophy class and shared Jesus' words from Matthew 5. I was jeered at and summarily dismissed. The girl I was really interested in dating told me, "Don't be a fanatic, Dave." That hurt. I've had other times when I've sounded the alarm, and it had short-term success. But it was short term, and I abandoned the clarion call - for reasons only God can ultimately judge. More recently Diane and I have had conversations with a family member or two about Jesus, faith, grace, and godly living. We've not been shown the fullest extent of our effectiveness. We do at least hold on to hope that we will see the impact of God's word.
September 3, 2021
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. NO!
We might think we can distance ourselves from a dismissive attitude toward God. We might assume that we always pay attention to God's warnings. We might even labor under the false idea that since God hasn't done one of his direct and dramatic acts of retribution in our recent memory, he won't deal summarily with us. We've skated this long. We've been able to bend God's will to ours all this time. He won't come down on us. If you know how this story unfolds, you'll recall that the sons-in-law and Lots's wife's nonchalance will not be well-rewarded.
September 2, 2021
Rescued by the Hand of the Lord
Maybe you've seen or felt the rescuing hand of God. Maybe you've not. But the angels of God watch over his people. And sometimes circumstances unfold that can only be the providential care and rescue of a loving God who wishes none to be lost, for all to be found and be saved from eternal doom.
September 1, 2021
Let no one misunderstand what Jesus did when he died on the cross. He stood the devil down. He did not give in - even when forsaken by his Father. He did not let their jeers, taunts, and torture dissuade him from his perfect love for God and lost sinners reaching its pinnacle. He died in faith, sacrificing himself for the sake of sinners. And he destroyed the power of the devil. We may wish for a more obvious and dramatic show of God's judgment. But when it does not come we must remember why God seems slow. He is waiting for us to repent. And in that moment he shows his complete defeat of the ev
August 31, 2021
Surely You Don't Jest
A life of gluttonous indulgence of any kind certainly does not honor God. And pride in any sort of lifestyle that does not honor God is idolatry of the worst kind. I have no doubt that the most obvious sin of Sodom seen here is a lustful homosexual desire. But I know from my own heart that sin too easily deceives. And warnings that we might dismiss as excessive and unnecessary ought not to be taken lightly, nor spoken in jest.
August 30, 2021
Salt and Light
We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We can have a positive impact in the world. We can enlighten people about the reign and rule of God. And in the process, perhaps we can prevent the catastrophic consequences of sin from having free reign and destroying our communities and us. There are times we need to stand in the gap for loved ones and difficult situations. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others have done this. Maybe you have too. Thanks be to God for Jesus who stood in the gap for us, and by whom we are saved, preserved, and enlightened. As his followers we must do all we can to be salt and light in a world that is rapidly decaying, and in the grip of darkness.
August 27, 2021
Weighed and Found...
Nothing less than 100% purity is sufficient for our standing before God. James 2:10 tells us clearly that, "whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." And Paul tells us, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all the things written in the book of the Law, and do them" (Galatians 3:10). Jesus himself tells us that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). So what are we to do? I don't know anyone who is 100% without sin. I'm not sure I know anyone who is 90% without sin. (Sorry, Dear Reader, not even you!). Well, that's not actually true...the 100% without sin part. I do know someone like that. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. And those who repent of their sins and believe in him are clothed with his righteousness.
August 26, 2021
Who has the inside scoop?
We have been told by God of his intent for the future of the whole world. We've learned of this through his word. This is no trivial factoid. There is a weight that goes with this knowledge. As we think on that, it might even shape our desire to know of our neighbor's latest bit of gossip. Knowing of our neighbor's need brings the weight of acting in love toward that neighbor. Helping him. Praying for her. Listening to their stories. Walking with her through the dark valleys. Rejoicing with him on the mountaintops.
August 25, 2021
Standing Before Powers and Authorities
Look at Abraham! He is not only willing to speak out, he's willing to speak out to God! He stands before the Lord: "Abraham still stood before the Lord." That's bold. That's brave. That's gutsy! Or maybe, just maybe that's what bold faith looks like. It's called Fides Heroica (Heroic Faith). And the Father of Faith (Abraham is known by that name) is exercising it here. Heroic Faith will stand up to God. Not in defiant arrogance, but in expectant boldness. Not in inopportune insistence, but in confident expectation.
August 24, 2021
Will God tell us? What lesson are we to learn?
God may let us know of things so that we may be warned. It could be that his intent and even his revelation of that intent (consider the book of Revelation for example), is so that we may be warned. It might also be so that we are prepared. In other words, as we read the prophecies of Scripture (think again of Revelation), those ought to prepare us for the challenges we may face, and remind us of God's justice, holiness, and most of all his love. I may need that reminder now and again. And I suspect you might too.
August 23, 2021
At the Appointed Time
The timing of God is an elegant and marvelous thing. He is seldom in a hurry. Never late. Never early either. And while we wait for his promises to become reality we must do all we can to live into them, and act on those things over which we do have control...all the while imagining how wonderful it will be to experience the fullness of their fulfillment. And experience them we will. For that is God's promise to us, secured in his Son, Jesus Christ, to be fully and completely realized at the end of all time.
August 20, 2021
Is Anything too Marvelous for God?
God is over all things. And while that is not the center of my theology, it is a immutable truth connected to the central hub of God's grace. And the translation of the NASB helps get at that. I believe, more than anything else, that God is gracious and merciful. He is forgiving and good. God is love. And he has all the power needed to do the good things he has in mind for Abraham. And for you. And for me. I need to remember that. For there are times when his ways are difficult and other paths look so inviting. Nothing is too wonderful for God (check the ESV note: Is anything too hard[d] for the Lord?). So I must lean into his goodness and trust in his loving kindness and rely on his power to bring me through.
August 19, 2021
The Privilege and Honor of Hospitality
Today we took our granddaughters to the Children's Museum in downtown Houston. Then we went to the "It's my pleasure," place (Chick-Fil-A) for lunch. I don't know who came up with that idea. Try it sometime...say thank you to a Chick-Fil-A worker and you're sure to get, "It's my pleasure," in return. I wonder whether we need to be more like those workers. More like Abraham. More like the best Hotelier. The most sincerely-accommodating maître d'. Lydia. Check out her story in Acts 16:11-15. Who knows what kind of good news you might hear!
August 18, 2021
When God Speaks to Our Souls
Sometimes God shows up in power and might. Think Elisha and the prophets of Baal. Or Isaiah in the year King Uziah died. Or God talking straight with Job. Think the crossing of the Red Sea. There can be no mistaking the power, majesty, glory, and dominion of God in those moments. But think, too, of the still small voice. Remember Jesus' silence before Pilate. Call to mind God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, and asking simply, "Adam, where are you?" This moment in Abraham's life is an encounter with God. And God somehow manages to interact with him in such a way that he does not die (Exodus 33:20).
August 17, 2021
Entertaining Angels Unawares
There's something about real people communicating real truth to real people. On this occasion the angels assume all the properties of real people. And their message is a message from God. We may think of angels as winged creatures with etherial appearance. But the message makes the angel. For the word angel itself means messenger. How many times have we heard a message from God and not recognized the messenger as an angel from God?
August 16, 2021
New Testament Circumcision
Whether child or adult, the blessings of baptism come from God through the word. And whether adult or child, they remain in the water apart from faith. Martin Luther rightly says, "Baptism is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's word." It offers the blessings of God: forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. And it does all this because the word of God is connected with the water. And those blessings are received by "faith that trusts that word of God (again, Luther).
August 13, 2021
Even when no one is watching
And God is gone. We don't have a clear expression of God's omniscience at this point in the biblical narrative. God has not revealed himself as redeemer. God has not necessarily even revealed his name. There is no threat either. No, "or else." No, "if you don't..." Just a promise and a command. You will have a son. Circumcise all the males of your family. Perhaps here we need to read "family" as "household," a very extended grouping of people related to Abraham in any manner whatsoever.
August 12, 2021
Perhaps you are an Isaac: a child of God with whom God has established his covenant. Maybe you are a Sarah, one who will yet deliver a gift to the world. Are you a laughing boy, the child of promise, the fruition of your parents' hopes and dreams? If so, fulfill your destiny and become all God intends for you to become - under his gracious favor - no matter what your name may be. You might be an Ishmael, one who is not part of the covenant, but whom God will bless. Will you receive the invitation to join the covenant of the redeemed? Will you let God put his name on you and make you part of his family?
August 11, 2021
Laughing Matters, Part 2
Maybe you've thought as I did that it was Sarah who first laughed and who therefore triggered the naming of Isaac (his name means, he laughs). Funny thing (pun intended!). I had it wrong. Abraham laughs first. So did Abraham. Sarah will have her time later, and will be called on it. God's word will be accomplished. What he says happens. From, "Let there be light," to "You will have a son," when God speaks, things happen.
August 10, 2021
No Laughing Matter
Is there a promise of God that would invite your faith? Your tears? Your laughter? Believe this: God's promises are absolutely reliable, good, profound, and life-saving. That's no laughing matter.
August 9, 2021
The Part I do not Like
Do you believe, trust, hope in, and wait for the eternal blessings of Jesus? Do you believe he is your righteousness? Are you baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do you repent daily and daily drown the old nature? Do you rely on God's grace in Jesus? It's that simple. Faith in Jesus gives eternal life. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
August 5, 2021
I Know the Future...
...God wins! That's good news for all who yearn for God's grace in Jesus.
August 5, 2021
White SUVs and Discoveries of Grace
The more aware we are of our identity as children of God through baptism, perhaps the more aware we will be of others who share that identity.
August 3, 2021
Counsels and Consequences of God’s Grace
The idea of God’s grace is no new idea, originating even in the times of Abraham. It springs from eternity, from the heart and character of God. And this covenant of grace is eternal in its consequences: God’s grace impacts every aspect of our lives throughout all eternity.
August 2, 2021
What does it mean to live by faith? It is a beautiful braid of waiting, hoping, and trusting in God’s promises.
July 30, 2021
Covenant and Kingdom
God has a claim on us because of his love. He calls us to a life of faithful obedience. The more we learn about God’s character, the better we will be able to express that in our daily lives.
July 29, 2021
Covenant and Kingdom
God has a claim on us because of his love. He calls us to a life of faithful obedience. The more we learn about God’s character, the better we will be able to express that in our daily lives.
July 29, 2021
Our Proper but not Permanent Posture
The place of utter humility on our face before God is not meant to be a permanent place. We need to go there to the extent that God convicts us of our sins. But we need, also to hear God's call to walk with him faithfully, and live to his honor. And trust his promises. He will not fail you. Or me. Or anyone who puts her faith in him. In the end, our posture will be hands raised in joy and praise to God for his glorious grace. That will be quite a day!
July 28, 2021
What's in a name? Ask Abraham
On this occasion God reveals a new name for himself. He is God Almighty (Hebrew: El-Shaddai). This is the first time God reveals this name. There is something new here. The term is quite properly translated God Almighty. This will be a revelation of God's power. Sarah will bear a son.
July 26, 2021
Once is Not Enough
Times pass slowly as we wait to see the fulfillment of these promises. That's why God has repeated them for us to hear and believe. As we wait, we who are both saint and sinner, need also to be reminded to live up to our identity as daughters and sons of God. God has reminded us of this many times. Because once is not enough.
July 26, 2021
When God shows up
There are choices and consequences we all make and face. But we have been found by God. God's first action is to seek and save the lost. While we thank God for his rescue, let's not ignore his commands, nor fail to heed his warnings.
July 22, 2021
His eye is on the sparrow
The One whose eye is on the sparrow has a heart for lost and hurting people. He sees. And he saves.
July 21, 2021
Sin does not stop God
Sin causes great and grave harm. But God is not prompted by sin. He conquered it.
July 20, 2021
The Rule of the Hole and the Rule of Sinful Forays
Faithlessness always leads to sin of one kind or another. And sin begets sin. Repent! Believe! Bring forth the fruit of repentance!
July 19, 2021
Taking matters into our own hands seldom works well.
A child. A resentful mother and angry mistress. The father of faith stumbling. Thank God for the Savior who would one day be born!
July 18, 2021
God's part in the lines of your life
Who are your neighbors? Your friends? Your co-workers? Did you choose them...really?!? Perhaps you can consider the providential work of God as you reflect on your vocation and your location.
July 15, 2021
Weird Dreams and Certain Promises
Abram is in a deep sleep. Then comes a strange vision. God is making a promise. God is good at that ... and at keeping the promises he makes!
July 14, 2021
The Pathway of our Redemption
Redemption is costly, brutal, and difficult. But it ends in the glorious resurrection and ultimate deliverance of all who believe in Jesus.
July 13, 2021
This may take a while...
How long are you willing to wait for God's promises to be fulfilled? However long, the wait will be worth it.
July 12, 2021
Stripping Feathers and Cutting Meat
We may not understand God's ways, but we can be certain of his good will and love for us. No matter what he calls us to do!
July 12, 2021
What does it mean to believe?
Faith does more than just believe. It is a relationship of trust in God and his goodness and promises.
July 8, 2021
A heart settled on God's goodness, trusting in his promises, and desiring his blessing will find rest and a landing place. We all struggle at one time or another with whether God's ways are truly good. We sometimes doubt that we can be satisfied with God's promises. We too often look for ways to fill our hearts with the peace that only God gives. But God calls us back to himself again and again. He offers us a place to land and to be by his grace. We arrive there through faith.
July 7, 2021
What does faith do?
Faith justifies. Faith inspired obedience and sacrifice. Faith looks not to itself, but to God.
July 7, 2021
Getting God Right
Is faith something we gin up by our internal musings, or something that recognizes God’s goodness, faithfulness, righteousness and grace? Hint: It’s the latter!
July 5, 2021
Getting Real with God
Can you trust God with the desires of your heart? Do you believe he will listen?
July 5, 2021
Who Cares About the Needy?
Are you one who cares about people in need? This is the way of the kingdom of God: Caring for others, opening your heart to them, and doing what you can to help those in need.
July 1, 2021
What comes of the lives of those who have been rescued? What of your life?
June 30, 2021
The one that got away
The one who escapes Satan's grip is a key to rescuing others.
June 29, 2021
Bad Things Happen
Bad things do happen. But they can serve as a reminder of our fallen world and a call to lean into God's goodness...all the time.
June 28, 2021
God's Gift for Good
Is money your god? Or is money something you recognize as God's gift for doing good?
June 27, 2021
Take a good look!
God's promises are worth a careful look. Keeping them in view will help you navigate the here and now.
June 24, 2021
Remembering, Recounting, and Deeply-Thankful Regard
God's faithfulness, grace, and generosity are good reason for our Remembering, Recounting, and Deeply-Thankful Regard
June 23, 2021
One Divides, the Other Chooses
How do you choose when the opportunities are before you? Does the allure of glitz and glamor distract you? Is there a better choice to make?
June 22, 2021
At Least 3 out of 5
What does it take to honor God and live fully to his glory? Abram's life gives us some clues.
June 21, 2021
A Riddle and a Lesson
A riddle: What is greater than God, More evil than the devil, The poor have it, The rich need it, And if you eat it, you'll die? Hint..."Nothing" is greater than God.
June 21, 2021
Had I been made the partner of Eve...
There's plenty of blame to go around these days. What a refreshing experience it is when someone takes responsibility for his own actions!
June 18, 2021
It's good to be king!
No matter what station we have in life, we will all one day answer to the One True King.
June 16, 2021
The Danger of Self-Serving Fear
Self-serving fear is so powerful! It can derail our obedient faith. It can thwart our proper place in God's reign and rule. It can short-circuit prayer and an even greater reliance on God.
June 15, 2021
Drastic times call for...
Drastic times call for drastic actions. But the most drastic action is that of continued faithfulness in the face of temptation and fear. The most drastic action is that of loving God and relying on him in every situation.
June 14, 2021
Signs of Success
The greatest sign of success is seen by God alone. It is the sign of a broken and contrite heart, taking refuge in God's goodness and mercy.
June 14, 2021
Faith is a personal matter. But the influence of family has a powerful impact on faith's formation and expression.
June 10, 2021
Rejoicing Along the Way
Are you missing the blessings and joy of life today in anticipation only of what might come tomorrow?
June 9, 2021
Giddy up and Go!
Following Jesus means going with him as he is on the move in your heart, family, neighborhood, and world.
June 8, 2021
Blessed to be a Blessing
Are we blessed to be blessed? Or does God bless us so that we can bless others? The latter is our calling as children of Abraham.
June 7, 2021
Do you think of being called as the providence only of pastor types and their families? Think again. Our text is Genesis 12:1-9
June 6, 2021
God brought an abrupt halt to the work on the Tower of Babel. Why doesn't he do that more often today?
June 3, 2021
Bloom Where You are Planted?!?
Is this an invitation or a challenge? A prod or an encouragement? A stick or a carrot? Consider how God is inviting you to bloom where you're planted no matter how you got there.
June 2, 2021
Pray and Prepare or Predict and Plan
We may wish we could predict the future and then plan accordingly. But God calls us to pray and prepare for how he will use us for his kingdom's sake.
June 1, 2021
Keeping Up Appearances
Maybe you know someone who wants to look good at all costs, but everyone sees right through them. God sees us for who we are and welcomes the repentant sinner rather than those who try to cover their faults and sins with outward success.
June 1, 2021
Bricks or Sticks? No or Go?
How well do you understand the worker at the fast food drive through window? How about even worse misunderstandings? What's the source of true understanding?
May 30, 2021
To your children, and their children, and their children...
May the blessings of God abound to your children and their children...to a thousand generations!
May 27, 2021
Curses and Blessings
Do you bless others? How about cursing them? God is in the blessing business.
May 26, 2021
The Art of Overlooking
Some things are better left unseen. God's love, grace, and forgiveness is not one of those things!
May 26, 2021
How do you handle shame? Noah gives us a clue. Jesus gives us the cure.
May 24, 2021
Don't say, "Oops!"
Our sins require more than a simple "oops." And God's forgiveness is a rich treasure for those who acknowledge their sin.
May 23, 2021
Do all dogs go to heaven?
I'm not sure all dogs go to heaven, but I do have a strong opinion that animals will be part of the New Heaven and New Earth that God is preparing for his creatures.
May 20, 2021
What's Better than a Promise of God?
God's promises are sure and precious. But there's something even better than God's promises: That's his promises believed, trusted, and lived-out.
May 19, 2021
Would God actually need a reminder? Listen today to find out.
May 18, 2021
Have you ever needed a do-over? Of course you have. Learn how completely different God's do-overs are in today's post.
May 17, 2021
How do you read the Bible?
Is the Bible only a rulebook for godly living? Or is it a love letter calling us to faith in Jesus?
May 17, 2021
Ark Builder Becomes Altar Builder
God doesn't need a place to be. He is present everywhere. We need a place to worship. Noah builds an altar as a place of worship.
May 14, 2021
As Long As...
God has grand plans for the world he created. As long as life goes on, let's not miss the divine appointments he has set for us.
May 12, 2021
Seasons of Life and Rhythms of Living
Seasons are blessings from God. Rhythms help us experience them more fully.
May 11, 2021
Why Not Harsher Treatment?
God wants more than mere outward obedience. He want our hearts.
May 10, 2021
What Noah Did Not Do
Noah did not direct that a monument be erected in his honor. He built an altar and worshipped the Lord God.
May 10, 2021
We live after the deliverance; but still wait for the fullness of our salvation to be experienced.
May 6, 2021
Twenty-Five or Six to Four?
Do you know what time it is? God's time? Your time? When they intersect great blessings emerge.
May 5, 2021
Waiting for the Sprig
Let's remember Noah's 150 days, his additional 2-½ months, and his 40 more days. And the dove. And the sprig of the olive tree that the dove will bring. I'm believing that the wait will be well worth it.
May 5, 2021
What do you do while you wait for the final victory celebration to begin? You don't lose hope.
May 4, 2021
Is today the 150th day of waiting? Maybe tomorrow will be day 151...a day of God's remembering.
May 3, 2021
Let's be real about God's people and the world's need for mercy, grace, and salvation.
April 30, 2021
What do we really know?
We know precious little about God - and even the flood and Noah's ark. But the little we know is precious.
April 28, 2021
What's the big deal?
Do you obey God because his commands make sense, or because you respect his character?
April 26, 2021
The Breadth of God's Provision
How much do we really need along life's way?
April 23, 2021
The story of Noah and the ark is really the story of Noah and God. We all have a place in the Story of God...through Jesus, for his glory, and our eternal joy.
April 21, 2021
The Power of One Little Word
God will destroy the world, but he will save Noah and his family and the animals. Times may be difficult BUT God is always at work for our good.
April 21, 2021
Decks, Cubits, Doors, Rooms, and Windows
God goes beyond just the basics - even when directing Noah to build the ark.
April 19, 2021
Do you want to be the exception?
Too often we want to fit in rather than stand out from the crowd. God wants people to be exceptional in their love, grace, godliness, and mercy. Noah was such a man. Jesus is The Exception for all time.
April 19, 2021
What would make him do that?
We do what we do because we believe what we believe. What do you believe? Are you showing it in everyday ways?
April 16, 2021
The Perfect Exception
Evil is easily seen and all too often obvious. God's people need to be exceptions to that. And when we fail, we can thank God for the perfect exception in Jesus!
April 14, 2021
Object Lesson Writ Large
How do you learn the hard lessons of life? Your own school of hard knocks? Or through the mistakes of others? Noah has something to teach us about God's ways - far beyond the flood.
April 14, 2021
Why are you sorry you made man, O God?
What kind of grief did God experience in these ancient days when the evil of men and women grew unfettered?
April 13, 2021
Angels, Warriors, and Heroes
Who are your heroes? Large and in charge people? Godly and humble servants? The Hero of Heaven is mighty to save...and we need such a hero desperately!
April 12, 2021
How do you spell relief? "N-O-A-H"?
Noah's name means relief, rest, or comfort. But relief is not spelled N-O-A-H, or C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N, or S-P-O-U-S-E. There is, nonetheless, even here a prospect of something more.
April 8, 2021
How long do you want to live?
Lots of people want to live to a ripe old age. How old do you want to get?
April 7, 2021
Do you make exceptions? Do they become the new rule? What about God. Be glad he doesn't make exceptions to his promises we receive by faith!
April 6, 2021
930; 912; 910; 895, But Who's Counting?
Would you want to live 930 years? Or are these lifespans in Genesis 5 simply symbolic? Even at face value, there's a lesson here, reflected in Psalm 90:13: Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
April 6, 2021
The Facts of Death (Make the Message of Easter ever More welcome!)
Genesis 5 has a refrain, "And then he died." It's a result of sin, and it makes the message of Easter ever more welcome!
April 4, 2021
Easter Fear, Love and Trust
Easter joy is abundant, and rightly so. But the fullest experience of Jesus' resurrection will lead us to fear, love, and trust in the God who saved us through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection!
April 4, 2021
The Most Profound Prayer of Good Friday
Do you know the three prayers of Jesus on Good Friday? Which of these is the most profound?
April 2, 2021
The Power of Prayer
Is it my fervent intensity or God's gracious promise and name that gives prayer its power?
March 31, 2021
When is it NOT a good time to pray?
Is prayer ever not appropriate? Don't be too quick to answer, even though praying in Jesus' name is always appropriate.
March 31, 2021
What do we do when we're confronted with bullies and those who take advantage of their power for their own good and to our or others' harm? Pray!
March 30, 2021
Sin's Creeping Encroachment
A little nibble here. A larger taste there. Pretty soon you're downing giant gulps. That's the way with sin, and we see it unfolding in these last verses of Genesis 4
March 29, 2021
Did you grow up around here?
We all grew up east of Eden. That means the best we might experience in this world is but a dim reflection of the Paradise of God to which God invites us.
March 25, 2021
Our actions have ripples. They can be ripples of love and grace or ripples of harm and danger.
March 24, 2021
What are the impact of our actions on others? Are you aware of how your actions might lead others toward or away from Jesus?
March 24, 2021
How are you with the idea of blood? How does Abel's blood compare with Jesus' blood? Listen as it speaks...
March 23, 2021
Far Better than Karma
Do you really want repayment from those who have wronged you? Are you ready to repay your harm of others? There is a better hope in the blood of Jesus.
March 22, 2021
"Am I my brother's...?"
Are you your brother's keeper? Careful with your answer. Listen to find out.
March 22, 2021
David Bahn Reflections for March 18, 2021
March 17, 2021
Did the worship wars begin in the 1980's or much, much earlier? Listen today and find out.
March 16, 2021
Did the worship wars begin in the 1980s or did those wars start much earlier?
March 16, 2021
When Tough Love is Truly Love
This episode is also available as a blog post: http://davidbahn-reflections.com/2021/03/15/when-tough-love-is-truly-love/
March 16, 2021
Blood, Sweat, and Tears
This episode is also available as a blog post: http://davidbahn-reflections.com/2021/03/12/blood-sweat-and-tears/
March 15, 2021