Thursday, April 18, 2024

Acts of Worship

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God proclaiming our allegiance to His name. And don’t forget to do good and share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.                                                                       Hebrews 13:15-16 NLT

What is a SACRIFICE?
- an offering of dedication and thankfulness to God for His provision 
- an offering to honor a covenant with God 
- an offering which is commanded by God 

Consider Hebrews 13:15-16 in The Message:
Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship, a different kind of sacrifice – that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

What will I offer as an act of worship ~ a different kind of sacrifice to God? ~dho

Friday, April 12, 2024

God-created Identity

Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. Matthew 5:48 The Message

The Message uses different words than other translations with most expressing verse 48: You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Peterson is likely trying to steer our minds away from a preconceived idea of "perfect". Often we associate being perfect as an impossible goal. In our mind God's perfection is less of a stumbling block, but because of our imperfect and frail humanity we fall short of perfect every time. So what does Jesus mean when He says you and I "must be perfect"? 

Perfect refers to completeness, to a maturity in our character. When we trust Jesus, He defines us, gives us a new identity. The Holy Spirit dwells within us teaching us to become more like Jesus. And Jesus teaches us to live generously and graciously toward others, to love others in His name. Our natures are not so generous or gracious, and we find ourselves imperfect or incomplete without Jesus. Because God loves us with an everlasting love and offers us unmeasured grace, we are to live like Him. Without Jesus, we do not have the ability to live without malice or envy, prejudice or indifference, self-righteousness or injustice. With Jesus, each of us is created new, given a God-created identity. So, become complete with Jesus; live generously and love others completely! Love as God loves! ~ dho

Friday, April 05, 2024

Living Faith

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.  Jude 24-25 NKJV

Only 25 verses long, Jude's letter to the 1st century Christians continues to echo through millenniums to us, the 21st century Christians. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, brother of James and author of the Epistle of James, writes this letter around 60-64 AD to warn believers of false teachers and to encourage believers to live holy lives. Two hundred centuries later, these words still warn and encourage us. The writer of Ecclesiastes concludes, "There is nothing new under the sun." The same sinfulness and truthfulness still battle for control today. Warren Wiersbe's commentary in the Transformation Study Bible makes it simple and clear: The truth doesn't change; it applies fresh every day. 

In verses 20-23, Jude gives us a lesson in authentic faith, a living faith. With Christ, our faith becomes holiness, our prayers rise through the Holy Spirit, and mercy is ours in His love. Christ calls us to live lives of compassion and discernment, lives full of His love. Jude, like his brother James, gives a call to authentic faith, a faith of words and deeds, a faith that demonstrates the grace of Christ. How does your faith look? How does your faith live? Do those in your circle of influence find your faith journey to be marked by authentic faith?

The last two verses are a doxology full of praise to God, the only One who is wise, the only One worthy of praise, the only One that is both glory and majesty, authority and power. Only God offers grace that invites us into His presence both now and forever. This evokes both Hallelujah and AMEN to sing together deep inside my soul!!  ~ dho

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Lent - Maundy Thursday - Bread and Wine of Jesus

 Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35 

For every time you east this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until He comes again. 1 Corinthians 11:26 NLT

In a letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses the people regarding the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Frequently in the first century church, a fellowship meal often precedes the celebration of bread and wine. Paul reiterates the purpose of coming to the table together using Jesus’ words from the Gospels: This is My body, which is given for you and This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of My blood. He reminds these believers that they are one body united in Christ. To honor Christ this way demonstrates unity within the body by remembering the new covenant given by Jesus through His death and resurrection and in proclaiming the promise that Christ will return again. Jesus echoes, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

This Holy Thursday Christians across the world will gather to remember the night Jesus hosts this memorial meal, will listen again to ancient but familiar words, will consider the cost of everlasting hope. On the night before His death and after a fellowship meal with the disciples, Jesus breaks the bread and pours the wine, says to remember His death and sacrifice for the sins of the world. Because of Jesus, our places of brokenness and suffering always find hope. Oswald Chambers frequently gives the call to believers of the body of Christ, “Be the broken bread and poured out wine.” Let us, the body of Christ united by grace, be the tangible bread and wine to others by sharing the love of Christ and His infinite hope. Jesus echoes, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Lord ~ You are my Hope in all directions, in every circumstance; You go before me, surround me, send Your angels to protect me. Without Your brokenness there would be no wholeness; without Your sacrifice there would be no hope. You bind my broken dreams and failures, take my empty places and loneliness and bring me into Your presence. This communion renews my soul and refocuses my heart. While praying, Lord, always give us this bread, I am embraced by Perfect Peace. Help me be bread and wine of Jesus to others. ~ dho

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Lent - “I Am This Bread”

 Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35    

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”      John 6:35 NKJV

Teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, telling those who crowd in to hear, Jesus explains the bread of God comes down from heaven. The crowd says, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Recognizing their spiritual blindness, Jesus clarifies, “I am the bread of life.” The Bread of heaven is spiritual food that completely nourishes the soul. Jesus declares “I am this bread!”

Listening but not understanding, the people struggle with the spiritual concept. Jesus, the Messiah, the Bread of heaven, sits in front of them, speaks directly to them; yet, they do not believe. Today, the Living Bread of heaven still calls each person into a relationship with Him, offers to love us, to meet all our spiritual needs, but like these people 2,000 years ago, we hesitate and sometimes step back further into the crowd. Jesus sees our uncertainty but repeats believe in Me. Jesus waits, and we remain hungry! 

Bread of life ~ sometimes my thoughts are dull and shallow. I say, Lord, always give us this bread, but I miss Your point. Believing doesn’t mean the answers will be simple or the questions easy, doesn’t come with a guarantee of life without difficulty or disappointment. As I find my nourishment in You, I discover new strength for the sadness, fresh hope for the hard times, and  inner joy for the journey. Jesus, I believe! – dho

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Lent - Spiritual Hunger

Living Bread ~ Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35               

Jesus replied, “I am the Bread of Life. No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in Me will never thirst. . . I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live.” John 6:35,58 NLT

Jesus uses bread to explain the difference between meeting the physical needs of hunger and the spiritual needs of redemption. Our physical life requires ongoing nutrition to survive, while our spiritual growth requires an ongoing relationship with Jesus. The greatest difference between bread and living bread is that in Christ our souls know permanent nourishment, everlasting sustenance. 

How does one eat living bread? Believing that Christ’s death and resurrection brings each one new life and trusting the Holy Spirit for guidance is the beginning. Continuing to grow in our knowledge and faith sustains us. Sharing the Good News of Jesus, sharing the living bread with others gives an even deeper satisfaction. Christ came down out of heaven, and Perfect Love offered Himself so the world may live.
  • Hungry? How much time do you spend feeding your soul with Gods word? 
  • Will you commit to spending time with God - daily?

Living Bread ~ I am fed by an offering I cannot explain. Bread of Heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more. My God-story is full! – dho