Sermon: Abounding in steadfast love


  • Psalm 145: 8-14
  • Romans 7: 15-25a
  • Matthew 11: 25-30


I titled this sermon “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” as a reminder of the nature of Christ and the ideal version of every Christian. What would this world look like today, if that were a true description of every person in the world that called themselves a “Christian“? Imagine if every evangelical, every conservative, every progressive, every fundamentalist, every liberal, every Catholic, every 7th Day Adventist could say, in spirit and in truth: “I am slow to anger and abounding, overflowing, exuding steadfast loveI love God and I love my neighbor.” What would the world’s experience of Christians be if we truly followed in Christ’s footsteps?

Did you know that the word “Christian” is used 3 times in the Bible? Three times, in all of the Bible. Twice in Acts and once in 1 Peter.  Christians in this first century after Christ’s death were called such because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. The word Christian means, “follower of Christ” or “belonging to the party of Christ.” One of the better known followers of Christ was the Apostle Paul, who wrote many of the letters that we now have in our Bible. These letters were directed to different communities of faith, and often were in response to specific questions that they raised in their letters. Paul was probably a more prolific writer than the disciples, as he was originally a Pharisee, a well-educated man, with an advantage that they did not have for writing.

Nevertheless, we find that Paul still struggled with some basic spiritual issues.  I want to take a moment, and read for you Romans 7, verses 15-25a from the Bible version “The Message”, because it seems to me that this version is very practical and easy to understand:


14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

When Paul wrote Romans, he was already 20 years into his ministry! This was no longer a young, zealous man, battling with temptations of his youth.  This was a man that had lived through trials and tribulations, who had spent most of his adult life as a missionary.  And yet, he writes to us “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not.”

What hope is there for you and me if Paul cannot get it together? Paul had many advantages over you and me: as a Pharisee he knew the 621 rules for righteousness and was well- versed in keeping them. But, just like each one of us, Paul had an ego. I imagine his ego also responded to pride, self-centeredness and selfishness!

God's grace: free & unmerited favor
God’s grace: free & unmerited favor

Paul comes back to GRACE as the solution for his battle! Knowing the law and doing his best to keep the law was not enough. Without grace, Paul was just as lost as the next person. In verse 25 of Romans 7, Paul says “Christ can and does”: it is not I, but Christ that lives in me that allows me to live out a holy life.

Last week, I used the example of the worm inside the apple, an egg laid inside the apple blossom that hatches inside the apple when it is maturing. Sin can be like that in our lives: we are growing and maturing and suddenly find that a bad habit or attitude has been growing and maturing inside of us as well.

Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.

God is looking on the inside: Your Heart!
God is looking on the inside: Your Heart!

Right now, I am at my heaviest weight ever! Even at eight and a half months pregnant, I weighed less than I do now! The weight was distributed differently then, and I felt much healthier than I do right now! And six months after my daughter was born, I was at my perfect weight! Then life happened! I excuse myself with the sleepless nights, the busy lifestyle, and the responsibilities that I have chosen to assume. The unfortunate reality is that I dislike, okay… it’s a little stronger than dislike… I despise getting up at 5.30 in the morning to do exercise!

I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good (get fit and eat healthy), sin (food, laziness, lack of motivation) is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands (having my ideal weight and feeling healthy), but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge (and there I am, sitting down with a cheesecake!).

Everyone has an excuse and a scapegoat! This past week, I blamed it on Betsy for showing up with a gluten-free cheesecake. But the reality is that I have a sugar-tooth, and suffer from insulin resistance. I can either choose to take medications and live a healthy lifestyle, making diet choices that take me back to optimal health; or I can cheat and double the medication and not do the exercise and diet; or I can do nothing at all as I have been doing for the past 12 to 18 months! Last week, I decided to do 21 days of getting up at 5.30 and doing a 30-minute workout and stretching!

Doing right is a titanic struggle and an uphill struggle; doing wrong is a short step or a minor slip. The Chinese says, “Doing right requires ten years, doing bad requires just one minute.” The previous Chinese generation says, “Kids take three days to learn bad, three years to learn good.” Some have modified to say kids take three minutes or even there seconds to learn bad.

In truth, practice what you preach is easier said than done. The good you intend to do ends up not just merely bad, faulty or short, but evil (vv 19, 21) – sin’s Murphy’s Law equivalent: If anything can go wrong, it will. Not only wrong, but wicked and wasted.

For me, the solution to this issue lies in keeping my eyes focused on what I what I want my life to look like. Each morning when I arrive in the office, I look at my vision board: it reminds me of the different areas of my life and what I would like my life to look like if I were living to my fullest. There’s a heading “my best body” – showing healthy food, running, resting, stretching, and fitness! And I have been ignoring that section of the board since January!

Spiritually, there’s also a vision: plugged into the power of prayer! Paul says in Romans 7: 25 that the answer lies in that Christ can and does: Paul thanks God for being patient with him. As David says in Psalm 145, verse 8:

“The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

This grace allows us to say:

“Thank you that even though I’m a mess, you still love me and you are still striving with me and you want to make me something more today that I was yesterday.”

We are loved by God and God is willing to take us just as we are! With Christ within us, God works from the inside out to transform us. We are forgiven from the inside out! If God has forgiven us, we can forgive ourselves.

Keep this small image in mind:

How did you learn to walk? Have you ever seen a little one learning to walk. They don’t get up and just start walking the first time they try. They crawl for awhile. They pull themselves up and take one step and fall back – up again and fall forward. Soon they are taking a couple of steps before they fall. And they walk, and they fall, and they pull themselves back up again, and they totter and they fall.

Life as a Christian, with each new step of the way, is a new learning. As you overcome one challenge, there will always be something new. Paul reminds us to “work through our salvation”, because it is a constant process of growth. We are free from the penalty of sin, but we need Christ in us to be free from the power of sin.

But we remember and we meditate on Psalm 145, verse 8:

“The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

And if Christ is in us, then each of us should be able to look in the mirror and say: “I am gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!” Imagine a world in which that were the description of each of us!

Sermon: United in Heart & Mind

This morning’s reading from the book of Acts described a very simple, and yet Oh so difficult, aspect of early Christian life that we’ve lost:

All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32)

This morning’s Psalm is equally clear:

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (Psalm 133)

We are a community rooted in relationship. One big happy family, right?

“To dwell above with saints we love, oh that will be glory!

To dwell below with saints we know…well… that’s a different story.”

Jesus modelled community with His disciples: they lived out their faith in connection with one another. They shared a common purpose, united around their Teacher. The disciples didn’t always get along. There was some bickering and competitiveness. Jesus had to remind them that they were brothers, not rivals. Together they transformed the world. If it is not visible that we care about one another, it is doubtful whether we love one another.

The earliest Christians had a major challenge, to break down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles, and to welcome men and women alike. Paul describes this obstacle as a wall that needs to come down. To do so meant stepping out of one’s comfort zone. When we become members of God’s family, we tend to look for a church filled with people like us.

The Protestant Reformation emphasized the priesthood of all believers. Pastors provide spiritual leadership, but we are all priests, with access to God, called to ministry, and set apart for service. What the church offers is unique—the unity of the Spirit.

“The church is not an organization but an organism; it’s … a body, not a business.”  (James Montgomery Boice)

How easy is it really to live in unity?  How many of you here have brothers or sisters or both? Did loving your brothers & sisters mean that you always lived in unity and harmony?  Did you have the rule that I can hit my brother/sister, but no one from the outside can?  Or how many of you are married?  Do you ever disagree as a couple?

So, if you can’t do it with one other person or a small group of family members, how are we supposed to do this as a growing church body?

While we trust Christ to give us strength to live spirit-filled lives, this doesn’t stop us from being human.  Our personalities do not change. If we were quiet, analytical, unemotional before becoming a Christian, we’re not going to suddenly become touchy-feely extroverts. We are who we are. Our Creator God made each and every one of us, and God appreciates the diversity within His family. We may not think alike, but we should work together. We need to unconditionally accept one another and treat each other with dignity and respect. The fact that we are all unique is an advantage.

For many of us, we are waiting for the Spirit to fill us with that love that we are supposed to have for others… how long are we supposed to wait? and what are we supposed to do until it arrives?

How are you supposed to love your neighbour when they are SO difficult?  What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit of God and have Jesus’ love flow through us?

How many of you can relate with the following description of the Christian life?

  • Do you think we act as though God only works today in the ways we personally have experienced God in our past and therefore we limit what God wants to do through us right now?
  • Well, yes, we believe in our heads that God does wonderful things because we’ve read it in the Bible, or we’ve heard of His Spirit working in other people’s lives and places around the world, but … if you haven’t experienced it, can you believe in your heart that it will happen here at our church or with us?
  • If we haven’t experienced a miraculous healing, we don’t expect much of God now even though we pray for it.
  • If we haven’t seen God change or transform people in a long time, we just assume people will continue to trickle in to the church if at all and maybe find faith.
  • If our experience of church in the past is not even close to the love and fellowship the first Christians experienced, we think all churches are this way.

Or perhaps we don’t want it to be that way because we are afraid it might require us to change our ways or priorities.


No where in the Bible will you find “love your neighbour, if they deserve it”, or “pray for those who persecute you, so that they all shrivel up and die”.  I can remember a time when I used to pray “give them 10 times whatever they give me”… unfortunately, that prayer wasn’t Biblical.   We are told in the Bible, simply, to love others.  Irrespective of what they have said, what they have done, whether or not they deserve it!

God says to love your enemies and do good to them that hurt you and pray for those people that spitefully use you. We ought to love everybody- whether they are in God’s family or not. It doesn’t matter where they’re from, where they’ve been or what they’ve done in the past or what color they are.

It seems like it’s the nature of human beings to be self-centered. We like to have things our way, and when they don’t go our way we get upset. We like to have our opinion and share it, and when people disagree with us we like to argue.

Imagine getting all the Christians of Panama City (or just the Balboa, Albrook & Clayton area) together for worship, eating together, day after day after day. Sounds great doesn’t it, well maybe for about the first day or two, until people start complaining; why do all the Catholics want to keep sitting, standing, and kneeling all the time? Could someone tone the Pentecostals down? they’re so excited they’ve been singing for the last hour straight, and that babble of them speaking in tongues is just too much! Would the Baptists PLEASE quit talking about getting everyone saved? and then there are others complaining about the members of Balboa Union Church because they suggested setting up a committee to look into the complaints and report back in a month…

Being of one heart and mind is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit unites us, and draws us closer together. The Spirit is not divided. He leads us in the same direction.  When people are filled with God’s Spirit, God does a work in our heart where our self-centeredness and pride is replaced with love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our focus is shifted away from ourselves, and onto God and what his Spirit is leading us to do.


Recently I missed giving Sunday school because I was spending the weekend as staff at a coaching seminar.  I’ve done this seminar before, and it blew my mind in the way it challenged me to view all of my relationships and reactions. It called into question how I viewed love and relationships.

Don’t get me wrong – I did this coaching a year ago, and I still struggle every single day to apply what I learned in the “real world” of relationships… but it changed my view of each relationship I have… whether marriage, parent, child, friend, co-worker or any other.

How many of you think that marriage is 50/50? What if I told you that the secret to a happy marriage is 100/0?  100% on your part, and expecting absolutely nothing in return?  I’ll be honest with you – I’m having a REALLY hard time getting my head around this one?

What do you mean I can’t expect ANYTHING in return from my husband? It doesn’t matter how he acts… it doesn’t matter what he says… it doesn’t matter if he gets upset…  But if I fail to communicate, if I fail to listen, if I fail to be affectionate, if I fail to show him love… it’s 100% on me.

This is Christian love – and that’s why it’s so hard!  It’s about giving 100% without expecting anything in return… Irrespective of how you feel… Irrespective of what your day in the office was like… irrespective of that car that cut you off… irrespective of the business deal that didn’t work out the way you wanted it…

Unity in the Church is about each and every one of us putting aside our egos, our ideas, our self-centeredness, our need to feel praised and valued, our need to hear what a great job I’m doing, our need to receive the praise and recognition… and work together in harmony & unity.

Unity is about stop waiting to “feel” the love and choose to “BE” the love you are expecting to see in the Church!  When we decide to make it happen, then it will happen!

everything beautiful, relationship with God, no Bible, how did Abraham discover God, Pentateuch, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, gospels, epistles, Muslims, Christians, Jews,infinite all-powerful God, building faith, living, true God, infinite in being, perfection, most pure spirit, invisible, immutable, immense, eternal, most absolute, but one God, no god other than Him, compassionate and merciful, reflect with care, timelessness of God, creation of time, a time for everything, a time to plant, a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to tear down, human heart, be happy, do good

Everything beautiful in His time…

Lectionary Readings:

1-     Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25

2-    Psalms 78:1-7

3-     Matthew 25: 1-14

I often wonder what our relationship with God would be like if we had no Bible. Think about it for a minute – other than your relationship with God, what friendship or relationship comes with a guide-book?

So, how on earth did Abraham discover God and become God’s friend? He had no Pentateuch, Psalms, Isaiah or Jeremiah, no gospels or epistles from Paul to help him along his way.

We read this morning in Joshua:

‘…Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshipped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan…[1]

How did Abraham, living in a family that worshipped other gods, discover God for himself?  Why do we have Jews, Muslims and Christians believing in this infinite all-powerful God, building faith and rituals and traditions on the God described in the Westminster Confession?

One & only,(a) living, and true God:(b) who is infinite in being and perfection,(c) a most pure spirit,(d) invisible,(e) without body parts,(f) or passions,(g) immutable,(h) immense,(i) eternal,(k) incomprehensible,(l) almighty,(m) most wise,(n) most holy,(o) most free,(p) most absolute,(q) working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will…”[2]

Even if we read the Koran we find:

“Your God is but one God. There is no god other than Him, Compassionate and Merciful. In the creation of the heavens and the earth, in the alternation of night and day, in the ships that ply the seas to the benefit of man, in the water sent down from the heavens to revive the earth after its death, in the different species of animals scattered across the earth, in the rotation of the winds, in the clouds that are subordinate to God’s command between heaven and earth, in all of this, there are signs for men who use their intellects.”[3]

“Tell men to reflect with care and see what things the heavens and the earth contain.”[4]

The Bible says that if I seek God, I’ll find Him.  How long is building my relationship with God supposed to take?  There are supposed to be signs for those who use their intellects to see God – but where am I supposed to look? When will God’s work in my life be done?

In answer to my question, how did Abraham discover God for himself, I found some light shed in a couple of legends that are sometimes recounted to Muslim children.  I told one of those legends this morning to the children, and now I want to tell the 2nd one to you. Then I’m going to relate these to our Bible readings this morning.

Here goes:

In the days of mighty King Nimrod, there lived in Mesopotamia a young man named Abraham. Now, Abraham’s father was an idol maker named Terah Azar, who carved the wooden gods worshipped by his people. But Abraham was a believer in the one God, and not in the gods made by hand.

Azar would send Abraham and his other sons to sell his idols in the marketplace. But Abraham would call to the passersby, “Who’ll buy my idols? They won’t help you and they can’t hurt you! Who’ll buy my idols?”

He’d also mock the gods of wood: take them to the river, push their faces into the water, and command them, “Drink! Drink!”

Abraham would ask his father, “How can you worship what doesn’t see or hear or do you any good?”

Azar replied, “Dare you deny the gods of our people? Get out of my sight!”

“May God forgive you,” said Abraham. “No more will I live with you and your idols.” And he left the house of his father.

Now, the time came for one of the festivals of that town. The people gathered in their temple and placed offerings of food before their gods.

Abraham walked among them, saying, “What are you worshipping? Do these idols hear when you call them? Can they help you or hurt you?”

But their only reply was, “It is the way of our forefathers.”

“I am sick of your gods!” declared Abraham. “Truly I am their enemy.”

When the people had gone out, Abraham took some of the food and held it up to the idols. “Why don’t you eat?” he mocked them. “Aren’t you hungry? Speak to me!” And he slapped their faces.

Then Abraham took an axe and chopped the idols to pieces—all except for the largest idol, of course, the chief god of the people. And he tied the axe to the hand of that idol.

When the people returned, they were shocked to find their gods broken up and scattered about the temple. Then they remembered how Abraham had spoken, and they sent for him.

“Abraham,” said the head man, “was it you who did this?”

“Surely it was someone!” he replied. “Their chief stands there with an ax in his hand. Perhaps he grew jealous and destroyed the rest. But why don’t you just ask him?”

The head man said, “You know they neither strike nor speak.”

“Then why worship gods that you make?” demanded Abraham. “Worship instead the Maker of all!”

But few of the people would listen. Abraham was seized and brought to King Nimrod for punishment.

When Nimrod had heard the accusers, he turned to Abraham. “Who is this mighty God you spoke of?”

“He it is Who gives life and death,” answered Abraham.

“But I too give life and death,” said Nimrod. “I pardon a guilty man sentenced to die—then I execute one who is innocent!”

“That is not the way of my Lord,” said Abraham. “But listen to this: Each morning, my Lord brings the sun up in the east. Can you make it rise in the west?”

Then Nimrod grew angry. He had a great fire built, and he ordered Abraham to be tied up and thrown into it. But the fire only burnt away the ropes, and they saw Abraham sitting peacefully among the flames. Beside him was an angel in Abraham’s likeness, comforting and protecting him.

After that, Nimrod did not dare try to harm Abraham again. Abraham returned to his town, where he gathered those who believed in the one God. Then he set out west, placing all faith in the Lord.

And so… As in Genesis, we find Abraham setting out to the west from beyond the Euphrates.

The timelessness of God came up one morning in our discussions in adult Sunday school – our clocks are set by the earth’s rotation around the sun, and our tides and seasons by our orbit around the sun and the moon’s orbit around the earth.  So, if God created the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars, then it goes without saying that God created time: the hours, minutes, and seconds of our day– and therefore God is timeless – above and beyond our restraints of time.

In Matthew 25 we read about the 5 wise and the 5 foolish virgins waiting for the bridegroom to arrive – to light the way for the bridal party.  The 5 wise virgins had enough oil and the 5 foolish virgins burnt out their lamps and had to run off to get more.  While they were gone, the bridegroom arrived and by the time they got back, it was too late – they were no longer needed.  The 5 foolish virgins made one small mistake – they acted on their expectations, rather than acting with forethought.  They expected the bridegroom to show up at a certain time.  Not in his time – when they expected him to.  They were ready now… he should be here now… “oh, what could possibly be taking them so long?”  “They should have been here hours ago.

Think about it like this:

15 years ago we didn’t have cell phones to coordinate with each other.  Let’s say us girls were getting together to go shopping for Christmas tree ornaments, and we organised to meet at Albrook Mall at 10.00 a.m. Saturday morning, at the entrance by the supermarket.  Everyone would be there at 10.00 a.m., because if you weren’t there on time, you would know if we were still at the mall or whether we’d moved on from there over to El Dorado, or if we’d decided to go to Caledonia to see if we could find better bargains.  Then we would organise a time, and whoever failed to be there was out – unless, of course, the one that’s missing is the one that has the car!

So, imagine this wedding… you’re waiting for the bridegroom – an essential part of the wedding! Without him, nothing gets started.  And while you’re waiting, you run out of oil… Now, he’s an essential part of the wedding – but are the lamp-bearing virgins “essential”?  No… they’re part of the wedding, but one more or one less – the show can go on without them.  The bridegroom has arrived, the procession leaves… and whoever went out for oil gets left behind.

So… How about you and God?

Are you expecting God to act “on your timetable” or have you come to understand your minor role in Act 2011?

Is your attitude: “I prayed about it, and I need the answer by next week, OK God?” Or are you working on God’s time?

Psalms relates: that for God 1000 years is like a passing day, as brief as a few night hours.[5]  I found on the internet where someone actually worked out what that meant – if 1000 years is one day, then one minute in heaven-time equals 8.33 months on earth.  So, when God’s response to your prayer is “I’ll be with you in just a minute” you know how long you’re supposed to wait?

Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 3 explains it:

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, … 5 … a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is… has already been, and what will be… has been before; and God will call the past to account.

Solomon, the philosopher and wise man, the King – looked on the world and on creation, and saw God in it; got a glimpse of eternity.

When I read the Hebrew Scriptures, I get a feeling of how quickly generations pass.

You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath[6].

In our Psalm this morning, we read about what our ancestors have told us, and how we are to pass these experiences on to the next generation.  Our job on this earth is to learn from the past and build for the future, while understanding the eternity which is set in our hearts.

In business, we talk about leaving a legacy – what legacy are we leaving? What have we learnt about God and our relationship with Him that we are leaving to those who will come after us? If each new generation were to write another book of the Bible, what would it say? How could we describe what we have learned about God to others, to make it easier for someone else to understand?

I want to finish this morning revisiting our reading from Joshua 25 – that I’ve taken a little of literary license with:

Respect God and serve Him faithfully.  Throw away your gods – stop chasing after more money, fame and fortune, keeping up with the Joneses, fitness and health, making a fashion statement – and focus on the truly important and eternal things in life.  If this change of lifestyle (focusing on the eternal and leaving a true legacy) seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves today who you will serve: Money? Intelligence & Knowledge? Fame & fortune? The Joneses? Fashion? Fitness? Pleasure? The big “I” – me, myself, and I?

But as for me and my family – we’ve decided we’re going to focus on our relationship with God and how to translate that into everything we say and do.

All the people answered – “No, we won’t get caught up in the present and material world and forsake God and chase after meaningless pursuits! We’ll remember what we were before and what God has done for us, the miracles we’ve experienced; His protection and guidance in all our travels.  We’re going to make this commitment too, because He is our God.” 

Joshua warned them: “You won’t be able to serve God – He’s holy and perfect and without any faults or weaknesses.  And he expects the same from you! God won’t just overlook and forgive your intentional rebellion and sins – when you decide to forsake the eternal and run after money or fame & fortune, or get so caught up with running your business that you forget that there’s more to life than the bottom line.  If you start looking to the material world for your happiness and satisfaction, you’ll be headed for disaster: it will be the end of you, and you’ll lose everything that you’ve built and learned in your relationship with God. Remember the eternal. 

But the people were adamant: “No, we’ve decided. We’re going to serve God.” 

And so Joshua responded to everyone present: You are witnesses against yourselves – YOU’VE chosen God for yourselves (I didn’t choose Him for you.  I didn’t force Him on you.  It’s your free-will choice). Worship Him. 

And they responded – “We are witnesses…. We’ll worship God. What He says, we’ll do.”

We have each been given the gift of God’s Spirit – and the right to be called Children of God. Do we accept the gift?

Having accepted this, it’s our responsibility daily to tend to this Spirit – the continual flow of the relationship we have – keeping it constant and flowing.  Eternity has already started for each of us – it’s not some unknown moment of the future.

Our relationship with the Creator, with the Eternal –This is what really matter. 

Even in the mundane, we need to find that pearl of growth and change that lights our way, so that we can light the way for those that will come after us.

Each day of our lives should be lived as if it were our last: THIS is the day that will decide my future.  I’m ready and prepared to live this day filled with the Spirit!  Seeking and finding God. Not just reading my Bible – but actually building on my relationship with a living God. Building on yesterday’s foundations, and making room for tomorrow’s dreams.

Being the lamp that is shining in our community and lighting the way for others to follow.  Believing that God makes everything (even me) beautiful in His time… and working toward that final finished product.

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.[7]

[1] Joshua 25: 2-3

[2](a) Deut. 6:4; I Cor. 8:4, 6; (b) I Thess. 1:9; Jer. 10:10; (c) Job 11:7, 8, 9; Job 26:14; (d) John 4:24; (e) I Tim. 1:17; (f) Deut. 4:15, 16; John 4:24, with Luke 24:39; (g) Acts 14:11, 15; (h) James 1:17; Mal. 3:6; (i) I Kings 8:27; Jer. 23:23, 24; (k) Ps. 90:2; I Tim. 1:17; (l) Ps. 145:3; (m) Gen. 17:1; Rev. 4:8; (n) Rom. 16:27; (o) Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8; (p) Ps. 115:3; (q) Exod. 3:14.

[3] (2:163-164)

[4] (10:101)

[5]Psalms 90:4

[6]Psalms 39:5

[7] Elisabeeth Kubler-Ross