July 9, 2020 (Week 18–A Reminder)
Romans 15: 1-2 Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”
3-6 That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus! (MSG)
Good day, God’s people!
Kind of feels interminable, doesn’t it? I am sorry that I am not writing to tell you how happy I am that this is all over, but I can’t yet. However, I remain firmly and unequivocally certain that God is in control. Please know that is not a naive sort of human self-confidence, but rather a position of faith that is struggling to remember, that God will be God, whatever happens, and God doesn’t dictate the chaos in which we find ourselves. He has simply promised never to abandon us. I take that very seriously, and I hope you do too.
I once had a parishioner who was very stubborn. Her family was beside itself with worry, because she had a condition which required regular medication, but she refused to take it. She said “I’ve gone through my whole long life without putting chemicals in my body, and I’ve no intention of starting now.” The problem was of course, that her refusal could mean her premature end. They asked me to speak with her. I honored her intelligence and her will and her capacity to decide for herself, but I did point out that all of those gifts were given her by God, not as the sum total of God’s gifts in the world. I tried to open her eyes to the expansiveness of God’s love in so many other ways. I suggested that this medication was simply one such other gift with which God has blessed us. It is not to be flaunted, squandered or wasted. But it is to be used. And I said, “It is for you!”
My faith is daily strengthened by remaining in Scripture. And though I have suggested this for all of God’s people, I fear that not many are heeding that advice. I have heard all kinds of excuses, ranging from: I don’t have time; I don’t understand it; Scripture reading hasn’t been my habit; it makes me feel too bad when I read it; it makes me feel too good when I read it; it has nothing to do with me; it’s too old to be relevant; and on and on and on.
And so, a reminder! God’s word is there for you. Right there in front of you. If you have a smart phone, you have free access to Scripture translated into hundreds of languages, and typically in a number of variant versions in each language. Not unlike my stubborn parishioner’s medication, the Bible is there for you. (And by the way, if you need a printed copy, just ask, and we’ll provide one for you!)
What I am proposing is not to overwhelm you. I am not hoping to brainwash anyone. I am not seeking to control anyone. I am simply trying to convince you all of the wonderful benefits of immersing yourself in God’s word. Particularly at a time when everything seems a bit upside down. Just a few verses a day. It doesn’t have to mean that you loose a significant portion of your free time. It doesn’t have to be a chore. But it is a very good habit to have. To spend some time with God, in prayer, meditation and in the reading of Scripture. It can be confusing, of course; but it can also be studied. Committing oneself to the reading and study of Scripture is not a punishment, but rather a gift. You are literally allowing yourself to be showered with God’s blessings, right now! I hope you’ll take up this challenge to become fluent in God-talk! I imagine that you won’t even be able to conceive of the extent to which you’ll be blessed in the practice.
Another reminder: All of our online activities are found on our website, (www.godamong.us) and can be accessed on a link there that says “ILC Online Activities.” I hope you’ll go there to find links to worship, Bible Study, devotions, etc., etc. Please do join us. If you are in need of anything with which we can be helpful: pastoral care of any sort, prayer, or general support, please reach out to us. As always, your church is there for you!
- After worship, around 11 am, Darrell and Nancy Datte host our after worship coffee/donut fellowship time (BYOC/D) on Zoom, and look forward to welcoming everyone in our community. Please think about joining in and saying hi to your brothers and sisters. That gathering can be found here: